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It is the last day of November, dear reader, and I am finally wrapping up the spooky season which was a HUGE success. The only activity I was unable to do on my Halloween Fun List was the New Orleans Zombie Run which was an extra activity that I thought would be fun to do if my schedule permitted. However, I just could not fit it into my schedule once I accepted the role of Eleanor Slides in the play, The House on Haunted Hill.

Kelsi and I participated in our first Halloween ReadaThon which was successful. Even though I had to rearrange my original TBR list, I still completed all of the prompts and read some fabulous books and short stories. In fact, I read one more book this season than last season. As for short stories, I read three this time around which was two less than last season.

Horror movies were also on my list, and I was able to watch 20 movies this season which is amazing. I only watched 13 movies last year. Unfortunately, I was unable to watch Near Dark or Trick ‘r Treat because they were both unavailable; however, I replaced them with The Halloween Tree and Dark Was the Night.

I accessorized my work wardrobe with Halloween/Fall earrings, pins, and socks. My hubby bought me a Halloween t-shirt which I wore on Halloween Night for when I handed candy out to trick-or-treaters. Ironically, it has the face of a creepy clown on it, and clowns freak me out. I added some Halloween decorations in the reading area of my bedroom, but unfortunately, never added any to my fall decorations on my front porch. Kelsi and I hung out together the first weekend of October and vlogged about our wonderful day having lunch, shopping for Halloween decor, and more. It was definitely one of the highlights of the spooky season. Two activities that I left off my list was sending out Halloween cards to a few of my friends and posting a daily Halloween-related Snoopy picture on my FB story. I even received a Halloween card from Kelsi. Happiness Boost!

I tried a new spooky adult beverage called the Drunk Witch Cocktail. It consisted of Vodka, Grenadine, and Blue Curacao topped with Sprite. I enjoyed it, but it was strong, so drinking one was quite sufficient. I also drank fall flavored coffee throughout the month. And, I baked an Autumn Pumpkin Cake from a recipe featured on the blog, It’s a Charming Life (itsacharminglife.com.). It was simple to make and tasted delicious.

Kelsi and I had several wonderful chats about all the enjoyable activities we did during the spooky season. Our final one was a Halloween 2021 Wrap Up Chat where we discussed our thematic activities, including The House on Haunted Hill. What an exciting opportunity! I had the best time performing in the play and will eventually share my incredible experience with you.

That’s a wrap, dear reader. As Kelsi mentioned in her description of our chat, “we put a bow on the 2021 Halloween season.” Kelsi and I could not have asked for a better spooky season, especially following the turmoil of Hurricane Ida. Planned activities for a season or surrounding a specific holiday boosts happiness, creates fond memories, and enriches one’s life, especially if you share those activities with a friend, a family member, or your significant other. Do you plan activities for a season or surrounding a specific holiday? If so, please share in the comments. In the meantime, I need to finish my Christmas Fun List. Happiness!

My Halloween decorations I bought while shopping with Kelsi along with the Halloween card I received from Kelsi.

“Make a commitment to having fun. See your best friends and make time for your hobbies and passions.” ~ Robert Holden

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Thanksgiving this year looked a little different from years past. We were missing a couple of people around the table, and the hubster and I went with a nontraditional Thanksgiving meal. We were striving for simple. Normally, Barry fries a turkey, and it is usually joined by cranberry sauce, a green veggie, sweet potatoes, macaroni and cheese, and a pecan or pumpkin pie. Since it would only be the four of us gathered around the table on Thursday, our menu consisted of turkey burgers, broccoli casserole, spinach artichoke dip, and cheesecake for dessert (courtesy of Rouse’s). Thankfully, I married a man who likes to cook. Everything on my plate was delicious. Of course, Mrs. Billie baked cookies. Chocolate chip cookies to be exact. My Daddy and Son #1 spent Thanksgiving in Atlanta with my sister Rachel, my brother-in-law Lee, and my beautiful niece Emma. According to my Daddy, their menu consisted of “ham, green bean casserole, and of course, dessert.”

On Friday evening, Barry and I joined Shelly and Kerry to attend Friendsgiving at my friend Wendy’s house. Shelly and I graduated from Riverdale High School with Wendy. This was my very first Friendsgiving event and Wendy’s first time hosting one. There were about 15 of us, mostly Riverdale graduates. What an absolutely awesome evening! Fantastic food, terrific conversation, and lots of laughter, especially when Wendy, Sharon, and Kristie performed their award-winning dance moves to the song “Heartbeat-It’s a Lovebeat” by the DeFranco Family, a Canadian pop music group from the 70s. Back in the 6th grade, they won the overall prize at their school’s talent show with this performance. Everyone had a wonderful time, so Wendy is planning to make Friendsgiving, the day after Thanksgiving, an annual event. Happiness Boost!

