A daily record of gratitude; from quilting to photography to a mix of technology, books, movies and the musings of life!

Welcome to my Blog of my daily gratitude and photo of the day!

Since January 1, 2012, my goal is to write a daily sentence or two (or paragraph or two) about gratitude of the day and to include one photo (at least) that I took that day (but will add others from time to time). It has definitely been a challenge most days throughout the past eight years, and welcomed the challenge again this year - 2020 - Covid and all. I hope you will continue the ride with me!

Saturday, May 15, 2021

Cicadas Brood X

The East Coast ground is bursting with the 17 year Cicadas, and of course, bursting through my weeds, er grass, in the backyard with great delight. They are inching they way out of the ground and into the trees to mate and proliferate for another 17 years. They are the most defenseless creatures on Earth. Birds and snakes are on a feeding frenzy. 

Apparently, they are as tasty as shrimp sautéed in butter, but we have no takers in my household for this supposed delicacy. Maybe next time in 2038! 



Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Marigold Hunting

My hunt every spring is to find flats of marigolds that don't break the bank. I’d rather not buy them in a one quart pot or anything larger, but in a four-pack of various colors like orange, yellow and a combination of yellow and orange (looks red sometimes). For the past week I couldn’t get my beloved marigold flowers out of my head. Thankfully, I was lucky to work in my flower beds on Mother’s Day, with help, but that did not include going to a store or nursery to buy them.

Today when I went out to return some extra split rail fencing I purchased a week ago that we did not need, I checked the garden department for marigolds. I was on the hunt, and this big box store had nary a marigold in sight. About a half mile away though, another big box discount store that has a garden center just had to be my next stop in my quest for what I’m thinking is an illusive flower. 

I was tickled to see that this next stop store had overflowing racks of flowers along the brick front near the garden center entrance. I was thinking there had to be marigolds somewhere here. I pulled out a nicely wheeled cart from the cart corral, and perused all the flowers along the front of the store very carefully. Still, no marigolds. Now I am getting suspicious with no marigolds in sight. Are they always that popular every spring? It’s early-ish May, I know, so am I late in purchasing them? Maybe all the presidents of the local garden clubs put out a memo that they are wonderful, colorful and very hearty flowers to grow. But sheesh, nada so far. 

Maybe the word is out too that there is no annual flower more cheerful or easier to grow. Maybe people know that they can bloom from April to November in the Mid-Atlantic in gold, copper and brass color-ways and they don’t really have to be watered. Can the attraction be that they thrive in full sunshine and can withstand very hot summers? Maybe they are all out because they grow pretty much in any soil and have very few pest problems. In fact, they are companion plants in gardens and farms all over the world. Honeybees love them too! Hey, they even repel snakes, whiteflies, Mexican bean beetles, squash bugs, tomato hornworms, and, the biggest nemesis of all: mosquitoes! Marigolds are a definite crowd pleaser I’ve come to reason. 

After my mental rant, I entered the outdoor garden area of the store. There just had to be some marigolds here, I was convinced of it. Once I entered the sacred area, I was met by a friendly staff member. I wanted to find them on my own, but after looking down several rows of flowers, I came up short. The friendly staff member was happy to assist me when questioned about my flower choice and where were they hiding them. He laughed and said,” you are bit late for them.” What? I didn’t know I could be late for the marigolds? I guess one learns something new every day—this was my day to learn when to plan to buy marigolds in the future. He then pointed out the only rack I did not look over. Sure enough, there were my marigolds - low on the rack. There were not many flats of four-packs left, but I am proud to say I was able to purchase (8) packs! I was thrilled to do so, and since I was so elated, I decided to buy a few begonias and spikes for my pots too. 

If I learned anything today, it’s to get your annual marigolds early in the season! I’ve tried growing them from seeds from the previous year (keep them dry and in a glass ball jar), but they never germinate for me. 

So how about those geraniums?  

Sunday, May 9, 2021

Mother's Day 2021

No one would be here on Earth throughout time without a Mother. This is the first Mother's Day without mine in the world...but she left a great legacy of three daughters and seven grandchildren.
Happy Mother's Day to one and all!

Here’s one of my all time favorite photos I ever took (Feb. 2015) - a baby elephant with her Mom and Aunties!

Saturday, May 8, 2021

A Mother's Day Story of Manufactured Sunshine

South Africa 2015 - On The Fly Cooking in the Drakensbergs

When one of my college buddies, Helen, and her husband, Dan, moved to South Africa in 2014 (her husband was transferred there by a large US company), several other college friends wanted to pay them a visit. Not everyone was able to go once the dates and times were set. However, three were left standing ready and willing to go. Laura from Michigan, Jodie living in Amsterdam at that time, and me on the East Coast. Laura and I coordinated our trip and met in Atlanta to fly to Johannesburg, SA. Going that far, we went for two weeks which left plenty of room to visit a lot of places throughout South Africa. Our fun included a Safari, hiking in the Drakensbergs, and visiting Cape Town as well the wine country of Stellenbosch and Franschhoeck. It was a wonderful trip with lots of memories made with smart, funny and compassionate women (and two husbands for some parts of the trip). 

Helen planned the entire trip. She utilized the fact she was living in SA to pay rates and travel expenses under Rand instead of USD. Smart girl she is! Since we are all very active, a trip to hike in the Drakensbergs Mountains (declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000) was high on our list. Helen secured accommodations in a cabin there, and after our Safari in northern SA, we headed southeast near the Lesotho border. The mountain range was spectacular! They are kind of like the Rockies of Colorado in the states. 

On our way down, we stopped at a grocery store to buy our provisions for several days. We never thought about purchasing salt/pepper/spices or any type of butter, oil or spray for cooking purposes. But ... we had plenty of wine! After one long and grueling hiking day we came back to our cabin hot, sweaty, sore and hungry as bears. Jodie volunteered to cook that night. For the four of us, everything was quite seamless in KP duty. One made a salad, another set the table and poured wine in four glasses and the last gal would clean up and wash the dishes. 

