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.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Politician’s Wife Hauls Off And Hits The Guy

by Cece Redmond

Scandal hit the news about South Carolina, Governor Mark Sanford’s, extramarital activities in Argentina. His affair shook a state, rocked a political party, and destroyed a family. Personal emails between Sanford and his lover have been read as news coverage and the news media continues to dig for more illicit details.

Jenny Sanford the governor’s wife and mother of four fairly young children didn’t haul off and slap the guy, but perhaps she should have. She stood strong against the tide of news people. She walked down her drive-way made a statement and shut the door. She has allowed the governor to fend for himself.  This is ground breaking territory for a politician's wife.

Hillary Clinton, Elizabeth Edwards and Jackie Kennedy stood by their men in forgiveness. Through the years wives stood by their men when they went outside of the marriage and had an affair. These women were beside the man during press conferences when they proclaimed innocence, how sorry they were, or never said a word.

It would be such a statement if the wife of a politician slapped the man across the face during his press announcement of an illicit affair. The world has changed from the days when Jackie Kennedy stood by her husband. During that era it seemed natural and a part of the job for The President to have extramarital affairs. Bill Clinton would have been fired from his job if he had worked for someone other than the government.

Remember the movie “He’s Just Not That Into You,” and how the movie started with a little boy shoving a girl and calling her names. The premise of the movie showed how women grow up to believe that when a boy treats us mean it is a sign of how much they like us.

Is standing by a man that broke his promises, destroyed a family and rocked the political world what women should do? Haven’t women made enough progress that we can come out and say to the world that we deserve to be treated with respect and dignity no matter how old we are, or who we are married to?

Jenny Stanford, has done well in her handling the situation. She told him, before he left on his South American adventure, that he had a choice and a path to save their marriage and family. He made his choice, and now she has shown the world that she will not play the game by the old rules.

The way women should be treated and what treatment women should expect starts in the playgrounds with mothers. Not just mothers of little girls but mothers of boys, they should teach them new rules of engagement for playing the game of love and marriage.

Tell the truth about when a male person hits you, shoves you, calls you names or betrays your trust. It does not mean he likes you. Truth is, it means he is a person with serious personal issues, and he needs professional help.

Jenny Sanford did not slap the jerk during a press conference, but she has held onto her dignity and slammed the media door shut. She has refused to stand by her man, and she made a stand for strong women to follow.

Leave your comments: Is it stronger to leave or stand by the cheater?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Famous Strong Women

Women have made many strides to be equal in so many ways. Here are a few women that made an impression on me as a young woman. From Barbara Jordan fiercely interrogating the members of President Nixon's administration to Mother Theresa helping the poor and needy when she had only her heart and soul to offer them. Golda Maier was a strong force against terrorism as prime minister of Israel. I want to know who are the women that influenced you in your life?

Barbara Jordan

Golda Maier

Helen Keller

Jane Goodall

Marie Curie

Mother Theresa

These women were often told they couldn’t, they had physical challenges, and faced the political control of a patriarchal world. The found their courage and stood true to their convictions and changed how people view women, disabilities and health.

Book Reviews

Newest addition to the blog site, coming soon, will be book reviews. I love to read about strong women and their adventures, challenges and achievements.

Making Old Photos Better

grt gma copeland and jean The best way to make old photos look better is to take a picture of the photo.

Scan this photo as high at 1200 dpi, and the results are often worse than the original. Try editing the photo and it fades away or pixels out as the setting change.

Take the original photo outside on a sunny day, put a white towel over the back and seat, of a lawn chair, turn the chair away from direct light in the shade. Do not use the flash on your camera.

A basic digital camera works well. Zoom in on the photo, if you have macro capability you can use it for this shot. Make certain the original is clear of any reflections, bright spots and unusual shadows. The most likely reflection or shadow is from you taking the picture. If you set the photo against the towel where the seat and back come together it helps eliminate the flares, shadows and reflections. Also, make certain your photo is sitting as level as possible. Don’t worry if you get part of the towel in your new picture.