High School Friends: Shannon, Chris, Kat, Jeff, Kristie, Sharon, Michelle, Shelly, Stacey, Kim, Steve, Eddie, and Wendy (holding Millie)

The weekend kept on giving with last night’s Drink Nightsgiving (just made this up to even out the “giving” theme in the title of this post-HA!). Barry and I drove over to the Cyrus’s house to partake in libations with Shelly, Kerry, Mrs. Carol (Shelly’s mom), and Mr. Mike (Shelly’s bonus dad and my Godson). Drink Nights with the Cyruses originated because of COVID restrictions. I am not a big drinker; however, I like trying fancy cocktails. Kerry, who is our official bartender and enjoys mixing fancy cocktails, served us Black Cherry Chocolate Martinis last night. This yummy adult beverage is his very own concoction. To make one marvelous martini, you will need the following ingredients: 1 ounce chocolate vodka; 1 ounce cherry vodka; 2-3 ounces of Just Black Cherry Juice (Knudsen); Hershey’s dark chocolate syrup to taste. According to Kerry, “you can increase vodka amounts if you want it a bit stronger. Or, decrease vodka amounts if it’s too strong.” In addition to our martinis, we nibbled on snacks which included a cheese dip that Mrs. Carol made (shaped like a turkey), a crab rangoon dip that Shelly made, chocolate, and Cape Cod potato chips (provided by me). Another enjoyable evening spent with fabulous friends.

It’s now Sunday, the last day of my vacation. Although it was shortened this year because of Hurricane Ida, I am grateful for the much-needed break from my day job and for spending quality time with my family and friends. Family relationships and friendships are super important to me, and I have been blessed with many wonderful humans who bring so much joy to my life. And, you are also counted among those humans that enrich my life, dear reader. Thank you for being you and reading my content. If you participated in a “giving” activity or have a suggestion for a fancy cocktail, please share in the comments or email me at katloyacano@gmail.com. Enjoy the remainder of your weekend. Happiness!

“Gratitude is an antidote to negative emotions, a neutralizer of envy, hostility, worry, and irritation. It is savoring, it is not taking things for granted, it is present-oriented.” ~ Sonja Lyubomirsky

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It has been two weeks since the dreadful time change took place amidst my current season of sacrifice and the onset of colder temperatures. Not surprisingly, I am riding the struggle bus. Normally, the weekend before Thanksgiving is a time of jubilant celebration since it kicks off a much-needed week-long vacation from my day job. Not so this year, thanks to Ida. It will now begin at 3:20 pm on Tuesday afternoon.

My teacher friends and I have to make up all the days we missed in the wake of Ida’s destruction even though we were definitely not on a vacation. If it sounds like I am grumbling, I am (a little), along with all of my teacher friends, the students, and their parents. I admit, we are somewhat spoiled and love our holiday breaks. But, please, do not misunderstand, I am grateful and appreciate any time off that we do get to stay home. However, this school year we really need our Thanksgiving break after dealing with COVID (still dealing with it), Hurricane Ida (still dealing with it), and the end of Daylight Saving Time (still dealing with it).

Most of my dear readers know that the next four months will be tough on me. I have to push myself not to surrender to my sofa once the sunlight disappears. The last couple of years I have immersed myself in activities (a play, movie marathons, NaNoWriMo, holiday fun lists, etc.) so as not to succomb to the season of SAD. So far, the only side effect has been going to bed earlier than usual and not getting a good night’s sleep. I do not sleep well in general, so this has been challenging. I find myself relying on Melatonin in the middle of the night to fall back to sleep and an additional cup of coffee to make it through the work day.

On a Brighter Note

My hubby and I went out Friday night with our fabulous friends, Shelly and Kerry. We always have a terrific time together, and this was no exception.

We attended Starry November Night in the middle of Downtown Hammond. The event included live music, train rides, a wine walk, vendors, and local businesses interacting with the community. It was an incredibly enjoyable evening, and exactly what I needed to stave off post-show blues and to avoid the siren call of my couch. The four of us chose to dine at a new restaurant, Son of a Biscuit, to kick off the evening. It is an easygoing establishment featuring a pun-filled menu of eggscellent choices. We were taken care of throughout the meal by a wonderful waitress named Camryn. Of course, our meal would not be complete without first ordering a cocktail. I chose Feeling Peachy, and let’s just say, after consuming it, I definitely felt peachy keen. We skipped appetizers and ordered entrees which was a difficult decision because everything on the menu sounded mouthwatering. I finally decided on Bacon Shrimp Mac N Cheese (homemade mac n cheese topped with grilled imported shrimp and bacon with a biscuit on the side). It was scrumptious! Needless to say, we will all be back in the future.

