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Good Luck in Your Future Endeavors

I love a challenge. Period. I think at the age of 55 I’ve realized that a good uphill battle releases some important endorphin in my brain that motivates me. Instead of fighting the new experience I’ve learned to go with it, like a swimmer that has decided to float with the current and not swim upstream. Which brings me to our new-ish adventure…. moving and starting fresh elsewhere.

For years we have been trying to sell Mill Bank Farms and start a new company Travel Kit & Caboodle ™. Finally, I quit my corporate job in August and jumped in with both feet. Well, it’s been bumpy but I’ve learned an important lesson: have a flexible plan. In other words don’t be afraid to change your path….what’s that expression? God writes straight with crooked lines!

So like any good hiker, I am looking for the tree markers, climbing the mountain, moving forward and embracing our new adventure. Stay tuned for more from Mill Bank Farms a.k.a. Travel Kit & Caboodle ™!

Life at Mill Bank Farms

My life with a house

My therapist in New York City explained CHANGE to me this way: “Change is dreaded by pretty much EVERYONE! The only people that like change are babies with dirty diapers!” And that my friends has gotten me through those moments in life when you feel like you’re giving the amusement park ticket taker your dollar to ride a scary tilty-whirl. The thought that monopolizes your brain right as they buckle you in: “What if I die?” Well that is pretty much that stomach-flipping feeling I approach most new experiences with. Especially major things, like let’s say, moving.  Now, most people would say, “YOU? You are THE most adventurous soul I know! I mean you moved to New York City at such a young age….all by yourself!”


kit and BVM

Okay I do have pat myself on the back and brag a tiny bit: I moved to New York City June 6, 1986 with $500 and suitcase. I landed at Laguardia Airport with a huge and ugly piece of Walmart luggage that held all of my earthly belongings. My mama stayed up until 2 am packing that gargantuan piece of vinyl (sans wheels I might add) . Both Mama and Daddy, and my college boyfriend, Brett, took me to MSY-New Orleans and sent me off on the new chapter of my life. Mama told me “please don’t bring home a Yankee boy.” Daddy hugged me and said, “Don’t pick your nose, and don’t take any wooden nickels. AND DON’T expect ME to come and visit.” Brett and I had a teary farewell because I think we both knew deep-down that it was THE goodbye. Off I went, crying most of the way, feeling like I had made a terrible mistake.

Well, here’s the short “end of that story”:  I lasted 17 wonderful years in New York City. Brett and I did part ways. Daddy did come to NYC and visited me, and he had a glorious time in spite of his reticence to like the Big Apple. I did bring home a Yankee boy, Karl,  and as my mom said at our wedding (in NYC no less) “not only did she bring home a Yankee; she brought home a Yankee Jew.” Yup. She did. She really said that.

But the point is I changed, I grew, I lived. I had the most incredible experiences during my tenure in New York and I had no plans of leaving. But life, ah life, and its  twists and turns somehow landed me back to square one, Mill Bank Farms, my original home. I honestly did not ever dream I would be back here in Louisiana living on my family farm.

I turned forty right after we moved to Covington, LA. I had it in my “plan” that I was going to celebrate 40 in Paris, France. Instead I celebrated it at the farm with a french themed party. During the toast  I said that for my 50th birthday I wanted to go to Italy. Instead we went to Jackson, MS and had a forgettable Italian meal. I have learned that life really does happen while you’re busy making other plans, and most of those happenings are certainly not what YOU planned.

frost quote

We moved here for a myriad of reasons, the main one being to care for my mom who had just been diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis. The prognosis was 3-5 years and she miraculously lived for almost 8 more years post-diagnosis. One day after a classic Karl-Katie argument he made the snarky remark, “I thought she only had three years, it’s been six!”

After Mama died, we endured a four year period of dealing with the Estate of Catherine P. Friedrichs and the fall-out due to sibling rivalry. As we approach the five year anniversary of Mama’s passing, we are in the midst of more change and subsequent growth. We have decided it’s time to sell Mill Bank Farms, the home my grandparents purchased circa 1908. The decision has been difficult and one made over the course what seems like my lifetime accompanied with sincere prayer and discernment. I think the final decision came to me on an afternoon when I was home alone, sitting on my bed, watching from my bedroom window birds fly from pecan to oak tree. Two mourning doves landed in the backyard and reminded me of my parents. It’s a silly idea I came up with after my Daddy’s death many years before when I still lived in New York.

farm with sunlight

One morning right after I returned back to the city from my Dad’s funeral, a bird sat on the sill of my bedroom window and cooed that familiar dove song.  He walked back and forth as if he had been watching me sleep since sunrise. I knew the bird was a “morning dove” because my father, the quintessential biologist, had taught me how to identify birds. I jumped up to dig his bird watching catalogue out of my suitcase. The voyeur was indeed a dove but the correct name was Mourning not morning.

