Knock knock. Is this thing on? Anybody out there?
Seriously how y'all doin'? Things have been kinda busy for me - well, it seems to be a bit epidemic with a lot of bloggers here lately based on the number of "I'm taking a break posts" I've been seeing for a few months - even from some of the bigger bloggers. I blame it on spring fever. Or maybe it's just simply life. I sometimes wonder if my bloggy friend Holly, who I dearly miss, and who predicted blogs would soon sort of fizzle away, wasn't right after all!
Well, it's spring, and I've been busy in the yard of course. There was all that raking that comes with the spring shedding oaks here, and we actually still probably have one final sweep to make, though I think they are pretty much finished falling... finally! Most of the leaf burning neighbors in my general vicinity, including the ones next door, stopped burning leaves this spring, some I guess because I canvassed the neighborhood, others, like the ones next door I don't know why... but I'm not questioning it either, I'm just grateful.
There have been a few people like the fella above there, who continued to burn anyway even after I talked to them about the breathing problems it caused me. That coward set these two small piles on fire and then took off and left them smoldering all day. Someone else I talked to was burning at night a few doors down a couple of times, and I'm sure there will continue to be burning since it's not illegal here, but I know karma will get them. She always does. And I am gonna keep on fighting it.
In anticipation of the leaf burning/pollen season - and the fact that 8 out of 10 times when I step out my backdoor, I am assaulted by the odor of cigarette smoke from the chain smokers who live around me, I bought a Honeywell indoor air cleaner. This little piece of technology has truly been a life saver quite literally, even for when my husband comes home toting third-hand cigarette smoke on his hair and clothes. Yes, even third hand smoke transferred onto somebody else causes me lung pain. I know that with me, it's a chemical issue, and all I can say is there must be some seriously dangerous chemicals in some cigarettes these days. The first air cleaner I ordered made such an immediate difference in the air quality and in my ability to breathe deeply, and within only about 5 minutes of turning it on, I immediately ordered a second unit for my bedroom!
As far as the garden, my roses bloomed out, but now they are looking kinda sickly. I only planted a few pots of annuals for a bit of color out front, and nothing in the ground. I transferred some oriental lillies from the back garden to the front and moved three lantana plants from one place in the yard to another, but I didn't plant a single new flower other than the potted annuals. The dollar weed - and those horribly painful sticker weeds - were taking over the backyard again, so I had no choice but to put down weed and feed.
On the veggies this year, I raised a few plants from seed but had some bell pepper seeds that never came up, so I bought a few small seedlings of those. In the garden I currently have about a dozen tomatoes of different kinds, bell peppers, jalapenos, a couple of lima beans, cucumbers, green beans, corn, okra, and watermelon, along with rosemary, oregano, mint, basil, flat leaf parsley, sage, and even some cilantro, which I am trying to learn to like this year. Out of all of this, it'll be interesting to see what I manage to not kill, or give up to the bugs, or to the heat this year!
I'm guessing on all of this of course, but I already saw what appeared to be slug damage on my Meyer lemon tree, Japanese beetles skeletonizing a few of my okra plants, flea beetle damage on some tomato leaves, and maybe leaf hopper damage on my Canna Lilies, so while I didn't really want to, I had to break out the bug stuff already. Same story every year - weeds and bugs. Followed by heat, and we've already had quite a drought in April with less than 1/2-inch of rain, while our neighbors to the north have suffered through horrible storms and now, coming floods along the Mississippi River.
We are also in the midst of planning a big family vacation to Disney later in the year, and if you've ever been, you know there's been lots to do to plan for that! The Cajun, and I are going together of course, but we're also taking my son, daughter in law and the two grandkids, so there has been figuring schedules of what we want to do when, where we want to eat and when, and of course the character meals that have to be planned for and reserved months in advance.
My daughter in law is going all out too - scouting costumes and themed clothing from Etsy shops for everything we're doing with the kids, including prince and princess costuming for Cinderella's Royal Table and chef outfits for Chef Mickey. We're doing T-Rex at Downtown Disney and Disney Quest, and the luau at the Polynesian, Rain Forest Cafe at Animal Kingdom, all the parks and Typhoon Lagoon too, of course. Somehow we'll manage to squeeze in a day at Sea World, but mostly we'll be on the Disney property. This is my way of finally taking my son myself, and he gets to take his kids too, so I am so stinkin' excited y'all, I can hardly stand myself!!
I started this week to get my "farm" of cats and my one dog ready with updated shots, including bordella since they are being boarded, and scheduling boarding for everybody. For Boo and Smoky, neutering is on the schedule too. I figured it is best to get that done now too. The vet put me at ease about leaving Boo, reminding me that dogs have little sense of time and that it's the humans who suffer the absence more than the pets. I'd been stressing over leaving him because when we found him, he was only maybe 5 or 6 weeks old, and since I'd lost my job to Hurricane Katrina, I have been with him every single day of his life, 24/7 from day one. I didn't want him to grieve and think that I had gone off and died or something morbid like that! Ridiculous, I know.
