Saturday, October 31, 2009

butterbean...a love story

Once upon a time I was gettin' my hair did up at Headlines where my favorite people do their magic. Miss Rhonda was trimming and we were looking at the paper and there was just the CUTEST pup featured in the weekly humane society deal. Faith was grown and I needed a puppy for Christmas. Being the poor gal that I am, I posted that baby's picture on the bulletin board at work, asking for donations to go toward the adoption fee of $40. Alas, there were no takers except for my good friend, the little general. She forked over the money and away I went to check out the cages. For the life of me, I can't remember that puppy's name, but he or she was smooth gone when I showed up with cash in hand. They're all so damn cute when they're little, but one in particular caught my eye...a tiny little brindle rat terrier mix. She peered at me with those really sad eyes that say "pick me!" and so I did. She wore a red plaid ribbon around her neck for Christmas that year, a gift to me from Big Ernie and little Sharry. Faith, who was also a Miss Rhonda pick, didn't take kindly to having a younger sister. At some point, Hope fell got pushed off the steps and broke her leg right smack in the middle of our brokest times as recently divorced mother and daughter on the lam. Baby Hope slept with me for many months until she regained her doggie legs and began to hold her own with Faith, the runaway chocolate lab. This was way before Sam came to live with us, by the way. That's a whole 'nother story.

Terriers are notorious for being nervous and Hope was no exception. She shivered constantly when the temp dipped below 60 and barked at the moon and the critters and just because she could. That was when BG changed her name to Butterbean and it stuck. When I picked her up from the vet's office Friday, some guy in the waiting room remarked about that name being unusual. Not in the south, ya'll.

Faith and Butterbean LOVE to ride in the car. Faith hangs her head out the back window lappin' up the breeze and Butters mounts the console, looking straight ahead at life whizzing by in the trusty old Camry with her mama at the wheel. Three hubcaps, no driver's side door handle, lots of bumps and scratches and almost paid for after eight years of hard labor with only 60K miles and a new engine thanks to cousin Kenny and the big fat honking oil gel settlement against Toyota. Yes, that is a run-on sentence, thank you very much. Sue me.

Anyway, I'm rambling. A few days ago, Butterbean began to look "funny" which is a red flag to a pet's best friend. I kicked the other two to the curb, and focused on her. She slept next to me on the pillow, breathing in my ear like when she was a pup. And then she couldn't get up.

That's when we started the journey to the vet's office where they run all sorts of tests and make a clinical diagnosis. Cassie Rae drew her blood for free and we ran the labs on instruments designed for human blood to save a buck. Two hundred thirty dollars later, she was diagnosed with a ruptured thoracic disc. BG had dropped her off and I picked her up several hours later in the pouring rain to come home for a few more days. We have puppy drugs that seem to keep her out of pain, but she still can't get up. Her sister and brother are keeping watch on the couch beside her, giving her kisses and not the least bit jealous anymore. They know, according to C.

It's almost med time.


Monday, October 26, 2009

outside of the box

Our lives here in this old house have consisted of lots of going through and pitching onto the fire pile. The heirlooms are safe and either displayed in china cabinets that were passed on or packed in tissue paper for the next generation. Being the non-organized person that I am, it's been just lately that I've begun to make piles and sift through things. When you live in one place for fifty plus years, things tend to get helter skelter. Daddy and I did the remodel of my house, circa 1918, over a six month period after Mr. Council moved out but it took about fifteen more years to clean up his mess in the attic and basement, bless his heart. There were rabbit feed bags on every floor and little bits of history everywhere. Slowly but surely, they have been touched and archived. Except for the wood burning stove in the basement. It's way too heavy to move so I might as well load it up with wood. They say that heat rises.

The intent of my writing and photography from day one has been to patch together the stories in some form or fashion for a book about the history of this farm and my life. All of that is in boxes that include mounds of paper and one dead hard drive, thanks to a computer geek in upstate New York who cared enough to keep this old PC going back in the day. Thats where blogging became more than just what-poopie-ate, as Gilda would say.

As funerals go, Mr.Bruce's was a great one. No rain, not too hot and a nice breeze. There was a small but faithful crowd, and thankfully the message was not real preachy. Allen did a superb job of telling the history of Dick and Peg and their entire family. At the cemetery, two young marines flanked the flag draped casket as another played taps in the distance. The flag bearer kneeled before their only son and spoke on behalf of the president and our country, presenting him with the stars and stripes that his purple heart decorated dad defended at Iwo Jima as a 19 year old marine.

