From March 20, 2010 … It’s been the longest, hardest Winter I can ever remember. Truly. Bronchitis hung on to me almost the entire season, so believe me when I say I’m THRILLED to see… More
Today it began.
This is the day I begin the greatest adventure so far in my life. I declare myself incapable of failure … for in the end, I will be my own hero.
Currently I live in a noisy suburb of Atlanta. Behind my house an endless stream of cars whiz along the once quiet road, now a short-cut to avoid interstate traffic. Airplanes landing and taking off at Atlanta airport fly almost directly over the house a dozen times a day. By now I’m immune to the sound. Airplanes have been a part of almost half my life in some way or another, but I know they are there. Like the squirrels that live in the attic, I know they are there, they just don’t annoy me any more.
It’s how things are here. However ….
There is, three hours north of where I currently live, a quiet piece of mountain side property with a noisy creek that runs along the foot of it. Rue Anemone grows along the forest floor alongside fiddle head fern. Herds of deer cross the old logging trail that crosses my land, and high above my head a hawk makes home in the tallest hemlock.
The first time I saw it, it was covered in a half a foot of snow, but it took my breath away. I knew from the moment I saw it that it was my destiny. After all, I’d asked God for a sign and God GAVE me one. Okay, so it was a Berkshire Hathaway “For Sale” sign … but it was a sign none-the-less. Four months later I owned a piece of Serenity Mountain in Waynesville, NC.
That was the easy part.
The hard part is giving up my life here in Georgia where I have lived my entire life. Here, I’m close to friends and family … my veterinarian … my doctors … my hair stylist … the hot tamale place … my favorite deli … the places I hike … and everything else I’ve come to depend on.
My father, who in my opinion was the smartest man I ever knew, once told me that if I want to get from point A to point B smoothly, I may want to consider all the space between them. In that space lies an infinite number of choices all mine “ripe for the making”.
“Pick your way well,” he said.
That’s what I’m about to do.
MY A to B TO-DO LIST …. starting with “A” ….
- Spend as much time with friends and family as possible
- Purge the house of everything I don’t need/want/haven’t laid eyes on in five years
- Hike at least once a week
- Bake something and deliver it as a “thank you”
- Get the house ready to sell
- Pack and Move
- Become a feature writer for The Mountaineer in Waynesville, NC
- Build the new house on Serenity Mountain
- Keep up with this blog! Be faithful and write at least once a week!
- Keep my SH** together!!!
PULLING THE SCOTTY
I am tossed from side to side
between my Mother and Daddy
as the little green GMC pickup truck
slowly makes it way up Old Cherry Mountain Road.
Every so often Mother would yell “Stop, Cecil!”
Daddy would explain for the dozenth time that
he’d have to get to the curve first.
Once we were at the level place in the road,
the three of us would climb out and trot
back down the road to retrieve the rock Mother
wanted for her rock garden.
Daddy would place it in just the right place
in the back of the truck and we’d all climb back in.
Occasionally I’d lollygag and end up sitting by the window
where I stretched out my hand to snap off
long fronds of Queen Annes Lace that happily
grew at the edges of the old road.
Daddy would go through the gears on the steering column,
first, clutch, second, clutch … and the truck would balk
at the idea of switching up to third gear, so we’d settle
into second as the rock in the back lurched backwards.
Mother laughed and Daddy would shake his head …
Mary Alice and her rock obsession! He adored her for it.
Merrily rolling behind us was our turquoise and white
Scotty Camper, rocking side to side like a happy drunkard,
the yellow ping-pong ball smiley face hanging in the window
seemed to echo its elation. It had followed us from
South Georgia along the slick concrete freeways that
ker-thunk ker-thunked beneath the wheels, and later
along sharply curving mountain roads where Mother was
certain it would tip over at every switchback.
We finally rolled into Bill and Nancy’s campsite
on Cherry Mountain and Daddy set the emergency brake.
My cousins, Tim and Jeff climbed out of the creek
shaking off water as they ran up the hill. Mother opened up
the Scotty and began bringing out lawn chairs.
Daddy used the rocks in the back of the truck to
keep the Scotty from rolling down Cherry Mountain.
That night I slept in the overhead bunk in the Scotty
gazing past the Smiley Faced ping-pong ball at the same
moon I would come to adore over the next fifty years
with the cousin I would someday learn to call “Mom”.
… and I looked down into the treetops and was shocked to see clouds gathering around my feet!
Puddles are magical things. My brother and I were walking my mothers two dogs, Sasha and Roxie, down the old mountain road after a cold winter rain during Christmas several years back. I had stopped to re-lace my hiking boot and sat there in wonder. There at my feet, clouds were gathering. The tops of trees were gently swaying in an icy winter gust as leaves fluttered past me. It was as if I were frozen … afraid to move … not wanting to break the spell.
Then my brother saw it too.
