Thursday, November 22, 2012

Gary's Letter to Lucy

Any of you that know my husband, knows that he does not emote.  He doesn't share his feelings.  He doesn't do therapy.   He's not a very touchy-feely kinda person.    We have been crushed the past few days since our sweet baby dog, Lucy was killed in a horrible accident.    My grief comes in waves, but it's been so hard to watch what he has suffered as well.   This is something he wrote this morning.  I've been married to him for 32 years & known him for longer.    I was amazed & so proud of him for putting these feelings on paper.   Here is what he wrote:

Lucy’s Thanksgiving

Where to start??…..I guess at the beginning. About four years ago, my wife, Cindy, brought home a tiny black & tan miniature Doxie. Cute as she was, I immediately did not want anything to do with her. We already have a red mini-dox and a full-grown golden lab. What in the world would we do with another inside dog and the better question was WHY?

I was angry and wanted nothing to do with her. We normally sit down and make those types of decisions together. But this time Cindy went out, on her own, and made this life decision without my input or consent. MAD was not the word. Furious would probably be accurate for the Grinch that I was.  It was nearing Christmas Day that year, so I would have to say that I was truly Mr. Grinch himself, green as all get-out. I did not want this dog and wanted Cindy to take her back where she got her.  Also, our red mini-dox, Trixie, did not like her either. She growled and barked at her, and even a snip if she got too close. How dare this new little rat-looking dog come in and hone in on our turf. Who does she think she is?

My Wife has always been a very smart woman. She was no different when she made this decision. When she told me her name was Lucy, it was like a dagger in my heart.  What could I do? I couldn't refuse this little rat-looking dog now. You see, my mother’s name was Lucille and Lucy was named after her. My mother passed away in 1998 and I loved her dearly.  It’s been hard.   Truth be known, I probably should have gone to grief counseling  when she passed away, but I did not go. I bottled that up, only to share it with Cindy from time to time. It has been the hardest thing in the world to deal for me- Ever!

Anyway, here is Lucy, a happy go-lucky, energetic puppy that I had to accept, but wanted nothing to do with.  She would try to play with Trixie and fall back with a growl or a snip. With time, Trixie warmed up to Lucy a little at a time. Lucy would always try to get Trixie to play, biting her leg or the skin around her neck. Not real biting, but play biting. Eventually, Trixie became a mother figure to Lucy. Trixie loved her dearly and enjoyed daily playtime with Lucy.

Lucy tried her magic on me. Trying to warm up to me but huh, who does she think she is? I'm not Trixie. She would not be able to manipulate me into caring for her.  But she was persistent.  She would come up to my leg and put her little paws on my feet at first as if she was treeing a squirrel. If I was on the floor doing anything she would ALWAYS come over and lick me dead square on the lips! Ugggggggg dog kisses. This little rat-looking dog was becoming cute. What am I turning soft? Get a grip Gary!

 What can I say?  Lucy got into my heart deeper than anybody other than my immediate family. You see, if you know me, then you know that is not an easy task. I am not an easy person to get to know, or befriend but if you are one of the chosen few, you are there for LIFE! And I do mean LIFE! I have a lot of people that I know and like but I have very few “life friends”. I value and cherish friendship. It's not a word I take lightly and it's not something I do willy-nilly.  So, if you’re in, it's till death and I would literally take a bullet for you.

Anyway, as I was saying, Lucy got into my heart and was truly THIS man’s best friend. She grew from a hand-sized rat to a cute little loving dog. She was My Best Friend!

Second to being in my lap, Lucy loved the outdoors. She was just like her best friend or Daddy as I became known to her. She couldn't wait to go outside in the mornings to sniff out and chase the squirrels that taunted her on a daily basis. She must have tree'd thousands of squirrels. She loved it and the squirrels did too.!  They were really just playing with each other to have fun. They were equal in abilities as they would run about the same speeds.

