Top Ten Thursday: Social Media and Me

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Another fun TOP TEN THURSDAY - this time, it's things readers should expect to see if they plan to follow me on social media.


Hmmm, well, this is an interesting one. so here goes....these are the things you might (okay, WILL) see on Facebook, Instagram, Google+, and Twitter.

  1. First and foremost, pictures of the #2Doods, Cooper and Murphy: 
    I take lots of photos and share them on Instagram (they have their own account, too) and Facebook (yup, another account here).
     
  2. Stuff about our home in Tennessee:
    Having lived here just a year, it's still new to us and we are always seeing new things. Flowers, birds, clouds...you name it.
     
  3. Improvements around our home in Tennessee:
    You never know what Stu will be up to! Whether working on the motorcycle, the yard, in his wood shop or the RV, there's something going on.
     
  4. Local travel & visiting:
    We make a lot of trips to neighboring towns and since I use my phone for photos, well, you see what I mean. With summer approaching, we won't do as much because of the #2Doods and not being able to take them in the car. But we might still try a camping trip or two at a local campground...just to get them used to it.
     
  5. Photos from our cruises:
    We cruise at least once year and even thought we often cruise the same ports, there are always new photos. LOTS of new photos...maybe even a video or two.
     
  6. Grandbabies:
    We don't get to see them often enough, but love to share pictures when we do (or when we can steal them from their parents on Facebook or Instagram).
     
  7. Positive Quotes:
    I am big on quotes and often share my favorites. Motivation, feeling good, positive reinforcement, making a bad day better - these are the ones I like.
     
  8. Funny stories, videos and cartoons:
    I like to laugh - there is too much sadness and unnecessary drama in our lives nowadays. So when something makes me laugh out loud, I like to share it.
     
  9. My book updates:
    Yes, I share news about my writing on this blog. New books, special sales, etc. but I try to not spam this blog. In addition, I will share news about my author friends and their books from time to time.
     
  10. News Alerts:
    I often share news alerts on Facebook that I feel might interest my friends or are of special interest to me. Weather, general news, lost celebrities or people of importance - that type of thing. If I've seen it too many times, I won't share. Oh, and I always try to verify that it's not fake news or a hoax. too many of those going around.
What do you share the most on your social media accounts? Drop it in a blog and join in the blog hop!

Ciao for now!

It's done....

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Our RV lot in Bee's RV Resort in Clermont, FL has been sold to a great couple. They are younger than us, still working (for themselves) and we're sure they will have many happy seasons on the lot.

Us? We will try different spots to winter in for the next couple of years. Next winter we plan to try Okeefenokee RV Park in Folkston, GA. We will head there some time in November - weather dependent. Mild fall, late November/early December. Cold fall, early to mid-November.

The next year, we might try the Escapees park in Alabama. Who knows? Life is good!!

Ciao for now!

Strange Birds

I've come across some really strange yard birds recently while browsing the Internet.

That said, I think Stu needs to make me one of these - which one would you choose?

Flamingo

"I don't know what it is" bird

Maybe a frog bird?

Cardinal bird?

While the above are all made from metal and recycled tools, these are made from PVC. You can learn more on this website.

Would you have one of these in your yard? Me - I love quirky and am thinking seriously about the "I don't know what it is" bird.


Ciao for now!

J.O.S.H. - Just Our Soldiers' Helpers

Monday, May 28, 2018


With Memorial Day approaching, many of us are thinking about those who have served but are gone. It's also a good time to remember those who are serving now - and who may not make it home. Here is great site that makes it easy to help. Be sure to read the thank you notes from the soldiers themselves.


Their FAQ page is quite informative...
Here are some packing event photos...


Ciao for now!

Silly pet tricks....

Friday, May 25, 2018

Old Lady With Dog clip art
While Daddy's gone, the #2Doods are discovering some new tricks!

Our new refrigerator makes smaller ice cubes than the old one and often small pieces break off and fall onto the floor. Cooper has discovered he likes them so whenever he hears the me using the ice maker, he comes running and stares at the floor, waiting for ice chips.