After dinner, we strolled through Downtown Hammond, enjoying the sights, the sounds, popping in and out of several shops, and stopping by a vendor booth or two. I enjoyed eating a yummy cupcake and topped it off with a deliciously hot Butter Rum Latte from PJ’s Coffee. I encountered so many lovely friends, former co-workers, students, and their parents, many who I have not seen in ages. It was awesome catching up with Ava who I taught a few years back and is currently in college, my super nice friend and former co-worker Angie (also met her husband David), and the sweetest parents, Marie and Robert, who I have known for years. I taught their son Cameron when he was in 2nd grade and in 8th grade. We also made a point of stopping by Wonder Collective Gifts where my friend Tweety, who is an artist, had some of her amazing artwork on display.

While visiting the Hammond Regional Arts Center, I said hello to my sweet friend Tara who I recently shared the stage with in The House on Haunted Hill at the Columbia Theatre. It was the first time seeing her since the show ended its run last weekend. Hopefully, it will not be the last. We both plan to audition at the beginning of December for the play Puffs.

Starry November Night was a wonderful way to start the weekend. I am looking forward to Barry and I getting together with Shelly and Kerry again soon. We already have several outings planned for the upcoming weeks.

Welcome to Night Vale

If you happen to be a fan of podcasts and The X-Files, consider checking out the wonderfully weird, Welcome to Night Vale. Alex, a castmate from The House on Haunted Hill, recently introduced me to this otherwordly podcast that includes a radio show format with cool music for the weather segment. The episode running time is around 30 minutes. I would highly recommend you start at the beginning with the pilot which sets the stage for mysterious malarkey.

I am counting down the hours until Tuesday afternoon, dear reader. I am thrilled to have a few days off to relax, recharge, and regroup. The year is quickly coming to an end, and I need to assess 2021 to look at what worked, what did not work, and how I want to begin the new year. Will I carry over items into 2022? Or, will I start the new year with a clean slate? Those questions and many more will need to be answered by the end of December. As of right now, I will enjoy what remains of this beautiful Sunday, and I hope you will do the same. Happiness!

“The soul that gives thanks can find comfort in everything; the soul that complains can find comfort in nothing.” ~ Hannah Whitall Smith

Hanging out with SWOLEman the Snowman and his little snowman buddy at Downtown Fitness (Starry November Night)

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I am having the most fang-tastic weekend, dear reader! The play I am performing in, The House on Haunted Hill as Mrs. Eleanor Slides, opened on Friday night. And, I am having the time of my life. My dear, bootiful friend Kelsi attended last night’s show with her boyfriend Paul. They drove all the way from Harahan to inky black Louisiana to see me perform. We were able to chat for a few minutes after the show.

My good friend and co-worker Debbie and her husband Jerry also attended the show last night. Debbie and Jerry snuck out after the performance since Jerry had to work early this morning, so I didn’t get the chance to see them afterwards. However, I received a sweet text from her this morning. Everyone enjoyed the spooky production. I am super appreciative of my friends’ support. What a happiness boost!

This morning, I finished the most spooktacular book. My Best Friend’s Exorcism is the first novel that I have read by Grady Hendrix, but it will not be the last. Kelsi recommended it to me ages ago, so I chose it for one of the prompts on our Halloween Readathon. It is AWESOME! Anyone who grew up in the 80s or enjoy 80s nostalgia will enjoy this book. While it is a horror novel, friendship is at the heart of the story. If you have ever had a best friend who will stick by your side until the end, this book was written for you.

Today happens to be Halloween which is my absolute favorite holiday of the year. I have a bunch of activities planned for the day that will extend well into the evening hours. The first activity on my Halloween agenda is to bake an Autumn Pumpkin Cake. While the cake is baking, I will read one of the two remaining selections on my Halloween Readathon (The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and The Widow’s Broom). I’ll read the other one while the cake cools.

I will be handing out treats tonight with the help of Andrew and my hubby, sporting my new Halloween themed t-shirt that my hubby bought for me last week. There are only three movies left to watch on my Halloween Movie Marathon list. I am planning to watch two of them throughout the day and saving one for after the trick-or-treaters have departed our neighborhood for the evening. My Halloween Fun List must be completed by midnight tonight. Kelsi and I will be scheduling a few chats very soon to discuss our Halloween season festivities, books, and movies.

