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Entries from March 2019

Sunday Stealing + Bonus: Provoking Thoughts, Part The Second

Image result for April FOol's Day

Hey guys and dolls! I didn't participate in Saturday 9 yesterday because I've had another bit of health issues going on, but that's okay because I'mma jump into it right now. Here's the link if you want(ed) to join, but my little April Fools' trick is to pull out an S9 before I get into SS. 'Kay?


Saturday 9: The Fool on the Hill (1968)

Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.

Chosen because Monday is April Fool's Day. 

1) As an April Fool's prank, Taco Bell once announced they had purchased The Liberty Bell and renamed it The Taco Liberty Bell. Describe your perfect taco.

Chloë Taco Bell 03302019

Well, first of all, since Chloë jumped ship from Subway to Taco Bell a couple weeks ago, she's my favorite little bean burrito right here! 😉 Honestly, though, I don't like tacos. The crunch, the falling apart, everything all over the plate or your lap... no. Too messy for me. I do like a bean burrito, though. That 69¢ bit of wonder from Taco Bell is really what I need.

2) Similarly, as an April Fool's prank, the Ford Motor Co. was supposed to wipe out the national deficit by purchasing the naming rites to a beloved monument, renaming it the Ford Lincoln Mercury Memorial. What model car do you drive? 

Georgia Rest Stop March 2017

Here's our little workhouse 2012 Dodge Journey two years ago, on our voyage from Miami to Boise.

2019 Dodge Journey Collage

And here it is now, with all the stickers and magnets and stuff. Yup. So us. If you notice nothing else, see the "Blue Girl, Red State" sticker (me); the "PERSIST" sticker (my girls and me); and the Pride sticker on the side (my girls - and their parents, as Allies). Very us. 😉

3) In 1998, Burger King got in on the April Fool's Day fun by promoting a special "Left-Handed Whopper," designed to be easier for a leftie to hold. Describe your perfect burger.

I think I remember that. That's hilarious. Here's mine:

Image result for elevation burger veggie burger

The veggie burger at Elevation Burger is the BOMB. If you don't have an Elevation Burger near you (we don't, but we did in Miami), you're missing out. According to Hubs and the kids, the "regular" beef burgers are epic, too. But those veggie burgers... man. Making my mouth water right now!

4) In 1962, when color TV was still new, a Swedish station pranked viewers by telling them they could convert their black/white sets to color by cutting up a nylon stocking and stretching it across the screen. Of course, in 1962, more women wore nylons and screens were smaller. How big is your TV? Are there any nylon stockings in your home?

Samsung - 43" Class - LED - NU6900 Series - 2160p - Smart - 4K UHD TV with HDR - Front_Zoom. 1 of 6 Images & Videos. Swipe left for next.

I recently bought a new TV from Best Buy (ugh, like my least favorite store in the world), but I had to go back and look at the specs. It's a 43" Samsung Smart TV. It's really nice. It's got probably way more functionality that I don't know how to use yet, but I'm still learning. 

As for nylons, I've been getting rid of tights and stockings and stuff little by little now. I used to wear them a lot in Miami, but I don't know why. Many of us, including Chloë and me, have sensory issues with nylon. So they're exiting the building.

5) In 1957, the BBC ran an April Fool's story about how the Swiss were enjoying a "bumper spaghetti crop," with spaghetti literally growing on trees. Viewers who called the station, asking how to grow a spaghetti tree of their own, were told to place a sprig of spaghetti in a can of tomato sauce and hope for the best. Have you ever fallen for an April Fool's prank?

Also hilarious. I love it.

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Yes, I have. When I was in high school in Syracuse, New York, the main station I listened to was 93Q. They started announcing, months before April 1st, that they were switching over to a smooth music, kind of classical vibe. Everybody was talking about it; we were crushed. On April Fools' Day, they started playing "Feelings" over and over and over. By the 10th time or so, I finally figured it out. What a huge joke! The next day, they were back to normal. I felt so duped!

6) When Crazy Sam was growing up, her mother would surprise her on April Fool's Day by slipping a rubber worm or plastic spider in her lunch box. When you were in school, did you more frequently brown bag it or buy your lunch in the cafeteria line?

I love that, Sam. I missed out on that.

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I really don't know how to answer this one, honestly. I did make myself a bagged lunch to bring every day, but I really wasn't allowed to put anything in there that I wanted to eat. A lot of the time it was a big slab of greasy ham from the previous night (or several nights prior) dinner... and I have never not hated ham. So that got thrown away. I'd eat a little of the apple, maybe, and throw that away. I don't remember being allowed to have a drink. Or money. I started mooching food off my friends' trays or paper bags, which I'm sure they sort of hated and resented, until I got a job at 15. Then I could go up and buy myself a damn chocolate milk or something, if I got thirsty. That whole situation kind of sucked.

7) This week's song was an international hit for Sergio Mendes and Brasil 66. Because of the song's bossa nova arrangement, everyone assumed the lead singer, Lani Hall, was Brazilian. She was a folk singer from Chicago. Sergio Mendes discovered her at a charity benefit. Can you think of a time when doing good really paid off for you?


Sure. After my son died after three days in NICU, I began a 501(c)(3) nonprofit called CARE Package. I wanted to make layettes, such as this one, for other babies who didn't survive, as well as give out information in those same packages for the parents. I needed to give them ideas for things they could do with their their baby before giving him/her over to the people to prepare for the next stage. We didn't get to do any of that, because we were rushed, and nobody thought to tell us, "Hey, you can bathe him." "Hey, you can change his diaper and dress him." And the kicker for me, "You can get his twin brother in here and get a picture of them together." That still really stabs me in the heart. But the good thing is, I have gotten tons of letters and emails from parents and hospital staff who had received all those CARE Packages. And one day, I went in and was part of a panel at that hospital - Naval Medical Center Portsmouth - to sit with doctors and surgeons and nurses and other support staff and really, truly get to the heart of telling them how to take care of bereaved parents. Those initial steps in the bereavement process are so crucial, and NMCP did it all wrong. To have the floor in front of these people, and have them really listen to me about how to fix that problem, meant a lot for me. More importantly, I hope it was fixed for those to come after me experiencing similar things.