Course I've still been developing recipes, cooking and creating, taking photos, writing and editing, and trying to keep up with the posts over at Deep South Dish, but the new hrecipe website coding that Google search engine recently implemented is giving favor to the bigger corporate sites, and the bigger bloggers who have the money to hire people to code their sites, has all but knocked us smaller food bloggers out of the Google search rankings for people looking for recipes. I don't mind saying I have been busting my buns for several years to get a good ranking on Google, only to have Google kick me in the face and knock me off the monkey bars. That sure took the wind out of my sails a bit.
Not that I'm one of those super ambitious food bloggers that wants to be a celebrity, go on big book tours, have my own show, brand myself across every possible product in existence, or hawk my name and site or myself across media. I'm not. While my food blog has indeed shown enough growth to draw interest from some major brands, I've actually turned down three very lucrative corporate opportunities in the past couple months.
Opportunities that many bloggers would chomp at the bit to do, and which would have given me national exposure - but for which at the stage of life I am at right now, seemed far too demanding, far too much work, far too much effort and frankly, even in exchange for proposed "fame and popularity," neither of which I care much about... I just don't really want to work that hard right now!! I did send them on to a few bloggers I thought would be a good fit for their projects though, so hopefully they will remember that.
Don't get me wrong... if the right opportunity comes along that has the right feel for me and for my readers, I'll take it, but my primary goal for my food blog is to have a nice "website cookbook," a collection of old fashioned and classic southern recipes and good cooking that people can rely on. If I have a "hook" at all, that's it. I just have no attachments to the "fame monster" is all.
I don't have a big ego. I'm not competitive. I have no desire to be famous. I don't want to be in front of a camera, have a tv show, or anything remotely like that. I am not driven by the desire to have a lot of attention or to be constantly reaching for more and never content. Been there. Done that. Bought the t-shirt. While I appreciate and I am immensely grateful for the sweet emails I receive daily from people all over the country, my goal is not to be admired, or adored or put up on any kind of pedestal. I'm simply not that special. I'm just like anybody else who loves to cook and I like to cook the good old style food. And I am working hard to do that and keep that alive.
Which is why I am also a little bit angry.
Once upon a time, I was that gal up there in the picture waving. I was younger, and blonde, and much thinner, and kinda cute, with her body. That was what I looked like about 100 years ago, and I never had a problem having a man in my life, even if he was Mr. Right Now and rarely Mr. Right. God in all his wisdom gave me strong intuition though, even for my lack of relationship skills, and he gave me a good sense of perception - though some people would say it's paranoia. My best friend and I were chatting about this subject on this very day. There is a fine line between the two I guess, this perception and paranoia, but trust me. You know when you have the first over the latter.
Once in my early 30s, when this spooky guy I had rejected was stalking me... and I'm talking about true stalking - following me, all the time, all hours of the day and night, my every movement, everywhere I went. Watching from afar. Spying on me. But perception and intuition always had me a step ahead of him. That inner voice would tell me to look outside at a certain time, and he would pass by in his car. Or I would be drawn to eyeball a dark corner in a club where I was with my friends, and there he would be. Hard as he tried to be covert, I always managed to be seconds ahead of him, and that kind of perception or intuition has always been with me.
There is a blogger I once thought well of. But soon their nature became very obviously different from what they put out there - they were annoyingly overly driven and ambitious, pushy and aggressive, grandiose and in a constant look-at-me mode of self promotion, in pursuit of all of those things of fame in a dizzying whirlwind of activity. They would say one thing was the most important thing in their life, but yet, their actions reflected the complete opposite of it. I began to see things happening with them that I knew were factual untruths and manipulation, but... not all that unusual in some aspects of the blogging community I guess, and in all honesty, the stuff of marketing these days. None of my business really.
Except that for months now this person has literally been stalking my site - never stopping to say hello. Never commenting. Never announcing their presence, but always coming by in stealth. And then in short time, I would see my work - not in recipes because all of us southerners have pretty much the same recipe box - but in the form of certain techniques and style that I knew was mine.
When you are true to your authentic self, there is a certain blueprint of you attached to what you do. It's just there - it's your style and you know it, and you know when it is taken. This is the outflow of that fame monster - what happens when you chase fame so hard, that you build an empire on an inauthentic and shaky foundation. You run out of ideas, so you have to pluck at the creativity of other less ambitious souls who have the talent, but not the drive of the fame monster. It's much easier to steal someone else's style and ideas, than it is to develop your own. I've had plenty of instances where people have blatantly stolen my work, but I think this is much worse really.
According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it. But each man must be careful how he builds on it. ~1 Corinthians 3:10Have you ever had an instance of this in your life? How did you keep your psyche clear of the negativity associated with the knowledge?