Cindy would let her outside every evening before I came home so she could greet me with Lucy loving. We live in a rural area where trees are throughout the yard. Our drive is concreted about 3/4 of the way to the road and limestone after that to the road. As I pull into the driveway everyday, Lucy would bark and run to the end of the concrete jumping up and down. I taught her not to come past the concrete as I did not want her to get close to the road. She always ran and waited for me at that spot.

Once I got the Lucy love inside, of course, I had to share with her dog-mates, Trixie and Gus. But Lucy made sure she got the most loving as she would literally nudge my hand away from the other dogs to her. She loved to settle into my lap in my "nest", aka: my recliner. That was the spot she enjoyed the most and I would have to say- in my nest, on my lap, in my Heart!

Trixie has always been a jumper, she actually used to be like super dog. She used to jump, flatfooted over three feet high before back surgery. And know she can still jump two feet. Anyway Lucy would watch and try but it was known around Shotwell Manor that black dogs can't jump. Lol   Recently, instead of picking her up to put her in the nest, I thought I would teach her to jump. I would put my hands down beside her as guard rails and cup my hands to where she could jump into my hands. She began jumping very short distances at first then higher and higher until one evening Cindy and I were watching our evening episode of Seinfeld and she did it! She jumped all the way to the chair by herself! Cindy and I both saw this at the same time. It was like a baby taking their first steps.

We were so proud of her major accomplishment and you could tell that she was as well. She would continue to jump into the chair and even to the sofa. It's like our Grandsons say when they accomplish a major feat- I DID IT! And she did.

I was at work Tuesday morning on November 20th and my neighbor, Jim, called me on my cell phone. Jim never calls unless it’s something important so I answer the phone. A conversation I wish on no one. Jim hated to tell me but Lucy had gotten hit by car out by the road and had passed away. I was shocked, stunned, and in disbelief. I immediately left work on the way home. I even called Jim back to make sure he was sure. Unfortunately, it was so. How would I tell Cindy that Lucy had passed away?  It was not easy at all but all I could do was to tell her straight up.

Neither of us took this well at all. Our little baby was too young to be gone. We both cried and cried. This was not in the plan for Lucy to be out of our lives so soon.  We had the daunting task of selecting a resting spot for our sweet little Lucy. We picked out a spot in the back yard under a tree, near the pond where she would always chase squirrels. This was not an easy task but I would have no one else prepare and put Lucy in her final resting spot. She was special to us and she deserved the very best and that is what she got. We can see Lucy’s resting spot from the kitchen window where I  drink coffee in the mornings and read the paper overlooking the pond where she would tree squirrels every day.

This Thanksgiving Day, I  thank God for all the blessings in my life & there are many! My wife, kids, and grandkids, but I want to thank God for sending Lucy to my life for the four years we had her to soften up this ole Grinch heart. She showed me love and friendship that is immeasurable. I'm sure I'm still Grinch-worthy, but not nearly as much due to loving kindness of a dear sweet little dog named Lucy that my dear wife had the forethought and wisdom to bring home.

Lucy, as the tears flow like rivers you will be greatly missed and we will always love you for the unconditional love you shared with us only to remind us of our Father’s unconditional love.

Love Daddy

Lucy 2008-2012

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Sweet Lucy

My sweet baby girl :)
Lucy...the tears are unending...I miss you so much.   Can't wait to see you again someday my sweet little four-legged soul.   You are our baby always.  xxoo Mommy & Daddy

Lulu LOVED the beach!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012


I have such wonderful memories of Halloween.  Just one look at an old Halloween cutout decoration makes me warm & fuzzy inside.  We had such little entertainment available to us back in the day.   I think the beautiful harvest moon & the fall weather also helps color all of my trick-or-treat memories "happy" as well.   I grew up in a big old 200+ year old house and our Halloweens were filled with great treats & fun with the neighborhood kids.     It's one of my very favorite times of the year.   Of course I have great memories of my own children & their fun Halloween escapades.

Nowadays I'm combining 2 of my favorite things:   being a Doda & enjoying Halloween!    I'm so very happy that my grandsons now live back in Louisiana (where they belong).  