Don't let this photo fool you, neither pup is leery of the "eyes". Nope!

Cooper eyes the newcomer to the utility room
Just a couple minutes ago, Murphy trotted into the living room with his trophy in hand (okay, mouth). It was just a mailer bag from the trash can that he was using to taunt Cooper into a game of tug-of-war. After a scolding, I went back to the utility room and found a very wet lid. Hmmm...emptied the trash and sprayed the lid with apple bitter (we haven't used that in probably two months or more).

Don't let these adorable faces fool you...they are DEVIOUS! LOL!

Cooper begs me for some attention, now that Daddy's not home.


Murphy, looking oh so innocent!
I wonder what tomorrow will bring?

Ciao for now!

Sign, sign, everywhere a sign...

These two signs (wall hangings) arrived a couple of weeks ago, but I keep forgetting to blog about them.

This one is going on our back deck on the covered area...


This one will eventually go on (or in) Stu's "Backend of Nowhere Garage" (aka the pole barn).


Aren't they fantastic? Well crafted, lightweight and not that expensive. Oh, you want to know where we got them. Advanced Metal Art They have a huge variety of custom items you can order for yourself or as a gift. Great to work with and very responsive to emails.

Because we have a wood deck, we often see carpenter bees this time of year. We get our twice a year termite/bug protection/inspection done in April/May and October/November timeframes. In the spring we always mention the bees so they can spray. This year Stu added some additional protection...homemade carpenter bee traps. They'd been out for weeks with no results. Yesterday afternoon,  I noticed we had a bee!


A couple hours later, we had two!


It was a perfect late afternoon to sit outside and enjoy the weather, listening to the sounds of country living: dogs barking (for once, not mine), tractor running and a donkey braying.



The #2Doods love playing in the late afternoons when the backyard isn't so hot. They have made a slalom run around these trees and enjoy chasing each other in, out and around them. In the second photo, they'd just finished racing around when they noticed me on the deck taking photos. LOL!



We were due for rain all week, but so far, it's been gorgeous weather. Hope it holds up so our lawn guy can mow before the grass gets much higher!

Ciao for now!

Run for the Wall - he's on the way!

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

It's been a busy week here - lots to do and a short time to do it (hey, that reminds me of a song). We had planned to attend the Smoky Mountain Highland Games but with rain in the forecast and a gazillion things to get done, we opted out. There is always next year!

Tree seedlings to be planted, yard to be mowed, laundry & shopping for packing, the packing, last minute fixes to the BCAT (Black Cherry Attack Trailer), the #2Doods to doggy camp, write lists, check things off lists, toss lists, re-write lists...well, you get the idea.

The biggest thing was getting ready for Stu's pole barn. He had made arrangements for the front part of the pasture to be excavated (prepped) - leveled, dirt brought in and then gravel. He has decided to order a pavilion from a local company, Troyer Post Buildings. They have excellent prices and a great reputation. Plus, they are only a couple miles down the road from us. They will build the pavilion and deliver all the materials, except doors and windows, to close it in. Sometime in late July or early August - if everything stays on schedule - he will start putting up the walls, hopefully with help from family and friends.




In order for the excavation, he had to take down most of the fencing at the front of the pasture next door. It was easy to roll back the wire fencing and save it to use later. Getting the posts out was a bit more effort. He planned to write a blog post but ran out of time. Click for video one and video two of the process. It was quite neatly done.


Monday afternoon we headed into Cookeville, Stu loaded for the Run for the Wall ride (and three weeks in Maryland, visiting family & friends and taking care of a few medical/dental appointment), and me in the car. We watched the bikes roll by - I took video but forgot (sorry) that flipping the phone didn't change the orientation. Oops! You can watch the videos (one or two flips back and forth) and get a sense of the 400+ motorcycles on the ride.