8) In 1968, when this record was popular, Pierre Trudeau became Prime Minister of Canada. Today his son holds that office. When did you most recently visit our neighbor to the north?

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I've been to Canada several times, but not since I was a kid. Under the age of 10 or so, we visited Ottawa last. We were walking back to our hotel from a fancy dinner, and then a street fight broke out in front of us. One guy pushed another into a store front, and they broke through the glass, which shattered everywhere. I was terrified.

9) Random question: Name three websites you visit every day.

1.Image result for befunky logo

I like to take and edit photos, so I'm always on BeFunky - it's my favorite editing site.

2. Image result for excel logo

I do my grocery lists, our budget, my current medications and specialists, etc., all on Excel. So that's always open.

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And Homeschool Planet, our planner/calendar/organizer, is always open. Since we homeschool, our schedule is not a Monday-Friday 8-3 type deal. We school whenever, wherever, so I've always got to have it ready to go.


So that was fun! Thanks, Sam! Let's skip on into Sunday Stealing with Bev now. Link up here if you want to play along!


If you had to teach something, what would you teach?

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I'm not usually big on these word map thingies, but this really kind of sums it up for me. I would teach about the Environment and being responsible for the ecology where one is, locally, and also nationally and globally - and we're just not doing that as a whole.

2. What would you regret not fully doing, being or having in your life?

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Doing: I would love to get an advanced degree in something. I was thinking Law, but I'm not sure anymore. Being: I would love to be at peace with myself and feel like I am valuable. Having: I would love to have memories full of joy, new experiences, and laughter, far more than anything else.

3. Are you holding onto something that you need to let go of?

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Yes. Constant fear and terror. I have literally lived in constant terror for my entire life. Every minute. I have to learn to accept that if I relax, everything will be okay.

4. When you are 80-years-old, what will matter to you the most?

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I want to have multiple generations of our family love to come "home" to us and hang with us, and just be full of joy together.

5. When is it time to stop calculating risk and rewards and just do what you know is right?

I'm not sure I'm fully capable of answering this question - pass!

6. How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?

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Probably between 80 or 90 years old. With all the meds I take, and all my chronic physical and mental health conditions... I definitely feel way older than I am right now.

7. Would you break the law to save a loved one?


8. What makes you smile?


Seeing all of my kids getting along and having a good time makes me smile!

9. When it’s all said and done, will you have said more than you’ve done?

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I want to learn to say "no" more. It's hard for me. I always want to take on way too much.

10. If you had the opportunity to get a message across to a large group of people, what would your message be?

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It's important to me for people to realize that the global climate change we are facing is largely man-made, and it will be catastrophic. However, I also want people to know there are small steps each and every one of us can do to rein it in and bring things back more into alignment with the way things should be. I would give them those steps and teach them where to find the how-tos. We owe it to ourselves and our children, and their children.

11. If the average human lifespan was 40 years, how would you live your life differently?

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I'd be tempted to seize the day a whole lot more, which tells me that I should be seizing the day a whole lot more!

12. What do we all have in common besides our genes that makes us human?

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I think a lot of it has to do with what we care about, and how we feel about those things. And also, that we care how others perceive us. But it's so complex; a pat answer won't do.

13. If you could choose one book as a mandatory read for all high school students, which book would you choose?

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First, I'd ask each student to read the short story "The Lottery," by Shirley Jackson. It would invite a lot of really interesting discussions among students and teachers.

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And then, it may seem cliché, but I think To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee should be required reading for every American student. There is still such a long way to go with race relations in this country, so every conversation we can have about it can help.

14. Would you rather have less work or more work you actually enjoy doing?

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I'm not going to ask for more work, but regardless, I'd want to enjoy doing it!

15. What is important enough to go to war over?

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Call me naïve or maybe even sexist, but I feel like most men are far too eager to fight over things than to sit down and have a conversation - or 20 - to come to a point of understanding and compromise. I honestly can't think of many things worth an actual war.

16. Which is worse, failing or never trying?

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Never trying is much sadder than trying and failing. I've got to remind myself of this often. I don't have a fear of failure. I have a fear of succeeding.

17. When was the last time you listened to the sound of your own breathing?

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Today, actually. My asthma is pretty out-of-control lately, and I'm wary of another bout of pneumonia (it's been over a year since I had it, y'all! WOOT!), so I listen for wheezing whenever I'm lying down quietly.

18. What’s something you know you do differently than most people?

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I think differently. I mean, I know everyone thinks differently - supposedly - but when I was in graduate school and we would have discussions on 30-page reports of scientific studies and experiments, my contributions were always so different than everyone else's. I became afraid to contribute to the class, but then when I finally did speak up, everyone was like, "ohhh, I never thought of that." It's weird and cool and scary all at once.

19. What does ‘The American Dream’ mean to you?

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I think this graph really sums up well how I feel about it. It's not about wealth or acquiring stuff. It's about freedom and opportunity.

20. Would you rather be a worried genius or a joyful simpleton?

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I don't know. I've never been a simpleton... but I sure would like to be joyful more often!


So it's almost 5 AM here on Sunday now (I had a long overnight snooze in the middle of this). Better late than never eh?

Thanks for stopping by!