Once Jodie started making the chicken in the frying pan she realized we did not have any oil/butter etc to help with flavor or stickiness on the old beat up pan. On the spot she began frying the chicken very slowly so that it would release some fat. And here is where she manufactured sunshine…in cooking. She opened another bottle of wine to assist her in cooking the chicken. It served a dual purpose. It brought an unbelievable and unexpected flavor to the chicken, and nothing ended up sticking to the pan.

Since we were in baboon country, these cabins were empty of any food supplies. Not even a packet of salt was found in any drawer or way back in a cabinet. Nope, those baboons can open doors and windows and can do a lot of damage in the cabin if no one is occupying them. They would even destroy cleaning supplies, and of course we did not have, or buy, proper cleaning supplies either. I don’t think anyone of us got the memo about the baboons and their crazy behavior. We used soap from our toiletry bags for our personal use, as well as all the cooking clean up. Our cabin did provide kitchen towels and bed linens, so that helped. Apparently, baboons don’t mess with towels—but they do jump on the beds we heard! 

Necessity is the mother of invention - a good story for this Mother’s Day Weekend! 

BSoleille! I'm shouting a huge Happy Birthday to Jodie's 60th today! 

L-R: Laura, Jodie, me & Hp 

Thursday, May 6, 2021

Publicity for The Focused Fight

When you self-publish a book, guess who has to do the publicity? If you guessed the author, you are correct! It's super helpful for folks to share the book on social media, but then what? A review on Amazon is helpful and is one of the best compliments you can do for any author. I am thrilled and very thankful for those who took their time to write beautiful reviews on the Amazon platform, and it's never too late to write one and post—for me or anyone of your favorite authors!

This has been an exciting week for me with PR work. I am a newbie at all of this, but slugging through the nuances every day. Yesterday, I did an hour long Twitter Chat with #indieAuthorChat host, Tim Lewis, of London, England and https://stonehampress.com/  (spreading the love over the pond). It was exhilarating but I felt like I was in the middle of the three ring circus answering questions and remembering to include the hashtag with each answer I gave. It was a little hard to keep up with some of the extra questions posed by those on the chat as well as the host's questions. I did my best. The hour flew by at lightning speed. I let out a big cleansing breath at the top of the hour when we were all done. My fingers never flew so fast over my keyboard! Ha! I was thrilled to be a part of Tim Lewis' Indie Author Chat (his chats are every Wednesday at 3:00pm EST).

I met Tim Lewis through a woman named Clarice Lin who my husband Bill met on LinkedIn several years ago. Bill liked Clarice's posts so much that they started chatting via social media. When we traveled to London two years ago, we met up with Clarice for breakfast and had a delightful time with her. She actually gave some sound business advice to "The Best Daughter" that was invaluable. Fast forward to a month ago, and Clarice reached out to me on whether I'd like to meet her friend, Tim, who does frequent Twitter Chats for Independent Authors and thought I would be a good fit for his program. I was! 

Today, I did a recorded Zoom chat with the Executive Director, Maureen Coburn, with the Just Tryan It  foundation that will be aired in a few weeks. https://justtryanit.com/ 

This is all new and exciting! However, my ultimate goal or hope is to reach that one person or one family, or one community by reading The Focused Fight. We can all do small things with great love to help others—Mother Teresa



Sunday, May 2, 2021

May Day - Love is in the Air - Pagon Wedding!

Attending a wedding no matter where in the world is a sacred time, not only for the beautiful bride and groom, but their respective families, friends and guests. I felt honored to be invited. Well wishes for a happy life floated over the venue like the endless and abundant sunshine that their day provided (a great thing for typical Ohio weather in early May!). 

My travel partners embarking from Cleveland to Columbus, Ohio, Debbie M. and Sarah M., made the adventure all worthwhile! With three talkative chicas, the almost two hour drive breezed on by. We traveled to celebrate this wonderful occasion of the marriage of Nicholas and Rachel Pagon; along with Nick’s parents, Kata and Len. It was a very lovely day - from soup to nuts! 

The stunning venue at Oak Grove at Jorgensen Farms was the perfect backdrop for the bride and groom to say their, “I do’s.” I always feel weddings are one of life’s loveliness of being human and making a connection to another human to share a life together. There is something that is cherished that wedding day for the couple and their families, and the feeling of starting something anew. 

Love was certainly in the air! BSoleille! The bright side of a newly married couple - Nick and Rachel Pagon!

Friday, April 30, 2021

The Bridget Franek Track - Crestwood High School - Mantua, Ohio

Ryan and I were thrilled to "get out of dodge" for a great mother and son weekend trip back to our "hometown" of Cleveland, Ohio.  First stop was to visit Tom and Rosalie Franek in Hiram. We got in at nightfall, with a lot of rain and dark skies for most of six hour drive West. When their daughter,  Track and Field Olympian Bridget Franek (London 2012), had the track  dedication ceremony at the school a few weeks ago in her honor, I was unable to attend. 

I was thrilled for Bridget, her the entire family and her friends and fans she wowed through the years while racking up records and championships at Crestwood High School and Penn State University. I knew the next trip to Ohio would include a trip to the track with Rosalie, and Ryan as my co-pilot. I pretended I heard the crowd cheer her on and the standing ovation as her plaque was revealed! All so well deserved by this humble young lady. 

The weather was cool and rainy at times on Friday, but that did not stop us (no snow, thankfully!). We took care of business in visiting Bill and Jordan Gawne as well as other errands before arriving at my sister Kimberly Kocan and her family. We were giddy to "move about the cabin" in our travels, feeling good about our 2+2 and masks/social distancing when applicable. 