In the meantime, dear reader, enjoy the spookiness of Halloween. And, if you are in the area and have a couple of hours to kill, consider attending a performance of The House on Haunted Hill. It will be running for two more weekends on Friday and Saturday nights (November 05, 06, and 12, 13) at the Columbia Theatre in Hammond. It’s a party like no other. Happiness!

“Don’t let the ghosts and ghouls disturb you, love.” ~ Frederick Loren, The House on Haunted Hill

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Tomorrow begins a “season of sacrifice” in my life that will last for the next few weeks. It is not the first time that I have gone through a period like this, and it surely will not be the last time. Everything gets busier this week with rehearsal requiring more time, leading into an intense tech week (next week) and opening weekend.

My focus for the next two weeks and the next four weekends will mainly be on the play, The House on Haunted Hill. Being in a play is not only thrilling, invigorating, and fulfilling, but also extremely time-consuming. Therefore, many of the tasks or activities that I had planned for this period of time have either been cancelled or put on the back burner until the dust settles and my schedule opens up again. In fact, my hubby and I are no longer entertaining the idea of participating in the Zombie Run in New Orleans on Saturday morning. However, we are still planning to attend The Psychedelic Furs concert at Tipitina’s on Saturday evening. I must practice daily self-care, which includes eating well, walking at least 20 minutes per day, reading, getting enough sleep, and incorporating spiritual practice throughout the day.

This week is also October’s full moon or the Hunter’s Moon. This would be the perfect week, dear reader, to read Stephen King’s Cycle of the Werewolf or watch its movie adaptation, Silver Bullet. Kelsi and I recently chatted about both the book and movie which you can check out below or on Kelsi’s YouTube channel. We also discussed how we are both doing with our Halloween Fun Lists since hanging out together earlier in the month.

Recently, I have been thinking about my future self, specifically my future self at the start of 2022. Regrettably, I realized that I had not reflected on the third quarter of the year which is due in large part to Hurricane Ida. Briefly scanning my 21 for 2021 list, I must acknowledge that I have abandoned many of the items that I had good intentions of completing this year. We are now in the fourth quarter of 2021, and I cannot see myself completing, much less even attempting to complete, the majority of the items on my list. Therefore, I am letting my list go until I am finished with the play (November 13th). At that time, I will evaluate my list to see if any of the tasks can be completed by mid-December, moved to my 22 for 2022 list, or tossed completely. Then, I will do a year-end review of what I accomplished throughout 2021 and start planning for 2022. I feel this is realistic, and my future self will thank me. In addition, I purchased some whimsical journals (Don’t Break the Chain Habit Tracker, Know Yourself Better Journal, One-Sentence Journal) for my future self this morning from Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project that I want to use in 2022.

I have a great deal going on in my life right now, dear reader. If all goes well, I should have a new roof on my house by the first week of November. Completing the roof allows us to start repairing Andrew’s bedroom. My hope is Andrew will be back home before Christmas, our backyard will be cleared of all tree debris by the end of the year, and we can finally put Hurricane Ida behind us. Despite a hectic schedule and experiencing some overwhelming moments, I remain grateful and hopeful. My wrist seems to be healing with daily medication and wearing the brace. Having Fridays off has made a huge difference for my well-being. And, I was given the opportunity to participate in a show that allows me to explore my creative side. I may be in a “season of sacrifice,” but it is temporary, and I will navigate through it with grace and a grateful attitude. Happiness!

“Gratitude is an antidote to negative emotions, a neutralizer of envy, hostility, worry, and irritation. It is savoring, it is not taking things for granted, it is present-oriented.” ~ Sonja Lyubomirsky

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The weekend is winding down, and I am ready to nestle all snug in my bed with a good book and read awhile. Despite getting diagnosed on Friday morning with tendonitis (inflammation of the tendon), I had a pretty wonderful weekend. I have been dealing with a pain in my right wrist, which has progressively gotten worse, since the first week of August. I had every intention of seeing a doctor at the beginning of September since my home remedies were not working; however, Hurricane Ida sort of complicated the matter. In any case, for the next few weeks, I will be taking a daily oral anti-inflammatory medication and wearing a brace to give my wrist a break. Icing the affected area may also help. I am praying this all works; otherwise, the next step is a shot. After the doctor visit, I had lunch with my friend Roxanne. We had a terrific time catching up and enjoying a delicious meal at Our Mom’s in downtown Hammond. Afterwards, I stopped at The Rind, a local cheese shop, to buy some cheesy goodness (goat cheese with honey and a chicken salad snack pack).

