Copperhill and Ducktown Tennessee

Re-publishing a blog about the place I was born.  I actually wrote it last year but wanted to share it again.  I’m thinking about simpler times today.  Reflections, if you will.  Hope you enjoy the story of my birth place:

I was born in copper-mining country, in Copperhill, Tennessee, which if you look on a map, is right where Georgia, Tennessee and North Carolina intersect.   It is up in the mountains, and is some of the most beautiful country you’ll ever see.  Parts of it were not always beautiful, however.   When I was growing up, we lived in Atlanta, but made frequent weekend trips to Copperhill and Ducktown to visit family.   Back then, some 40 years ago, the hills were barren red clay, with very little vegetation.  This was a result of the smelting (heating) process the mining company did to separate the bits of copper from the rest of the rock they pulled from the mines.  In order to provide the fuel to heat and extract the copper, they cut down and burned most every tree around. The extraction of copper from the rock released sulfur dioxide, and when it combined with the water in the air, created sulfuric acid.  That sulfuric acid fell back down and killed all vegetation within 50 miles.   And all that damage was done to Copperhill and Ducktown, Tennessee in just a few short years…..my growing-up years.       (Pictures are from google images)

Road between Copperhill and Ducktown Circa 1965

Burra Burra Coppermine in Copperhill

My sister, cousins and I ran and played on those red clay hills.  Many times, I remember reporting to my Maw Maw’s kitchen for supper, covered in red mud from head to toe.   Maw Maw was my Mom’s oldest sister, and like a grandmother to me, as my grandmother had died before I was born.  She promptly yelled at us kids to go outside and hose ourselves off and get rid of that red mud, which was almost impossible, and my sister and I would end up riding all the way back to Atlanta with much of it still stuck in our hair and who knows where else.   It did not make my Mom happy, I will assure you!   That red clay never came out of any clothes we were wearing, especially the seat of our pants…………..as we slid down some of those steep red clay hills on our butts, which was fun fun fun!

The copper mines closed and eventually, over the years, the vegetation has all grown in, and Ducktown and Copperhill are now beautiful country towns up in the mountains of Tennessee.  There is a river called the Ocoee that runs along the highway from Ducktown to Cleveland, Tennessee.  It starts out who knows where, and by the time the road starts running along it, the river is not very wide, more like a creek really.   Before the Olympics took it over for kayaking and completely changed the landscape of the river, that portion was called “Rock Creek”.  Well, it probably still is called Rock Creek…………only difference is, the big boulders and smooth sandstone flat rock that used  to clutter the entire width of the river at that point, are gone.   There may be some, but the whole area was cleared for the Olympics, and after that, the river became a very popular white water rafting venue.   But, way back when I was a kid, we used to go swimming at Rock Creek.  There was no swimming pool or water park that could compare with this place!  You could stand out in the middle of the river, on one of those boulders, and dive down into a crystal-clear pool of water…….and you’d just keep diving because it was so deep.  There were lots of holes and crevices in those boulders, too, and we kids used to swim through them, squirming our way through some mighty narrow spots, as well.  People have drowned doing just that, and right there where we swam all those years ago.  I don’t know what kept us kids safe, because it surely wasn’t from us being careful.  We just had fun.

Ocoee River

Rock Creek part of Ocoee River

Kayaking on the Ocoee

My mother was from Ducktown, born and raised.  Ducktown and Copperhill are only about 7 miles apart, if memory serves. I was born in Copperhill, but we moved away, and visited on holidays and in the summer.  Maw Maw’s house was where everyone congregated.  She was a preacher, had her own little church down the hill from her house.  My Mom was the youngest of all the brothers and sisters, and my Maw Maw was the oldest.  Maw Maw is the only one of my Mother’s sibling’s still living, and she’s now in a nursing home.

Life does go on, but some things will never quite match up to what once was…so simple, natural and delightful.


Mirror Mirror on the Wall

Mirror Mirror, today I turned seven years old.  Yesterday I lost my other front tooth.  Now I don’t have any front teeth at all.   Mom says I will get new ones soon so I should just be patient.  I’m still going to brush the spot where the teeth belong, though.  Maybe that will make them grow in faster so that stupid boy at school won’t call me names.  He says I am ugly.  My Mom says I am pretty.  I think my Mom is right.   But I don’t feel pretty without my front teeth.