We are looking forward to more adventures - Ryan playing a round of golf with his cousins, and me to a wedding in Columbus, Ohio! 



Rosalie and Ryan

Terri and Rosalie

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Sandy Hearts

A natural sand heart found on the sidewalk that is long gone now with all the strong winds and rain over the last couple of weeks. Hearts are everywhere I look it seems. I'm sure this sandy heart turned into a muddy heart that was totally unrecognizable except those who knew its original form. I'll keep the sandy one close to my heart...



Saturday, April 24, 2021


Yesss! The mouse for my computer arrived a week or so ago. I couldn't comment on it until I took it for several spins on the dining room table with toggling back and forth with cutting and pasting and zooming around two monitors like a champ. I use it quite regularly and have been liking it more and more each day compared to my trackpad. Moving files around is a cinch for me now with the mouse. There were instructions on downloading a complete manual on this cute little mouse, I guess for more mousework! Ha! Supposedly it has over 70 days of juice in it before it needs a charge (and I turn it off after each use.)

BSoleille! The bright side of: this thing has way more capabilities than I know what to do with...or at least for now.


Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Tracy's Kids Zoom Fundraiser

Can there be "Too Many Chiefs in the Kitchen - Risotto and Politics?" Maybe it can be with the two former White House Chiefs of Staff featured speakers: John Podesta  (President Clinton) and Josh Bolten (George W. Bush). This was the program for the Tracy's Kids Art Therapy fundraiser last night that was simply awesome. I cannot believe how wonderful it is to see nonprofits and organizations pivoting their programming to keep people invested in their mission. We received a goodie box of various foods and beverage yesterday. We could have cooked it then, or save it for a later date and watch the show. We opted for the second one, except we munched on the appetizers that was sent in the goodie box and looked too delicious not to partake. 

It was also a real treat to hear the behind the scenes eating habits of former presidents and how the staff interacted with them while they were in office. A huge thanks to Tracy Councill and Matt Gerson, founder of Tracy's Kids! 

For more info on Tracy's Kids please check out: https://www.tracyskids.org/



Monday, April 19, 2021

I Heart Phlox Flowers

Isn't it true that when we tune into nature, it has lots of answers for us?  Take it from my front walk of a carpet of phlox. It is blooming beautifully. When "The Best Daughter" noticed the heart as we walked out of the house yesterday, I just had to stop, take it all in then snap a photo per usual. All in a day's work. Enjoying the beauty...

Hearts in flowers! Oh so breathtaking. Tuning in for the magic that is everywhere in new blooms (not counting the pollen and a lot of folks with watering eyes).  



Saturday, April 17, 2021

Self-Publishers Wear all the Hats!

When my editor Linda Blachly, of The Focused Fight, came over for a visit the other day, we had lots to catch up on with our lives since the book was published. She had let me borrow a few of her books on various subjects that I wanted to return to her, and my author book shipment arrived to give her a few. Ryan (my son) and I signed copies for her to take home and share with two other beta readers she knows and lives close to. A win-win!

My husband couldn’t resist a photo op and led us outside to take the photo below! WE did it!

We met Linda over 20 years ago when she called us out of the blue to do a story on us for the now defunct Crofton News Crier, about our family and Ryan’s earlier stages of his cancer journey. She happened to be near the fax machine (remember those?) when a press release came in from a cancer organization called: Special Love, Inc., stating something to the effect that this local family joined Special Love.

I’m glad we said "yes" to her as she went on to write a series of articles in the ensuing years. Linda then won an award in the state of Maryland for small newspaper reporters doing human interest stories.

Late last summer I contacted her to see if she could read over what I had written up until that point. She was elated. When I called her and explained what I was doing, she said, "sure." Linda then became my structural (sometimes call substantive) editor, and also did some line and copy editing. It was exactly what I needed then!

I cannot thank her enough for all she did to help me with the book, but her friendship and grace is the most important thing that came out of the entire process! I am over the moon. 



Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Two In! Covid Shots!

Bill and I are two for two in Covid-Shot-Land. Now the wait for the next two weeks to hopefully be fully immunized.  We headed to the beach again (can't believe it's been three weeks since we last went), and stayed the night in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. We walked the beach for about 2 hours yesterday (on the boardwalk). It was cold, cloudy and grey at first, but then the sun poked out to brilliant sunshine for the rest of the day. Gorgeous! We enjoyed every minute of it! 

I actually had an appointment for my second shot this Friday. However, the mass/vax site in Salisbury, MD does not have many customers. That fact enable me to get my shot there with no problem at all (cancelled the one in Baltimore at M&T Bank Stadium). 

As a PSA, there was a nurse who watched over the "crowd" for the 15 minutes following the inoculation who said she came up from Florida to help at this mass/vax site. She went on urge me to tell all my friends in Maryland to go to the beach and swing by the Civic Center in Salisbury to get vaccinated! They would like more people seeking the vaccine to head out there; no wait times and super friendly staff all the way around. I must admit though, both my vaccination sites were awesome! Well-oiled machines at this point of Phase 3.

BSoleille The not so bright side of some sore arms tonight though...


Monday, April 12, 2021

First Posted Video of a Short Story - Trusting My Gut / My Dubai Driver

Hello folks! This is something brand new for me...a video short story! It's not easy, but I wanted to try it out on my blog! The Story Skills Workshop (SSW) that I am in has given all the students the tools on writing a short story. I've worked on a couple of them for the past two weeks, even shared this video in written form a few days ago. Today's lesson was a culmination of the past two weeks—a stand up version, if you will. 

Maybe with some practice I will get better at telling a story through video! I'm having a ball in this workshop and very happy to share this rough draft with all of you! 

The video is 6:52 long. It is longer by 20 seconds (7:12) because the edited version where I took out the last 20 seconds of me fiddling around with stopping it, would not load the cleaner version (need to also work on that aspect of the whole doggone thing!) It's all a work in progress!