On Saturday, I spent the entire day with Kelsi doing Halloween-related activities, and we had a spook-tacular time. I plan to write a post later this week about our day together. Then, today I basically puttered around the house since the internet went out (got it back sporadically late Thursday evening) and I could not work on my blog post this morning. I cannot wait until the internet is fully restored. I guess some service is better than no service. Later in the day, I did venture out to Books-a-Million and Target for about an hour with Andrew. I was looking for a copy of The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury at the bookstore with no success. Thankfully, I was more successful obtaining the items that I needed at Target. Anyhow, Andrew ordered my book for me from Amazon, so it should arrive in a few days. Additionally, I received some unexpected but neat news today that I will share later in the week. I want to see how things play out over the next few days and get more details before I spill the beans.

Meet Ice Cream Bar, dear reader. He is Andrew’s baby Speckled King Snake that he received on 24 September. He is only two months old. Personally, I think he is a delightfully handsome fellow. Since Andrew is staying with his grandmother while his room is being repaired, I am babysitting him. Andrew does check on him regularly, and he is in charge of feeding him.

Ice Cream Bar shed on Friday morning, and ate successfully on Saturday morning. This is a big deal because it was the first shed and meal since Andrew became his poppa. He really is a beautiful little snake. I am sure you are wondering why he is named Ice Cream Bar, especially since Andrew’s last snake was named George. Well, Andrew and Ailegh (Andrew’s girlfriend) were discussing names, and Aileigh jokingly suggested Ice Cream Bar which Andrew initially thought was ridiculous. However, after some consideration, Andrew decided he liked the name. I think the name adds a bit of whimsy.

Wonderful weekends make me happy, especially when you spend them with family and friends, and a snake named Ice Cream Bar. The week ahead is looking like it will be quite busy for me, so I am signing off to relax and to finish reading the last story in AutumnCrow by Cameron Chaney. Dear reader, I hope you also had a wonderful weekend and have much to look forward to this upcoming week. Be safe, stay well, and enjoy the remainder of the weekend. Happiness!

“Take the time to do what you love to do this weekend.” ~ Catherine Pulsifer

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Hurricane Ida has come and gone, but her visit has left an indelible impression on anyone she inconvenienced during her stay. For many of us in Louisiana and beyond who experienced Ida’s wrath, the effects left in the wake of her fury will continue to be felt for the remainder of this year and well into the next.

Hurricanes are part of the package when you reside in Louisiana. They are ferocious, destructive, and unpredictable. I have lived through several hurricanes in my lifetime, and in my experience, Ida has been the worst in my community.

Ida made landfall in Louisiana near Port Fourchon (about 130 miles away from my house in Hammond) just before noon on Sunday, 29 August. This happened to be the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, a hurricane that wreaked havoc in southeastern United States and devastated the city of New Orleans and surrounding areas with major flooding.

Around 12:30 in the afternoon, we lost electricity for about an hour. There was a slight breeze, but the rain had not yet started. My family and I continued prepping for our uninvited guest. We really started feeling the effects of Ida’s arrival between 6:00 and 7:00 in the evening (light rain and winds gusting).

7:07 pm on 29 August 2021

About 45 minutes later, I had showered, microwaved a bag of popcorn, and had nestled in my bed to watch the second episode of The Walking Dead. Then, the electricity went out and chaos ensued shortly afterwards. The eye of the storm was right at Laplace. Between 8:30 and 9:00, my hubby and I heard a loud thud not far from our bedroom window. He grabbed a flashlight and headed out the front door. The pear tree on the side of the house near our garage had uprooted and fallen down either on or near Andrew’s car. It was too dark to tell at that point. I told my husband NOT to tell Andrew.

Shortly afterwards, about 9:30, all hell broke loose when a large oak tree crashed onto the roof of my house right above Andrew’s bedroom. He had been sitting up in his bed, talking to his girlfriend Aileigh when sheetrock debris from the ceiling fell on top of him, getting into his eyes. Then, water started coming in fast and furious where the plywood in the roof above had separated and the beam had been broken. There was a crack across the ceiling from point of impact to the other end of the bedroom. As soon as we knew Andrew was safe, the four of us worked feverishly to minimize the damage to his room, his belongings, and the rest of the house. My husband and Barry, Jr. went outside, climbed onto the roof and tried to seal the area while Andrew and I quickly started removing his belongings from his bedroom. The tree had also knocked the chimney stack off of the roof, causing a small leak in the fireplace. Parts of the ceiling started falling into the room. With the help of my husband and Barry, Jr., we were able to remove everything that belonged to Andrew, except for few items left in his closet which were unharmed when we checked the next morning.

We could see bubbles in the ceiling in other areas of Andrew’s bedroom, so we knew there had to be other leaks. Barry, Sr. climbed up into the attic and discovered the tree had punctured two more holes in the roof. We were going to need more buckets.