Who wouldn't be overjoyed with being Doda to Captain America & Spiderman? Each one of these little boys own 1/2 of my heart!        

Eddie & Noah aka:  Captain America & Spiderman

I always loved it when my momma sent things to school that I was able to pass out to the kids in my class.   I always tried to be a room mother or helper at school with my boys & now I get to do things like this for my grandsons!  Being a grandmother is such a joy!   

This year, I decided to make some homemade, from scratch, caramel popcorn balls.   I started out with cooking popcorn the old fashioned microwave-nuked-kernels for my grandsons.   Honestly, it had been so long since I didn't opt for the push-button popcorn packages that I couldn't remember how to pop popcorn on the stove top.   I found this awesome "no fail" Perfect Popcorn recipe & it worked out beautifully.   This recipe was borrowed from http://www.simply    Check out their website for some other great stuff.   


*3 TB canola or peanut oil (high smoke point oil)
*1/3 cup high quality popcorn kernels
*1  3 quart covered saucepan
*2 TB or more (to taste) real butter
* salt to taste

1.  Heat oil in 3 qt saucepan on MEDIUM high heat.
2.  Put 3 or 4 kernels into the oil & cover the pan.
3. When the kernels pop, add the rest of the 1/3 cup of popcorn kernels in an even layer.  Add salt to taste at this point. It will infuse into the popcorn as it pops.   Cover, REMOVE FROM HEAT, and count 30 seconds.  (This method heats the oil to the correct temperature, then waiting 30 seconds brings all of the other kernels to a near-popping temperature so that when put back on the heat, they all pop about the same time.
4.  Return the pan to the heat.  The popcorn should begin popping soon, and all at once.  Once the popping begins in earnest, gently shake the pan by moving it back & forth over the burner.  Try to keep the lid slightly ajar to let the steam escape.  This will make a crispier popcorn product.   Once the popping slows to several seconds between pops, remove the pan from the heat, remove lid & immediately dump popcorn into a wide mouthed bown.    HARDLY any unpopped kernels will be left with this method. 
5.  If you are adding butter, you can melt into pan while it's still hot & pour over popped corn.

This recipe is AH-MAZING!   In fact, I don't think I'll ever buy microwave popcorn again.  

Next step is to make a batch of my BASIC CARAMEL SAUCE.  This recipe I've had for years & is great on ANYTHING!    I use it with apple pies for a delish finish.  


*4 TB butter (I used salted but either is fine)
*1 CUP packed light brown sugar
*1/2 CUP corn syrup (lite)
*7 OUNCE sweetened condensed milk (this is 1/2 can)
*2 TSP pure vanilla extract


1.  Combine butter, sugar & corn syrup in small, heavy, saucepan over MEDIUM heat & cook, stirring occasionally.  Once butter has melted bring it to a boil.  Add condensed milk & continue to boil for 5 minutes.   Continuing to stir to prevent scorching.  Remove from heat & stir in the vanilla extract.    Stir until smooth.  



I poured the sauce over approximately 10 cups of popped corn.  Stir GENTLY until covered & once it's cool enough to touch, butter your hands & roll into balls (whatever size you desire).  Place the balls on a buttered sheet of wax paper until cooled.  This is what it will look like once it's stirred together well.     The freshness of these scratch methods really come thru... they are simply delicious, if I say so myself (which I just did)! 


Since I was making them for my grandsons friends I decided to make them a bit smaller than usual & inserted small sticks. 

I put them in some cute Halloween cupcake liners & small plastic bags.   Here is the end result.   They are gonna be so excited to pass out to all their classmates tomorrow!    I'm also so very thankful to have a beautiful daughter-in-law who lets me be a Super Doda to my heart's content!!

I'm looking forward to donning my Witchie-Poo costume tomorrow night during the harvest moon & going over to pass out candy at my son & daughter-in-law's house while they bring the kids trick-or-treating.   

 I hope you all have a wonderful time & enjoy this fun holiday! 