There are boxes of fabric, waiting to be cut into quilt pieces for Annie to work her magic. A ladder sit propped against the ancient window in the living room where there are two for me and the other for Conner. Mary Engelbreit's calenders remind me where to be and whose birthday is coming up. And God bless Butch...there is propane in the tank and he hasn't even given the first courtesy call for payment. Dude knows that when it gets cold, I'll pay him what I owe and then some.

Just another day in paradise ^j^

Saturday, October 24, 2009

ode to oscar

We've had a lot to handle here on the lane this week what with the visitor and Mr. Bruce's passing yesterday. I cried off and on yesterday, not for him but for all of the good times our families shared together. There were three of us kids in the same grade. On holidays and sometimes just for the heck of it we'd all get together at somebody's house and celebrate our lives.

Mr. Bruce was the principal of one of our elementary schools, the one that my brothers and I and his son attended. He once told my mother that I had an exceptional IQ but he often caught me staring out the window. Go figure that one! I never really studied hard the entire 12 years, and did it ending up as average in a pool of over and underachievers. Over the seasons, my parents' other friends have taught me as well. Many of the ladies play bridge together and some attend the same church. Mostly, they've been drawn together through work or getting to know their kids' parents. Ms. Peggy Bruce, his wife, died a couple of years ago. After recovering from that, he set his sights on taking care of my ailing parents with meals and visits. He was a godsend, and he knew he was dying. That's true love folks.

He and Peggy have made me who I am today along with many other parents who weren't my "blood kin" and I think I've done that with BG's friends as well. They are fine people who will live on in our hearts forever because of what they teach us to be as adults, even if the process is sometimes a bumpy road. Hey..I'm used to that. I'm a country girl, remember?

We'll be at the cemetary if you need us.


Friday, October 23, 2009

transitionally speaking

The unanswered questions that have been swirling through the family's collective head got some answers this week. My parents will be able to live where they are, as long as they wish. The rest is just details. I feel blessed, to say the least. Sitting cross-legged on the floor of my daddy's home office, I marveled at the mess that had grown from a once highly organized ag business into a huge pile of papers. We hauled it all up the hill and sat down at my Ethel's kitchen table to sort through. The cleaning ladies warned me to watch out for spiders and I ran across one soon after spreading it all out at my house. He's dead.

Colors are peakin' here now, a gorgeous array of autumn hues strutting their stuff while the opportunity is there to shine. Mother nature always makes me smile, even when it's gloomy . Because, ya know? Sometimes there's a rainbow on the other side.


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

pride and arrogance

I remember watching this Brad Pitt movie called "Seven" where all the people who sinned got punished with a quadruple dose of what they sold their souls for. Pride stands out in my mind as a biggie, unless one gives Big Ernie the credit for the state of what's happening right now in your life. Must be the methodist coming out in me, I dunno. It's been a typical day off here on the lane...lots of errands and covert chats about the state of our union. Right now, it all looks iffy. All I can say is "til death do us part." After that, I'm outta here.

Daddy bought Pride when the renter's girlfriend couldn't pay for his pasture. He and Trapper got chased by many of my dogs over the years, always kindly not kickin' the shit out of their stupid little barking heads. I probably missed my chance at sugardaddy right then and there. They were an odd couple, one a mississippi boy and the other from east tennessee. The sawmill hired them to come do anesthesia at our place and somehow they ended up as my neighbors for a few years. I think Toni was responsible for that :)

There are so many of my friends out there who need prayers right now. Let's just call it faith and name it "unspoken."


Monday, October 19, 2009

the other place

Like I said, I'm trying to gather up the gumption to be an honest to goodness NanoWrimo participant this year. There's another side of me that writes with abandon (um, sometimes ) over here Now, before anybody I work or drink beer with gets all huffy about recognizing their character, just remember that it's a novel meaning it's FICTION. Names are changed to protect the innocent, umkay? So don't do anything mean like they did to Doose. I promise, when the royalties start rolling in, you'll be the first one I take out for a drink.

My plate is full with work and family just like everybody else. Right now, they come first.

Peace out kids.


Sunday, October 18, 2009

desperate housewives country girls

Praise the lord and pass the cheap sunglasses....the sun shone brightly here on Pecan Lane today! Me and my parents passed on Perkins and went to Mel's Diner instead. A whole lot cheaper and better too :) Daddy recited his savings all the way home. We talked about Mr. B and his homecoming in a couple of days. Dick and Peg were their best friends over the years. She died a couple of years ago, and now he's on the way to see her real soon. After they became homebound, he took up cooking and delivered meals on wheels...good stuff too! I think he knew then that he was sick, but he did it anyway because it made all of them happy. The last lengthy conversation that he and mama had was about religion and such. That's a natural for a COC preacher and a lifelong Methodist, don't you think?