Thankfully, Barry, Jr. emptied the buckets throughout the remainder of the storm (hours) which included repeated trips up to the attic to empty the bucket under the bigger of the two holes in the attic. He was exhausted; we were all exhausted. However, we had survived a frightening experience. I am not sure how I was able to finally fall asleep because the ferociousness of the gusting wind, the creaking and cracking of the trees, and the fearful thoughts of another tree falling on the house assaulted my mind. I later found out from my sister, who lives in Atlanta, that we were hit by sustained winds of 80 mph with gusts up to 100 mph. Ida beat the crap out of us for hours.

I was not prepared the next morning for the destruction that Ida left behind when she left town. The ceiling in Andrew’s bedroom had collapsed, and I could now see the sky through the two holes. Debris covered the floor.

Uprooted trees littered the backyard outside. Another tree had fallen in the front yard, missing the house by about two feet. And, the pear tree that we thought might have landed on Andrew’s car spared it. It knocked the cover off of the mirror on the driver’s side of the car, but snapped right back on when it was discovered under some tree debris. My yard and my neighborhood looked like a war zone.

Walk the Backyard

A couple of days after the storm, I recorded some video footage of the trees that had fallen on our property. It was heartbreaking to look at all my beautiful, healthy trees on the ground. I was worried about all the squirrels, birds, and bunnies that live on our property. I sent the video clips to my friend Kelsi, and she graciously edited them together so I could share with you, dear reader.

The days following Ida’s unpleasant visit just seem a blur now. The holes in the roof were covered with tarp, the opening in the chimney was securely covered, a claim number (thanks to my sister Rachel) was issued by the insurance company, and we got an estimate from a tree guy. Andrew’s eye healed completely from getting ceiling debris in it when the tree hit the house. Thankfully, my sister-in-law Natalie, who works in eye care, looked at his eye on Monday afternoon after the storm and did not see anything in his eye; therefore, she said it was probably a scratch which would heal within 48 hours. And, she was correct! Communication with others outside my neighborhood was almost nonexistent. The first few days were extremely rough, but I remained hopeful.

Then, Tuesday, 07 September arrived with many blessings. Garbage service and mail delivery resumed, an insurance adjuster visited the house and assessed the damage, and the electricity came back on later that afternoon. My glimmer of hope just got brighter.

Rise and Fall of the Tree

The next morning, B N R Investments removed the tree from the house. What a relief! I felt like we were finally making progress. I recorded video footage of the tree removal and sent the clips to Kelsi, so that she could edit them together. She is SUPER awesome! She even included graphics for both videos.

It has been three weeks since Hurricane Ida made her forceful entry and exit, dear reader. While my circumstances are improving, there are still challenges. My hubby has used the chainsaw to cut up the pear tree and the oak tree in the front yard. Barry, Jr. and I spent days piling up a great deal of the debris from both of those trees near the street plus debris from trees in the backyard. I am still waiting on the results of the insurance adjuster’s visit. I have no internet/cable tv at my home, my cellular service is weak, and restoration of these services cannot be determined by the provider. It is as if I live in a dead zone. My hubby returned to work on Friday, 10 September. I returned to work on Friday, 17 September for a staff meeting and quite a few changes due to the damage my school sustained because of the storm. School resumes for both Andrew and me on Monday, 20 September. Barry, Jr. works remotely, so his biggest challenge is finding a place where he can access the internet. He may be spending his days at a local coffee shop or SLU’s library.

Despite the damage, the inconveniences, the unknowns, as well as the stressful and overwhelming moments, I am eternally grateful and feel blessed beyond measure. My family and friends who dealt with Ida are all safe. My sister Rachel helped my family immensely with getting the insurance ball rolling and provided me with much-needed emotional support. I am thankful for the provisions we received through the generosity of my neighbor Rita and my husband’s company. I can still live in my house while Andrew’s room and the chimney are being repaired. I have ELECTRICITY which is huge! Our vehicles were not damaged. A volunteer group cut up many of the trees (for free) that insurance will not pay to remove. I have firewood for my fireplace for several years. My squirrels and birds are returning to our yard. My husband and I both have our jobs. The list goes on and on with all the blessings that I am currently experiencing while dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Ida. As I have mentioned before, my community and I will prevail. Happiness!

The Lutheran Early Response Team left my family this memento from one of the trees they cut on our property.

“No matter how difficult the situation is, it won’t last forever. What follows the night is the day; what follows winter is the spring.” ~ Tony Robbins

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Kat standing in front of neighbor’s tree after Hurricane Ida.