Since Mama’s death I have seen two mourning doves either on the front fence at the beginning of the day or greeting me hello as I drove into the Abbey for work. Now, they were sitting in my back yard as if they were angels watching over me.  I felt a peacefulness at each encounter with this fowl duo because not only did it remind me of my parents” love for me but I interpreted it as a heavenly sign.  Karl and I were at a crossroads of trying to figure out the next step in our lives with work, Harris’ school and other decisions. I got up and walked outside. When I turned and looked at our farmhouse I was struck with its size, much too large for three people.

About the same time, my friend and his wife who run a Catholic ministry for teens had told me about their search for property on the northshore.  All of a sudden it dawned on me that I needed to offer our property to my friend. That decision has led to many more “happenings” that I truly believe are providential for our little trio.  So what’s next? Well, we are in the middle of the process of purging our stuff, moving where we lay our head at night and basically learning slowly to let go.

My dear family friend called me from New York and asked, “Are you moving or not?” I explained that we are but not in the traditional way you pack it all up, load a moving van and leave straight away kind of move. We are moving toward our next phase but it’s slow and gentle. It’s peaceful. I think God knows that as I slowly ease my way away from our farm the final goodbye will be less tearful and traumatic, the antithesis to that sorrowful goodbye with my college boyfriend many years before. I think the Lord knows how He has to handle me, and the very delicate situation of releasing a big part of who I am, and my life with this house. He has brought me the perfect stewards and we are all three– hubby, son and me–  on board to truly follow His Will. On that day, when we drive down that familiar rocky lane to our future those mourning doves will call their familiar woo-OO-oo-oo as if they are saying: go on.



Life at Mill Bank Farms

Meet Perry

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Thank you oscar!

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I went to the doctor last week to find out once and for all what was going on with my body, or why my body was NOT behaving like I thought it should. I found out that there is a new man in my life: Perry M. Enopausal. He’s a bad boy and he does make me hot. Ha Haaa…Ha..oh…ahem. I have to make myself laugh because truthfully all of this smacks reality against my peach-fuzzed cheeks and brings into focus the wrinkles marching across my forehead, and other private experiences that I’m not willing to publicize. Isn’t it bad enough that have multiple childhood scars already on my face? No. Now the ravages of time have marked my skin to say “Hey she’s lived, and worried, and fretted, and gotten angry, and had a little too much sun.” So as I struggle to gracefully enter this new phase of my fabulous womanhood I would like to take a moment and this cyber-forum to comment on a few things about being a woman in her 50’s.

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Wrinkles- my map from the roads I've traveled.

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1. I will never get a tattoo or pierce any part of my body other than my earlobes. Look I’m not judging a person who has or does or wants to. Some of my besties have big tatts or little hidden tattoos that only their spouse can see. I just hate needles for starters and quite frankly I don’t want to show off any more of my aging skin with or without a tattoo. And if I had a tattoo it would have to be pretty, so I would have to expose myself further. No I am not going to do that. I mean no one told me that you can actually get cellulite near your knees. I’m very upset by this fact.

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Okay how about this?

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2. I still want to look cute in my blue jeans–even at fifty-one. I’ve never met a shoe I didn’t like. I love lipstick. Just because I’m getting up there in years doesn’t mean I don’t want to feel attractive, fashionable, and other similar girlie-feelings I felt when I was a twenty-something year old. I mean really the great irony is that when a woman finally accepts who she is and embraces her female being, all the frivolity of youth has scooted right by. My advice: eat a cookie when you get the chance, try different hairstyles when you can, and do something outside your comfort zone at least once a quarter. Or, buy some cool shoes and wear them with your jeans.

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Boots & walkin'.

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3. I still haven’t found the right brassiere. I don’t care how many Victoria Secret’s are at the mall or how many lingerie departments are in department stores. The truth is no one is talking about the fact that the basic style of these stupid undergarments has not changed in, I don’t know, a 100 years? Maybe Gloria Steinhem and the girls, I mean women, of that era had it right: burn your bra. Truth is, I just don’t feel comfortable walking around without one.

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New look.