After the riders went through, we headed over to Logan's Roadhouse to have dinner with Stu's old partner, Bill Metcalf. He is volunteering on the fuel crew (not his first year) and besides our general getting caught up to date, he updated Stu on a lot of things he thought he should know about the ride.




If you are on Facebook, there is a public group for RFTW where you can see photos and videos from all three routes. Stu and Bill are on the Midway Route which is the newest, I think Bill said five years.

So far, Stu is having a good ride. A little rain but nothing too severe. They are typically served two meals a day at stops (lunch and dinner) and sometimes even treated to a breakfast. Back at home, I've been busy writing and the #2Doods - well, you can see what they are doing!


The hummingbirds are fed and Stu's carpenter bee trap is finally working!!! Life is good!


Ciao for now!

Just because I'm old....

Monday, May 21, 2018

Just because I'm old, doesn't mean I can't be a teensy bit flamboyant! I spent all my working life dressed in conservative clothes, especially suits. That said, it always took me to a fad was almost out to adopt it. I loved red, my mother always dressed me in blues, but it took my until my forties when I had my colors done that I need warm colors, not cool.

Being a septuagenerian, I've decided to let loose a bit. I actually started in the second half of my sixties and now I'm really breaking out. LOL!

My first "outside my comfort zone" was on our cruise in January 2017. My weight was down and I found a couple pairs of leggings, on Amazon from ViV Collection, that I really liked. Here is one of the pair as I get ready for dinner that night. I love the look and the bright colors.



They work at home as well, comfortable as all get out and not overly warm, thus the flip-flops.

Cooler weather set in and I found these heavier weight leggings at Wally World. They kept me deliciously warm and toast while still comfortable all winter long.


Spring finally arrived and it was time to get some capris. I fell in love with these pastel skulls I found at Wally World online. I just love them, even if I would never wear them outside the house. LOL!

Not as colorful, but still fun! These are ViV Collection, from Amazon, still my favorite company for leggings.

Has your clothing style changed as you've aged? Are you less formal? More comfortable? Brighter or drabber?

Oh, btw, I love colorful socks, too! The fun ones from Blue-Q are my favorites! When I get compliments on certain ones, I have to take a shoe off and show them the rest of the sock. LOL!

Ciao for now!

GUEST POST: Brandon Hale - Life, Death & Relationships

Thursday, May 17, 2018



I have written about my friend and fellow author, Brandon Hale, before, back when he started his battle with cancer. He battle is coming to the end and he recently made this post on Facebook. I asked him if I could share it on my blog. He agreed. I hope you get as much out it as I did. Love you, Brandon!


This one's going to be painfully long. Like, it might just end up being the longest post I've ever written. Consider yourselves warned. Read at your own risk of losing a sizeable chunk of life you'll never get back.

Okay, the warning's out of the way, so heeeere we go...

I have a prepared speech for almost anything. Seriously. Ask any friend who's known me for more than a year and they can confirm, I'm full of speeches. I love 'em, and give them on a very wide range of subjects. I have a speech where I use table legs as an analogy for the 3 to 4 pillars required to keep a relationship stable. I have a speech where I answer the question of why God would let bad things happen in the world. And I have a speech where I explain why the dinosaurs became extinct. So yeah, my speeches range from the emotional to the metaphysical to the scientific. I've driven my friends crazy with my speeches for the past 20 years (at least), but deep down, I think they love that about me. Really, they do. At least I hope they do, because if they don't then ya' have to wonder why they remain my friend despite my constant speeches.

To be clear, I do not preach with my speeches. I simply explain that this is how I see the universe, and they can take them as little pieces of wisdom and learn from them, or they can laugh at them as evidence of my own self-delusion that I'm some kind of philosopher. I don't care what they think as long as they're entertained.

But here's my problem... Lately, I've been trying to decide which speech will be my legacy. Which speech should I give you here on Facebook that is the speech that defines who I am, and how I came to be? I've really struggled with this, because it's a very important thing, a legacy. Besides children, which I don't have (to my knowledge), a legacy is the only thing that remains of us after we're gone. So which speech should be my legacy? Which speech defines both who I am and how I came to be? Like I said, I've struggled with this for a long time... until last week.

