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!

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!