I've been busy caulking windows and vacuuming the ceiling with mama's brand new super dooper electrolux. Have to keep moving to stay warm because the heat is out. Again. That's where the three dogs come in mighty handy at bedtime, if you know what I mean. Sam crawls up under the covers and Faith lays on my feet. Butterbean can't ever seem to find a comfortable spot so I end up opening the door for her at the buttcrack of midnight so she can bark at the moon. Or the squirrels. Or the raccoon family across the road up in the pecan tree. Terriers are high strung like that, I've been told.

Still undecided on my Halloween costume. In high school I did a kickass impersonation of Janis Joplin singing Mercedes Benz for stunt night. Over the years I've been a cotton bale, an angel and a stealth news reporter up at the kudzu bar. Those gals at the gas station wouldn't even turn the pump on when I stepped out to fuel up, and they know me by heart. I've heard through the grapevine that we will be burning "the pile" on all hallows eve. I certainly hope so because I'm tired of looking at it and can't be trusted with matches and gas.

I'll be mostly absent in November, working on a novel over at Nanowrimo. More than one person has told me that I've got stories to tell and now seems like a good time. Hell, I might get hit by a bus tomorrow and then what would the world do?


Friday, October 16, 2009

the office

Today was one for the history books at the sawmill. All Some of the characters who show up day after day at the sawmill gave our boss a little party in honor of her advocacy for us as worker bees in the hive known as our lab. She has a few bosses as well, and we thought about them as we chowed down on oven baked sammiches and crunchy lava cakes. We're way past bologna and 'mater season, if you know what I mean.

Thanks to Dubya Big Ernie, we all got vaccinated for the swine flu so we can show up for work when the pandemic episode occurs, totally without warning. Poops sees a class action suit in the future of the CDC. And that? It's Bush's fault too. What were they thinking????????

I'm an of those people who see the big picture but doesn't have a clue how to grow the idea. At this point in time, my focus is on caring for my parents during their last years here on the farm. Thank God I'm not alone ^j^

Thursday, October 15, 2009

long may she wave

Daddy is an Air Force veteran of the cold war, so he's all about what service to country means. He flies a flag on this big ass pole next to the flower bed and lights it up at night. The poor old stars and stripes have been lookin' like they got taken straight into battle on horseback lately, so he was past due for a new one. Ya'll know how I hate to go to megastores and prefer to shop local because, hey. There's only so many hours in a day and at least once every few I pass through court square. There's this little family owned hardware store on Main Street that has one of everything you could ever imagine, but only one. We ran into the owner at lunch the other day and he assured us that he had just what Daddy needed. Dude is not always there, so I stopped by when I saw the sign burning up front to pick up the flag. It was a bargain, to say the least. The look on my Daddy's face when we raised it up into the cold October breeze told me that it's all good. Really. Back in the day, that store was THE place to go for all your hardware needs. The rest of court square consisted of the drug stores, lawyers offices and dress shops. There was an underground barber shop and a feed store.

My maternal grandfather owned a service station across the street from the Methodist church, down and up a hill from where he raised the family on College. To this day, I still run into people who remember him as a downtown businessman. I was three when he died at 45 from heart disease, something that would be a two day stay now with the technology that is available to fix innards and save lives. There was a little diner next door called the Silver Castle, and Roberts Chevrolet was on the left. All of that is gone now...and a bank claims that corner. Not even mine, by the way.

I feel very sorry for those who haven't taken the time to learn about their roots even if they're good bad and ugly. There's only one life here on God's green earth and I believe there's a reason that we're here. We live and learn from others' diseases and weaknesses. We chant "couldashouldawoulda" when discussing decisions that were made that impacted several generations. But in the end, it all plays out according to what BE has in mind.

I'm not sure what that is. But I have faith that they will guide me. You know...him and his other half. Now pardon me while I finish cleaning my room so that the weekend can be a time of rest.


Monday, October 12, 2009

angel wings

My vocation as a med tech doesn't lend itself to many glamorous moments. That only happens on CSI, ya know? Most days find me hip deep in blood and other body fluids, crunching numbers and reviewing printouts so that the doctors can treat their patients, based on the results that we generate. There is very little room for error, because the clinical treatment plan hinges on test results from various lab and radiology procedures. We serve an in-patient population plus a very hefty ER load, considering our rural location. That is because many of our clients have no insurance, so that's their only option. Hordes of drug seekers clog the rooms and resources that are needed by legitimately ill patients. It's not a problem that is unique to us by any means. Healthcare at home has one advantage and that's having somebody you know to keep an eye out for you. I've done it a kazillion times for friends and family.