Saturday, April 10, 2021

Cardinal Quilt Block

At Christmastime last December I ordered myself a wooden 3'x3' cardinal quilt block. These are typically called barn quilts. They can withstand all kinds of weather and for me, show that a quilter lives here. The red cardinal is a spiritual messenger from God, and when my mom died last July, I felt that the cardinal quilt block would be a great tribute to her. 

Today I got it hung up on the house between the two front windows. It brings me joy and looks great! We've had several neighbors stop by to say how much they liked it. Perhaps instead of giving my address out to local people, just give them my street name and tell them I live in the "cardinal house" on the left side of the street.



Friday, April 9, 2021

Story Skills Workshop - Dubai Driver

I am currently taking a sprint workshop that is 4 weeks long.  I am thrilled to hone my skills and have been learning a lot in the Akimbo's Story Skills Workshop. We are crafting short stories by doing a story outline and then using the 5 C's of storytelling: context, catalyst, complication, change and consequence. 

The plan is to work on the 5 C's. The first part of the workshop was broken down by writing one C at a time. The following is my completion of my short story. It's a start. 

While relaxing on an Emirates Airbus flight from Ethiopia to Dubai, my mind began wondering how I would find my driver once that big honking plane landed. Frankly, that’s unusual for me to worry about a little travel snafu if it came to be. But I wanted to do what is culturally correct in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the rest of the visit. The tiny bit of trepidation on how I would get from the airport to my hostesses home in Umm Suqeim 1 interrupted my viewing pleasure i.e., a good movie. My hostess gave me explicit instructions in a back and forth series of Whatsapp texts in the two days prior to my flight to Dubai. Her ultimate recommendation was to use a pink-topped taxi upon my arrival to get to her home. She said it would be best for me as a woman to use a woman taxi-driver; hence the pink-topped taxi.
Besides these thoughts, the flight was so lovely that I told my flight attendant to tell the pilot to keep on flying, even perhaps to go around the world because the experience was so exhilarating on this beautiful airplane. I was happy and comfy and snug as a bug in a rug.
When I made my travel plans earlier that summer, I knew I would have a layover as part of my itinerary. I decided to extend the layover from four hours to four days. Why not? It was my chance to see a part of the world I may never get the chance to visit. Part of my Ethiopian trip was to deliver over 30 quilts to children with cancer, and who lived within 400 kms from the Mother Teresa Home in Addis Ababa (a full residential home for the child patient and one parent and treated at one of the local hospitals in Addis). My first few days there were with my son’s oncologist (my son’s a cancer survivor) and her executive director of the Aslan Project. They travel to the area a few times a year to provide cancer care treatment as well as teach/train Ethiopian pediatric oncologists. It was my first trip there as part of her team.
The second part of my trip was to travel solo to two areas of Ethiopia, and then travel solo through the UAE.
Unbeknownst to me and while in-flight, my prearranged hostess whom I met through a series of Facebook inquiries on whether someone could host an American solo traveler over 50, must have had a change of heart. All that worry was for naught! She decided to send her driver, Osama, to the airport to pick me up on my late arrival —about 10:00 pm. I learned of the change of events through another round of texts on Whatsapp, more one sided on her part, upon landing and immediately tapping into the airport WIFI. Relief for me and a new set of instructions. She sent both of us photos of each other for recognition and connection once I landed.
Once through customs I was elated that I was on my way to explore the Middle East country of the United Arab Emirates. I felt on top of the world like the Burj Khalifa. I like to think I was dressed appropriately too, with long pants and long sleeves despite the temperature outside the airport hovering over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Thousands of passengers were coming and going, mostly from the Middle East. They filled the airport in the long expanses of hallways leading to gates numbered in the hundreds, the shops inside the airport, and several money exchanges sprinkled throughout the concourse. I was awestruck by the parade of beautifully dressed families that passed by me quickly getting to their gates, as well as a cacophony of languages from all over the globe which added to the allure of this huge marble floored airport.
Through the throngs of people swirling around me, I knew that I had a great challenge, or so I thought, to find Osama, a sort of needle-in-the-haystack. I was so mesmerized by the sights and sounds before me I did not want to focus on that one small detail of finding my ride to my hostesses house. With my two suitcases in tow, I still had one free hand to hold my phone. As I continued walking quickly through the massive concourse, I held onto my phone like holding the hands of a lover. Tight and sweaty! I kept refreshing the screen with Osama’s photo to compare each person that may have been him as I neared the exit of the airport.
Several minutes ticked by with the adventure of hide and seek to find Osama not panning out. Strangely, my hackles went up a smidge though I knew in my gut I was safely ensconced inside the airport. However, when I looked at every young guy between 25-30 years old, who kind of looked like the Osama on the phone in my hand, and were not, a wee bit of dread seep into my thoughts and my sleuthing skills. How hard can this be? I wasn’t exactly sure I would find Osama but my mind and body took over with the power of positive thinking, even perhaps a self-fulfilling prophecy that it will all work out in the end!
If Osama and I could not find each other, I realized that I could fall back on the second option of hailing a pink-topped taxi as originally suggested by my hostess. But that option gave me pause on how to coordinate hailing a pink-topped taxi. My thought then, does one even “hail” a taxi in Dubai? How would I go about with this wrinkle?
As I continued my trek down the concourse caught up with the expansiveness and architecture of this imposing building, I dutifully followed the Arabic and English signs to the exit. When I glanced up to see the doors to the outside about 100 yards away, I saw a young man headed my way. Lo and behold it was Osama! His face matched perfectly to the photo on my phone. Instant relief! Through broken English he showed me my photo on his phone while grabbing one of my suitcases and said that I was the only passenger with blond hair and blue eyes on the whole plane. Everything worked out. I knew then that the rest of my trip would go without incident.

