Myrtle the Turtle

P1120445This sweet big girl had been camping out at the same spot for a couple of days on the other side of my driveway.  I went over to check on her and she had been digging a hole.  I’m not positive but I believe she laid some eggs in that hole.  This happened around June 1st.  I did a little bit of internet research and it said if she laid eggs, they should hatch anywhere from 45 to 90 days, so I’ll be checking the site come July 15 and every day thereafter just to see if there has been any change.  I looked in the hole and all I could see was mud and the hole.  Hopefully, I’ll see the pitter patter of little hatchling feet in the coming weeks or months.  She was so cute.  I just had a couple of little chats with her and she just carefully watched me.

Later, I saw where cars were slowing down in front of my house, so I went out to see why and she had her butt parked in the middle of the road, so I picked her up (to which she tried to fight me) and put her on the other side of the road in which she was headed.  Haven’t seen her since.

I’m not sure, but I believe her to be a Mississippi Mud Turtle, and I named her Myrtle, for lack of a better name.

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On another note, I have finally updated my 101 Things page.  Oh, and now not only have I snagged me a couple of cool jobs online (just got a second one today that I start Tuesday) that I can work from home, but I’ve also earned the title Freelance Writer, since I’ve sold my first article online.  Nice!  Dreams can come true.

I hope y’all are doing well.  I’ll try to establish a routine of regular posting.  Still working on my schedule.  Now that I’m working from home, I’m busier than ever, but a lot less stressed, if that makes sense.  At least I’m busy doing things I love.  Working in the yard, cooking, cleaning, hangin’ with my girls, writing, working online, among other things and just enjoying life.  I hope you are enjoying life, as well.  *smooch*

Love ya!

Carol

Visit to Podunk

Well, besides the post from a little while ago with the new job, working from home, more time with my family, etc., we took a small road trip.  Maybe I should call it a day trip.  It all started with a story I was writing and the name of the town I came up with was Swampbottom, Mississippi.  I actually did a search to see if there was any such name in existence and found Swamp Bottom Restaurant in Poplarville.  Actually, it was listed in Poplarville, Mississippi, as well as Bogalusa, Louisiana, so I just typed in the address to my maps on my phone and it directed me where to go.  I did call first to be sure of what their hours of operation were.  Packed Mama and Hallie in the car and took off.

We had imagined, with a name like Swamp Bottom, it had to have a swamp close by, maybe Spanish moss hanging down from the trees, a restaurant front full of welcome, romance and intrigue.  Right?  What do you envision when you hear the name Swamp Bottom?  I read some reviews on the restaurant and they claimed to not only have a wonderful menu filled with seafood, burgers, poboys, and not only that, but breakfast was served, and they talked of how part of the restaurant was a store which had many food items in stock to purchase, and they had daily entertainment with a Cajun band or else Cajun music was played to fill the restaurant with that zydeco ambiance loved by so many.  Me, not so much, but many, nonetheless.  I was only looking forward to the scene, the vision of the restaurant and maybe swamp, and see if the food was worth the trip.  Well…

We drive for a little over 2 hours to get there and the map leads us to this place called Crossroads.  Now, let me remind you, I did call them.  A woman answered and with a raspy, smoker’s voice, she said, “Hello?”

I said, “Om, is this the Swamp Bottom Restaurant?”  Because usually when you call a place of business, they answer with the business name, right?  Wrong.

“Oh yes,” they said.  “This is Swamp Bottom.”

To which I said, “Oh good.  Can you tell me your days and hours of operation, please?”  So, I truly believed this would be a great visit to an interesting place.  I mean, I had come up with this great town name and found it to be a restaurant.  It was meant for me to go there, right?

We get to the correct address and see the sign that says Crossroads.  No Swamp Bottom.  No spanish moss.  No swamp.  Maybe a half acre lot.  Just a boring grassy and gravel lot just off the road with some sort of snow cone shack built to the left of it.  No frills.  No thrills.  Just a lack luster wood frame small shack of a restaurant and did not feel welcoming at all.  I call again.

Again, with the raspy smoker’s voice, she answers, “Hello?!”  Obviously, not in the happiest of moods.  Perhaps she’s been pulling too many shifts?  I doubt it.  I’m sure she was not so busy waiting on tables, she didn’t have time to go out for her usual smoke.  There was no one there.  I mean, no customers.  No cars.

I ask, “Is this Swamp Bottom Restaurant?  I’m parked outside and I have the correct address, but the sign says Crossroads.”

“Yeah, the same people work here though.  It was just bought out from the previous owner and we changed the name is all.  Everything else is the same.”

“So y’all serve breakfast?”  I ask this, because it’s not quite 11:00 and I was curious as there were no cars.

“No, we don’t serve breakfast.  Why?  You want breakfast?!”