Mirror Mirror, today I turned 12 years old and I got my period.  My Mom and Dad threw me a birthday party BBQ in the back yard and lot of my friends came including my best friend who lives next door.  My Mom gave me a little booklet telling me that I am becoming a woman now and need to take care of my personal hygiene.  She also told me that if I lay with a boy I could get pregnant.    I’m kind of worried that I may already be pregnant because a boy came to the house where I was babysitting last week and we did some things.  I think that may be what Mom’s talking about.  I’m scared now.  I want to tell my best friend but I just can’t.   I don’t really even like that boy but the things he did to me felt nice.  I hope I’m not pregnant.

Mirror Mirror, today I turned 16 and my Mom and Dad threw me a Sweet Sixteen birthday party.  All my cousins and some friends from high school and my best friend came and it was pretty fun.  We had music and lots of food and we danced and played games and joked around a lot.  My Mom was drunk again.  She drinks all the time now.  I think she wants to be a good Mom, but when she gets drunk, she’s really mean.  After the party, I went to my room and I could hear her screaming at my Dad that I was a whore.  She said she saw me sitting on “that boy’s lap” and kissing him and I was boy crazy and was going to end up pregnant before I graduated high school.   My Mom doesn’t know anything about me.  That wasn’t even me sitting on a boy’s lap.  I don’t have a boyfriend.  I don’t like boys.  I like girls. Only Mom will never know because I will never tell her.  She would kill me.  I would rather be called a whore than a lesbian.

Mirror Mirror, today I ran away from home.  I’m sitting in a motel somewhere downtown, and I don’t know what I’m going to do next.  Tomorrow would have been my high school graduation, but I couldn’t bear to go because I don’t belong with those other kids.  Going to classes was even worse than staying at home with my drunken Mom.  At home I was the maid, the cook and the whipping post.  At school I was ridiculed and hated because somehow they all found out I was gay.  I’m not 18 yet so if my folks find me, I’ll have to go home.  I can’t go home.  By now, Mom probably knows I’m gay, too.  I’m scared.

Mirror Mirror, it’s getting dark and I hear lots of noises outside the motel door.  There are sirens and people yelling and horns blaring.  I just double-locked the door.  No one knows I’m here but I’m still scared.  They’ll find me by tomorrow.   I have no money and no food.  I can’t call any of my friends or my relatives because they might tell my Mom.  I’m really sad to be missing my graduation.  I went to graduation practice and found that I would have been sitting next to her, the girl I’m in love with.  She used to be nice to me until she heard that I liked girls.  Now she doesn’t speak to me.  She doesn’t make fun of me like everyone else, but she no longer smiles at me.  I loved her smile.  I loved her.   I still love her.  I hope she has a beautiful graduation day and a good life.  She’ll probably marry quickly and have kids.  She’s beautiful.  I’m not beautiful and I’m a lesbian.

I’m a lesbian!   I can’t be.  I just can’t be gay!

Mirror mirror.  It’s getting light out.  I’m sure that my Dad or the cops will find me soon.   But I will be asleep when they get here.  I took enough of my Mom’s pills to make sure of that.   Goodnight Mom and Dad.  I love you.   I’m sorry I disappointed you.

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  Every time I hear of a young teenage homosexual committing suicide, a little piece of me breaks off and disintegrates.     The hate and the bullying and the ignorance have to stop.

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Pictures and Memories

Not in the mood to study today.  Don’t want to write NaNoWriMo today.  Can’t think of a single humorous line to blog today.  Not interested in trying to figure out my new domain name today.   Don’t want to go shopping today.  

This is how I get when the holidays come around.   The only thing  (besides a good wine buzz) that helps me when I’m away from the ones I love is looking at pictures.

So, people I love, this blog is dedicated to you.  I miss you.  I love you.  I hope to have the privilege of seeing every one of you in 2012…..”God willing and the creek don’t rise.”  (I don’t know who wrote that, but I’ve heard it all my life).

But I digress.   And I hate it when I say I digress.  But I do.

So here we go.  My picture dedication.  (Click on images to enlarge.  It will make the pics awesomely more amazing. I promise)

Last year, I was here.   Georgia, at my Dad’s house.  Gosh it was beautiful.  I’d forgotten how beautiful.  It was the first time Id been back in 5 years.

The view from my Dad's front porch.

 

View of Dad's driveway. We don't have these views in Las Vegas.