Good morning, dear reader! Due to Hurricane Ida, I am currently unable to access internet at my home. Today, I went into the city of Hammond with Andrew to take care of an issue at the post office, and we decided to stop at PJ’s, a local coffee shop, to access the internet and take care of a few online tasks. Just wanted to say hello, let you know my family and I are fine, and will be publishing posts when I can get back online.

Yes, that is me standing in front of an oak tree that uprooted in my neighbor’s yard during the hurricane. It was one of the many trees that uprooted in her yard as well as in my own.

Despite challenges that Hurricane Ida has presented in my personal life, my community, Louisiana, and other areas of the United States, I am grateful, hopeful, and have faith that with time, we will all prevail and regain some normalcy. Happiness!

“You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

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Did you know, dear reader, that cardinals are considered visitors from heaven? Many cultures believe they can travel between the heavenly realm and the earthly realm. These beautiful backyard birds also represent a sign of hope for those who are worried or feel anxious.

Imagine my delight when spotting one perched on a squirrel feeder in my backyard yesterday morning after my slow, uncomfortable walk around my neighborhood. This morning, I should have done my third run/walk session for this week. Sadly, that did not happen because both of my knees still feel EXTREMELY achy when I run (and walk fast). And, I am not even running fast. My running is more like jogging. So, I begrudgedly walked instead for 35 minutes just to continue my walking streak.

Did I progress too much, too soon? Perhaps. Ugh! I am immensely disappointed by this setback. I really had high expectations when I started my run/walk program. I think my knees are hurting because I am still carrying too much weight, and I need to strengthen my legs with exercises other than just walking. Therefore, this upcoming week, I will repeat Week #1: Walk 30 minutes a day, at least three times a week. I will practice self-care and nurse my knees. I may attempt to ride my bike if I can do so with no discomfort. Seeing that cardinal has given me hope. Good things come to those who wait…a lesson in patience. I am not an Olympic athlete, and I have nothing riding on when I can continuously run for 30 minutes. It is a personal goal, and this setback is a just speed bump, telling me to slow down. As a result, I will eat healthy foods, strength train, cross train, and walk at least 30 minutes per day (at least three times a week). I’m starting my Clean & Lean program on 01 September (Wednesday) which should help me shed some more weight.

Now, that all sounds terrific and doable as long as my family and I are not severely impacted by Hurricane Ida which is coming directly towards Louisiana. Hurricane Ida is predicted to make landfall tonight (the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina). It is also a Category 4 storm. What does that mean for my neck of the woods? Lots of rain, storm surges which contribute to flooding, winds up to 85 mph, risk of tornadoes, and loss of electricity. I am staying put in my home with my hubby, our two sons, and our four fur babies. We have food and water, as well as gasoline for the generator. We have natural gas, so we can still cook meals. Items outside have been picked up and put away, and the gutters have been cleared of leaves and debris. Our bathtubs are full of water in case we need it to flush toilets. We are ready. All we can do now is patiently wait for the impact of Hurricane Ida and pray that everyone in her path remains safe. I hope my cardinal brings us good luck.

Before I sign off, I want to share a video chat I had with Kelsi where we talk about the slasher film, Sleepaway Camp, we both watched as part of our Summer Slasher Movie Marathon in July. If you watch it, please consider hitting like, leave a comment, and subscribe to Kelsi’s YouTube channel. She also vlogs, reviews books, and talks nostalgia from the 60s through the 90s.

Despite not being able to run/walk this morning, I am truly grateful that I was able to enjoy my morning walk before it started raining. As you go about your day today, dear reader, please keep the residents of Louisiana in your thoughts and prayers. Hopefully, my next post will be filled with good news that we weathered the storm with little or no issues. Happiness!

“Hope is important because it can make the present moment less difficult to bear. If we believe that tomorrow will be better, we can bear a hardship today.”

~ Thich Nhat Hanh

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Happy Sunday, dear reader! My hubby and I decided to have breakfast this morning at Cracker Barrel before grocery shopping at Walmart. We had wonderful service provided by Kenley and a yummy meal. I ordered the Momma’s French Toast Breakfast (French toast, two eggs cooked over easy, sausage). Barry ordered the Sunrise Sampler. Kenley also brought me a small bowl of grits. I definitely did not eat clean this morning, but it was well-worth the extra calories.

After breakfast, we briefly looked around the Cracker Barrel store which always has neat merchandise. I was specifically looking at autumn and Halloween decor. Kelsi and I have planned a few hours at the beginning of September to go shopping for Autumn/Halloween decorations. We are actually planning to vlog about our shopping adventure.