That part makes up for all the gross stuff we have to handle and smell. Remind me to tell ya'll some stories about collecting sperm for fertility studies back in the day. That was one time I honestly blurted out "this AIN'T in my job description!" Congratulations to my lovely friend and her hub on their pregnancy. This girl is a flat out down to earth true christian cowgirl. I love it when she glows :)

Leave a message at the *beep*

Sunday, October 11, 2009

view from the porch

Back in the day, my house was party central when meal time came for the farm hands. There's this little tiny porch of a thing on the northwest side of the house that's just about big enough to step out on and say "come and get it folks." If I ever find a Sugardaddy, there will be a deck from there to the back porch even before I buy new socks and underwear. Hey. At least I know my priorities.

The weather is typical Tennessee October, cool with low humidity and enough colors for anybody to get off on. I was walkin' the yard earlier and stood like a little kid, neck craning upward to watch a pair of hawks glide and swoop. I call them golden days, the ones where you just get lost in the moment and enjoy what old mother nature blesses you with because, hey. It may not be here tomorrow.

Ya'll have a lovely week at work in the corporate world. I'm right there with 'ya, keeping the faith.


Friday, October 9, 2009

rainy days and fridays

Well, at least there's the Friday part to make it, not a Monday. This has been a pretty rough week for me emotionally because a lot is hanging in the balance with what happens in the next few weeks here on the farm. All three of us kids grew up here, as did my own daughter, covering the 50 year span that my father has been the go-to guy. It was a totally cool place to grow up, even though there were no girls to play with. As soon as I got to be a pre-teen I was on the road to figuring out how to get outta' this place and to where the action was. My life outside of the farm consists of four years in college and about 10 more in different apartments and houses. When old Mr. Council the horseman moved out of the house on the hill, it took me and daddy the better part of six months to make the place livable for our little family. BG was four at the time. Needless to say, her childhood was filled with horses and scratches and fishin' holes. Good stuff. No matter how bad my day is or how tired I am, when I come here and concentrate on the beauty surrounding me season after season, it all gets better. My sanity, so to speak.

One of my brothers who also rented here left the state several years ago with the parting wisdom that "if you don't own it, you can't defend it". We talked about the beginning of the end of our family's life as we knew it, with all of us tucked somewhat closely within easy driving distance. He hauled rubber totes to Rockfish Valley on trailers until i thought he would run off a mountain in WV trying to get all that stuff moved. Since then he has become a father and a partner in another thriving business with his wife. Their lifestyle is relaxed, fun and full of deadlines. And they wouldn't change a thing, I'm sure. They are happy with life and well, that makes me happy too.

Other brother is the well known keeper of things around here since Daddy has become unable to focus on anything other than his watch and the TV. He has timber cut and dirt hauled and trenches dug so that the crops will have proper drainage. He rides the pastures, checking cattle and wrestling them down to the ground to tag 'em. He even feeds the babies with bottles sometimes, and I helped once. It definitely ain't a girl job, though I could probably get into some of that hay raking like the girl with the long hair does.

I used to be a chronic worrier but learned long ago to pick my battles, thanks to SRUIs and therapy. Life is just too short to waste time on anguish when the outcome will be what it is. I've turned it over to Big Ernie and he knows what's best. Sorta like Hoss did :)
This is a biggie for all of us. Ya'll keep the faith ^j^

Thursday, October 8, 2009

my generation

So you think you can sing? Yep, so do I...especially when I've got classic rock blaring in my ears. There's a primo station here in West Tennessee that I start and end most days with. At work I have to listen to that sicky sweet sixties stuff or country. I have on occasion on a weekend, snuck in a hand burned CD to brighten up my weekends. Miss Ellyn always says " I can tell that's YOUR music." Gotta love it.

My aspirations to be a groupie has been an interesting journey what with my brother being a former nightclub owner. When he booked Jimi Jamison (formerly of Survivor*) the folks from the station were all.over that opportunity to open for a superstahhhh! The venue is excellent with great acoustics and lights plus a huge dance floor. And that stage!!!!

Anyhoo....that's how I met the drummer/DJ over at rock 92.3 and I've followed that band through several uh, shall we say, changes in personnel. Last time I saw them was at the biker bar up across the highway and I was the only paying customer. No shit. I still can't believe that dude at the door had the balls to take my three bucks. His mama would NOT be proud.

Here's a shout out to Gregg, Grant and Rick. And whoever else is currently on board.