Sundays In My City: Creativity

Sundays In My City
Hey, guys! Happy Sunday evening to you! It's been a while (seems like my M.O.) since I joined Claudya on her Sundays in my City funtivity, but I'm feeling inspired to write on my blahg, and write in general, more lately.
If you want to show us what's going on in your neck of the woods, link up here!
Melanie's Middle Eastern Falafel & Couscous
I feel like creating again lately, but I'm easing into it slowly. Having a nasty chronic illness (actually, more like 20) has kind of put my ability to be creative on the back burner, but that's gotten staid and boring.
Anyway, so the other night, I "unvented" (word borrowed from the amazing knit-queen, Elizabeth Zimmermann) a meal recipe that I was hankering for but for which I couldn't find online. So I made it up, typed it all up with big words and silly words, printed it and laminated it, and then handed it over to Hubs to cook for me. (Hee! Yes, but, in my defense, standing up at the stove for long periods of time is extremely difficult for me now.)
Between the two of us, we created Lentil Falafel with Yoghurt and Spiced Couscous. It's delicious! Hit me up if you'd like me to send you a copy of the recipe.
03172019 Robs Homemade Monkey Bread
So maybe this doesn't fall under the umbrella of "creativity" so much (at least, not ours) since I sent Hubs this recipe from the blog "The Kitchen Magpie." All he technically did was follow the recipe and omit the raisins. But look at it! I appreciate it as a visual work of art and titillation for my taste buds. And so it's included.
Sophie's tattoo on me 03072019
The rest of the entries in this post are from my youngest child, 13-year-old Sophia. This is my foot. One night, she and I were sitting around alone at home together, when she went and got all the dry-erase markers. An hour or two later, she and I were covered in her works of art. Unfortunately, my favorite thing was the hibiscus she drew on her own right hand, but because it was dry-erase, she ended up having to wash her hands before I got a picture of it. It was beautious!
Rose Stamp Collage
The main library here in Boise, Idaho, is pretty cool. They have all kinds of fun programs for kids and teens. Sophie went to the one last week for the first time (I'd just found out about it) and came home with this rubber stamp for a rose that she'd carved herself. Pretty cool, huh?
03072019 Meme Machine Sophie's Neon Sign
This is another result of a different program at the same library. Sophia made this neon sign that reads "meme machine." I love it! I think it's hanging up in her bedroom window right now.
03122019 Impressionistic Monet Tree
And finally, this Impressionistic tree that Sophia painted (and she says that she cannot paint!) was her final assignment for the Claude Monet unit in our homeschool art program. It's called Meet The Masters, and each week, she (and I) learn about another master artist, and then she practices the style of each. I'm so proud of this one, partly because I do think it's so good, and partly because she really does claim no painting ability. I'm afraid I have to disagree!
So that's what's up in Boise. I'd love to see your part of the world!
Thanks, Claudya, for hosting this fun romp-around.

Sunday Stealing: Thoughts Provoked, Part The First

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Aloha and welcome back! I just woke up from a much-needed nap, so maybe my post won't ramble all over the place as is my usual custom! 

Here's some news: as of late Friday afternoon, Team Odette is (are?) officially under contract to buy a house! It's big, beautiful and really sprawling. Plenty of room for us and our abundance of freakin' STUFF. Wanna see a couple quick previews? 'Kay:

Kimberly House Exterior 5

This is part of the outside of lovely house-to-be in Kimberly, Idaho, just outside of Twin Falls.

Kimberly House Kitchen 88

Here is one view of the kitchen about which I am supremely ecstatic.

Kimberly House Fireplace No 2 89

And that's the opposite view of the kitchen and dining room, with a glimpse at one of THREE fireplaces in the home. Squeeeee!!

Did I mention I'm excited?!!

Okay. I'll stop there and move along to Sunday Stealing. Sorry! Link up here if you'd like to join us today!


These are from a site called Thought Provoking Questions..

1. When was the last time you tried something new?

03162019 Momo Nepalese Takeout

Well, the other day we used a Groupon for a new restaurant, Mount Everest Momo Café. They serve Himalayan, Nepali, Tibetan, and Indian cuisine. Rob went and picked out what we ate: the Momo special, which had two momo (dumpling-like foods) each of vegetarian, chicken, pork, and yak. I ate the first four listed, and he ate the yak and pork. We also got a side order of naan, which was out of this world! Fortunately, I have another Groupon for the same place, so we'll get something a little different next time. I can't wait!

2. Who do you sometimes compare yourself to?

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Well, I do find I compare myself to both my late mother and to my teenage daughters the most, although I am a competitive person and compare myself to pretty much everyone. I've always put my mother on a pedestal since she died early in my childhood, but only now through therapy am I realizing that she was perfectly human, and therefore perfectly imperfect, and I can stop judging myself for not living up to the standard I've felt she set for me.

As for my daughters, they are vastly different in personality, like night and day. Chloë and I feel each others' feels so completely, and we have a very deep bond. Sophia and I, as well as Jack and I, also have that bond, but it's different for each kid. So I kind of compare the relationships more than myself with each kid. Does that make sense, or was it a whole lot of mumbo-jumbo? 😂

3. What’s the most sensible thing you’ve ever heard someone say?

Well, this one amuses me:

"Before you criticize someone, walk a mile in their shoes. That way, you'll be a mile from them, and you'll have their shoes." - Jack Handey

But I'm also tickled by this one (and many others):

“If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. Then quit. No use being a damn fool about it.” - W C Fields

4. What gets you excited about life?

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When my five natural senses are titillated, I find myself thoroughly exhilarated. Like this gorgeous black and white calla lily display, for instance, or for that matter any bouquet from The Bouqs. I'd buy flowers from them weekly if I could afford it! (Have you heard of them? I won a $50 bouquet from them once, and it was stunning. I'm thinking of starting a once-a-month flower subscription to The Bouqs when we get settled into the new house!)

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... or the smell I love the most, citrus fruits! ♥ Mmm, so fantastic and fresh!

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... or what about beautiful and classical, or fun and lively, or any other kind of music that moves us? Sometimes music can be so electrifying, amirite?!

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... Furthermore, what about all of the gustatorial pleasures of the earth? For instance, I pulled a few pictures of some of the decadent food and drink we had on our European cruise (which you can read about here), and it gives me a bit of a thrill, even now that it's more than a decade later, to imagine the tastes of these again. I had the sangria in Barcelona, Spain; the "Sprite" was from Nàfplio, Greece; the pizza was eaten in Dubrovnik, Croatia; and the pistachio-spiked cannoli were eaten at a restaurant on the top of Mt. Etna in Sicily!