“Om, not really.  I simply saw online where y’all served breakfast.”

“No, we no longer serve breakfast!  We open at 11:00!”

So, we drive around the podunk town and see nothing but fields and pastures and old houses.  Maybe a home owned tire company.  An old expired gas station turned into a minute mart that didn’t look frequented.  We drove down one road for about 5 minutes just to see what we could see, which wasn’t much of anything, and then back and it was 11:00.  Oh my.  A truck drove up to the entrance just before we did.  Does this mean they have good food?

We walk in and there’s a sign that says “Please wait to be seated” and no one comes to seat us, so we stand there for a few minutes.  Someone ventures out of the kitchen to tell us to, “just sit anywhere ya want.”

Is that zydeco music I hear?  Real cajun music?  No.  There is no band.  There is no piped in music, either, so we sit in silence, which is fine, I guess.  Mama, Hallie and I look at each other as if we are all sorely disappointed.  I had actually thought of asking them if they wanted to look for something else, that this restaurant is obviously not what we were expecting nor looking for.  But, I figured I’d give it the benefit of the doubt and tried to be hopeful for mouthwatering food.  I mean, no romantic, welcoming, picturesque view of the restaurant didn’t mean the food wouldn’t be awesome.  I could skip all the ambiance as long as the food was memorable.  Boy.  Was it memorable!

We get the menu and there’s not much to it.  Some of the things we were expecting from reading the online reviews weren’t even on the menu.  The prices were kind of high considering we were in Podunk.  Oh, I mean Poplarville.  And who knew we’d go through all these places to get there.  We drove through Little Rock.  I thought Arkansas was further north.  And we drove through Sandy Hook.  Seems like there was another place normally found in New York, but I guess I don’t care enough to remember, or either I’m trying to block out the entire experience.

We finally decided on chicken fried steak and mashed potatoes.  Hallie got fried shrimp and french fries.  Let me just say the only thing that was worth the use of our taste buds was the root beer we ordered.  You can’t mess up bottled root beer, right?  This restaurant experience had us crying in our beer.  Ok, maybe I’m a bit melodramatic, but honestly, I figure the only reason they are still in business is because they are the ONLY restaurant within a 20+ mile radius and those people who live in this podunk town have never been exposed to the more worldly flavors exhibited at most other small town restaurants, including the likes of McDonald’s, which I don’t frequent myself, but would have been overjoyed had we eaten there instead of wasting our hard earned money at this place.

Oh, and sorry I didn’t have a photo to share.  It wasn’t worth taking my camera out of my purse.  By the way, not only were the online reviews of this place completely exaggerated, but they only had maybe 4 different kinds of desserts that did not look appetizing, and the so-called store did not consist of anything they said they had online.  All we saw was a small glass case next to the register filled with a few, a small few, candy bars, and a small refrigerator behind us in front of the register that held the plated single servings of those few so-called desserts.  Perhaps this is a rather harsh post and review of Crossroads, but I’m just telling you that you should NOT believe all the hype you may hear about a place online.  With that said, feel free to take my opinion with a grain of salt and go take a gander at this place.  Just don’t say I didn’t warn you.  If you happen to drive past Crossroads, be sure to cross that road, keep looking for the next road, and the next, and the next, until maybe you will come across some other podunk restaurant.  I hope they will be better.

Ch-ch-ch-Changes

Are ya singin’?  I knew I’d been offline for a little while, but didn’t realize it was over a month.  Sorry.  Again.  I have been so busy trying to adjust my new schedule, and just hangin’ out with my kiddo, since she’s out for summer.  I have undergone many changes in my life and it’s exciting, nerve-wrecking, as well as relaxing most days.  So what have I been doing?  Well, I turned in my 2 weeks notice to the monster boss.  Yes!!!  I had been with that place for a little over a year, no insurance, no retirement plan, and was promised a raise after 4 or 6 months.  Never got one.  The girl who had been there 2 years had never received a raise.  Now, she has resigned, as well.  She and I both deserved better.  We deserve to be appreciated.  I can learn to go without medical insurance, as I’m a pretty healthy person, thank the Lord.  Hallie is covered under her dad’s insurance.  Plus, I can always go to the VA if I have to, but usually when I do get sick, I just wait it out and get better naturally, with a few days time.  Retirement plan?  I will have to reestablish one eventually, but no time soon.