The two of us silently gazed into it as if it were another world. I slowly took out my camera (as if not wanting to frighten it away) and captured a photo of that magical puddle to another place. We vowed the next day we would bring our aging Mom down the mountain to see it. During the night, though, the doorway was closed. Nothing but mud remained where the beautiful window to the treetops had been.
To this day after a heavy winter rain I will often ramble down the mountain to the place where the puddle once was. There is no sign it was ever even there except for this photo.
My brother and I laugh that maybe that puddle wasn’t a reflection at all. What if it really WERE a … … … but no …
… that would be unimaginable.
… that time I took my dog Bernie T (the Pomeraniac) kayaking, and he saw his reflection in the water … and ended up jumping overboard to save himself.
So I just realized while I was putting this blog together how “ungirly” of a little girl I was. My most memorable Christmas gifts, except for maybe one of them, are not the average “little girl gifts”! Maybe it’s because as a child I was mostly surrounded by boys … rough neck, frog-in-the-pocket boys, who were pretty much my only choice of play-mates in the neighborhood!
I had a few girly friends, but I’d much rather be playing in the ditches and building forts in the woods with the boys instead of sitting in the front yard brushing the hair of some bug-eyed baby doll. There were, I mean, only so many sub-plots you could play before the “Mommy and Daddy” game, got utterly boring. Kimberly whatever-her-last-name-was, took her Baby Alive and went home when I suggested we see who could throw our dolls further up on the roof of the house.
I never saw Kimberly again and that stupid Baby Alive was still on the roof when we moved away.
Never in a hundred years would I have suggested throwing my all time favorite Christmas gift EVER on the roof …
#1 GREEN TONKA TOY TRUCK WITH WHITE WALL TIRES
I got this for my fifth Christmas and I remember circling it in the Sears and Roebuck Christmas Catalog like it happened yesterday! I’ve no idea where I originally saw it … if it was on TV or if someone in the neighborhood had one, but I made SURE Mom and Dad knew I wanted it. Don’t ask me what else I got that Christmas because I can’t remember a single other thing … but that Tonka truck … I LOVED that toy! And yes, I slept with it! It went everywhere with me and even as a teenager, it sat on my dresser and held lip-gloss and necklaces. Today it’s wrapped in newspapers and in my basement. Not even my son was allowed to play with it. Once I’m in Waynesville I want to have a special place for it so I can show it off! To this day, that Tonka Truck is one of my most prized possessions.
#2 THE EASY BAKE OVEN
So most little girls played with their Easy Bake ovens until either their cake mixes ran out or the bulbs burned out. Not me. I loved mine so much that my Mom would mix up little sandwich bags of cake mixes for me to bake! But that isn’t all! I remember taking left-over pre-cooked spaghetti, some sauce and cheese and baking tiny casseroles! I made tiny little biscuits … tiny cookies … and my favorite – a hot open faced Oreo with a tiny scoop of ice cream. I was wildly inventive and my Dad, ever the guinea pig of the Easy Bake Chef, always smacked his lips and would say “delicious” … even though it probably wasn’t so great. After all, there’s only so much you can to do to food with two 100 watt light bulbs.
#3 THE TWISTER GAME
As an only child, this game was incredibly boring for me until my Dad figured out that the three of us (me, Mom and Daddy) could play together if one of us held the spinner in our mouth and we all took turns spinning. It was actually more fun doing it that way than having someone sit on the side calling out the moves, because it always required someone to spin the spinner with whatever appendage was available and the spinner was passed along to the next person …. teeth to teeth. Yeah yeah … germs were shared, but the laughter was ferocious and some of the best times with my Mom and Dad was spent watching my Dad lift his toe up to my Moms face and them working together to try and spin the spinner!
#4 MY SPIROGRAPH and GREEN PEN
Of all my toys, this one both fascinate and frustrated me the most. Actually, my Dad enjoyed this toy more than I did, but we would have “doodling” contests to see who could “doodle” the longest before our wheel jumped the track. I think every Spirographer ran out of green ink first because it was such an unusual pen color at the time and boy did I covet my green pen!
But alas, I got caught by Mrs Wall “doodling” in class with my green Spirograph pen and a couple of gears and wheels, and my green pen was confiscated. Spirographing was never the same after that.
#5 MY LIONEL TRAIN SET ♥ …. AND THE YEAR SANTA WAS ‘OUTED’
If I live to be a hundred, I’ll never EVER forget the year I got my Lionel Train set, because that was the year I found out the truth about Santa.
It was 1967 and we lived on East Court Street in Hinesville, Georgia in an Antebellum home with beautiful beveled glass doors between the hallway and living room. My Aunt Lila and Grandma Hamilton were spending Christmas with us that year They were sleeping in my room and I was sleeping on the roll-away bed in Mom and Daddys room. We had all had a traditional cup of hot cocoa before bed Christmas Eve, but since Aunt Lila was there, she made mine “special” and put a peppermint stick in it (and more than likely a hefty dose of Peppermint Schnapps as well so I would fall asleep quickly).