Wisp collage

...And as for the sense of touch, I could say something like the physical connection with my husband or hugging my kids, of course, but I feel like that's a gimme. Instead, this one of our five sense invokes the sensuous experience of knitting with the fine cashmere yarn produced by Iris Schreier of Artyarns, a luxurious fiber art company and probably among the top of my faves! I used their #3 cashmere in the fuschia colorway for the "Wisp" scarf, above, that I made myself just over 11 years ago. So soft and delicious! When the kids and I drove up from Virginia Beach to Jamestown, New York, the following winter to visit my sister and her family, Stacey was gushing about how much she loved it when she saw it (and felt it!) on me. So I took it right off and gave it to her. Now that I'm writing about it again, I'm feeling the itch to make myself another one! That idea certainly gets my juices flowing. 😉


The Trevi Fountain in Rome, Italy

I could name a plethora of other things that make life worth living for me, so maybe I'll just list a few but without the graphics: falling in love; traveling and seeing ancient architecture like Rome's fountains and the Colosseum; standing in holy places like Vatican City (even if it doesn't align with my own spiritual journey); meeting people from all over the world and getting a wide-eyed view of the United States from them as well as direct insight into their cultures; skipping and laughing with one or more of my children...

Oh. Apparently I could go on and on about this question! And that is a good thing, really - at least for me if not for you - so I can refer to this when I'm sinking down into the deep depressive states of my bipolar disorder. I'll just have to pull up this post and remember all the things, such as these, that bring me joy. ♥

5. What life lesson did you learn the hard way?

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It's only recently that I've realized my usual "fight or flight" response is flight, and so I end up running away from my problems all over again. Thinking back, I've been doing this since at least the age of 15 or 16. Thankfully, I'm working on my life history in intense therapy with a highly-qualified therapist, so I'm aiming for the heart of the beast now. Finally.

Also, this is a good lesson to learn:

Image result for running away from problems quote

6. What do you wish you spent more time doing five years ago?

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Laughing!! We were smack-dab in the middle of when Hubs was going through his brain tumor & surgery stuff, and that was definitely not a fun time.

7. Do you ask enough questions or do you settle for what you know?

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Enough questions? Are we discounting the idea of too many questions? I've been told by several teachers and professors that I was going into the right line of work, as a scientist, because I have the natural inquisitiveness of a child. I'm always asking questions. I laugh and say, "Sorry, I'm just nosy," when I feel like I'm doing it too much, but honestly I just really like finding things out. People, things, events, facts... they interest me!

8. Whom do you love and what are you doing about it?

Christmas Collage

In addition to a mighty bunch of great friends, I love these kiddos of mine (gratuitous photo of them as much younger kiddos below) - 

Christmas 2008

  • I love these kids!! And...

Bobby collage

...and, I'm pretty much cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs for this silly man!

What I'm doing about it is working on improving myself more and more, physically, mentally, and emotionally, so that I can be the best mom, wife, and friend I can be!

9. What’s a belief that you hold with which many people disagree?

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I'm not touching that with a 10' pole! No way.

10. What can you do today that you were not capable of a year ago?

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I can see and understand a lot more things about myself that I just couldn't see this time last year - or maybe ever?

11. Do you think crying is a sign of weakness or strength?

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Neither; it's a sign of being human. Of being alive. Of being a sentient creature.

12. What would you do differently if you knew nobody would judge you?

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I'd express my sillier, goofier side more in public.

13. Do you celebrate the things you do have?

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Oh, most definitely! I've talked about many of my rich blessings already on this post. Plus I have loads of delicious yarns with which to knit, and occasionally crochet. I do try to keep the positive perspective!

14. What is the difference between living and existing?

I seem to be a bit of a Meme Queen, so that's how I'll sum up my feelings on the matter:

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15. If not now, then when?

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Now. Definitely, now.

16. Have you done anything lately worth remembering?

03232019 Jack's Cake made by Chloë

Well, we celebrated our twin boys' 16th birthday two days ago, the same day our offer was accepted on a new house, so yeah! I guess so!

17. What does your joy look like today?


01272019 Pepper a


Pretty calm, quiet day. My body let me sleep in today, well past noon. We're all sitting around, relaxing, binge-watching NCIS: Los Angeles, and canoodling with our various pets. Paco and Tapi (our puppies, above) are going back and forth between Sophia and me. Chloë is petting her gorgeous cat, Pepper (also above). And Jack is cuddling with his Rex rabbit, Mocha, who is crazy-soft. He feels like velvet!

18. Is it possible to lie without saying a word?

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Of course it is.

19. If you had a friend who spoke to you in the same way that you sometimes speak to yourself, how long would you allow this person to be your friend?

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Hopefully not very long. I'm very hard on myself, all the time. Cruel, even. I'm working on that.

20. Which activities make you lose track of time?

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Many things, but most of all, communing with nature. If I didn't have to live in a house, I wouldn't. I guess technically, I could do without a house, but none of the rest of Team Odette would go along with that!


That was fun. But long! Phew! I'm glad y'all stopped by. I actually wrote it down on my "To-Do" list to come around and visit all of you, but it may take me the full week. I hope I accomplish it, because I miss doing that!


Saturday 9: Young And Beautiful

First of all, I have not heard of this song before, and I'm kind of out of the loop as far as entertainment news goes, so I had no idea Lana Del Ray was on the soundtrack for The Great Gatsby!! Very cool. It had already piqued my interest, so I think I'll definitely have to read, and then see, it now. Woot!

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{The formatting is so weird for Typepad sometimes. Apologies in advance for anything confusing to read!}

Link up here if you want to play along today. Seems like it should be a fun one!


Saturday 9: Young and Beautiful (2013)
Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.


1) Lana Del Rey wrote this song for the soundtrack of The Great Gatsby. She wanted it to reflect the feelings of Daisy Buchanan. Have you read The Great Gatsby?

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Admittedly, I have not. It's on my must-read list, though. I don't know why I haven't gotten around to it. Maybe because raising three kids has left me too busy to even read a magazine? But one day I will.

2) In the 1970s, Robert Redford portrayed Jay Gatsby. In the 2013 version, Leonardo di Caprio played the part. In real life, both "Gatsbys" have helped raise funds for the NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council). Are you careful about recycling and conserving water/electricity?