Review the picture look for “hot spots,” reflections, or unusual shadows. Readjust the original and/or your shooting position. Do this until you have a clear clean shot of the old photo. Once you have it set, you can continue to take more old photo’s pictures.

Use the editing software that came with your camera, Microsoft Picture Manager or PhotoShop, crop the image, adjust the brightness, contrast and sharpness and save your changes once you like the way your photo looks. That is all you need to enhance a black and white photo. You can also use the noise reduction and scratch removal in the photo editor.

Yes editing can be done from a scanned photograph into a jpeg. The worst happens when you go to crop the photo and it distorts into pixels. Taking photos with your digital camera will allow you to crop into the picture and blow it up without loosing any resolution. It will be a clear better picture than the original.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

He's Just Not That In To You

The movie is listed as a comedy/drama/romance, with some big names in Hollywood - Drew Barrymore, Ben Affleck and Jennifer Anniston. There were a few moments of laughter for me, but I can say it was more telling about the programing women have running through our heads.

Act 1: In a playground, a little girl and a little boy playing. The little boy pushes the girl down and proceeds to call her names and tells her she is stupid dog poop. Crying and barely able to speak the little girl tells her mother. The mother sets the wheels in motion by saying, "When little boys are mean to you it means they like you. It means they have a crush on you."

I remember hearing that and believing it too. It set me up for some serious disappointments regarding relationships with men.

An Epiphany struck in about 2004 or 2005, when I was searching for the answers to, Why does he treat me this way? Why does this keep happening to me?

Never would I admit that I was a codependent enabler. Not me, but after reading lots of books and actually allowing the truth to come forward it hit me like a ton of bricks. I had to admit it, I was an enabler and codependent woman.

Everyday was a new challenge to consciously watch my behavior around other people, because I also learned that it wasn't just men that I allowed to be mean to me. I allowed my mother, friends, coworkers and just about anyone to use me. Somewhere in my psyche I thought I was doing a good thing by "being there for them." One person I wasn't there for was me.

The results of the awareness of my codependent nature arrived in full force during a relationship that went on from October of 2006 to February of 2008.

Tom and I started out as friends many years ago, and I was totally unaware of any thing between us beyond friendship. I invited cousins Kay and Elizabeth, her family, Tom, my son, Mom, Dad, neighbors and a few others to a Memorial day crab boil. I boiled everything outside. Tom, the kids and my dog were playing a game with the soccer ball. Elizabeth came up to me and whispered, "that guy Tom is in love with you."

"No way," I protested endlessly to all the women that joined Elizabeth in saying that he certainly was acting like it to them. But to me he was acting standoffish, loud and basically ignoring me. Elizabeth swore she saw it in his eyes.

I was adamant that we were nothing more than friends. Was it true? I did start to ponder about all the times we had stopped on the highway just to say hello and give each other a hug. He said that he "would make bat turns in the road if he saw me."

After the party Tom and I met for lunch at Cracker Barrel. We laughed so much our sides hurt, and when he walked me to my car he leaned in and kissed me. I returned the kiss, of course.
Even after the kiss I did not give in to a full on relationship with him.

By October the desire was too strong and we both surrendered and announced to the world we were a couple. Christmas came and he gave me a diamond journey necklace to represent all the years he had loved me. Valentines he showed up that morning at my job with a big bunch of red roses, candy and a guitar playing monkey singing "Wild Thing."

His actions would at times make me feel that I was the queen of the world and he was my hero. The darker side was not as obvious, and was never demonstrated around other people. It started with sly cutting remarks that went straight to the core of my being. He would come over to see me no matter how late it was after he finished work, but at the same time he groaned and griped about how tired he was, how other people were demanding of his time, and it was very telling to me. I told him to stop coming over every day after work. He did just that, without even a bat of his eye in protest.

