Backyard: Getting There!

The backyard is coming along nicely. I’m not finished yet. But I have six trees, a vegetable garden, an herb/perennial garden, and a few other planted and decorated spots.

And this rain should help the grass along!

Some special things: part of my Revolutionary 4th great grandfather’s original tombstone from 1799, an old brick from West Kemper Baptist Church, statues of my mother’s, a flat rock from the original land grant of Jacob Boone’s farm in Kentucky, my husband’s arrowhead collection, my mother-in-law’s shells, a pick from my grandfather’s farm, a gull from my Oregon trip, as well as a cobalt blue sea ball, and so on…

Here are pictures of the progress…

This White Pipe…


Round smooth plastic piping, with curves and white purity, like a new bride in a silky white gown…

Except … there is a hole in that gown, an imperfection, a gap like a sliver of moon at the end fitting where the pipe is out of round. C&M Heating and Cooling happened to overlook this faulty part when they installed the HVAC system in my new house. The condensation water leaked through that tiny hole … gosh, it’s so small … and insignificant … and found its way down my wall and under hardwood flooring, and set my life on a new course.

Backtracking — removing flooring, cabinets, granite. Rebuilding, replacing, packing up the kitchen again after being here only five months, restoring my brand new house to a brand new house like it was before the damage caused by the air unit. Interruptions, turmoil.  Life upside down for two weeks or more, then

maybe peace again.



Black Beauty

He is a black beauty, but his name is Forrest, after a Confederate general, because all Neil’s horses are named after such. He’s fifteen hands high, he’s gentle, and he loves carrots.

Brushing Forrest

Forrest’s first haircut on Cedar Ridge

Posing for a picture

Riding Forrest

Tennessee Walker gait

Riding in the pasture

Neil and Forrest

Does my butt look as big as his?

E-mail? Facebook? Blog?

Electric communication will never be a substitute for the face of someone who with their soul encourages another person to be brave and true.

Charles Dickens

Happy Birthday and Happy Bookday, Deborah!

“At the age of 5, Rachel Sarai joined the Dutch Resistance. At the age of 70, she finally gets to tell her story.”

Here’s a flower for Rachel — the Marguerite, the flower worn during the war as a symbol of the resistance to Nazi Germany. A flower to commemorate the courage of a five-year-old girl who did something incredible. Young Rachel Sarai was actively involved as a ‘baby-courier’ in the work of the Underground Resistance.

Today is Deborah Rey’s seventieth birthday, and today is the launch day for her book, Rachel Sarai’s Vineyard. The book presents a true account of wartime experiences of the author. [See post of March 20, 2008.]

Christmas in Memphis…

Christmas 2007
A good time was had by all!

I’ll Be Home, uh, Warm for Christmas

I’d rather have mistletoe than snow. I’ve already gotten the biggest of presents under the tree.

Sunday, my own personal private computer engineer set up the baddest, fastest computer in the whole wide world, along with dual flat panel monitors.

Monday, it was too cold in my office to work on it. Monday, the snow came. Well, not really snow, and it had been coming for a few days. I’ve noticed a few nights, as I tried to sleep, cold air was blowing on my face, stinging like needles of ice, lingering like a dusting of snow. Jack Frost was nipping at my nose … and toes. The heater runs nonstop, the thermostat is set on 68, and the temperature never climbs above 62. Not a good sign.

So I did what I didn’t want to do. I did what I’ve been knowing I’d have to do since last May, when the same thing happened in reverse with the air conditioner. I called Joslin’s. They sent out a heat/air conditioning guy, who announced that my upstairs heat pump wasn’t even running.

“Well, there’s air coming out of the vents — cold air unless I turn the thermostat up to 70 or 72, and then it’s warm air.” But he was right. The outside unit was still and silent.

“It has zero freon. That means there’s a big leak.”

“Can we fill it up with freon and buy some time?”

“It’ll leak right out into the air. Won’t last a day. I can give you a quote on a new unit.”

“I already got a quote last May. But I guess I need a new one,” I said through tight lips. “The unit has had a leak since we bought the house. We fill it up with freon every year.”

“Have you added freon this year?”

“Twice already.”

“It’s time then.”

I called my husband, who was negotiating Green Hills traffic after stopping in on a customer. “It’s time,” I said. I heard the air come out of him. He groaned, his voice crackled. “I’m in the middle of an intersection,” he said. “I’ll take care of it,” I said.

I looked at the man with muddy boots, standing in my kitchen beside me. “I can’t pay for the best one out there, the top of the line. I don’t want the bottom of the line. Get me a strong, high middle.”

The strong, high middle is four thousand.

I signed on the line for it. I’ll be warm for Christmas … and not only in my dreams.

More Than a Yellow Ribbon

I went to Franklin’s Veterans Day parade Monday. It was a cloudy day, and the trees lining Main Street were yellow. At the square, two fire trucks sent their ladders up to touch and hoisted a huge flag for the parade to file under. This is my second year to go. I go in my father’s place. Dad went to Cleveland’s celebration on the courthouse lawn every year after he retired. Dad and his friends…Walter, Machine Gun Gong, the senator…who are all gone now. I take his VFW cap with the Lifetime Member gold pin on it and hold it up for all the old veterans to see. Tears came when one of the high school bands played the army song. We selected that for the end of Dad’s funeral as the flag-draped casket was removed from the chapel.

It must have been different back during the second world war. From stories I’ve heard, it seems that all the boys went. If they didn’t volunteer, they got drafted. When I was growing up, all my friends’ daddies had served. Gerri’s dad was at Normandy, injured, and had to tread water for a day or two until he was rescued. He lost a few fingers. The superintendent of our schools also lost two fingers; we made the Hook ‘Em Horns sign in his honor, behind his back. One classmate wore her dad’s Navy bellbottoms when they came into style in the 1960s. The VFW hut in my hometown even built a swimming pool for veterans’ families during the 60s. There were a lot of veterans. I daresay everybody I knew was connected somehow to service in World War II.

Not so today. Our country is in an unending war. Right off, I can’t say that I know anybody in the military today. I know a WWII vet, a Korean vet, several Vietnam vets, but I don’t know anyone who has served or is currently serving in the Iraq or Afghanistan wars. Not sons, not nephews, not cousins, not neighbors, not friends’ sons. Well, Colleen’s nephew was actually on the march to Baghdad in 2003, and I did meet him after he got back to the States and a group of us had lunch at Puckett’s.

It’s almost like military service is a closed set, soldiers in a box set off from the mainstream–a comparatively small group doing the job. Like the set of accountants, or engineers, or teachers. I hear the phrase SUPPORT OUR TROOPS, and I see yellow ribbons tied around trees and slapped on the backs of cars. But I don’t buy it. If we were all supporting our troops, there’s no way in hell that 25% of the homeless in this country would be veterans. Shameful. Every troop we send to battle comes home affected. Trust me, it may be stuffed deep, but it’s there and it never goes away. I saw it in my father during his last year of life, sixty years after he was on the front lines. Deal with it. Deal with them. We must be prepared to support/pay for every troop every single day for the rest of their lives.