 

Views are nice, but family makes the holiday

Me and my Dad. I'm so lucky to have this man as my Dad. He's also my Hero.

Me and my Little Short Sweet Sister, Robin. She doesn't like to be called short, but she's 4'11" for crying out loud.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dad and Donna. They have my heart!

My stepmom Donna. Yea she's gorgeous. So what else is new. Love you Donna!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lovely stepsis Sherri. This woman never ages. I'm serious.

StepBro John. I swear this is the stillest I could capture him. He moves fast when he's trying to avoid pictures.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Yes, I am missing all these amazing people (and their families!).     Hang on a sec, I need a tissue…..be right back.

OK, moving on.

Everyone knows my boys are at the very core of my heart.  That’s old news.  So of course I’m missing these beautiful people.

 

 

My son Glenn and actress Rebecca Budig. I chose this picture because Glenn made the sacrifice of standing in a long line to get her autograph and pic for me. What a guy. I also miss "All My Children", the show.

Fave pic of Amanda, Abe and Tono. Big wedding coming up June 16th. Saving the date! I'm so excited!

Joan, Tono and Abe in Build-A-Bear Las Vegas

Me, Abe, Tono and Amanda the night the two lovebirds got engaged. Awesome!

Tono, Me and Glenn a few years back. I was sick. So was my hair. The boys were perfection though!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grandson Tono. Getting way too big. Growing up. Whatsup with that? Miss you sweetie! XOXOs

 

OK,   I gotta stop all this blubbering or go to the store for more tissues.  Where’s the toilet paper?   Uh oh, we can’t be out of that too!  O.M.G.

So.  you can’t look at pictures without including your best friends.   I am so blessed to have many friends.  However, I have two (sets) of friends that hold a golden spot in my heart.  Not only are the women  (Mary and Donna)  my dearest friends,  but their husbands  (Garry and Dave)  are also.  It’s kinda weird in a very wonderful way.

Mary and me, doing what we do best. Cocktails and talking. We never run out of things to talk about. Love you Mary!

 

Garry and Mary at Green Valley Ranch in Vegas. It was Garry's birthday. YEAH

 

Donna and Dave. Beautiful people. Good friends. Love these Tucson folks.

 

Me and Donna not long ago. They were in town to see Elton John. I didn't get to see Elton, but it was great to see my friends. Love you guys! Don't feel sorry for me, ok?

 

Well, that’s enough for now because I really do need to study, NaNoWriMo and go grocery shopping.    Happy Thanksgiving to all my family, my IRL friends  AND my wonderful online friends too!    Can’t wait to see your holiday pictures!    XOXO’S

 

My ‘Betcha Hadn’t Thought About Being Thankful for That’ List

Thanksgiving approacheth. 

Bloggers are blogging family stuff and thankful stuff and touchy-feely-lovey-dovey stuff.  It’s enough to move your tear ducts into overdrive.  Pretty soon we’ll all need windshield wipers on our eyelids.  Thanksgiving is a beautiful family holiday, full of all the gratefulness you can muster, but try not to get all sappy on me, will ya?   Sheesh…

Pumpkin pie.  Now, that’s my personal favorite part of the Thanksgiving meal.  Keep your turkey, just hand over the pie.  And the whipped cream, while you’re at it.   I’m thankful for pumpkin pie.

On a buzz-kill note, I am missing my family this year and won’t be able to visit as I had previously planned.  I am sad. 

But.

I still have things to be grateful and thankful for.  And I thought I’d share the less publically recognized reasons for being thankful.  I’ll bet you didn’t even realize those existed, did you?   Well, that’s why I’m here, to enlighten and amaze, delight and befuddle, and most of all, to open your eyes, people.  If you’re going to go to all that trouble to be thankful for something, don’t do it half-assed.  Be thankful for everything.

So.

I’ve made a list and kept it fairly short.  I am sure you will find something to relate to on MY thankful list.  Give it a look….

My List of Stuff I Hadn’t Thought About Being Thankful For, Before, But Now I Am…Thankful For, That is

I am thankful for Green Bean Casserole.  Because there needs to be one thing on that holiday table that I really don’t want to shovel in my mouth.  I need to show restraint somewhere.

I am thankful for blog sites that require me to wait for approval on my comments.  I was wondering what I was going to do with that time.