On Friday evening, I actually tried vlogging for the first time to get some practice. The hubster and I planned to enjoy a Friday the 13th thematic date night at home. As soon as Barry got home from work on Friday afternoon, we headed over to Ultimate Party Store in Hammond to purchase a Jason Voorhees mask and found some cheap shot glasses and drinking glasses for the adult beverage we had picked out for the evening. Our next stop was Walmart for our summer camp food and Jason Voorhees drink (hotdogs, hotdog buns, asparagus, mashmallows, Hershey bars, graham crackers, Vodka, Rumchatta, and blue raspberry mix). Unfortunately, Walmart did not have the blue raspberry mix. Neither did Rouses, Winn-Dixie, or Albertsons. Since we struck out on obtaining the last ingredient needed for our thematic drink, I settled on a bottle of Seagram’s Calypso Colada in honor of Camp Crystal Lake (setting for Friday the 13th). On future grocery shopping trips, we will be on the lookout for blue raspberry mix, so we can eventually make a Jason Voorhees drink for either another Friday the 13th evening or as a Halloween treat. I had a great deal of fun recording our quest for the elusive blue raspberry mix. Maybe, one day when I learn to edit a vlog, I’ll share that vlog with you, dear reader.

Once we returned home, Barry prepared the bacon-wrapped asparagus (perfect tribute to Kevin Bacon who stars in Friday the 13th), hotdogs, and chili while I set up the movie. About midway through the film, I made s’mores. Barry passed on the s’mores. The marshmallows we bought were too big. I definitely should have cut one in half. Despite not being able to make our thematic drink, everything turned out terrific, especially the bacon-wrapped asparagus. Additionally, we loved watching the movie which neither one of us had seen in a REALLY long time. Friday the 13th is an American slasher film that was released in May 1980. In my opinion, it is a classic slasher film that holds up well even today. Fun fact: Jason Voorhees as an adult wearing a hockey mask does not even appear in the first film. It had been so long since I had seen it last that I totally forgot about him not being in it. Barry and I had so much fun rewatching the first film, that in the future, we plan to watch the rest of the movies in the Friday the 13th franchise.

While on the subject of slasher films, Kelsi and I had an overall chat about our Summer Slasher Movie Marathon, and we streamed it on YouTube LIVE from her lair. It was the very first time that I have ever streamed live online. Usually, we record our chats via Zoom. We had so much fun being together again in person, and I’m proud of myself and how well our chat turned out. I put my improv skills to good use. You can check out this conversation, our other movie marathon chats, and much more of Kelsi’s awesome content on her Slime and Slashers – A Nostalgia & Horror Channel. You can also click on the link below. Collaborating and creating content with Kelsi is a definite happiness boost for me.

It’s time for me to wrap up, but before I do, let me update you on tracking my time and my running schedule.

Time Tracking

Instead of tracking my time for just one week, I chose to track my time this past week as well. This gives me two weeks to compare time sucks, scheduled commitments, and free time that can be devoted to my personal/professional goals. My time tracking officially ends at 5:00 tomorrow morning. I’ll share my findings this week. It will be interesting to see how my time tracking logs from August compare to my time tracking log from January of this year. The logs will determine how I plan to spend my extra time for the rest of the year and which goals will be completed in 2021 or roll over into 2022. I’m excited to analyze the data and get back on track.

Running Schedule

As for my running schedule, Week 2 (09 August-15 August) was a continuation of Week 1 but with picking up the pace, pumping my arms, and breaking a sweat added to the mix. I successfully met my goals for both weeks. For Week 3, I am making a slight adjustment to the times since I will be running and walking this week. Week #3: Walk 10 minutes (warm up). Run 1 minute. Walk 2 minutes (repeat this 3-minute session 5 times). Walk 10 minutes (cool down). My goal for this week is to follow this routine at least three days this week. On the other days, I will walk at least 20 minutes to keep up my walking streak and try to incorporate some strength training and biking.


School is in full swing, and I’m slowly but surely getting back into my daily day job routine. I will tell you, dear reader, having Fridays off is a huge game changer. I am extremely happy that I was given the opportunity to work only four days per week. Of course, there will be a couple of weeks sprinkled throughout the year that I may work a Friday, but I will have another day off during that week to compensate for it. Lots to look forward to in the next couple of weeks, including a final chat with Kelsi related to our Summer Slasher Movie Marathon and a Chills, Thrills, and Kills Book Club meeting to discuss Mexican Gothic. Meanwhile, enjoy the rest of what this Sunday has to offer, stay safe, and choose kind. Happiness!

“Live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find eternity in each moment. ~ Henry David Thoreau

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