Oh, goodness, yes! Very much so. I'm teaching the kids more about the environment and ecology this year in our homeschool, and of course, there are always intersections with each topic and the concepts of conservation, preservation, the five Rs:

Image result for the 5 Rs of recycling gif

Although the "R"s do vary considerably from site to site. Most say  "Refuse - Reduce - Reuse - Recycle - Rot," but you probably get the point. I am an absolute stickler for reducing waste and for recycling like a maniac. If I find a recyclable item thrown away in the garbage can, I go a little berserk about it. But it's extremely important to me that the kids learn to be the guardians and shepherds of the world they are inheriting, not its destroyers. I think they are learning well. We play a fish game every few months that dramatically explores and explains the concept of conservation. It's really interesting; let me know if you want the (free) link to it!

3) Lana admits that she dropped out of college because she simply could not get the required math credits. When confronted with basic addition, subtraction, multiplication or division, do you do it in your head? Reach for pencil and paper? Or do you take advantage of the calculator that's on your desktop or phone?

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I can most certainly do that all in my head, but sometimes I write down the multiplication or division when it gets out to several place values - but only if I'm too tired to guestimate by rounding. Occasionally I'll use the calculator, but that's very rare and usually only when I am in a hurry and MUST have the exact right answer. Short answer? It depends.

4) She enjoys Kurt Cobain, Eminem, Elvis and Sinatra. Which of those four gentlemen did you listen to most recently?

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Oh, gosh. I've honestly listened to all four of them recently, but I do think that Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" was the very last song of one of these fellas that I heard on the radio. Aaaaand... now I'm gonna have that in my head all day!

5) Speaking of Sinatras, she has described her high maintenance look -- big hair, long nails, elaborate eye makeup, full lips -- as "Gangster Nancy Sinatra." How long does it take you, on an average day, to prepare to face the world?

Well, again, that depends. I used to mandate (to myself) that I had to take a shower, do my hair, do my makeup, and generally have matching (and hopefully cute) clothing on before I left the house. Nowadays, NONE of that applies!  I'm lucky to get 3 or 4 showers or baths a week (because of my myriad illnesses), and then I usually just comb out my hair and let it air-dry. If I put on makeup, it's minimal; usually just mascara will suffice for me these days:

Melanie 2

However, the other night 13-year-old Sophia wanted to play with my (expensive, fancy, high-quality) make-up, so I let her. But she wanted to give ME a makeover. Needless to say, I did not leave the house after this one:

Sophia did my makeup
I think I'm pretty much guaranteed not to be America's Next Top Model!

6) She's a big soccer fan, and her favorite team is Liverpool FC. Here in the US, college basketball fans are currently obsessed with March Madness. What's the last sporting event that you watched?

Karen Joyce Collage

I don't really watch sports, per se, but when my Hurricanes are playing (particularly football, basketball, and sometimes baseball), I try to stop and at least pay attention to the scores. I don't have a whole lot of interest in most mainstream team sports; my family and I are not particularly athletic! On the other hand, my beautiful niece Karen, above, is a superstar when it comes to soccer and track! She's now in her freshman year playing on the team at SUNY Fredonia; I don't know if she continues with track, however. She's smart and beautiful, to boot! Her younger sister, Hanna, is just the same. 

7) Her younger sister, Caroline, studied photography and is responsible for some of Lana's publicity pictures. Have you ever gotten a job because of a relative?

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Nope; I got all of my jobs based on my own merits. Unless you count a babysitting job here and there because an older sister wasn't available; I don't.

8) In 2013, when this song came out, Pope Francis became the first pope from a Latin American country. Latin America generally includes Mexico, most of Central and South America, and in the Caribbean, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico. What's the farthest south that you've ever traveled?

This was a tough one for me; I actually had to check the latitude of two places in particular:

Guam 13ºN
When we lived on Guam, part of Micronesia and close to the countries of the Philippines, Japan, Korea, Australia, etc., from October 2002-February 2003, we were about 13ºN of the equator. A lot of the tiny island is beautiful, with its clear blue lagoons (the picture above is where we first stayed before getting into base housing, in Tumon Bay near the capital), waterfalls, and lush green foliage everywhere. Some wasn't, but mostly I feel like I would have had a much more delightful time if I wasn't enormously pregnant with a high-risk twin pregnancy! Hot, damp, huge... not a good combination! 😏

Boys' 16th Birthday Collage

[By the way, shout out to those aforementioned twins: yesterday was Jack and Robby's 16th birthday!]

Holland America Panama Canal 9ºN
However, even closer to the equator, at around 9ºN of the equator, I was on a Princess Cruise with some of my family as we went through the Panama Canal! That was a special memory, definitely. 

I have yet to make it south of the equator. What the hell; I guess I'd better live at least another 42 years so I can do all this traveling that's happening in my mind!

9) Random question -- What button would you prefer your life to have: rewind, fast forward or a pause?

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So that's, like, a completely impossible question for me to answer honestly! I'm in a three-way deadlock with those choices; 33.3333% of the time (mostly my childhood) I would gladly have taken the fast-forward button. Another 33.3333% of the time, I would hit rewind so I could go back and have my babies be actual babies again and not these big-ass teenagers I can't get used to just yet! (My youngest may be turning 14 next month, but I still sit and oooh and ahh in the baby clothing and shoe departments at various stores!) And now that I have so many chronic illnesses which contribute to a massive amount of brain fog, I'd hit that pause button constantly to give myself a chance to pick my words carefully while others don't try to supply them for me. It's so hard to form a cohesive thought sometimes, so I'd need that for the final third of the time!


Phew! That took me a lot longer than I anticipated! Not Sam's or anyone's fault, really. Between birthday "doings" with Jack last night, my computer giving me the blue screen of death not once but twice in the middle of it, and finding myself getting busy with 1700 other things, it's a wonder I finished at all! But that's not to say I didn't enjoy it - I always do! Crazy Sam, you write some great questions. Sometimes I ponder whether I'd ever be good at this duty if you were to step down, and I always come to the same conclusion: Nope. I could not measure up.

Hope y'all have a great weekend, and I'm delighted to finally be able to wish you all a very happy SPRING!