I was an easy mark—Osama found me. I became the needle-in-the-haystack.

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Book Cover with Ryan!

Life imitating art...or a grown young man imitating the cover of The Focused Fight.  What a great ride it's been, with this memoir on the market a week and a half today! 

I believe there are exciting times ahead for the book! As a self-publisher, there are many hats that need to be worn, including publicist, and that means self-marketing. It's a challenge I'm willing to take on.

BSoleille! The bright side of taking the book cover photo on our first Wish Trip to Disney in 2000! It was taken outside the Polynesian Village. 


Sunday, April 4, 2021

Easter Greetings

Easter Sunday 

No travel for us yet, but my immediate family has gathered in our home on this beautiful Easter Sunday for a meal or two in celebration of the holiday. My son made us a delicious brunch, and has designs on making a late lunch too. He loves to cook, grill, and make concoctions that keeps our mouths (and neighbors) salivating with the smells coming out of his “outdoor kitchen.”

Earlier this morning, in private moment of meditation, I couldn’t help think back to the rock-hewn churches I visited in Lalibela, Ethiopia in 2018. The churches were miraculously built into rock. I took many photos, but one photo I took stands out to me—even today. It was the way the light shone down on the rock that reminded me what Easter means to believers the world over. I am delighted to share this photo with you today!

Saturday, April 3, 2021

Wishing a Happy Easter 2021

Although the country is not totally back to "normal" with visits with our loved ones near and far (by the way, what's normal nowadays?), we can still wish Easter greetings through social media and other outlets. I hope everyone can and will enjoy the longer days, preferably with sunshine, and that you will spend this holiday any way you please. 

Happy Easter to one and all!



Photo from this week on the Crofton Parkway - blooms at full peak!

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

The Focused Fight is in The House!

My heart was pounding when Ryan grabbed the box left gently on our front stoop and brought it into the house to open. In it were (5) beautifully packaged books... my book! The feeling is hard to describe, but I had a huge grin and sweaty palms as I caressed one in my hands. Note: Never fear more copies have been ordered!

I think holding the paperback with my words was like "birthing a baby" in a weird way, holding it gently, sweaty palms and all after the nurse (editor) and doctor (formatter) had checked it over and good enough to hand over.

What a ride it's been. I am over the moon and so thankful! Maybe even another out-of-body experience. 




Monday, March 29, 2021

I Bought a Mouse Today!

I Bought a Mouse Today!

No, not the cute grey little ones in the pet store, or the ones you see scurrying across the kitchen floor, this one is a bonafide genuine contoured computer mouse!

In my personal life, I’ve only worked on a Macbook. I am great with the built in trackpad and I can practically have my computer do cartwheels depending on whether I use one, two, or three fingers gliding across it and it’s built in “tricks.”

Husband Bill shakes his head every time he sees me working on such a small computer/keyboard/trackpad. I like it. However, he commented while I was typing away early this morning about purchasing a mouse. I stopped him mid-sentence and went out on the Web immediately (how’s that for a distraction in the writing community?) looked at the one he suggested. In moments I purchased the doggone thing and it will be here in less than a week.

Apparently, this thing will glide over anything straight—desktop, of course, but a whole host of other surfaces like a picnic table or glass. Who knows, I may really like using one?

I’ll let you know once it arrives and I take it out for a test drive on my dining room table.



My photo has nothing to do with a mouse...but we all need to see a pretty sunset (last night after a hard rain!)

Saturday, March 27, 2021


Wow! It's been a long time coming. I am beyond thrilled to announce that my book is DONE and ready to start sharing with all of you starting TODAY! 

The Focused Fight can be purchased on Amazon either the ebook/Kindle version or paperback! I would appreciate if you would SHARE this post on your social media accounts. THANK YOU!!! It will make a difference when traffic is on the site and how the rankings go in Amazon (not totally sure how it all works, but that's what I've been told by others who have gone before me). The whole project has been a labor of love for over 5 years, and beyond my wildest imagination!  Thankfully, there have been countless people who have been placed in my path for this whole book to come to fruition! 

Here is the link: http://www.amazon.com/dp/1736453319

It's been one heck of a journey, and today, I can finally share this memoir with the world!  Woooohooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

BSoleille! The bright side of a published book!


Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Banner Week for the "Big Shots"

It all started for us with the Covid-19 shots last Friday with Ryan getting the Pfizer at M&T Bank Stadium. I followed up with mine this past Monday at the same place where Ryan went—a two hour wait time and a queue that looped us around to a tune of 1.5 miles (Pfizer also). In Maryland, the 60 and over group began yesterday and Bill, with "The Best Daughter's" help, was able to secure an appointment today near the beach in Salisbury, Maryland (about 30 miles outside of Ocean City, MD). 

When Bill asked me if I wouldn't mind taking a drive out to the beach, I was all in. The sun was shining yesterday and I thought that sunshine would carry over to today and the drive would be awesome. Instead we were met with driving 100 miles in liquid sunshine—AKA pouring down rain. It never deterred us, and we rolled up to the civic center (drive through shot) with nary a wait. Bill got he Pfizer.

Since we thought we would have a wait, but did not, we decided to head over to the ocean for a looksie. The skies cleared a bit (still grey and cloudy) and I ambled on down to the beach to touch the water. Yep, the ocean is still there and wet (and cold!). As I was turning back up to the Rehoboth Boardwalk, the rain started once again. Thankfully, Thrasher's Fries was open for business, and I ordered a medium sized bucket of fries with vinegar. This became our lunch for the two of us! Bill got his favorite Dunkin' Donuts coffee, and we were back on the road again and home in less than 2 hours! 

I also want to add how my experience was on this past Monday even though I had a long wait time. EVERYONE was super polite. Everyone social distanced as requested. The nurses, staff and military combined did an OUTSTANDING job with all their lined up patients! I was simply amazed on how this Mass Vax site is able to vaccinate around 5000 people a day.