Take good care,

Thursday, October 18, 2012


If you read the title to this post, you may think I'm referencing my wonderful husband of 32 years.  Although it is hard to know where I end & he begins after all these years, what I am actually referencing is the second half century of my life.   While I don't anticipate living to see 100, I'm gonna shoot for it anyway.   What's the worse that can happen?   I don't think I even WANT to live to be a 100.  Not unless they come up with some much better anti-aging medication and a way to halt gravity.    Once you start looking at yourself in the mirror naked after age 40, 2 words come to mind:  "GRAVITY WORKS!". 

I'm turning 50 next month.  Wow!  Where HAS the time gone?   Seems like I just got here.   While I'm not very excited at the thought of becoming a 50 something, I'm also not upset about it either.   The wisdom of life really does make you appreciate things more once you get older.   My main issue with the entire idea of it is that I don't really "feel" old!    People say 50 isn't old.... but really?   It's pretty old.   That being said, I fully intend to embrace my 50's.   I look forward to enjoying my next half century of my life.      

Many folks do a bucket list of things they want to do before they die.  Things like jumping out of perfectly good airplanes or climbing Mount Everest.  My list may not seem quite as extreme as that.   It's not so much a bucket list of things to do as a list of changes I'd like to implement in my life.

First & foremost, I'm going to fully embrace the fact that I am not, nor have I ever been, a morning person.  My body just doesn't function well in the morning.  As my sweet husband will attest, I am somewhat of a Grumpy Gill in the morning.   I own it.   Not only do I not wake up ready to seize the day with gusto, I just plain wake up thinking how much I don't want to get up.   My brain and mood are in a negative place in the early hours, but my body also doesn't work well in the morning.  I have joint issues and they all seem to seize up during the night.   Sometimes it feels like the Tin Man.  I need to "oil the hinges" to get going.   So, after many years of raising kids and working that forced me to get up early and get moving, I've finally arrived at a point where I am in control of my own schedule.  No kids to feed, no 9-5 office hours.  Therefore, I recently made the executive life decision that I will NO LONGER agree to or obligate myself to be anywhere before 9 AM.  In fact, I had some appointments that I made several months ago that I've already called to reschedule for later in the day.    Done!

One of the other decisions I've made is that I plan to wake up more mornings prepared to laugh a lot that day.   It sort of goes hand in hand with the first one.  It gives me more motivation to get my day started.   

I'm going to be working on my "Second Half List" more in the upcoming weeks. I only have roughly six weeks left of being a forty-something & I hope to have a comprehensive list of great things by my birthday!

On another note, my sweet hubby is bringing me on a great birthday trip to one of my favorite places to visit, New York City!  I LOVE that place. It makes me feel so alive.  The energy is palpable and I can't wait to be there during the holidays.  We plan to watch the lighting of the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center, take in some great shows and do some shopping!  

Hope you all laugh a lot today.  I plan to!!

Take good care,


Thursday, July 26, 2012

Chicken Nuggets, Trick-or-Treat & Disney Porn?

Two things that amaze me:

Firstly, it never ceases to amaze me how some issues get BLOWN-UP in the media.   Aren't there enough problems in the world without making up dumb things to worry about?   This is America people!   We are ALL free to believe whatever we want.   For purposes of this story, I'll call the current morality crisis the "Chicken People" crisis & the people involved the "Chicken Peeps".  I use the term "crisis" loosely.  I don't really think there is one.  I, personally, think the flames are being fanned by a competitor or a media outlet.  IF the Chicken Peeps were denying service or employment to gay people...THAT WOULD BE A STORY!   That would be a reason to boycott.   The fact that the owner doesn't like gay marriage or gay people... who cares?  I don't know him & will never meet him.  If I took the time to research every business owner's personal beliefs, I'd probably stop shopping anywhere!   