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Sunday Stealing: Here's A Cookie, Cookie!

What's up, party people? I'm sitting here home alone right now, after the family had to turn around from a trip two hours away to bring me home. My health just wasn't up to going along with them today, but I'm hopeful they'll have fun and bring home good news when they return. You see, we were - and they are - going out to Twin Falls, Idaho, to look at a house on which we might put an offer!

We all love it from the description and the many photos, so hopefully it turns out to be just as amazing in real life. Eeek!!!

Anyway, so let's get started:


I just learned that March 6 was was National Oreo Cookie day, so in honor, here are some cookie questions.

1. Do you eat Oreos?

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They're okay. I can take them or leave them. Last month, I did an Oreo-themed House Party (for, so I'm kind of Oreo'd-out by now. But we did get some cool swag in addition to all those cookies:

So much awesomeness in our Oreo Party Pack!!!

2.  If you eat Oreos, which are your favorite – original, double stuff, golden original, golden double stuff, Oreo brownies, Oreo ice cream?

Oreo House Party
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Well, these are all the kinds of Oreos we used in our house party, but I can honestly say with all those choices, Double Stuf is still my favorite! I could eat a whole package in one sitting - or maybe three - easily!

3.  Do you twist your Oreos apart?

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I tend not to, no. I chomp!

4.  Are you able to pass by a plate of cookies and not take one or are you a bit of a 'Cookie Monster'?

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I can usually pass by, unless they're (my) chocolate chip cookies. I cannot resist the chip. Everyone in my family agrees my chocolate chip cookies are the best, which is a huge compliment. When we moved away from Miami, I brought a plate of cookies to two young men at the gas station convenience store we frequented. Neither of them really had mother figures. When I brought in that huge plate of cookies just for them, they jumped up and down, hugged, and cried. It was great.

5.  Tell us about your favorite cookie. Crunchy, soft, chewy, crumbly, other?

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I like my chocolate chip cookies on the soft and chewy side, not hard or crunchy at all. And definitely not crumbly. You can never have too many chocolate chips, either! Also, I prefer chopped walnuts or pecans in mine, but I think no one else in my family does, so I leave those out.

6. Have your tastes changed since you were a kid?

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I'm guessing we're talking about cookies, so no, not really there. However, my husband has helped me learn to love a lot of foods I didn't used to enjoy, such as avocados, artichokes, and sun-dried tomatoes. Mmmm!

7.  Inquiring minds want to know if you are a dunker and, if so, do you dunk in milk, coffee, or tea?

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I rarely dunk, if ever. I hate the way the cookie gets mushy and then bits of it fall to the bottom of the glass! Too messy; no thanks!

8.  It is that time of year and they are selling them on every corner and in front of every store!  Do you buy Girl Scout cookies and if you do, which is your favorite?

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I haven't bought them in about three years - maybe more - because we tend to go crazy and buy at least a case. My favorites are the Samoas, but I really need to eat sugar-free ones. I don't know if they're even selling SF ones anymore, and I don't want to make myself sick on cookies, or crush our budget, so I've abstained.

9.  Raw cookie dough. Yay or Nay?

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Definitely yay!!

10.  Do you like cookies with filling?

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Yes! I like to make these Raspberry Linzer cookies for Christmas. They're always a big hit.

11.  Do you prefer organic cookies?

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I do like to buy and eat as much organic food as possible, but when it comes to junk food like cookies... all bets are off!

12.  Large cookies, or small cookies?

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I think large cookies, like those God-awful cookie cakes, lose something in the making. Smaller, perfect cookies are the ones I prefer. I don't like cookie cakes at ALL.

13.  Do you like familiar flavours in cookies?

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I don't really care as long as (a) I'm not allergic to the ingredients and (b) they taste good!

14.  Do you make your own cookies, or buy them?

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I vastly prefer to make my own, especially at Christmastime. I haven't made any in a long time. Now I feel the need!

15.  Please tell us something random about your week!

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My oldest, Chloë, jumped ship from Subway and now works at Taco Bell. And no, she has not brought me one single bean burrito yet! ;)


Anyway, I just woke up from a nap and now I have a headache, soo... on that note, thanks for your visit!


Saturday 9: Molly Malone

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Hey, everyone! I hope your week has been great. Mine's been interesting, as always. The alternator on our sole vehicle went out, so all the money we had saved for the rest of the month for important other stuff had to be rerouted for that. That sucked, but without the car, none of the other stuff could've happened anyway. 🙄 My asthma has been acting up something awful lately, and I almost got admitted last night (technically this morning) but managed to escape that fate.

However, we are starting - tomorrow! - to actively look for a house to buy, maybe our forever home, now that we've been approved for a VA loan again. I'm so excited. We all are! Hopefully, this will be the start of things really looking up again for Team Odette!

On to Saturday 9. Link up here if you want to play along with the rest of us this week!


Molly Malone
Unfamiliar with this week's song? Hear it here.

1) Are you of Irish descent?  

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I've always been told I'm not, and my overly-prejudiced (to everything and anyone) sperm donor was so proud of that. I'm interested in doing a DNA test to confirm, but it hasn't been important enough to me to do one of those OTC tests just yet. On the other hand, my husband and therefore our four kids are of Scots-Irish descent through his father. I feel like Rob has a much more interesting ethnic (albeit entirely European, as do I) heritage than I do. I'd like to see both of our DNA results, actually.

2) Legend has it that the heroine of this week's Irish ballad was a real lass. 17th century birth and burial records confirm that a woman with that name lived in Dublin. Can you think of another song about a real historic figure?

The first person I thought of was Joan of Arc, but I couldn't recollect the song (for the record, it's "Bigmouth Strikes Again" by The Smiths), so I went with this R.E.M. song. In "It's The End of the World," Michael Stipe namechecks possessors of the initials L.B., like Leonard Bernstein, Leonid Brezhnev, and Lenny Bruce. I went with this one because I remember this song the best.

3) Molly sold fish from a cart that she wheeled through the streets. What's the last seafood you ate?