Last week, Laura mentioned that she was gathering some CDs because a friend was selling them for us. Then she mentioned that another friend had dropped us off some food to eat - for no reason other than to be nice. And that got me thinking about all the wonderful things folks have done for us since my diagnosis. It's really too much to count. The support I've gotten has been downright overwhelming (in a good way). And I thought about when I was in my coma, on my birthday, Laura had asked for good vibes and prayers on Facebook. It got shared and then shared again, and I got put on prayer list after prayer list. Before long, I literally had THOUSANDS of people praying and/or sending me good vibes that day. And, appropriately, that was the day I woke from my coma.

I thought about all of this kindness and goodness that overwhelmed me, and I asked myself why. Why would people go so far to help me in my time of need?

And that's when it hit me.

That's when I knew what speech would be my legacy. It's the speech that comes with very important advice... in particular, it's a speech I give to everybody, but especially young people, about the very best advice I could ever give them when it comes to surviving this ride we call life.

I won't give you the entire speech. For you, I'll just go straight to the heart of it. My speech is about a word. A single word. When people ask me how I managed to sell enough books to quit my job (right before I was diagnosed), and I could answer them with one word. When people ask my why I have so many close friends, I can answer with the same word. When people ask me why people always seem happy to help me, I can answer with the same single word. When people ask me, flat out, how I survived this world for 45 years... you guessed it. I can answer it with that same exact word.

And what is that one word?

Relationships.

Seriously. It's that simple. In fact, I recommend you take a piece of paper, write the word "relationships" on it, then put it on your fridge or your computer monitor or anywhere you frequent, because it's a word you want to be reminded of often. Every day. Hell, multiple times a day. Relationships is the answer to every question about anything I've ever accomplished in this world, ever... and that's the truth.

Now, let's be clear in what I mean by "relationships." First, let me say what I do NOT mean. I do not mean anything one sided. I do not mean anything where the gives and the takes are uneven. You should always give as much as you receive in any relationship, or at the very least, you should be willing to give as much as you receive.

A relationship should involve mutual respect. In some way, you should be putting goodness into the world as much as you take goodness from it, and that should also apply to relationships. And that's true of business relationships and personal ones. If there's no mutual respect, it's not a relationship. It's not a healthy one, anyway.

Everything good that has ever happened to me can be traced back to a relationship I've formed with someone (or multiple people). Laura married me because we developed a relationship of mutual love and respect. My friend Eddie officiated the wedding, happily, even though it was blazing hot that day and the wedding was outside. He did it because we had a relationship of mutual love and respect. Eddie knew that if he ever needed me, I'd do whatever I could to be there for him.

For twenty years, I tried to build as many respectful relationships as I could. My talent is the emotional stuff. We all have our strengths and weaknesses, and that's just one of my few strengths. I'm not a very good carpenter, but if your heart is broken, I'm the guy to talk to. I won't make the pain go away, because nobody can do that, but I will make you feel just a little bit better. I might help you to realize that, as painful as life is, it's still worth living. I think my friends would back me up on that. Helping people get through emotional problems, or even just helping them take important emotional steps, is just something I'm good at. Again, I'm not being arrogant. For every thing I'm good at, I could easily name twenty things I'm bad at. And that just happens to be one of the few things I'm good at.

So for twenty years, I worked on that side of myself, so I could be better friend to all my friends. Sometimes, I just acted like an idiot to make people laugh. Other times, I've sat in a parked car and just talked to a friend until dawn, because that's what they needed at the time. And I've always tried my very best to be there when a friend needed me. Sometimes, I failed. I'm not perfect. But I never stopped TRYING to give in my relationships more than I took.

And then I got cancer.

I thought that meant I was out of the relationship business. I thought I'd be too busy fighting this terrible disease to focus on any of the many relationships I'd developed over the years... until something absolutely remarkable happened.

