I hated to admit it, but for once my husband (to my everlasting annoyance) had been right. “Those shoes look absolutely ridiculous with that pair of jeans,” he had told me while brushing his teeth. I… 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!!!
… climbing McAfee Knob along the Appalachian Trail in Virginia today!
On that day (in 2014) I had set out that morning with my friend Brendle and we had hiked a leisurely hike till noon. Then we picked up the pace and made the knob around one-thirty! It truly was one of the best days of my life! My dream is to do it again …. someday!
My Dad had done this hike the month after he had returned from WWII in the European theater. He had seen a photo of McAfee Knob in Life Magazine when he got home and decided to climb it on his way home from visiting his cousin in Michigan. In a happy turn of events, his cousin, C.A. decided to make the climb with him! My Grandma Hamilton had the only photo of them on the knob … Dad sitting like I am, and C.A. standing behind him with his arms crossed.
It was that photo that inspired me to go … do a hike my Dad had done … cross the same rocks and streams that he had so many years ago! As I hiked I looked around and wondered how much different the forest around me must have looked back then!
I’d give anything to have that photo now!
“Finally … I’ve had enough of your cold ornery ways!
I’m tired of your lying, cheating and backstabbing!
I’ve had enough of your leaving …
making my heart soar as I happily packed up your clothes
and stuffed them out of sight (out of mind)!
And then, three days later …
you’d show your ugly face again … back at my door
expecting me to be happy to see you!
So once again
I pulled all of your heavy moth-ball infused clothes out
and hung them all back in the closet …
angrily, I might add.
Never again will I trust your tawdry”signs”!
Your “I’m leaving this time for good” song and dance
no longer enchants me because
you ALWAYS come back!
Well, you cold, bitter,
what-ever-you-want-to-call-yourself today nuisance ….
I’ll have you know that I’ve put your clothes away
once and for all.
I have in my possession a box of ten-penny nails
and I intend to use every last ONE of them this time.
That’s right … I’ll be nailing the door shut this time
with your heavy as lead clothes inside.
You heard me right … you no longer have access
to what everyone from Washington to Delaware
refers to as “your clothing”!
I’ve found another and will no longer
have room for you in my life!
So let this be our final “goodbye” ….
Spring is upon me and I simply don’t have
room in my life OR my closet for you.
Goodbye Winter …
Don’t let the door hit you in the icicle on the way out.”
You cannot catch the tooth fairy in a mouse-trap. Only your Daddy.
You cannot hide your uneaten peas, broccoli, liver, etc on the shelf under the table-top forever. Eventually the cat will out you.
Switching the Castoria with Hersheys Syrup only works if you fake gag and don’t offer to lick the spoon.
You can change an “F” to a “B” but you can’t change a “D” to anything, so it’s better to make an “F”.
Just feed all the Baby Asprin you don’t like to your cousin or hide them in your mothers potted plants.
When faking “taking a bath”, don’t forget to wet the soap and re-wet the tub after drying it with the towel (so the towel is wet). Be sure to moisten your skin and rub some soap on yourself so you smell clean. Dampen the bottom edges of your hair.
Use caution when using a light bulb to raise the temperature on the thermometer. It’s very difficult to explain a 109 degree fever to a hysterical parent.
A fake cough will always turn into a real cough if you over play the cough-card.
Never hide your report card in a library book and then return it. There is a level greater than “lost” that only a kid understands.
None of the exercises will make your titties bigger before you’re eight.
I was notorious for cleaning up my room and sticking stuff under my parents bed just because they had a dust ruffle.
It is absolutely possible to dig to China if it weren’t for childhood curfews.
If you need to do an oral book report and just plan on casually asking your Dad last minute what it’s about, don’t count on him giving you a straight answer. For instance, “Island of the Blue Dolphins” is not a true story about an island that football players went to in hopes of becoming a championship team and the quest of a little native boy on the island who wanted to become a Dolphin. However, an awful lot of boys in my class asked to read that book next though! (And thank heavens I got an “F”!)
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.