We all go back in three weeks for our #2 shots. Hopefully the ride out to the beach next time will be sunny and bright!



Saturday, March 20, 2021

Spring Solstice with a Piano Recital!

I would like to share with all of you the power of community; this time the power of my Writing In Community and a person I met last summer on our journeys of writing a book through the Akimbo platform, MIchele Stanners. I shared the Akimbo website for those interested in writing as the new class was forming--there are still openings for the WIC2. All you need is 15 minutes a day, every day for six months. I love the habit I've gotten myself into each day. You can invest as much or as little as you want to, there are no tests or teachers or grades. https://www.akimbo.com/writingincommunity

A week or so before my surgery in February, Michele Stanners asked what she can do for me during my recovery. My standard answer is a prayer for me and my surgeon’s hands on surgery day, or thoughts of well-wishes in recovery. Since she lives in Calgary, CANADA, and I live in Maryland, there are not too many tangible things to offer or drop off at the house that easily.

We then came up with a plan on a piano concert (she is an excellent pianist!) in the future. Fast forward to today (the future), and a solstice concert was born through the technology of FaceTime. Michele tickled her ivories on a beautiful deep burgundy colored K Kawai piano that amazed and inspired me through each song/classic compositions.

Her dynamic repertoire including numbers by Debussy, Mozart (my favorite), Bach, Yann Tiersen and Chopin. She finished the most covered song of the modern age that everyone knows; Somewhere Over the Rainbow by composer Harold Arlen! She brought my house down with her magnificent skills in serenading me that, hands down, blew me away!

In addition to the 4-part Toccata by Mozart, she added in Fantasia he composed in D minor. She had me do an exercise when I listened to the entire composition that I will share tomorrow!

Thank you, Michele. You lifted my spirits and heart way, way over that rainbow!



Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Erin Go "Braghless" 2021

The post heading makes me laugh every time I say it, and for sure, write it. The land of Ireland is on my bucket list, that's provided I can get myself out of Africa! A big Happy St. Patrick's Day for 2021. No green beer for me today, but I did have a wonderful helpings of corned beef, potatoes and cabbage at my neighbors this evening! Delicious!



Photo was taken in Utah in the summer of 2015...it was the easiest green to find (as opposed to a four-leaf clover in March in Maryland) 

Sunday, March 14, 2021

Attention Storytellers!

Everyone has a story to share, and mine (The Focused Fight) will be available soon. I cannot shout from the rooftops loud enough about the Akimo's Writing in Community (WIC). This week is the beginning of another "class," Writing In Community 2. If you have writing in your blood, and perhaps think you may want to share with the world on a story that you have circulating in your brain, this may be the ticket on a beautiful ride of the written word. There are no tests and no teachers as in the traditional sense. It's all up to you on how far you'd like to go with the "program," even publishing a book at the end of the course (Amazon Kindle). 

There are cohorts (classrooms), but tagging others as you get used to the Discourse (Akimbo's platform) on your daily writing is suggested. If you can carve out 15 minutes a day to write, you can do it. If I can do it, you can do it too. My husband Bill and I took the course on the buddy system. It worked great for us, as we were able to discuss our writing, the Kindlings (writing prompts) and the day to day community we got wrapped in to learn and grow. It can be the greatest gift you give yourself in 2021. 

I am signing up this week too! Check out Akimbo here: https://akimbo.com/writingincommunity 

NOTE: There are several classes coming up, so please check out the Writing In Community 2 with Kristin Hatcher. 

BSolielle! I am a sucker for a beautiful sunset. Now that our days are longer—oh what a feeling!


Thursday, March 11, 2021

Good to Be Back!

It's a good day when the body is feeling better and my "fuzzy brain" + "covid brain" is diminished more than in the last few weeks. More importantly, the weather is getting warmer and the days here in Maryland are bright and sunny. Covid shots are on the horizon for many of us (not yet for me/family) which is encouraging. Can we get back to "normal?" A year ago today and tomorrow the whole world shut down. Remember that feeling? I think we have more hope now than we've had in a year! I celebrate how far we've all come. 

BSoleille! Do you think this lioness is dreaming about her future? 


Lioness - South Africa 2015

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

"When You've Got Your Health...

 "You've got everything." My Dad, who I've been thinking about all day, would have been 97 today. How crazy is it that this was one of his favorite "sayings?" Let's all face it, he was not far off the mark for anyone living and breathing and world-wide to boot! Thankfully, he enjoyed "relatively"  good health to a ripe age of 77(he had heart disease towards the end).  

The photo below was taken in January of 2001 (a couple of months before he died), at the Ryan Tomoff Fundraiser my sisters/family hosted at the Polish Falcon Club on a very cold January night. Olivia and I were able to sneak away from Maryland for the weekend to enjoy the night with so many family and friends coming together for a good cause. It was a magical night I will never forget!



Monday, March 8, 2021

The Focused Fight!

Hello readers! Maybe you have noticed that I have not blogged or posted anything since Valentine's Day. I am sorry about that, and I've missed it more than you know. However, I've had some major health challenges of late, and had two surgeries, the last one on February 17th, 2021. Ironically, I was done with writing, as well as the formatting (by Susie Stevenson) the day before my surgery. I was working night and day to finish it before I went in as I knew I would have a "longish" recovery period. I plan to write about my diagnosis and the challenges that I faced at at later date. NOTE: I'm OKAY!

The irony of the whole thing is that in The Focused Fight, I talk about advocacy quite a bit. It's one of the lifelines in dealing with a Childhood Cancer diagnosis. The parent has to be the eyes and ears and voice for the young child moving forward in just about everything medical. I did a huge amount of advocacy for Ryan, and most recently, had to advocate for myself. The book, not even published yet, had to be "dusted off" so I could use some of the strategies to get me to the correct place in my journey. It worked!