Secondly,  it also amazes me that some groups have such double standards.    The same groups picketing for Muslim groups to have the right to open a mosque near Ground Zero are against Christian groups taking a stand on ANYTHING.    The same groups who climb trees to protect a spotted owl's life think it's perfectly acceptable to kill an unborn child?  Tell me how that makes sense?   To me, life is life.  Respect it or not.  But that's another subject entirely.   Getting back to the topic at hand, let me quickly tell you my beliefs.  Anyone who knows me can tell you that I'm not religious.  I am, however, very spiritual.  I love Jesus & He loves me.   I believe everyone has the right, in this country, to practice their beliefs without interference or bullying.     

Ironically, this crazy situation reminds me of others that I can recall in my adult lifetime.  Funnily enough, some of them stirred into a frenzy by the very people standing to "defend" the Chicken Peeps.   Here are just a couple of examples:

THE DEVIL HOLIDAY -  Back in the 80's many church leaders suddenly decided that Halloween was a "devil holiday" & tried to shame their congregations into not participating.  I, at the time, even felt guilty & made my kids stop trick or treating for a few years.  Not because I felt convicted about participating in this fun holiday, filled with wonderful family memories for me, but because I felt bullied by my peers.   Thankfully I realized how ludicrous the whole notion was & let my kids enjoy their childhood treats, as I did.  

EVIL DISNEY ANIMATORS - Let's never forget the supposedly embedded, secret messages in Disney animated features.  Somebody, apparently with lots of time on their hands, slowed the films down & accused Disney animators of  putting hidden messages in them.  Example:  The Genie in Aladdin supposedly is heard telling "teenagers to take off their clothes"? Really?  Why would somebody go to all the trouble to say that?   How dumb. But it was top news for a while & I personally know a few families who cancelled their trips to Disney World because of it!  There are probably still some folks that believe it.   How gullible we can all be sometimes. 

Of course for there to be a morality crisis, there has to be leaders.  We all know somebody who always seems to be on the front lines of the latest morality crisis & leading the charge of the controversy front & center, on Facebook or other social media.   I sometimes wonder if those self-same people would have been present when the National Guard were trying to protect those sweet little black children walking into an all-white schoolhouse in Alabama in the 60's which side they would be standing on?   Would they be standing toe-to-toe yelling hate messages straight out of the bible?... or would they be giving those precious children of God smiles & encouraging words?  

Life can be so confusing sometimes.   We are all crammed onto this little planet & we'll always have one crisis or another.  We'll always have hate, bullies & those who just like to stir the pot.  I'm so thankful that there is a GOD & that He loves us.  With that fact, comes hope.  Let's all remember that God told us above all, to LOVE..... on that note, here are some things I LOVE: 

  • I LOVE JESUS (and btw..HE loves me too)..... 
  • I LOVE ChickfilA (not because of any cause--but because they got some slammin' chicken & biscuits :) 
  • I LOVE gay people (my son is gay & he's one of the best human beings on this planet & he has NO maniacal plans to take over the world..he's just trying to live his life with love & laughter)...
  • I LOVE Halloween & trick-or-treat & silly costumes (some of my favorite childhood memories)...
  • I LOVE dogs, cats, owls & most animals (don't like lizards but I don't wish them dead just want them to stay clear of me lol)...
  • I LOVE old people & little people (and I don't mean "little" little people"..I mean children...but that doesn't mean I don't like "little" little people. I just don't know any....
  • I LOVE people who LOVE others, even if they don't agree with them about every single thing (sort of like Jesus)...

If you don't like what I LOVE... it's okay..I LOVE You anyway..but if you don't want to be my friend any more.. just hit the big old DELETE button... I may not notice but I'll love you anyway :)

What do you love?   