I am thankful for the M Resort Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, three minutes from where I live.  Because once a week, they give me a free bottle of wine.  And I don’t know why.

I am thankful for spell check, dictionary.com and thesaurus.com.  Because of NaNoWriMo.  ‘Nuff said.

I am thankful for the gorgeous hard-bodied joggers that run down my street.  They remind me why I’m a lesbian.

I am thankful for long lines at the DMV, followed by the long wait times after they give you a queue number.   I can read or play with my phone.  If I brought a book or if I had a smart phone.  You can’t get that time back, people.

I am thankful for Paula Dean on the Food Network.  I miss my family in Georgia and she sounds just like all of them.  Bless her heart.

I am thankful for that one stubborn chin hair I fight with each morning.  It keeps me agile with the tweezers.  Got to stay on my game, ya know.

I am thankful for temporary employment agencies.  NOT.   Don’t get me started.

I am thankful for my 6 year old iPod.  It spared me from having sex with the downstairs neighbors last night.  (They are a wee bit vocal)   It did not spare me from being jealous, though.

I am thankful for Craig Ferguson on the Late Late show.  He has kept me company on many sleepless nights.  I watched a taped show of his in the daytime once, and it was a bit unsettling.

I am thankful for my gray hair, my laugh lines, my wrinkles and my age spots.  I earned them.  I lived them. They define and decorate me and make me who I am.  I don’t like the “old” part though.

I am thankful for Stove Top Stuffing.  Because I can’t make dressing worth a shit.

I am thankful that I am broke.  Because I can sleep in on Black Friday.  (and if you believe this one, I have a bridge I’d like to sell you)

I am thankful for crazy stupid drivers.  Because every now and then I need to run through my repertoire of cuss words.

I am thankful for my sweat pants.  Because I have a feeling my comfy jeans will be too tight after Thanksgiving dinner.

I am thankful for the Denver Broncos.  Because being a fan teaches me how to lose gracefully, patience, and I again get to go through my repertoire of cuss words.

I am thankful for our little Santa’s light-up village.  Because it’s still displayed on top of our cabinets as we never took it down last year.  Less work this year!

And finally, I’m thankful for all my lovely blog friends all over the world who don’t judge me because I’m gay, don’t hate me because I’m beautiful and don’t resent me because I’m brilliant.  I can’t help all that stuff.  It just comes naturally.

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Truth of the matter is, I am very thankful for so many things…too many to mention.  And especially the little things.  A child’s smile, a beautiful sunrise, a really good cup of coffee, my grandson’s voice on the phone, and a friend’s support.     Those things are real.   And I truly am humbled and thankful.

Wishing you all a very Happy Thanksgiving in my own inimitable style.  XOXOs

 

The Top 10 Reasons I Must NaNo

The fabulous NaNoWriMo and the exhausting Grad School are taking their toll on me, so I haven’t been paying much attention to my beloved blog and my few (but precious) readers.  So here’s a shorty.

Yes, I can do short.  It’s a stretch for me, but I am going to make it happen.

The Top Ten Reasons I Must NaNo

10.    I figure, if Snookie can write a book, so can I. 

9.      All my plants died, so my singing talents won’t get me very far.

8.      The voices in my head promised they’d be quiet while I write.

7.      (Someone once said )  I look sexy when I’m writing.   

6.      My older son is the math nerd.  Younger son is the law nerd.  I am the Word Nerd.  I have to represent!

5.      Writing a novel works the same way as “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”.   I’m healthy as a horse and this is just the third day!

4.      Some of my best friends are doing it.   NaNo, that is.   (what did you think I meant?)

3.      Football season and the Denver Broncos tank this year, and it looks like No Basketball.  I gotta do something with my time.

2.      I’m out of batteries for my vibrator reading light.

AND, the number one reason I Must NaNo?

1.      I need this.  Not funny, I know.  I seriously need this.  I’m not feeling all that confident these days, and I need to succeed at something.  I will succeed at NaNoWriMo!

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So there you have it, yet another list from yours truly.   I’m fast approaching the 5000 word mark in NaNo and I’m stoked.  In case you haven’t noticed, I’m keeping a count on my blog page. 

Look over to your right.  It’s under the really big NaNoWriMo sign.   I’m a bit of a show-off.

Later, dudes.    Coming soon……..a little peek at my new novel.

(Image from Google Images)

Go Terrri! It’s your birthday!