I’ve no idea what time it was when I woke up and heard muffled talking in the living room. I timidly crept down the hall to the closed glass doors of the living room, where I saw Dad and Aunt Lila on the floor playing with a train set and Mom putting a T-Set out.
My cousin, Mike, was right. My parents WERE Santa.
I was mortified! So I did what any kid in their right mind would do …. I kept my mouth shut and crept back to bed just in case they took it all back once they knew “I KNEW”.
Christmas morning when they came in and “woke me up” … yeah, right … I’d lay there all night wondering what else was fake … would my ears really fall off if I didn’t wash behind them? … would my nose REALLY grow if I told a lie? …. were there REALLY Mommy spies everywhere I went who would tell her everything I did when she wasn’t around? These were things I was doubting now. And the Tooth Fairy … and Easter Bunny … and the “President of the United States” …. was HE even real?
Anyway, I played it cool, and my Daddy and I ended up playing with that train set all day. Aunt Lila crocheted an afghan, Grandma snoozed in the easy chair, and Mom folded up all the used wrapping paper into neat smooth squares. As for me, I just suspiciously watched them all for the first time in my life.
I don’t suppose I need to go into a long dissertation on how very proud of my son I am … how many times I looked at him yesterday and went “Wow …. that was my little boy!” I sat and wiped tears through the entire thing … happiness, sadness, pride, but most of all relief for him. He did it.
Both my kids went to school full time and put in over forty hours a week at work. They already know what their careers are like, and I believe they’ve both found the perfect place.
But back to Alex, he loved every moment … looking back every couple of minutes and smiling. I could see the happiness all over him!
Your bit of not-sure-you-should-laugh-or-cry moment of Zen for the day. The Herning Boys Choir eats a Ghost Chili Gummy Bear together and finishes “Oh Come All Ye Faithful”.
Well I’ve seen everything now.
My poor kids. Both grown and off on their own, each with their own particular style – but both simple, clean, artsy and bright.
For a couple of years now they have been avoiding the subject of who will INHERIT what … usually it’s in the form of “Alex can just have that” or “Just will that to Aly”. I’m thinking there’s a motive behind all this generosity. Neither want to be the one to be stuck with the stuff that I, myself, inherited. And I inherited a LOT!
You probably already know I inherited a ton of rocks which will be used in some way or another when I build the house on Serenity Mountain in Waynesville, NC. But I was also left stacks of vintage books from my parents, two Aunts and a cousin, a cloth clown that my mother made (its locked in my china cabinet – BTW, I’m TERRIFIED of clowns!), china from a Great Grandmother by marriage, and a blue stuffed spaceman from my husband,
Both kids want the Spaceman. The SPACEMAN!
Some things were easy to will away. My cousin LaWanda wants my mothers buffet, Granny Morris’ sewing machine cabinet, and if I’m ever found mangled from falling off a cliff, the china cabinet will go to her as well … along with my lifeless body stuffed inside (unless the kids change their minds).
Many of the things we’ve acquired over our 32 year marriage will have to be re-homed and upgraded … so my beautiful bedroom suit that will be MUCH too big for the Waynesville house, the dining room suit, living room suit, bonus room furniture and the rest of the occasional chairs will go to a local organization that helps displaced family’s in need.
My parents beautiful cherry wood bedroom suit will become a guest bedroom suit, the mahogany birthing/mansion bed I inherited from Grandma Hamilton will go in my study, and the china cabinet will be placed on it’s own wall in the country kitchen! A friend of mine, Mary Leslie, is painting a big guinea fowl to hang on the dining area wall. It will quickly become one of my new most prized possessions. The mirrored bowl and pitcher stand (or commode table that once held a slop jar) will go in the entry-way.
All of these things will someday need a home along with my parents journals, my own journals, photo albums, Bibles that belonged everyone in my family all the way back to Grandma Hamilton, movie films, and all of my Fathers memorabilia from his time in WWII. Who would want all this stuff? If I were the kids at their age and just starting life, I’m not sure I would be willing to take it on either.
They may not realize it, but I certainly don’t want to guilt them into taking on stuff they don’t have any desire to have. As a Mother, it’s one of the worst things you can heap upon your kids conscience. So, every so often I suppose I’ll be parting ways with something that means a great deal to me … but has the potential to mean at least a little something to someone else.
Maybe I’ll start with the clown. *shiver*
Louis Armstrongs version of Moon River is the very best! What is it about his husky voice that combines with the dreaminess of the song and makes it seem tremendously perfect?
And the very words …
“HUCKLEBERRY FRIEND” …
I had to look up the definition of a Huckleberry Friend.