Take good care,

Sunday, July 15, 2012

A Poem

I love to write.  I've always loved to read & write.  Some of my favorite memories as a child are spent with my nose stuck in a book.  I was a shy little girl and the living, breathing definition of a "book worm".   I grew up in a great old house with plenty of nooks & secret places to read.   One of my momma's favorite stories is the time I fell asleep while reading behind a loveseat in the parlor.   We had 10' windows that you could literally walk through and my sisters & I used to take the very long drapes and make ourselves a little "tent" with the drapery panel over the loveseats. It was the perfect place to hide & enjoy the cool breeze.   One summer day I crawled underneath the loveseat with a "tent" to read & apparently I fell asleep (which was my 2nd favorite thing to do, behind reading).  My momma was working & my daddy was home.  She called him to check in & he thought she'd taken me to work.   My momma flew into a panic when she realized I'd been missing.  Apparently it caused quite a stir.   They were tearing apart the neighborhood looking for me & all the while I was fast asleep tucked out of site beneath the love seat.   My poor daddy was so happy to see me he almost crushed me to death with his hugs! 

I also loved to visit the Jackson Library.   The librarians were the Turnipseed sisters, Ms. Dot & Ms. Nell.   They looked so much alike I would forget which was which.  In fact, I think Ms. Dot was actually the librarian but Ms. Nell would fill in for her sometimes, but I'm not really positive.  I can still remember the musty smell of that old building & the I LOVED the particular smell of cracking open one of the many books I checked out every summer. 

My love of reading has fueled my love of writing.    I have at least 4 books in various stages of completion.   I may never finish any of them, but I think it's the actual writing that I enjoy so I'm okay with that.  My son, Garrett, is also a writer at heart and he's quite good at it.  Since I read to my boys almost every night & treasure books I like to think it's a love I've passed on to them all.    Nowadays I get the extreme privilege of reading to my grandsons.  Their mom (my daughter-in-law) is also a book lover so who knows?  The next great American writer may be named Shotwell!  

I also love poetry.   I've been thinking and reading a lot about heaven lately.  I was outside the other day making shapes out of clouds & this came to me.  As a Christian, I have NO fear of death.  In fact, I know when it's my time I have some lovely things to look forward too.    This is my attempt at sharing how I think it'll feel to leave my earthly body & enter God's Kingdom:

A ship’s silence pushing forth into depths unknown
            A soul breaks free, adrift to Glory.

Bathed in golden light and joy unspoken.
             Suspended aloft in peace overwhelming.

All doubt cast aside beyond mind’s understanding.
            Fullness of knowledge dissolving all fear.

Cindy Shotwell  © 2012

Take good care,

Friday, July 6, 2012

To Heaven & Back

I rarely find a book that I feel strongly enough about to share with others.   Of course, I love my fiction.   As any of my friends will tell you, I'm a huge fan of John Irving & Larry McMurtry, among others.    Of late, however, I've been on a non-fiction kick.  My summer reading up 'til now has consisted of reading journals & diaries from the Civil War, WWII & western frontier eras.   All of these are written by women.  I LOVE to know what other women were thinking as they faced adversities & different social situations.   What always surprises me is that people are basically the same now as they've always been.   Human nature is a constant.  

That being said, I recently stumbled upon another non-fiction book that literally has changed my life & the way I think.  That doesn't happen very often.  Overall I consider myself to be a pretty opened minded person; however, I have very well thought-out opinions and belief systems.   This book didn't so much as change those as it did give me a different perspective on life & death.

I am a professing Christian.   (Notice I didn't mention a particular religion.  I believe God CAN use ALL religions to reach different personalities.)   Admittedly, some of my beliefs may be considered sort of "out there" by some.   I have had many encounters with God throughout my life & have a healthy sense of my soul & spiritual things.   Maybe that's why I was so open to this particular book.  That being said, I've worked out in the world enough to also have a healthy dose of skepticism.  This book, I believe, is "the real deal".

It's a little book called To Heaven and Back. It's written by Dr. Mary Neal.   Dr. Neal is an orthopedic surgeon.  This probably is why her writing style is very concise and clear.  It reads sometimes more like a narrative than a story.   But, that's also precisely why it's so easy to read.   The story covers both her death experience after a boating accident over 10 years ago & also the loss of her son.   The thoughts & feelings she shares are both moving & real.   I rarely cry when reading books; however, this book moved me to tears, twice.  First, at the beauty of her descriptions of heaven and heavenly beings who accompanied her on her journey.  Secondly, at the rawness of emotion that was evident after the death of her son & her later revelations about his life.    As a mom of sons,  it's my greatest fear to lose them.