So, my last day with that company was May 21st and oh, what a joyful day that was!!  When the leaving part of the day came, I mean.  No more 30-40 minute commutes there and 30-50 minute commutes home, depending on traffic, of course.  I was paying anywhere from $50 to $75 every 4 days for gas alone.  No more of that.  Hallie is out of school for the summer, so no 20 minute commutes to school and then 20 minutes back + the commute to work.  We can sleep late, which means no getting up at 4:00 or 4:30am.  Joy!  It all started with a little conversation I had with God…

I was struggling.  Really struggling to find another job.  I could not understand why I could not find something else.  I was miserable working for the monster boss, being intimidated by him, his making me and the other girl cry on several occasions.  Can you say Jerkwad?!  Well, he was one.  I’m sure he still is, but not my problem.  Anywho, I reached a point where eventually I went off on him when he talked down to me as if I was a stupid person.  You take it long enough and eventually you just blow up!  I said, “I’d appreciate it if you did NOT talk to me like that!”  I think it kind of scared him.  He was speechless for once.  When I just blurted it out, it kind of scared me, too.  I was afraid I’d get fired, but at that moment, I halfway didn’t care.  I was not going to take that anymore.  So, he became a tiny bit nicer.  Some days, it even seemed as if he took a bottle of nice pills.  SOME days.  Go figure.  I reached a point where I believed I learned how to deal with people like him.  And let me tell you, I’ve worked for some devils.  I used to work in law firms if that tells you anything.  Attorneys are a different breed of people.  They just are.  This monster boss, however, was the worst ever.  And he wasn’t even an attorney!

I also realized that I’d been sent to that office to befriend the other girl that worked there.  At first, she had her walls up higher than mine if you can figure that.  I thought I was the most untrusting person on the planet.  Nope.  She would not let me in.  Those walls were fortress strong.  She was going through some personal issues and I was so worried about her and tried to reach out, but she was not going to give an inch.  Months passed.  Eventually, her walls started to weaken.  Slowly.  We did become great friends, confiding in each other, hugging, crying together, and just being there for one another.  She’s a special person.  I knew she needed me.  I also realized I needed her.

So, finally, after getting turned down for jobs I’d applied to and some of them just ignored me altogether, I prayed a very specific prayer.  For me, praying is more or less a friendly or not so friendly conversation with God, depending on my mood and frustration at the time.  It might be disrespectful to complain to him and talk angrily to him, ignore him, etc., but one thing God does appreciate is your authenticity.  I’m not going to pretend to be all sweet to him when I’m pissed off at him.  At least I’m honest with him and he knows it.  I do later apologize for my rudeness and hateful attitude.  My conversation went something like this:

“God, I think I know why you sent me here.  I needed to learn how to deal with extremely difficult people, as if I haven’t already, and you sent me the most difficult of all.  I learned how to deal with him instead of constantly fight against him and hate his guts.  I learned to not hate him.  I think you also sent me here to become friends with (I’ll call her…) Sarah, because we would both benefit greatly from a friendship and we needed each other to grow.  You sent me here to grow, and I realize growth is good for living.  Growth is not always comfortable.  It’s pretty uncomfortable for the most part.  And I do feel I’ve grown in many ways here.  However.  No insurance.  No retirement plan.  No raise in the 1 year plus that I’ve been here.  No future here.  Long commute and gas is expensive.  I miss my kid.  I chose to be a parent because I wanted to raise her, not just pop her out and let her fend for herself or let someone else care for her while I’m at work all day and only spend 2 hours a night and weekends with her.  I want to raise my child.  I know it’s pretty slim to find a chance to work from home, but I’ll do anything, as long as it’s legal and it pays the bills, as long as I get to raise my kid.  I want time with her before it’s too late and she’s gone off to college.  I want more time to cook healthy meals.  Time to clean my house.  Time to finish my book.  Just tell me why I’m still here.  There’s nothing left here for me to learn.  There are no further ways in which to grow at this hellhole.  Please help.  I don’t know what to do at this point.  Please help.”

Once I said that and got it off my chest, I felt a little lighter, although still anxious and a bit angry with him, because I felt sort of like he wasn’t listening to all my earlier prayers.  I felt he was ignoring me.  But when I had that conversation, I felt he was actually listening.  I was hopeful he was listening.  I actually said the prayer out loud at the office, while everyone was gone to lunch.  It felt better saying it out loud rather than saying it inside my head.  I had to get it outside of myself if that makes sense.

Not even a week passed, and I received an answer to my prayer.  I was contacted by this online company with an invitation to interview for a job I did not even apply for, although I’m registered with the company.  I interviewed and was hired.  I started out working 10 hours a week while still keeping my day job and when he promised he’d give me 30 hours a week, I put in my 2 weeks notice at the office.  Now, I’m home.  I’m hanging out with Hallie, sleeping in later, not late, but later.  Hallie gets to sleep in a bit later than me.  More time with our pets.  More time to cook healthy meals, so Mama comes over more often to have supper and hang out with us.  Money to pay the bills.  Working through my computer.  No commutes.  Hardly even paying for gas.  More time to clean.  More time to write.  Life is good.

More to follow…