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!

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!