 

Tomorrow is my 58th birthday.   While it’s not a ‘stop the presses’ and ‘film at eleven’ monumental occasion, it is important to me.  I have always loved birthdays and I’m happily not one of those women who stop having birthdays past 39.  I don’t mourn my younger days and what once was.   I will save such somber emotions for more pertinent, appropriate and hopefully far-off times.

I celebrate birthdays, and yes, even my own.  I have had the pleasure and privilege of being me for 58 years and I am truly thankful and grateful for the opportunity.  So what’s not to celebrate?   Bring out the good wine!   I’ll have the red, room temperature, thank you very much.  Now, let’s all drink to my birthday, shall we?   Cheers!

I remember when I was in my 30s and I visited my Dad in Georgia.  He was shuffling a deck of cards and I remember looking at his hands, swollen with arthritis, and thinking, “Are my hands going to be like that when I’m in my 50s?”   At that time, being 50 something seemed so far away and so old to me.  I didn’t really want to think about it much, so I really tried not to.    I wonder now if my sons look at me and feel the same way I did back then.  No, my hands are not like my Dad’s, but my arthritic back certainly shows my age at times. 

I guess if I could relate anything of importance to my sons, regarding my life and my age, it would be that I am still here.  I’m in here, inside this older body, and behind this more aged face and tell-tale gray hair. I’m here.  And I’m the same intelligent, passionate, caring, vibrant and fun-loving person I have always been.   And when you are my age, my sons, you will understand how this is possible.

The best thing about being me and about being 58 is that, even though I may not be the huge success at life I’d always envisioned, I do know myself and I accept myself along with my excess baggage and flaws.  If I would have known myself this well back in my 30s, I may have been a lot more successful at life.  Or maybe not.  Either way, I’m ok with it.  And how can that be?  How can I be ok with my life as imperfect as it appears to be right now?

I am ok with my life because I know  that I am the only one who can change it, make it better or worse, make a difference or not, and/or waste it or make something of it.  It’s up to me to define my present and redefine my future. 

So what now?

So many possibilities!  I’m excited for the future, not in dread of the years flying by.  My life’s experiences, good and bad, have prepared me with the wit, wisdom, courage and determination I need to cushion the blows that may come my way in my future journey.   Those priceless gifts only enhance any man-made skill sets I’ve managed to pick up along the way, thus further strengthening my will and ability to continue through this amazing, incredible life!

So, raise your glasses and drink to me and my 58 years.  I shall raise mine and drink, as well, to my life and to all of you, my friends and family. 

Because, without you, my wine or my journey would not be as sweet.

Sometimes I can Hear the Wrinkles

At what time in a woman’s life does she realize she is old?   Is it the telltale signs of gray hair or lines on the forehead?   Is it the passing of menopause?  Is it the arthritis in her back or the tendonitis in her shoulder from all those active years?    Is it the loss of muscle tone and beauty? 

Do you think such a woman is old?

Let’s not be so quick with our judgments, and look at some other measuring criteria, shall we?

Is a woman old when she’d rather curl up with a good book and nice glass of merlot than be in a crowd?   Is that sparkle in her eyes when she gazes upon her precious grandchildren a measure of old?  What measures the old?   Is it her wisdom?   Is it her memories?   Is it a life lived fully and with little regrets?

I offer that the woman is not old.   She is, instead, a priceless gem, a precious metal, an honored and, deservedly so, revered member of society.  

She is still on her journey to reach her true worth.  A journey that is a culmination of her life, and those lives which have been touched by her.

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Being in my late fifties has opened up a different level of awareness for me.  Sometimes I don’t know quite how to handle it, as it seems too much to take in all at once.  Other times, however, I am sad because I can’t do some of the physical things I did in my youth.  I was always very physical and now arthritis truly is taking its toll on me. 

 But still, other times, I am content because I’ve learned so very much in my lifetime, been all over the world, loved and been loved by many, and have a family of which I’m so very proud.   Age does have its privileges, of which memories, wit and wisdom are just a few.

I don’t dwell too much on my age, except for when I’m reminded by some well-meaning younger person calling me “dear” or “sweetie”.  That does not amuse me, even though I know they are merely paying their respects. 

In fact, I still love my Classic Rock, and I love to play it very loudly while driving down the highway.  Sometimes I sing…badly and loudly.   I’m a Rock Star in my own mind. 

