Monday, July 7, 2014

She Inspired Independence and Self Determination

"Never forget how to play," is what this lovely woman told me at the tender age of five-years-old. Her wisdom and life experiences are the inspiration of this blog and the website, and also for my life in general.

Born at a time when women were not as equal as they are today she stepped outside the box to do it her way.

Born Lynda Kennedy she married a second generation American from a good Irish family like herself. Their families were both from County Cork. Never knew if the families knew each other previously but they were true to their roots. Especially in her beauty.

Fair complexion, high cheek bones and her hair when I knew her was white, thick, soft and to her hips. She wore it pinned up as in the photo, but when this photo was made she had Titian red hair. So her fiery red hair matched her determined temperament.

She was married to Peter Mullen until 1917 when she divorced him. She had done her best to giver her son a solid family, but Peter's drunkenness and physical abuse brought her temper to a boil.

Her son Leo remembered hearing her warn his dad, "If you ever hit me again, remember you'll have to go to sleep sometime, and you might not wake up." Leo was 14-years-old when Lynda met Peter at the door with a loaded Colt 45 and told him to never come back again.

Peter did leave and he never sent any money to help support Leo. Lynda had to find a way to make an income.

It wasn't until the 1860's that Alabama allowed married women to own property and maintain their own income. There was new ground being walked by women in 1917 and property ownership was one thing but she decided to own income producing property. She started by renting out a room in their house on Georgia Ave. in Mobile, Ala. The house was small but the rent from a room kept she and Leo fed and in their home. Before she died in 1963 I remember going with her to collect rents from her tenants. Several years after her death Leo had to sell the properties to the Federal Government for the land to build Interstate - 10.

She did get married again to a man who was most proud of his wife's independence. She also fostered a healthy respect for independence in her son Leo and he too married a very strong minded woman who worked outside of the home when it wasn't the proper thing for a wife and mother to do.

Lynda Kennedy Mullen McKenzie, was playful in spirit and always ready to tell a good story. She had at one time been fond of smoking a corn cob pipe, but by the time I met her in 1956, she had quit smoking the pip and would puff on a cigarette every now and then.

She grew herbs in the kitchen windows and people came to her for remedies of their ailments. She was a practitioner of  what they call "The Secret" today. "Anything you put your mind to, you can do," she advised my brothers and I as we grew older in her tender care.

Lynda, was known to me as Granny, my great grandmother. She was tender and loving until you made her angry, when that old fiery temperament would flash from her eyes.

She inspired my mother to be a very independent woman and also left me with many great lessons and an adventurous and independent spirit as well. But the one thing that always stands out the most was her whispering in my little girl ears, "Always remember how to play."

Friday, May 9, 2014


Went looking for fun and adventure within a two-hour drive of Mobile, Ala., so girlfriends can share a great outing. I took my husband, Jeff, on the trip as the navigator and he manned the GPS.

Within  the large circle of two miles away from Mobile is  Hattiesburg, Miss., but I wanted to try a different place. The dogs had to be included, and we packed a cooler then all piled into the car for a Sunday jaunt and walk on the Tuxachanie Nature Trail.

I had never heard of Beaumont Mississippi until I stopped at the service station to regroup and check the GPS.

After my trip to Ireland I am seriously wondering if there is an evil GPS spirit that loves to cause me angst and aggravation. After trying to force the stupid thing to give us a route that didn't include going into Hattiesburg, I decided to use my Smart Phone and pull up the map and our location. I found the road we were looking for on the phone's map. We drove seven miles back toward Mobile to F S 303; a country road through the DeSoto National Forrest.

After five miles down F S 303 a small sign (not much larger than a sheet of legal paper) caught my attention because the largest word was "WARNING!" In the area where bullet holes pitted the sign was barely legible - "TANK CROSSING."

"What kind of tank crosses a road?" I asked Jeff.

"The kind that goes boom boom and blows things up. See look." He said that as he pointed to a row of makeshift buildings in all conditions from being newly built to totally blown to smithereens.

"Where the heck are we that we would encounter tanks?"

"I don't know,but we might aught to get out of here."