Urban Dictionary describes a “Huckleberry Friend” as:
Evokes someone with whom one has a carefree, innocent, hopeful, gentle friendship. Bucolic wanderers and dreamy wonderers. Those with which to share a sun-drenched youth.
Yep … I’ve had a couple of those.
I came by it naturally … my obsession with rocks, shells , acorns, buttons from shirts, and so forth. My mother had the obsession is well. Everywhere we would go, she would pick up small rocks as a memento that we had been there – sort of like prehistoric Polaroids.
When I was just a little kid, we would be driving down a country road when Mom would suddenly holler for Dad to “Stop the car Cecil”, so we could all get out and haul a rather gigantic rock into the trunk. Sometimes it took all three of us to move the occasional boulder, but Dad was always so good natured about it. He loved Mom enough to let her bring home any rock she desired because she loved them so.
I don’t know how genetics work, but somehow, I too, am famously obsessed with them. All around the house stuff like seashells, rocks, acorns and old handkerchiefs have a special place. I even have a small box of buttons. But rocks … those have become my true hearts desire. Some are on display …. some are tucked away.
These days, when people go on vacation, they ask me what they can bring me back as a souvenir. My answer is always the same … “Just go find me a rock!”
Rocks are one of the things I truly enjoy the most in life! I love feeling of the rocks and sometimes I’ll actually smell them to see if they carry a bit of their homeland with them … like Pakistan or Germany! Both of those had a unique t scent. And while I won’t readily admit to it, a few people have accused me of sticking my tongue to a couple. But what I enjoy most about the “getting part” … is the story that’s always attached to it: how they got it, where they got it, sometimes there are photos .. but the “rocks story” is always lovely to hear.
My friend’s know me well and they tell me they actually enjoy going out and searching for the most perfect rock for me! One friend and his family searched the shoreline of Iceland for hours until they found one of the most interesting ones in my collection. All five of them were picking up rock after rock on the beach and his kids were arguing about who had found the best rock. It was getting late and suddenly there was a bright flash on the shoreline that got everyones attention. The Northern Lights were lighting up the evening sky! One small rock at at the waters edge caught the eye of his four year old grandson as it reflected the glow of the glistening Aurora Borealis! THAT was the rock they brought me back. Dan said his grandson held it in his hand all the back from Reykjavik!
I’ve been mailed rocks from some of the most beautiful places in the world! Friends send the rock and later post photos on their social page of the rock on the ground, a photo of them picking it up, and usually a photo of them with the rock standing in the beautiful scene! It’s become a “THING”! Friends online will pick a rock up from their yard and send it to me and do the same thing! Then there are those who include me in their incredible travel adventures and bring rocks back from places I dream of traveling …. like the Holy Land, the pyramids of Egypt, Stonehenge, the Vatican, the high mountains of Peru, the deep caves of Mexico, and the peaks of the tallest mountains in the world! (I have rocks from 8 of the top ten peaks … and yes, Everest is one of them!)
So do you understand why I love rocks yet?
I have a THEORY about my rocks. Each rock that is being picked up and given to me has more than likely stayed in that general spot for millions of years … but in my theory, it has a destiny. It, by destiny, is selected out of all the other rocks and picked up just for me. The fingers that touched it and handed off to me, may be the only figures in history to ever have touched it. Some of my rocks are from the other side of the Earth but yet they end up here with me and placed in a very loved collection with other rocks from all over the world. That part I know. The “destiny theory” … well, I’m still mulling that one over.
As for the acorns, I place them in soil and watch them grow. Oak trees from the Middle East and Russia grow side by side in my yard, yet no one would ever know at a glance. But I know … and the people who gave them to me know.
On my property in Waynesville, I’ve buried over two dozen oak acorns from all over the world. I can hardly wait till spring when they wake up and poke their tops up through the soil!
In my basement I have a lot of my mother’s things.
Among those things is a ream size paper box and four metal coffee cans filled with thousands of small adorable rocks. A friend of mine suggested I go to a specialty mill and have a large sheet of Plexiglas poured and put part of my collection in it, that way I could see it them from both sides. She said it would make an incredible looking room divider or shower doors and frames.
I’ve also thought about doing one of the many rock designs you see on Pinterest. For now though, I take comfort in the fact that I’m simply obsessed with them. Each one, MILLIONS and MILLIONS of years in the making …. and I and only a tiny part of its story.
From 2011 … Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Concord, Mass. . An amazing trip! Landed in driving snow in Boston … I was on the last flight in before the airport closed. Then got the last rental car before the rental place closed down! From there, it was just drive with the storm towards Maine …. a two day trip turned into six – with stops in Salem and Rockport … and watching the snow get deeper and deeper. I pulled off the road as I was coming BACK through Concord. A romp through the snow awarded me this shot of the hillside I had never imagined!
The things I do.