I still enjoy a good rollercoaster.   In fact, there aren’t too many I don’t enjoy.  I love to dance!  I love computers and all things techy.  I love flowers and good food.  Italian is my favorite.  Nothing beats well-made pasta and sauce.  

And, as you’ve probably noticed, I still go on and on about me.   Writers tend to do that.  We like to get the word out…even if it’s just about ourselves.   We need that audience.  It’s our fuel.  One of the best things I’ve discovered in my “not so old” age is writing.   I don’t know what I ever did without it.

The next time you look at your partner, your Mom or Grandfather, take a good look.  I guarantee you there is a person inside with a lifetime full of experiences of which you could learn from and delight in.  So take a little time to listen and share.  Of course, if Grandma hits you over the head with her cane, it might not be the best time.  But try again later.

Thanks for reading.  How do you feel about aging?  

Daddy’s Girl

In hopes of writing a fitting, memorable, and at the same time, entertaining tribute to my Dad for Fathers’ Day, I have been scanning my brain and struggling to come up with heartwarming quips and sweet references.   While performing those brain scans, I found myself laughing out loud at some of the memories of my life and relationship with my Dad.   I’m a Daddy’s Girl to be sure, and so is my sister.  My Dad is my hero.  How does one write about her hero?   To me, he was always bigger than life, and that’s not an easy task for which to provide words and imagery with due respect.  But, with much love, devotion and determination, I will attempt just that, a tribute to my Dad.

I may or may not remember my Dad taking me to the movies when I was three years old, and I wouldn’t sit down because I had a sore bump on my butt.  I was embarrassed to tell my Dad, so I just stood there in front of my seat, while Dad patiently and sweetly begged me to please sit down.  I finally screamed something out to the effect of, “I can’t sit down cause I have a big bump on my tooty fruity!”   I don’t know if I really remember it, or if I’ve just heard the story from my Dad for so many years, it seems like I remember it.  Maybe it’s a little of both.  But screaming anything about a tooty fruity in a crowd would make most stepdads run for the hills.   But my sweet Dad hung in there and persevered, through that and many more taxing situations with me.

You see, Dad is not my biological father, and our relationship began when I was three and he married my Mom.  He became ‘Dad’ instantly because he was everything that such a title entailed, and then some.  When I was four years old and my sister was born, lots of attention was paid to her, but Dad managed to make time for me as well.   As we grew up, he never made a difference in us, as my Mom had.  We were both his daughters, not one a daughter and the other a step-daughter.  He was, and still is the kind of Stepfather any child would be lucky to have.

There are memories so particularly “my Dad specific”, meaning I know of no other Dad who has managed such acts of kindness.  I’m sure there are others, but none come to mind.   In my childhood, the memories are spotted with happy family, living in several places, and a home of modest means at best.  We lived in Kansas City for three or so years when I was a kid, and one year there was a blizzard while I was at school.  Dad picked me up, but not in a car.  I can’t remember why, but we had to walk home in the blizzard.  Dad carried me part of the way.  When we got home, Mom had to warm Dad’s hands and feet, and she kept saying something about frostbite.  That’s all I remember about it, but he was my hero that day, and many thereafter.

As I revealed earlier, we didn’t have much money when I was a kid.  My eighth birthday came around and my Dad presented me with the most beautiful purple bicycle.  He had made it himself.  Not bought and put together….but collected parts from various places, including the dump, and refurbished them into the most wonderful bike an eight year old could hope to have.  I was quite the envy of my friends.   Oh, and I didn’t know how to ride a two-wheeler at that point, so Dad had to teach me.  I caught on fast and practically lived on that bike.

Over the years, he continued to be the best Dad, and my hero.  When I was thirteen and going to my first formal dance, he drove me and my date to the dance, and the whole way, warning my date of the dire consequences of him being anything other than a gentleman.    My date was kind of pale by the time we got there, and didn’t lay a hand on me the whole night.  I was a little peeved at my Dad for scaring the poor guy, but I got over it.

There were many more dances, many more pretty dresses and dates, and Dad took pictures and gave warnings with every one, up to and including my first marriage.   He did the same for my sister and we’ll both have him forever in our hearts for caring so much.   When I hear young people complaining how strict their Dads are, I wonder if they have a Dad like mine who loves them so much he can’t bear to see them hurt in any way…..so he’s a little tough, and a bit strict.  It didn’t kill us and it won’t kill them.