A couple of miles further we saw another sign that warned we were in the practice bombing area for the Mississippi Air National Guard.

"Great,now they can take aim from their tanks and from the air." It reminded me of the day I got the call from the Secret Service and heard a small aircraft flying over my house. I seriously searched the skies for a drone that day.

We came to the end of the road and could go left or right. The sign on the corner showed an arrow pointed back toward the direction we had just driven that notified us of the Camp Shelby practice area. We turned left because we knew if we headed south we would eventually find the Gulf of Mexico. Glad to be out of there, we drove across the road and went to a dirt road to let the dogs out for a few minutes.

There were purple sweet smelling flowers along the road and some Black Eyed Susans.

BOOOOM - it was so loud I looked for a tank or plane. Jeff said he heard the jet. Neither of us needed to call the dogs back to the car as they ran and jumped in the back seat.

Now, unless you are interested in a game of dodge the bomb - this is not a trip I recommend driving to according to the Garmin GPS direction.

As we quickly got away from potential death by bombs, we discovered that the road we turned onto ended at Hwy 49 which goes north and south with Gulfport at the southern end.  We also saw the entrance to the Tuxachanie Trail on Hwy 49, which is where we were headed to begin with.

Two things we explored where a group or a family with pups could have some fun.

1 Black Creek Campground,  a great location deep in the forest with picnic tables, sandy beaches where the artesian colored water was cold, fresh and gently running past. The dogs ran wild and crazy with giant smiles while we ate our lunch.

2 Red Wolf Wilderness Adventures for canoes or kayaks to cruise Black Creek or the Tuxachanie River.

There are other adventure companies in the area but the closest was Red Wolf. Here is some information about the adventures in Mississippi. I highly recommend taking I-10 to Hwy 49 in Gulfport to get to any of these locations, and avoid the bombs.

Black Creek Trails - 

Tuxachanie Trail -

Red Wolf Wilderness Adventures -

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Ancient Irish DNA Makes Courageous Woman

Redmond Castle now Luftus Hall in Hooks Peninsula, Co. Wexford
Ten days 2,000 miles

Many people would not travel to a foreign country without a traveling companion or group. This Irish blooded lassie took the 10 day trip alone. Many said "You're more courageous than me."

Who did I have to yell out?

I missed turns, because the road signs were either non-existent, written in Gaelic, located past the road to turn on, or posted on the side of a building on a plaque that was maybe 12 inches long and four inches tall. I know the leprechauns were falling down laughing as I screamed at the car, the road or the woman that kept telling me to turn down wrong roads or make a U-turn. (The GPS woman.)

I swear, the guys at the car rental place where I got the GPS changed the settings to avoid all major roadways. It took me down roads that looked more like country driveways with 50 mpr speed limits.

Whenever I met an oncoming vehicle I know the other driver saw my eyeballs and heart pop out of me and hit the windshield. That is how it felt, to me, when I slammed on the brakes so hard the poor little Nissan choked to a stop.
Click here and take a quick trip down a road with me.

I programmed the GPS to go to Dunbrody Abbey. It took me through switchbacks, country roads and out of the way places until it said "Arrive at Dunbrody Abbey on right."

I didn't see anything resembling an abbey, but there was a long manicured drive. I turned right. Drove a quarter mile to the front door of a very nice family home. I had to ask, "This wouldn't be Dunbrody Abbey, would it?" The kindly gentleman, that came out to see me, just laughed and shook his head.

Checked the map before heading out of their drive to find the abbey. It was more than an hour away, in the opposite direction. At that point I felt so lost I wanted to cry, but had to push on and ignore the stupid voice in my head, and the one that kept saying "Recalculating," and going to the wrong places.

Good thing I am blessed with a sense of direction, and the willingness to argue with  the annoying GPS voice that kept trying to tell me what to do. She kept saying "Turn left now," and if I had, I would have been in the water of Waterford Harbor. I kept the stupid thing on to watch the map as I drove; I didn't have another navigator.

 Once I was on the M8, I called Budget Car Rentals to report that I had an outdated, contrary and insane GPS. The replacement was newer,but it was still programmed to avoid major roads, such as the M8 - M25, which are highways somewhat like an Interstate in the US.