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Well, now that Operation Vegan has failed miserably, I did not hesitate to enjoy some sushi the other night. This was what I ate (but I ate far more than this, in two or three more stages). Seafood included was crab, shrimp, and ahi tuna. Mmm! 🦐🍤🦀🐟

4) The lyrics tell us that, after her death, her ghost continues to wander the streets of Dublin with her wheel barrow. Do you believe in ghosts?

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I reserve ghosts for my limited "I'll Believe It When I See It" file in the over-packed rooms of filing cabinets in my mind.

5) This week's featured band, The Dubliners, are obviously from Dublin. They were introduced to American audiences on The Ed Sullivan Show. Today, Stephen Colbert tapes his show in The Ed Sullivan Theater. Who hosted the last talk show you watched? 

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Well, I DVR The Ellen Show so that I can have my daily-ish dose of joy from Ellen de Generes. She makes me so happy. What I didn't know was that Jason Sudeikis was hosting today (Friday the 15th's) episode. At first I was disappointed, but he didn't suck!

6) Corned beef and cabbage is a traditional St. Patrick's Day dish. Is it a favorite of yours?

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7) According to Irish legend, leprechauns earned the gold in the pot they guard by repairing shoes. Crazy Sam can't remember the last time she got a pair of shoes repaired. When the heels wear away, she discards the shoes and buys new ones. What about you? Do you get your shoes fixed (either by leprechauns or just by ordinary repairmen)?

Leprechauns, hee!

I have never had my shoes repaired, although I do wear them until they are no longer wearable - at least by me. I mostly own all kinds of styles of Crocs now, because they can be comfortable and (yes, at least to me) cute:

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Unfortunately, I wear tiny shoes (a size 4 or 5 womens in Crocs), and this brand tends to stretch out over time. So I usually gift these away, because they aren't really reparable. 

However, Hubs says he has had about a dozen pairs of his shoes repaired in his life, which both amuses me and makes me feel lesser-than. These are his Birkenstocks, which he has barely worn in the 18½ years I've known him:

Rob's Birks

The soles need replacing. I don't know how much that will cost, because I've never done it, but apparently it's always been too much for me to make an effort to budget for it. Is it because he has plenty of other shoes? Is it because these are leather and I don't particularly approve? Is it because we've had kids to raise, and that's expensive and, to me again, more valuable than new soles on shoes? I don't know. Whatever the case, I've always wanted to do that for him, but I haven't been able to prioritize it highly enough.
8) Do you look good in green, the signature color of St. Patrick's Day?

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I really don't know, because my signature colours tend to be reds and black. I have auburn-ish hair, greenish eyes, pale but ruddy skin, tons of freckles, etc. So I could either rock the green, or I could crash and burn. I think I would look nice in this green saree, though?

9) Random question: Did you more recently sneeze or cough?

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Because of this ^^^, I try to avoid doing both! I really do. Having four kids via c-section really did a number on my bladder control. TMI? I don't really care; it's a fact of motherhood that bladder leakage frequently happens. Combine that with my ReQuip for Parkinson's/Restless Leg Syndrome, and disaster abounds! I must stop that medicine!


Thanks for another fun one, Crazy Sam! I hope by the time I join you next week, we may have a house picked out and maybe under contract! So exciting. Eek! I'm thankful this is happening.



Sunday Stealing: Queen!

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Hey! I'm so excited for this post, hosted by Bev of Funny the World, because my family and I are huge fans of the band Queen. And Freddie Mercury, of course. He's one of the greatest! So thank you, Bev, for this post. Link up here if you'd like to play along this week!

So let's get to it!


Questions from Joe Mazello's bitch.
Bohemian Rhapsody - What matters to you more than anything in the world?
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My family. My husband and my "babies" are my world. They really are. They're growing up so freaking fast, and it's devastating!

Don’t Stop Me Now - What makes you feel unstoppable?
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Well, I have Bipolar Disorder. And I have bipolar I, which means I cycle up to the highest highs of "true mania," and I can sink down to the lowest lows of absolutely devastating depression. I also have a rare form of type I, which means I can cycle very rapidly up and down and up and down multiple times in a day if my meds are off. It sucks, but I have to admit, I do love being truly manic. I'm joyful, and I accomplish so much! So when I really get things done, I definitely feel unstoppable then.
[Side note: If you are not bipolar, you do not "understand" what being manic is like. It is not really a good thing for me or for anyone. It just feels good at the time.]

Another One Bites The Dust - What one thing would you wipe off the face of the earth?
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Just one thing? Oh, that's hard. But plastic. Too much plastic, choking the environment - along with the people who can still, in f**king 2019, toss their trash on the ground, in the water, out their damn windows...!! It can ALL go!

Under Pressure - How stressed are you currently?
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I'm always stressed. I thrive on chaos. But not crises. And lately we've been slammed with crises.

We Will Rock You - What was the last concert you went to?
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Other than Taylor Swift's 1989 concert in Miami with Chloë in October 2015, I don't think I've paid to go to a concert in a while. I did win two tickets for the Amy Lee (from Evanescence) and Lindsey Stirling concert in Arizona, but we couldn't get there from Idaho at the time. And then I won two tickets to Metallica recently, but I gave those two tickets to my husband and son. So basically I like to watch Red Light Challenge, a local band by the two guys above. They're native Hawaiians, but they live here now for some reason and have gigs all over the place. They're fun!

Somebody To Love - Are you looking for somebody to love?
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Nope. I stopped searching on November 1, 2000.

We Are The Champions - What achievement are you most proud of?
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Many - too many - times in my life, I've picked up and started over somewhere else as a way of "fixing" my problems. But really, I was just running away from them and making new problems. So I guess I'm proudest of those times when I was afraid, and instead of running way (quitting), I stood up and faced what was scaring me the most. Even in the middle of it, when I knew I was messing up badly, I stayed put and finished. I have to channel that girl right now!

Radio Gaga - What do you think of today’s popular music?
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I like most of it. I like a lot of things. Lately I've been going back and forth between Queen and Pavarotti, so it's all good!