Not too long after he stopped coming over everyday his visits became more and more infrequent. His reasons for not visiting me when he did have the time were as lame as "I have to make my bed." Give me a break, please. I remember that one from elementary school days, when a kid didn't want to play with you they would say they had to make their bed, like it was a really big deal.

Finally the words came out of his mouth, "Its not you, its me." My conclusion was this was the break-up statement, but he protested that it wasn't. He said he just needed time to get his head together; yahdee yadee yahda. I showed him on the Internet that those words were considered one of the ultimate break-up phrases. He continued to protest how that wasn't true, but to me it was a sealed deal. I may have been a bit cruel, but my words and actions came at the end after I had had the passive aggressive game played on me.

Most baby boomer men learned that girls were told that boys like us if they are mean to us. I saw it in my oldest brother and in other men that age. They often act according to the myths, and because of conditioning as little girls many women fall into the trap of accepting it and enabling the men to treat us poorly.

There was one character in the movie that seemed impervious to the myths. He befriended Gigi and told her how as a bartender he saw all the myths played out. Gigi was shocked to learn the truth and embarrassed by the fact that she had to admit her role in the game.

Taking back control of me, making conscious choices based on truth continues to challenge me today. I am grateful for where I am right now, because those games are not a part of my life, and I am free of the drama.

My Worst Date Ever

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

I am Woman Hear Me Roar

The beautiful lady, standing proud in the photo was my great grandmother, Lynda Kennedy, and one of the strongest women in my life.

Lynda married Mr. Mullen in 1901, and he turned out to be a very abusive husband. I often heard the story about the first time he hit her. She said, "If it happens again you better make certain I am dead, because if you ever harm me again, I guarantee, you won't wake up again." Lynda reminded him that sooner or later he had to go to sleep. She didn't wait for sleep the next time it happened, instead a loaded .45 caliber pistol was stuck in his face.

Women were given the legal right to divorce, keep their own money and have custody of their children in the late 1800's. Lynda went against society. She divorced Mullen, and raised her son alone.

Lynda's sister Annette never married and they both worked as clerks in the local railroad office. Lynda also leased out rooms of the house she owned to boarders.

Her son Leo, played the piano, the mandolin, and was a member of the Auburn University Glee Club. My grandfather made Lynda proud, as he was always a gentleman that rarely raised his voice. He showered my grandmother with a love that I still hold onto as the epitome of love.

Lynda's teachings took root in her son and the rest of her family. Granny's (as we called her) philosophy on the meaning of truth and honesty was this; "You say what you mean and mean what you say, and one should speak so, as to not be misunderstood."

Her greatest bit of wisdom she whispered in my ear, "never forget how to play." She loved to play with my brothers and me. She taught us how to release fairies from crystal prisms, to see shapes in the clouds, and to use our imaginations.

The difference between Lynda and other women was evident when I was outside with my then mother-in-law. I looked up at the clouds and saw a rabbit running so fast that his ears were laid back and his front legs were between his hind legs. Mrs. Martin, my mother-in-law said "don't be silly, that is childishness." My retort was how my 96-year-old great grandmother taught me to see those things, and she was not a child, just a child at heart.

Lynda's wisdom had been passed down to her son, to my Mom and to me. We all played when I was growing up. It is too sad that Chappel, my son, never got to meet her.

Chappel and I spent the summer of 1988 in Baltimore, MD. We took a walk near the campus of Johns Hopkins University on a divided avenue. Between the two sides of the avenue was a small wooded, grassy ravine with a gazebo. A perfect location for a game of war. We decided to call a truce in our war, and we sat down inside the gazebo. My son walked over, put his arm on my shoulder and said, "Mom you know how to play. Most adults play at playing, but you really know how to play." At that moment I knew Lynda was with me and I understood her wisdom. My son gave me the greatest compliment I've ever received.

Chappel is now thirty-three, married and his wife is expecting a baby girl. I hope my son and I can pass on to another generation the meaning of true fun, and may Sophia (my yet unborn granddaughter's name) always remember how to play.