The scare last year, when I thought I had a heart attack, may have been a good thing after all, because I learned my heart is healthy. If it wasn't, I probably wouldn't have made it back to the USA, only because of the stress of driving on some of the roads in the Republic of Ireland.

Suddenly, after days, of driving my body stopped bouncing as if on a bronco in a rodeo. I noticed there were road signs that made sense and were strategically placed where the driver would know what was ahead, when and where to turn. I was in Northern Ireland, UK.

Three lovely days were spent with a cousin in Ballycastle, Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland. I am most grateful to cousin Sean for driving around the Causeway Coast, which allowed me to take in all of the scenery and splendor of the rugged sea shore. For those interested this is also where they film Game of Thrones the HBO series.

We discovered each other through DNA testing and the Internet. I had tea with another DNA cousin in Clanlara, Co. Clare. The first night in Ireland was with a Face Book friend for her birthday in Arklow, Co. Wicklow. It was lovely to share the time with each of them. The Irish people I met along the journey were gracious, helpful and kind. Personal thanks go out to all of them for making my journey feel less lonely.

Even with a technical problem with the Air France plane in Paris, I did safely return home.

To see photos of my trip please visit my Flickr account:
Ireland 2014

Causeway Coast Northern Ireland

Last Day in Ireland

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Creole Women

Cece Redmond

Celebrating the roots of our Creole heritage. It is rich, tasty and still connecting threads to modern generations.

I often try to imagine the difficulty people had when they first arrived in the Mobile Bay area. It is hot full of mosquitoes and the foliage can be dense with sticker vines of all kinds.

In the past two years I have been doing a tremendous amount of research about my family and the women who made their lives through difficult times. As the research has taken me back through the very earliest days of this great country (USA) I am most proud of the Creole women that I grew up with.

Creole has a modern definition and it is usually associated with Louisiana and New Orleans. Yes there were many who settled there but the whole Gulf Coast was at one time considered part of French Louisiana, then Mississippi Territory then it was British then it was USA in 1813.

To be an honest real Creole means that your ancestors were the first people here from a foreign land. It is a French and a Spanish word: from says the origin is French and Spanish Criollo associated with the verb create. When you look up the word in an older French or Spanish dictionary the definition states that it is the first off springs born in a new land.

The Mobile Creole history dates back to the French and Spanish Colonists that settled the Gulf Coast region. Many of the original families mixed together making most of us related in some way. The families still live on in the region and have spread out across the world.

Several members of the Mobile, Alabama Creole families created a Yahoo group and started making plans for a reunion of the various families.

We are spreading the word that the Mobile Creole Reunion is set for June 5, 2010. You can learn more by clicking on the purple link in the side bar here that says Yahoo groups.

The group is just getting the event organized. The date is set but if you are interested in joining the group we are listening to suggestions.

We have also decided that the food will be definitely Creole and regional food. Such delicious foods like homemade gumbo, jambalaya, shrimp creole, silver queen corn, fried chicken, red beans and rice, pralines, divinity and of course iced tea.

Join us for the fun of discovering our roots and sharing in a reunion of history and traditions.
To c

Friday, August 21, 2009

Scented Candles Cause Cancer | The Frisky

Scented Candles Cause Cancer | The Frisky

Shared via AddThis

Many people think it is the smell that is the problem. I have a question for those who think it is just the way something smells.

Is it the smell of natural gas or the natural gas that has no odor that will kill you?

It is the gas. Just as the article linked to above parafin candles off gas tolune and benzine gasses. Which in limited quantities may at first be harmless. However, perfumed candles, floor coverings, paints, chemical cleaners all have gasses that are emitted into the air. It is the gasses that can cause serious problems for many people, not just me.

Three summers ago, in the heat of July, I could not get warm. I put on a jacket and went to sit in my black car with the windows up to get warm. When I stood up and or walked the world looked as if I was looking through a giant kaleidoscope that kept spinning.