Drum roll please...here is a preview of my book's jacket. Inching along...and getting very close to publishing.



Sunday, February 14, 2021

Happy Valentine's Day 2021

Cold and snowy, with lots of ice ushered in this year's Valentine's Day in the Mid-Atlantic. No outside activities with "black ice" on board every sidewalk and passageway. However, this all lends itself to snuggling on the sofa with a cup of hot chocolate, and perhaps a piece or two of chocolate and a good movie! What's your preference? 

Here's hoping everyone enjoyed their day and/or weekend celebrating...or not. My guys got me a beautiful bouquet of flowers! Now, that is a nice way to treat a loved one who loves flowers like I do! Thankful! Blessed!



Quilt below made by me; blocks from a guild Block of the Month (February of a recent year!)

Friday, February 12, 2021

Wonky Winter Trees

Remember my 12 person "Showbox Swap" I mentioned a few weeks ago? I completed the first round with Cappy Phillips "Wonky Winter Trees." She gave us "carte blanche" to create wonky pine trees in soft "winter woods in the snow" colors...and feel. A lot of swappers are adding some coordinating fabrics to go along with whatever block they are requesting, and Cappy was no different. The background I used for her blocks was provided by her. She also had a dark green in the bag that I used the front and back of (Cappy always says we pay for two sides of the fabric, so why not use them if it's available to do so?). Not all fabrics can comply with that thought, but the green Cappy provided was just the ticket to use both sides! Violá!

I will be swapping the next round with my swap partner who also lives in Crofton. She will get the "Wonky Tree" ziplock bag ("shoebox"), and I'll get what she worked on the past couple of weeks. The swap will go on for the next year—heading not only to swappers in Maryland, but Arizona and Florida too! It will be very exciting in the next year on what everyone makes for everyone else. It's off the chart fun for us quilters! All of the ladies are inspirational and creative and I am thankful to be a part of a wonderful effort in this swap (thanks, Carrie for organizing!)



Tuesday, February 9, 2021

"Merry Christmas" on February 9, 2021

We all know the postal service is running a little behind, but come on! My order for Ryan's Christmas present was placed on December 9, 2020. I thought this was plenty of lead time before the Christmas holiday. Oh, how wrong I was. Ryan mentioned to me that he would like a larger cutting board instead of the ones in our repertoire—some barely bigger than a "postage stamp." After he cooks, grills and smokes, he typically needs to cut something (like a full chicken, or brisket). The smaller cutting boards do not cut it—pun intended! I took to the internet to find the "perfect" board so RyGuysBBQ can continue making delicious meals. I think I knocked it out of the park on the size (24"X18"), as well as the beautiful wood patina. I ended up purchasing the largest one they had because the reviews mentioned that you never want a smaller one. I heeded their advice for my purchase. I believe this piece of hardwood will last for generations! 

Christmas is a out of our sight, but today it was brought to the forefront after the delivery. "Merry Christmas, Ryan." He was very patient in waiting for its delivery. There was nothing we could do about that.

For those interested in a great cutting board, check out the  https://butcherblockco.com/boos-cutting-board



Sunday, February 7, 2021

Super Bowl LV

For 55 years the NFL's Super Bowl is the quintessential game of the year. However, it's in the last 20 years or so it's been a "big deal." From the advertisements, intermission acts and the price of a ticket, it's gone way over the top. We are comfortable to watch in on TV like the millions all over the world who will tune into the iconic game.

Buccaneers or Chiefs? It doesn't matter to me on the eventual winner, but let's have a good game, guys! To make the game interesting for our household, Ryan, one of the elite aficionado's of any game, sweetened our viewing experience by having us fill out a "prop bet" sheet by Draftkings. The winner collects a prize (provided by him), a $20 gift card to Target. I'm in! 



Thursday, February 4, 2021

Ice Age

I don't know about you, but if you like snow, do you like ice? However, these cold winter days turn that snow and then, perhaps a little rain when the temperatures go up a bit, then back to ice when the temperatures dip below freezing. It's a cycle as we all know, but maybe not love. Definitely a problem for walking on it, or driving if the roads are not serviced. I'm thankful to be ensconced (I like it better than "lockdown") in my home and taking no risks with the ice, except to walk on a cleared sidewalk to take the photo below!

BSoleille! Please stay safe!


Tuesday, February 2, 2021

February 2! Groundhog's Day and was Aunt Mary's Birthday!

It’s Groundhog’s Day in the USA and I think we may have six more weeks of winter if that Phil-guy saw his shadow, or not. Today is also my favorite aunt’s birthday! As a kid, Feb 2 was an easy day to remember. Unfortunately, I never had grandparents, so Aunt Mary enjoyed the status of being a “replacement” grandparent to me and my sisters with the added status of being the “favorite aunt.” My parents were the babies of their families, and got married a little later than life than their peers, so by the time they started their family all their parents had passed away years earlier. Older cousins of mine have many memories of my grandparents on both sides of the family, but old family photos of who they were cannot replace a pair of loving arms wrapped around a small child.

Thankfully, my Aunt Mary became that special person in my life. I spent a lot of time at her home, and she taught me the basics of cooking, and more preferably, baking. She and her sister, my Aunt Lottie, could have opened up a restaurant in Cleveland, Ohio, with their delicious delicacies. The Polish community would have patronized it and lines would have wrapped around a city block to get in, but that thought never entered their minds. For them, it was all about feeding their families and their nieces and nephews and their grandchildren—notice how I put nieces first?—to scrumptious Polish cuisine.

My first trip to Poland was with my Aunt Mary in 1977. We stayed with our family (home built in 1929) in Ostrów Mazowiecka (about 1.5 hour drive (East) of Warsaw—near the Russian border). The matriarch in Ostrów, Mira, was my aunt’s first cousin and it was the first time they had met. We had a ball touring and enjoying everything we could in Poland for six weeks! I also ran in the Polish Olympic Track Meet in Krakow as a 15 year old where my aunt was my chaperone.