Where's my my official groupie invitation?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

faith of our fathers

Pawpaw was my mother's father. He was a big time businessman back in the day, owning not only the 555 corner service station but the greasy spoon next door called the Silver Castle where you could get a burger for not much of nothing and hang out with your friends between school and home and church. Miz Larson asked him to manage her property out here where we still live. Sometime before he died of heart disease in 1958 at the age of 45, Pawpaw suggested that my ag-educated daddy might do a good job with this particular parcel of land. He learned the hard way, bless his heart, as a sharecropper's only son back during the great depression. I never knew that tale about the reference until just recently, when we began to talk more about the history of our place. A rich patch of God's great green earth certainly deserves a turn of good stewardship if one is faithful and all like the Bible says to be. Check both testaments....they say the the same thing.

There is more to this story and I'm saving it up for a project that just might offer a bit of escape from the reality of everyday life as I know it.

More later.


Tuesday, October 6, 2009

it's my life

Dealing with everyday reality is not the funfest it's cracked up to be, ya' know? My parents are elderly and gettin' by, thanks to Big E. Neither of 'em smile much anymore unless you tickle them mericlessly like I did to Mom this afternoon. Once again, she let me cry on her shoulder about the beginning of the end of our family life here on the farm. Daddy notices every little patch of purple and pink, naming each vine and flower after a few false starts.

The family that owns this particular piece of paradise consists of a group of four siblings who must all agree on the future of the farm. A couple of them own a bank up North and I'm not sure what the others do, but that's not the point at all. The point is that it's a landmark positioned in a rural America where family farms are passed from one generation to another via probate court without a thought to the history of the place. This old gal crawled around on hands and knees back in the spring lookin' for colored glass and bits of old pottery. There are pieces of fabric folded on every surface waiting to be cut and added to the quilt pile. 53 years and countin'. It took me ten years to get the freakin' basement cleaned out but by golly I did it.

Pardon me..there's a horse in my yard and the dogs are going nuts.


Saturday, October 3, 2009

the drummer

My favorite uncle Jimbo was our music teacher when I began elementary school. Imagine how neat that was for me as a first grader! He would swoop through the door singing "Good Morning Mrs. Green's Room" like he was the happiest man on earth. And he was. The joy that came to me from him of seeing music make life easier to deal with is a gift that I will always cherish. He did a lot of woodworking and made Christmas presents for us over the years.

Later on he was the director of jr and sr high band and I got to go along for the ride on that one too, even though I never could learn to blow into anything and make sound. That's where my piano training from he and Aunt Granny kicked in and I found my home with the chimes. Gigs were few and far between so mostly I just hung out with the band kids and enjoyed the ride. Cousin Debbie played the flute and her younger sister Millette was a majorette. During off times from band and choral stuff, he and Granny bought old houses and remodeled them. Those poor folks moved no less than 6 times over the time the girls were growing up. The man was a master of many things, and loved every minute of it.

At the age of 50 he was diagnosed with cancer of the prostate with bone mets. For four long years he traveled to get radiation treatments and continued to direct yet another band, which was to be his last. Obion County LOOOOOOOOVED him because I don't think they'd ever had someone with that fun sort of spirit to lead the way. When the drugs suddenly stopped working and he died four years later, their spirits were broken. Almost.

They were present in full uniform, by section, in the overflowing church come funeral day. I remember walking down that familiar carpet in the sanctuary thinking to myself "This can't be real." I almost forgot to hold BG's hand and she was only four at the time. There were people everywhere. And it was on that day that I realized how many lives had been touched by his spirit and ambition. Thirty years worth of students and parents turned out to pay their respects to Mr. G, as he was fondly known. I did a little pro-bono for the family and kept a check on his blood counts which dropped steadily during the last six months. I watched him turn into a weary traveler to the hospital from home to get blood and platelets. During the last hours he was "making platlets" with his hands.

When Deb and Ronnie stopped by after I got home from work, the conversation turned to the band once again. I was describing a particularly obnoxious old friend who thinks that the whole freakin' world twirls around him and she quickly said " the drummer." Uh, huh? "Daddy always told me that guys who act like that are always drummers." We started going through the list and by golly she/he was right. They're like crackheads without the smoke, which is pretty high maintenance for a woman to deal with. Especially a laid back one.

Every year there is a band contest held in his honor, right on the field where he directed for so many years. His family presents the James M. Godsey trophy to the winning marching band, as judged by the ones who know. Tonight there will be not only wife, children and grandchildren, but a couple of great grands too. I know with all of my heart that he will smile and sing over that.

This one's for you Jimbo. I'm keeping the faith ^j^

Thursday, October 1, 2009

the placebo effect

My daddy and I have a kinda' sorta' appointment with his primary care physician tomorrow to discuss the current state affairs in regards to his frontotemporal dementia.