I was working as an instructor for Sea School in Bayou la Batre, Ala. It was the summer after Katrina hit the Gulf Coast. There was still a lot of work being done to clean up the area. Sea School had water that covered the second floor. Many strong detergents had been used to clean the gooey black sludge that was left from the Katrina flood.

My boss said I could leave. The only way I could see the road was if I looked at the road out of the corner of my eye. I called a friend and said I was driving to the doctor, but I wasn't sure I could make it. He stayed on the phone until I parked at the doctor's office a good 20 miles away.

Later my friend said my words were slurred and it sounded like I was talking with something in my mouth.

The doctor diagnosed me with a reaction caused from a neurological chemical sensitivity. I used to get headaches and my throat would tighten as I went through the perfume section of the department stores, or if a person was wearing too much perfume near me.

How was I diagnosed with neurological chemical sensitivity? Every time Aany of us are exposed to products that off gas damgerous chemicals they can stay in our system. The more we are in an environment that has chemicals that are cummlative our system weakens.

Today any time I get near certain perfumes, and other chemicals I get the spinning sensation and if I stay in the environment my lips get numb and my fingers tingle like when they are asleep.

Now we can read a report that says scented candles can cause cancer.

As a woman I can appreciate the scent of perfumes and candles, but my system reacts in a deadly way.

I want you to think about what perfumes you wear, the bathing products you use, and other products like scented candles, which all use the same chemicals. These chemicals are benzene, parabin Please consider the potential effect your perfume and scented chemicals may effect others.

"Exposure to very high concentrations of benzene can be fatal within minutes, with central nervous system depression and convulsions. Deaths from cardiac sensitization, cardiac arrhythmias, and comas have been reported after exposure to unknown concentrations. Other short-term health effects that may occur immediately or shortly after exposure to benzene include dizziness, lightheadedness, headache, vomiting, and irritation of the eyes, nose and throat." Copied from

My mother taught me that perfume was like a spice or seasoning in cooking it enhances the flavor, you don't want to overpower your natural scent. I can't think of anyone who likes to eat say spaghetti that has some much garlic that it seems to kill your taste buds.

Once I take a bath, even if I use unscented soap, I am clean and do not stink. I know I have natural pheromones that have a scent to attract the opposite site, it isn't perfume that does it.

As a confident and strong woman I feel comfortable in my own skin. I keep my house fairly clean so I don't use scented products to cover over odors. I open the doors and windows if there is fried food ordors or some other odor. Because, rotten fish with a lavender scented candle just smells like rotten fish and lavender.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Strong Women Take Control of Death

Pray that you are never left as the executor of a person’s estate, especially if that person was unorganized and left entanglements.

Women are usually left to manage the estate of their husbands. It has been written about and TV shows have depicted women as hapless and helpless in this position. It shows how women need to take an active part in the process of preparing for death.

It doesn’t matter if the death is your own, your husband’s, your partner’s, your parents’ or your child’s is not an easy job to manage. Death is going to happen and we never know when.

Yesterday, after many weeks of discovery, communications and aggravation I was able to bury my parents’ ashes. There wasn’t clear ownership to the cemetery plot. Plus a woman claimed that my great Aunt Alabama, gave the plot to her neighbor, who was the mother of the woman claiming ownership of the plot. If the woman had documentation from my great aunt then I would have to take it to court.

Originally, Mr. Marston, the cemetery manager told me I was going to have to get notarized letters from all in the family stating that it was okay with them for me to bury my parents and put markers on the graves. Mr. Marston then called me and said I could sign this letter he has that states that I am willing to be responsible for the plot, and any legal issues with the plot. If I signed this document then I would not have to get letters from my cousins just their verbal acknowledgement of my taking the ownership. That sounded so much easier so I called back the cousins and relayed what Mr. Marston had said. All cousins agreed and understood. Then is when Mr. Marston announced that Mrs. Johnson had made her claim in 2006. He tried to warn me, I guess by making a strong case for me to understand that I was taking on any legal issues with the cemetery plot.