I grew up ok.  Mom had a problem with alcohol and drank most of her life away, and if it hadn’t been for my Dad, I don’t know where me and my sister would be today.  He held us together, kept us from dangers we weren’t even aware of, I’m sure, and told us he loved us every day.

Today when we talk on the phone, that same love comes through.  He’s a southern gentleman, and he calls us ‘Baby’…..still.

“Hi Dad.  Just calling to say hello and I love you.”

“Hi Baby!   How’s my girl doing?  I sure do miss you!  You know your old Dad loves you, don’t you?”

I sure do know Dad.   No doubt in my mind.

My Dad.

My Hero.

Happy Father’s Day my sweet Dad.

You are in my heart.

Forever.

Dad at Thanksgiving 2010

They used to call me Airman. And sometimes Gomer.

I was looking at old pictures, which is not something I do often. But when I do, it always turns into a sappy blog post.   So get ready, because here we go again.   Did you ever wonder why there’s such a strict age limit on entering the military?    No, it’s not because old folks can’t do combat!  That’s just silly.   Obviously, you haven’t seen Grandpa chasing rabbits with old Duke and his sawed-off  shot-gun.  And, obviously, you haven’t seen Grandma jet-setting all over Europe with her old sorority sisters in their big Red Hats.   Seventy is the new forty, you know!   Or so I’ve been told.   I’m not seventy, quite yet.

So back to my old pictures.

I found one of me in my uniform and sat there admiring my legs.  Gosh I had nice legs.  They’re all lumpy and stubby now.  And my boobs?  They were amazing.  Now?   Lumpy and stubby, and annoying.   Seriously….I hate the extra time it takes to corral them into my bra and make sure they’re both pointing front and center.  It’s not easy.  I get one positioned just right and the other disappears somewhere under my arm pit.  It’s enough to wear me out, and usually does.   I really think we should start out life as an old woman or man, and get younger.  I would appreciate my youth a lot more now than I ever did when I actually had it.

Oh yea, the pictures. 

So I was looking through the pictures and thought it might be fun to share with you what Basic Training in the Air Force at Lackland AFB, Texas was like way back in 1971.   And I will warn you, it is exhausting, so you might want to sit down…..and have a drink.  Stay hydrated.  It’s good for you.

Just another perk of reading my blog…..the healthy advice you get!

On October 22, 1971, I entered the Air Force, was sent to Lackland AFB, Texas, and was the youngest woman in my flight.  I was also the fastest runner in my flight, which really proved nothing because there were no races.  It was all about the marching.   I was also the only Southerner in my flight.  Everyone else was from New York City.  True Story.  My fellow Airmen (yes we were called Airmen) called me “Gomer”.  (Gomer Pyle, get it?  Southern accent?  Gomer had one. God I’m old).

For those of you non-Air Force types who are wondering what a flight is….it is like a platoon.  And for you non-Army types who don’t know what a platoon is…it’s like a group of 70 or so people, in this case all women, all marching together, showering together, exercising together, eating together, cleaning together, sleeping together (and not in a fun way) for 6 weeks of Basic Training hell.

We got up at 5 am, learned how to get showered and dressed in 20 minutes and in-formation outside by 5:30 am.    Then we’d march to the chow hall for breakfast.   Then we’d march back to the barracks and change into our PT clothes and get back into formation.  Then we would march to the workout field where we would do lots of working out, followed by lots of running laps.  After that…..you guessed it….we’d get back in formation and march somewhere else.  Usually it would be to the academic building for military studies classes, but sometimes we’d have to march to the clinic for shots.   And then there were the times we would march just to practice marching.

Lunch time came, and of course, we marched back to the chow hall for lunch.   After lunch, we might have training or cleaning detail back at the barracks.  And how’d we get there?  Anyone?  Anyone?    Yes We Marched!   In the course of six weeks, I managed to wear out my tennis shoes and a hole in the side of my low-quarters leather (frumpy black clodhopper) shoes.   I marched my butt off.  We even had to march to church on Sunday.  First of all, I didn’t want to go to church on Sunday because I wanted to sleep in.  My cranky old Sergeant would have none of that, though.  We marched our butts to church.