I was barely able to walk back then, because I was so weak, but my brother - who'd driven in from Texas just to see me - helped me walked into a building where some kind of little benefit was being held... except when I got inside, I realized it wasn't a "little" benefit. The place was PACKED, complete with Folk Soul Revival playing on the stage. "Oh," I thought. "The place is packed because of Folk Soul." But after my brother helped me to my seat, I quickly discovered that I wasn't completely correct in my thought. A massive line formed in front of my table. People literally waited in line, for quite a while, just to have 2 minutes with me. They came and lined up just to talk for a minute, and to give me a hug, or take a picture with me.

I was simultaneously humbled and filled with happiness. It truly was overwhelming. A TON of people were there... and a large chunk of those people were there for ME.

After that, the support just poured in. My neighbor started mowing my yard for me, refusing to take a cent. He moved away and then another neighbor took over, also refusing any payment. I got card after card after card, from people all over the world. Literally, the world (I have friends in England who sent me stuff). Another friend gave us a huge collection of CDs, in near perfect condition, and he told me, "You should copy these, then sell them on ebay." He then suggested a mutual friend to contact who might be able to sell them for me, and that friend happily agreed to do it, which helped us enormously (this cancer has sucked our money away as fast as it has sucked my weight away).

Anyway, person after person came to us and offered to help in some way. And it wasn't just the generic "Let me know if you need anything." They were all absolutely sincere, and they volunteered to do very specific things for us. One friend is finishing the Day Soldiers series for me, by using my notes to write the final book. I trust him to do a great job. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if the final book in the series, written by him, ends up being the best book in the series. I wouldn't mind. That would make me very proud, in fact, and extremely happy for him. Two other friends - whom I met through writing groups and have never met in person - have agreed to help my friend when the time comes to publish the book.

I seriously have a tidal wave of people offering to help me in various ways, and I can tell you, without a doubt, that ALL of this help... every bit of it... has come to me because of that one important word...

Relationships.

If I hadn't built honest, mutually beneficial relationships with these people... relationships where the respect genuinely goes both ways... if that hadn't happened, I wouldn't have this ocean of support from all my family and friends.

Of course, I still thank them for their help whenever I can.

So that's it. That's my takeaway. That's the legacy I want to leave the world. That's my ultimate advice.

If you want to succeed in life, both personally and professionally, build strong, respectful relationships.

I really is that simple.

Be there for people. Even if it feels one-sided right now, keep doing it, because you never know if the day will come that you get a terrible diagnosis. I of course hope that never, ever happens, but if it does, take it from me, you'll need those strong relationships. And if it (hopefully) never happens, you'll still have built those relationships. You can be the person who always "knows somebody." You can be the person who always answers every problem with, "I know someone who might be able to help with this." And the way to become that annoying but much needed person is by building as many strong, respectful, mutually beneficial relationships as you can.

I said it earlier but I'll say it again... pretty much every good thing that has ever happened to me, professionally and personally, is because of relationships I've built throughout the years. Everything. My work relationships were usually just about work, but I applied the same standard. I gave to them as much as I got. Usually more.

Build strong, mutually respectful, mutually beneficial relationships. As many as you can. Be there for people. I promise you, the payoff for that will come. It might be a while, but it will come. If you only listen to one thing I've ever said, please let it be that. Build strong relationships... and avoid the toxic ones like they're the plague. Because, emotionally, they are a plague.

You get back what you put into the world, and the same is true of people. You get back what you put into them. That's how karma works. It's not some mystical force. If you're good to people, they'll want to be good to you. And if you're a shit to people, when you have hard times, nobody will give a shit about what's happening to you. Karma is about cause and effect, not magic.

So never forget that very important word, and you'll do well.

Relationships.

They matter. Trust me on this, they matter more than you know. If the past four years have taught me anything, they've taught me that.

I love you all, dearly and forever. Now get out there and start building good relationships. You won't regret it.

Bran



Ciao for now!