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4. My ship came in but I’m going to sail it right back out. Who came up with that idea anyway? My mom used to say things like that to me: “Your ship will come in, honey.” Or, “You are the prettiest girl in school, so don’t worry that you don’t have a date.” Or, “Don’t worry that you aren’t married yet. Life begins at 40! Plus I’ll leave you Nannie’s china.” Well, I did worry. I did finally get married at 35 and I did inherit Nannie’s china but only because my older siblings had already claimed everything else. It’s okay though because I’m grateful to have my sweet grandmother’s china.

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I’m a late bloomer and that ship? Well, I believe it is never too late to pull up the anchor, hoist the sails and venture out into new territory. Frankly numbers just hold us back. I mean look how many people struggle with Math. Ya know what I mean? I drive around in a mini-van, a car I never thought I’d own. My right side-view mirror has a huge spider-web type crack in it, but I can still see out of it. I can still drive that suburban-mom car. Sometimes you just have to venture forth, cracks, wrinkles and all. Just make sure your cute shoes have the pedal to the metal. Breaker 1-9.

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Hindsight is 20/20 even with a cracked mirror.

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Life at Mill Bank Farms

My Year in Review


I flipped through Time magazine’s Year in Review while I waited to check out at the grocery the other day. Then, I started thinking about my own 2013 highlights. Hmm…let’s see…we began the year with our usual New Year’s Eve here on the farm, with lots of fireworks, Karl screaming in fear as rocket launchers whizzed by his head, and Harris and I cracking up.

Right after Christmas break, Harris came home and announced that he hated his school and told me why. “On most days I feel invisible at school, but today I felt non-existent.” THAT was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back and our son, a straight A student who somehow fell through the cracks, was soon enrolled in the school I dreaded the most: the public junior high school. I seriously thought that after two days he would come home with a bloody nose or a black eye but instead he developed a skip in his step and a beautiful smile. I finally realized that our child had been miserable since 3rd grade, and the new public school environment not only recognized him as a gifted student, but it gave him a place to be himself while flourishing. So that was the beginning of the year with the first major change for our family.

As I sit here thinking about all the things over the last year I really can’t remember any funny stories. I could tell you about our two beloved pets that died, Annibel and Benbo, but that’s depressing. Or, I could share hurtful stories from my crazy siblings, but that is just too old and used. Oh wait, Harris killed his first snake! No, that’s gross. Hmm…I went to Montana and Wyoming? Nah, you probably saw that on my FB Wall. Umm….we lost all of hens…nope. Yuck. I started menopause? TMI. Well…

My plan to change jobs and move to Hawaii was halted because I realized that my husband needed something new and fresh and more challenging in his life. Instead of my career change we focused on Karl’s. Okay I’m just kidding about the Hawaii part—I just like to pretend. Karl did however make a HUGE change and now he is an insurance claims adjuster. He will be traveling more so this has prompted another change. What will we do with the farm? I mean as much as I love to cut grass, I can’t “farm” our — wait we really don’t farm. I forgot. At any rate, this house, albeit beautiful, full of great memories and like another family member, is really too big for the three of us. So we are in transition and figuring out what’s next.

Well…I can’t say just yet what “next” is but I will tell you that BIG changes are in store for the Friedrichs-Baumann clan in 2014. We have opened the door to our future and with prayer and hope in our heart we are ready to follow the path that God has laid out for us. It’s kinda scary in our middle years to make this switch but I’m a true believer in late-bloomers and the adage, “it’s never too late”.
I keep thinking of Pope Francis who goes out to see the poor or invites the homeless to help him celebrate his birthday. Karl and I, and Harris, have been given so much. I think it is now time for us to share with others our good fortune. We feel like this is a great opportunity for all of us to grow and move forward in grace.

Maybe this change will teach Harris to be open to God’s plan and purpose for each of us. Pope Francis recently said, “When God meets us he tells us two things. The first thing he says is: have hope. God always opens doors, he never closes them. He is the father who opens doors for us. The second thing he says is: don’t be afraid of tenderness. ”
cross cem

Overall the year 2013 has been a great year for the Friedrichs and Baumanns.


We’ve grown stronger as a family, we’ve learned to let go of our hurts, to let go of pretenses, to open our hearts to forgiveness and somehow through God’s grace we’ve laughed…a lot.

Now some of my non-religious friends would say “no that is just your great sense of humor.” But I believe the joy that we feel as a family is a grace bestowed on us through the Spirit. And the year in review is just a looking back on all that happened with love and not remorse. Sort of like God looking over us with his Joy and His tenderness.

So here’s to a very Merry Christmas and a Joy-filled New Year…one with hope and tenderness.