We did manage to turn it into a “flirting” opportunity, however, as the men also had to march to church.  So we primped extra nicely before leaving the barracks.  There was some mega bra-stuffing and skirt-hiking, as I recall, but the Sergeant was one step ahead of us and confiscated all contraband prior to entering the Lord’s house.  We were a bunch of heathens for sure.   Well, they were.  I already had big boobs and really couldn’t leave them behind.

And so life went on at Basic Training for six long weeks.  Upon graduation day, we had to march (of course!)  in a big parade and salute the General.   The only difference was we had our Dress Blues uniforms on and we were strutting our stuff.   It was a proud day.  I don’t think anyone who has ever been through Basic Training would disagree that the last day was filled with Pride.

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In a small way, this was my little tribute to our men and women serving their country and keeping us safe.   Sherri’s son just finished Marine Boot Camp and Mama is so proud!  I don’t blame her.  That’s her boy.  I get it.  Amanda’s brother, served in Afghanistan and now in California, is dealing with medical issues, and consequently, so is his family.   Keep these people in your thoughts, along with all of our service men and women, as they serve their country.    Our country.  

RePost of Remembering

Today I am very busy working on my Final Exam for school, but wanted to RePost some fiction I wrote back in January.   It is one of my favorite pieces, and not everyone has seen it yet.  I hope you enjoy!

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Stacy sat on the edge of the dock looking down into the water and wondered what was on the bottom of the lake under all that water?   She’d never thought about that before, but there must be something down there.  Did they bury anybody down there?  She knew it was supposed to be dirt at the very bottom so maybe somebody was buried there.  Her grandmother was buried in the dirt.  She’d saw them put her there.  A bunch of men all lowered her into the ground after the preacher and other people left.  That was this morning.  Stacy was sad, and she remembered her Mom crying and crying.  She wanted to help her Mom feel better, but no matter what she said her Mom just kept crying.

With the sun setting behind the big trees and the air becoming noticeably chilly, Stacy remained on the dock. Twirling the ends of her hair with one hand and throwing tiny leaves into the water with the other,  her thoughts drifted to the first day of school when Grandma walked her to the corner to catch the school bus.   Stacy and Grandma had always looked for pretty leaves and tucked them away in their pockets any time they found a unique one.   They had some really cool leaves gathered up by the time the bus came.  She thought Grandma had always been fun and even when she got too sick to go outside with Stacy, she still played Go Fish and games on the computer with her.  Grandma liked playing with Stacy’s Nintendo DS.  She always said, “Mario is not going to get the best of this old woman!”   Grandma was so funny.   Stacy wiped tears from her face and wondered why she couldn’t seem to stop crying, either.

Stacy made her way back up to the main house, where there were still lots of people and several cars in the driveway.  She was hungry but didn’t want all those people hugging her and pinching her cheeks and telling her how pretty she was.  Usually she liked that kind of stuff, but not today.  She didn’t want to share the day with others.  She wanted to think about Grandma as hard as she could because she was so afraid she was going to forget her.  She had overheard her Dad telling her Mom that the sad memories would fade with time and everyone would be ok.  Stacy didn’t really know what her Dad meant by that but she knew she didn’t want to forget Grandma, ever.

She walked around the side of the house and then entered through the back door into the kitchen.  Her Aunt Elaine was busy preparing snacks and drinks for the guests, but managed a smile for Stacy when she came in.  Elaine poured Stacy a glass of milk and laid out some cookies for her on the counter, and said, “Sit down here.  Let’s talk.”   Stacy sat down and enjoyed her cookie, thinking about how she and Grandma had shared cookies and milk at this very counter just days before.  She liked Aunt Elaine, too.  Elaine pulled her chair in close to Stacy, stroked her hair and talked to her gently, as if she knew the sadness in Stacy’s heart had spread to her stomach and all over.  Stacy’s tears came again and she began sobbing without any control.  She had tried to be a big girl, because she’d promised Mom, but she was only ten years old, and just couldn’t be big all the time.  Aunt Elaine’s arms opened and took her in for a big hug, and Stacy felt safe and just wanted to stay right there.   After a little while, Stacy fell asleep in Elaine’s arms, and Elaine carried her to her room and put her to bed.  The child had a very hard day, Elaine thought, a day no one should have to shoulder at such a young age.

Stacy dreamed of her Grandmother that night.  She was helping her hang sheets on the clothes line in the back yard.  Grandma always said the sheets smelled so much fresher when hung to dry outside in the breeze.

The End

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