This book both affirmed some beliefs that I already have and also made me look at some things in a different perspective.     It also stirred my spirit and prodded me to do the things that I know God wants me to do with my life & stop procrastinating so much.  It's a great reminder that we are all too busy with "busy" things when we should be trying to find out who we are and what we're here for.

I've included the link to the book below.    Enjoy & God Bless you!

Take good care,

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Summer Squash, Memories & LSU Baseball.....

This weekend is going to be a relaxing weekend.   The first one in a long time.   Tomorrow we gather at church to see some old friends & then enjoy a 2nd Sunday lunch at my mommas filled with great home cooking & too many sweet little barefoot cousins running around the yard to count.  This is the good stuff people!

Today my goal is to not leave home!   I was on the road so much this week.  One day this week I actually crossed over the Mississippi river 8 different times on 3 different bridges in one day!!   (In all honesty though, I was busy talking on the phone one time & accidentally found myself in the wrong lane; so, one of those crossings was unnecessary- lol).       At any rate, I'm ready for some chill time.   I plan to read a new book, cook a great lunch & enjoy watching the LSU Tigers play baseball with the hubby.  

To that end, one of my oldest/dearest friends, Susan Cox, generously provided me with some great vegetables out of their garden yesterday. I threw together a lunch of fresh veggies.   Sauteed yellow squash, stuffed fresh bell peppers & sliced cucumbers w/tomatoes.   YUMMY!  

Fresh cucumbers & tomatoes.

Sauteed yellow squash
Stuffed fresh bell pepper.

Lunch!  Yummy.

I LOVE, LOVE fresh summer vegetables.   I don't currently have a summer garden but I wish I did.   I love being able to walk out & pick lunch or dinner fresh out of the ground.  Hopefully we will plant a late summer garden.

The other thing we're enjoying on this Louisiana summer day is watching LSU baseball.   It NEVER gets boring!  What exciting games as the Tigers fight to get to Omaha.   We are so blessed to have such great LSU baseball & football traditions.  GEAUX TIGERS!

"Uncle Red" - Red Arnold RIP
These 2 things, fresh vegetables & baseball, have been making me think so much today about my sweet Uncle Red.    We lost him this year.   It's strange how sometimes a memory will sneak up on you.   I remembered a few days ago how he sat with my sisters & I at the "big house" while my parents attended my PawPaw Nettles' funeral.   He sat with me on the front porch swing trying to comfort me.  He was a big man & could be gruff, but I always felt he had a soft spot for me.  When I visited him at the hospital a few days before he passed away,  he never lost that sweet smile & hearty laugh.   He loved, loved working out in his garden.   He also loved baseball.  He spent many hours of his life coaching or watching the game.   Some of my favorite memories growing up was spending Friday nights watching Dixie Youth baseball games at "Old College".   Uncle Red would fill his car to overflowing with kids  & head up to the games.  Around Jackson, in that day, this was where the entire town was every Friday night during the summer.  Uncle Red LOVED coaching his boys.   He taught me everything I know about baseball & football.   He even tried to coach me in softball.  He was so patient.   He coached fast-pitch softball for years & I can see him now shaking his head & yelling "Cindy Gail pay attention!".    He wanted, so badly, for me to be the player that my older sister, Cecilia, was.  But that just wasn't me.   Cecilia is a natural athlete and she loved to play.   I'd much rather be reading a book!!  haha   He knew it, but he tried anyway.   He yelled his head off at everyone, except me.  He just shook his head & smiled.     Later in life he spent his time following his grandsons' many baseball games.  His oldest grandson, Michael, said at his funeral that he never missed a game.   I sure miss you Uncle Red & I know you'd be right there by Bob sitting at Alex Box if you were here.  But I also know that now you have the best seat in the house!!

Well, enough rambling for me today.   I hope you all enjoy your weekend as much as we are down here in south Louisiana.

Take good care,