I Want To Break Free - If you could move to any part of the world, where would you want to live?
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My husband and I would buy a boat and live forever aboard, traveling around the world and back, experiencing all that life and all the different cultures have to offer. That would be amazing.

Love Of My Life - Have you ever had your heart broken?
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Oh, God, yes. I mean, I've loved and lost and all that... but my heart broke irreparably when my son died in my arms. Nothing breaks like a heart, right Miley?

Killer Queen - What is your favourite thing about yourself?
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I'm not afraid to show my vulnerability.
The Show Must Go On - What is something you will never give up?
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No matter how much of my voice is taken from me, I'll still sing.

Crazy Little Thing Called Love - Name some of your favourite musicians.
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Dear Freddie Mercury, of course;
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Whitney Houston;
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one of my best friends on the planet, Shana Marie Hobin Stewart (the one with the "fireplace" right behind her); and... let's see, 
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Who Wants To Live Forever - If you could be immortal, would you?
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Oh, God, no. No, no, no. For myriad reasons, not the least of which is that life is too fucking painful!!

Fat Bottomed Girls - What are some traits you look for in a partner?
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First of all, I freaking hate that song, and I hate the title. But these are my biggies: (1) smart as hell, (2) funny as hell, (3) not abusive, (4) impressive in their career maybe, (5) loves me. I think I got all that and a helluva lot more! Some good, some not - but he could definitely say the same!

I Want It 
All - If you could have anything in the world, what would it be?
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I would want to know, when I leave this life, that we are taking every necessary and possible step to protect Mother Earth so that our children can feel free and not reluctant to have kids of their own, and so on. And so other species can continue to thrive, even with the overpopulation of mankind. Then I will rest peacefully.
Ahhhh. It's 1:37 AM, but it's about to be 3 AM because of Daylight Saving Time. Gah, I hate moving the clocks ahead. I don't get enough sleep at night as it is!
So I should rest. Have a happy week, everyone!

Saturday 9: Up On The Roof

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Hey, everyone. Welcome back! I've missed a few weeks during a family crisis, but I think we're on a big upswing right now. I've missed y'all so much!


Not to go on and on about that, please visit Saturday 9 and link up here if you'd like to join us this week!

Up On The Roof

1) JT sings that, when the world gets him down, he goes up on the roof to find peace. When you're "feeling tired and beat," what do you do to cheer yourself up?
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First, I assess whether I'm tired and need a nap. If not, I listen to music and try to get things done. Music is so important to me on an emotional level.

2) He sings that, at night, the stars put on a show for free. Are you economizing, or sticking to a budget?
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Oh yeah. Definitely sticking to a tight budget over here!

3) In addition to recording this song for his album, Flag, James Taylor surprised the song's composer, and his good friend. Carole King by performing it the night she received her Kennedy Center Honor (see link above). Tell us about a good turn a friend has done for you recently.
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My best friend, Shana, has helped me a lot more than she realizes. A concert violist and violinist, orchestra conductor, music teacher, and all-around generous person has helped me out of my recent existential crisis by making me appreciate classical music and her abilities. Getting outside of my own head and discovering this new love has done me so much good. Thank you, Shana!

4) James Taylor and Carole King have been good friends for decades, but they have never been romantically involved. Do you have platonic friends of the opposite sex?
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Sure I do. A lot of them. But I mostly have to keep them at a distance, since my husband is of the jealous type.

5) James was born in the Boston hospital where his father worked as a resident physician. Are there any doctors or nurses in your family?

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Haha, no. But my daughter, Chloë, wants to go into nursing. I think she'd be great at it. I hope she is happy in whatever she does!
6) When James was young, his family moved to Chapel Hill, NC. James has vivid memories of how beautiful the area was in all four seasons. What's your favorite time of year?
Summer is by far my favorite. I've tried to enjoy the other seasons more, but it's hard for me. I need a lot of sunlight. I need warmth. I need the beauty of flowers and green and Spring growth. I'm so relieved we are well into March now, and I have my eyes peeled waiting for our tulips to emerge!
7) In 1979, when this recording was popular, ESPN launched. Do you often watch that cable sports channel?

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No. I've only ever put it on accidentally!
8)  Also in 1979, the Voyager spacecraft sent photos back to earth that revealed Jupiter's rings. Without looking it up, can you name all the planets in our solar system?
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Easily. I remember learning about the solar system in Grade Two. Jupiter has been my favorite planet ever since then. I can name them all in order - although I still resent having to leave off Pluto! Poor little dwarf planet. Anyway, yes.

9) Random question: Our Saturday 9 Wizards give you a choice -- you can be 20 years old and gorgeous, 30 years old and brilliant, or 40 years old and rich. Which do you choose?
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Well, damn, that's a tough one! I want all of those, at all of those ages! I've wanted all of those things in my life, sure, but I've always been grateful for my brain. So I would choose to be 30 years old and (continue to be) brilliant. Great question, Sam!
So glad to be back! Thanks for stopping by, everyone. XOXO
~ Melanie

Just... Melanie

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I haven't been doing a whole lot of writing in the past few weeks.

I've had a hard time. We've all had a hard time.

Life is hard. Life is weird. Life is confusing.

I decided that I no longer want to be known as something that really hurt me at the time, and apparently still hurts me, so much that I accepted the joke because I guess in a way I accepted that I am a joke and therefore meaningless. Armchair psychology; who knows. 

So no more Smellyann. Little by little, I'm trying to eliminate that from the internet.

Instead, I'm just going to be me.

Just... Melanie.

Or when I'm feeling fun or fancy or silly or, well, fun! I'll be Melanie Penelope.

because it really does crack me up and make me smile.

Henceforth, no more Smellyann. That is never who I was. It was my shield, my shell, my wall.

I have been protecting myself far too long.

It's time to allow myself to be vulnerable.

Welcome to Just... Melanie. ;) 

Unfortunately, I can't change the name of the blog without losing thousands of posts, hundreds of followers, and maybe even one fan?

So that will still be SA. But I had to prioritize.

(Also, I didn't want to lose all my pre-set categories.)

All right. I'm tired now, y'all. Have a lovely.


P.S. Some things will never change. Like Fin.