I’ll write more about the track meet in a later post, but today it’s all about remembering my wonderful, and very favorite aunt, who loved me and catered to me whenever I could visit her (staying the weekend with her was the best!)

She would have been 107 today (I’ll do the math - she was born in 1914). Happy Birthday, Aunt Mary!

My husband, Bill, and Aunt Mary on our wedding day June 13, 1987. Sadly, Bill didn’t have grandparents either, or any aunts and uncles that he knew well, so Aunt Mary became his favorite aunt too! Their love for each other was mutual, and once married, we would both spend a day with her in her kitchen and “let her” cook the most delicious meals for us. Those special days will never be forgotten!




Sunday, January 31, 2021

Winter Arrived!

If you are a fan in snow and live in the US, I think we are all in good company. According to the weather-person, and more importantly, Mother Nature, most states are at least getting a dusting of snow today (along many states having the white stuff for some time). It's winter, so I cannot "complain." However, I will say, the first snowfall with anything substantial (a few inches) is pretty, though I used to like the white stuff more when I was younger. 

I took this photo of our dog Lucy a few years ago (she passed a few years ago), and today is a carbon copy of that day. Grey skies, white snow, but her black fur and piercing blue eyes stood out for all to see—about three people. We called her a "Labsky" a combination of Labrador and Husky. She loved the snow more than any dog we had, and would not come in for hours so she could play, and when done playing, lay on the freshly fallen flakes. She was quite the loner, so she didn't care if we were out with her or not, she did her own thing and seemed happy enough about it. We sure do miss that "one-bark-wonder." She barked one time a year—one woof—whether she needed to or not.

BSoleille! The brightside that winter is half over?


Saturday, January 30, 2021

End of January Sunset

The month of January is winding down with about 30 hours left of it. Surprisingly, the sunsets in January that I have touted for years did not have the beauty as in years past. Actually, December 2020 had more beautiful sunsets in the Mid-Atlantic than this month. The kind of funny thing about this is that we had probably 28 days out of 30 with brilliant sunshine during the day, but for me, the skies were not the same as usual. I'm not a meteorologist to figure this out, only a crackpot gal looking for a stunning sunset!

However, I took this sunset photo below yesterday, and it will have to suffice for this month's beauty. We all know...beauty is in the eye of the beholder.



Thursday, January 28, 2021

Honking Ducks

Over the last several months the mallard ducks et al have been flying the friendly skies over my house, honking loudly and making a ruckus. I hear them flying over all day long, starting early in the morning which makes me smile. They must have places to go, because they go back and forth all day long for what? Meetings? Do they meet up with the ducks from a community or two over with all their happy squawking? 

BSoleille! The bright side of this being my 2,777th post! 



Wednesday, January 27, 2021

I Promise...The Focused Fight is Really Inching Closer

The Focused Fight, a book on my son's and family's cancer journey is inching closer to publishing. I'm ready for it to join my pile of books (these have all been read in 2020, plus several more I sent to friends this summer) to share with you and the "world." Right now it is in the proofing stage—and this part of the process cannot be rushed. The the final stage is formatting. Each day I get more excited about the entire process, it energizes me and continues to give me hope and inspiration. 

In the next several weeks, I'll keep you apprised of where the book stands, and when it will be available on Amazon. I am self-publishing, so I wear all the hats in the process and post production to bring it to its final stage of a bonafide book!

Thank you for being patient with me!

BSoleille! The bright side of reading over 35 books in 2020! Below photo shows most of them.


Sunday, January 24, 2021

A Lemon Kind of Kindness

 “The Best Daughter” recently sent me a recipe to try, and it sounded too delicious not to try it, so I was all in to make it. A one pot Turmeric and Ginger Chicken Veggie Soup for a cold winter January day. I had most of the ingredients on hand, and since I am considered the “queen of wing” on many things, I thought swapping out ingredients that I didn’t have for something else I did have would work just fine. How hard could that be? And would it really change it all that much, I pondered? When I thought again, yes, it probably would, especially not having the turmeric (the #1 ingredient and lead in the recipe heading), I had to figure out something…and quick.

However, when I realized that I didn’t have a lick of turmeric, parsley or kale (recipe called for all three) I thought I may be in a bit of a bind. I had already started the dutch oven with all the basic veggies—onion, garlic, celery and carrots and they were all simmering nicely together and filling the kitchen with a sweet aroma. The next part called for the spices I did not have, except I did have ginger, but it seemed that I couldn’t go on without the other two spices.

In that moment of reckoning, I called two neighbors for said spices and neither had them. When I hung up the phone with the last neighbor, my son started walking down the hallway towards the kitchen. I offhandedly mentioned my dilemma, and he actually said he’d be happy to go to the store to pick up the missing ingredients. I was floored (I told him I’d go but I still had some slicing and dicing to do). Within minutes he grabbed his car keys and off he went for said spices. I was thrilled on the offer which allowed me to finished up all the cutting (chicken and zucchini). When I looked at the recipe again (back side of my 3x5 index card) I realized that I needed a lemon to add at the end of the simmering. Ouch!

Back to the drawing board on missing ingredients, but a quick call to my son met with nada: he didn’t answer his cell phone. I figured he must be driving back. In a flash, I then sent a quick text just in case. I never heard back from him until he arrived back home.

He walked through the door with big grin all the ingredients I asked for, and the last minute addition of a lemon. He said he didn’t notice the call come in, and had started the engine of his car when he realized I sent a text. He then said he stopped the car, got out and went back in the grocery store to purchase not one, but two lemons to make sure my recipe worked out! Kindness in it’s best form! I love that kid!

I finished cooking up the soup and it was delicious - with enough leftover for tomorrow at least!