This plot was purchased by my great, great grandfather back in 1851. The last person buried there was his granddaughter in 1987. My great, great Aunt Ala, was buried in 1963, so I didn’t understand how this Mrs. Johnson could stake a claim. Mr. Marston later told me that now that I have signed this document and I am the owner I should be prepared for other people to come forward to make such claims. Fortunately Mrs. Johnson didn’t have documentation stating that Alabama gave her mother the plots. What I couldn’t understand from Mrs. Johnson is why she wanted to make the claim since her mother was already buried in the same cemetery.
Today women can be more savvy and smart about helping their families deal with their illnesses that may incapacitate them and their death.

Days before my father’s accident that led to his death in 2007 we had made plans to change his estate from a will to a revocable trust. We had gone to see four different lawyers who told us, “all you need is a will.”

A will is useless until the person is declared dead and the court gives the executor a Letter of Testamentary, which can take weeks to months to get from the courthouse. In today’s world and in most states and counties a lawyer has to file these papers, especially if there is any real property involved in the estate.

It is a complicated and legal issue as each state is different. I will recommend for all adults (men and women) to read Suze Orman’s book, “Women And Money,” because she spells it out very clearly the difference between a revocable trust and a will. Also, to have a lawyer draw up the papers for a trust can cost you more than to have a will drawn up. Orman explains that the reason is this, “with a revocable trust a lawyer is not needed after your death, but with a Will after your death they are entitled to a percentage of the entire estate, so they will write a Will for $200.00 with a hope for the future revenue from probating the will.”

If you already know you want to avoid the costs and the time associated with a Will then you can get a Revocable Trust for just $13.00 then visit

Another good thing that a revocable trust does that a will doesn’t do, it gives your trustee the ability to manage your business if you become incapacitated or unable in any way to take care of your business. I had my name on the bank account with my mother, but when she was isolated in the nursing home the bank did not willingly work with me because I was not the primary account holder. Dad was watching me struggle to get through the dealings I had to do for my mother. His watching the anguish and aggravation I was going suffering through made him understand the need for the revocable trust. Unfortunately he died before we had the revocable trust notarized and funded.

I have spent the last two years dealing with my divorced parents’ estates, and I don’t wish that job on my worst enemy. There are aspects of a person’s death that gave me the feeling it is a racket. I by passed the funeral homes and all that entails by making an anatomical donation of their bodies to the local medical school. I paid the cost of the ambulance to deliver the body to the University Medical Center and they processed the body. They annually have a memorial service for all people whose bodies were used to teach medical students. I received my parents’ ashes via the United States Post Office and yesterday paid for the hole to place their ashes in the family plot. Two years ago when Dad passed away we had a champagne brunch at his favorite restaurant and then 50 days later when Mom passed away we had a memorial Mass at St. Mary’s Church for both of them. That was the only uncomplicated part of dealing with their death.

Women have access to more information today than in the past. Women are a part of the life and death process, and we usually outlive the men in our families. Be strong and take the steps to make the death process easier for yourself and your descendants.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Good Wife Premieres This September on CBS

By Cece Redmond

After writing “She Hauled-Off and Slapped Him,” it is interesting that CBS will premiere a new television series called The Good Wife. In the first episode the wife, played by Emmy Award winner Julianna Margulies, suffers through the embarrassment and public humiliation of her political husband cheating on her and going to jail for political corruption.

Alicia Florrick, (Julianna Marglies) is forced to face the fact that she has to make a new life. Her new life also includes the necessity of providing for her two adolescent children. The choice she makes is another sting to her self-esteem.

Florrick, decides to fall back on her education and former life as a practicing attorney. She gets accepted as a junior associate in a large law firm that a former classmate helped her get. She finds herself fighting fresh 20 something hungry junior law associates for the one and only full-time position with the firm. It has been 13 years since she was in a courtroom, and she has to find the courage and strength to face her doubts and the doubts of her co-workers.

The series is timely and shows the challenges the women married to politicians may face. There is one scene shown in the preview that really struck me as a reason to write this review. In one scene her husband Peter (Chris Noth) asks, “Are you okay.” She does haul-off and slaps him.

You can get a sneak peek of the upcoming series at Watch the episode and listen to the actors talk about the series.