Lessons in the park

Lessons in the park

I grew up in Huntsville, Alabama in the 1970’s. From the time of my earliest memory until I was about 10 years old, my parents took me to the horse ranch that was once inside the park on the top of Monte Sano Mountain.

We went trail riding mostly, where I would be perched in a family members lap, clasping with white knuckles around the large horn of the western saddle. When I was a little older, I loved trail riding, but at the age of about 4 years old, I was in my own world on the back of a Shetland pony named Peanut. Even though he was hooked up to large wheel, like a merry go round, Peanut was my key to escaping the real world, and he was safe. He listened to every song I sang, every word I said about everything going on in my life, and never once wanted me to be quiet. Even crazier, he never wanted to stop walking around and around in a circle until I wanted him to stop.

Maybe that was my first lesson in love. It’s true you know.  Guys will run circles and go nowhere fast if it keeps a woman happy.

I think the horse ranch was closed in 1980. My parents split up that year and Mom and me moved away from Huntsville. One year not too long after that, we came back “home” to visit the mountain park and found out that all the horses were gone. To this day the barn is still there. It’s across the street from the park store, probably used for storage. The old horse trails are mostly covered with overgrowth. Very few are still open and used by visiting hikers. I think what breaks my heart the most is that most of the people who make the drive up the mountain to take in the view, don’t really stop and get out and walk around. The majority will roll down their car window and catch a glimpse of the beauty and fresh air from one of the viewpoints where you can pull over.

That’s not the same.

Somewhere in that park, there are older trees bearing the scars of when my father used to climb them so high the tree bent under his weight, and he would hang on and let gravity ride him back down to the ground. There are buried remains of weekend gatherings with family, and I bet if you look hard enough under the brush, you will find hoof prints….

copper%20horseThere were copper colored ponies and air that smelled like grain,
the moon was out in daytime when I first learned your name.   

                                                                           ~  An anonymous little girl

Such a sweet, profound innocence… All day long, I’ve been thinking about what to say. This is a simple poem. It’s old…it was written by a young child…a child who is now an adult, living with her own choices.

She remembered every detail of the exact moment of something very important to her.   That’s what writer’s do, you know.  I don’t think we’re very good at remembering to take out the garbage, or to do the laundry, or put oil in the car every three months. But ask us to recall the textures, smells, sights that would otherwise go unseen and ignored… we’ve got you covered.

Forget the birthday presents at a party, what about the smile of the grandmother who everyone knew wouldn’t be there the year after?  The way she smelled, every breath she took as she watched you blow out your candles….how her silvery once-blond hair still held the bounce of curl that was magically undefiled by age.

Never mind the wedding pictures that hang on the wall in a mosaic display going up the steps to the bedroom.  Give me the sound of the keys, how they jingled when he got them out of his coat pocket, that first time he took her out on a date – how she knew he wanted to treat her right, because he had made sure the interior of his car was clean, and smelled like leather, even though his seats were covered in cloth.

Instead of the “bling” you choose to wear out on the town, we’ll notice the remarkable way that your square chin, and strikingly high cheekbones  gives your face a regal, timeless beauty.

A writer speaks with their heart, even if not everyone reads the words. That’s OK….because  sometimes, the message is between the lines.

The heart of a writer

Still A Mom

Still A Mom

When I first had ideas for this page, I wanted to see it turn into a place of support and strength, not ex-husband bashing.

Yeh, I know. It’s hard ladies. I still feel the sting. And when we pay child support,and have to see our money go to the person who, chances are, exist in the top 3 of the people in this world you most despise, it makes everything harder. It makes waking up and going to work feel like a true waste – like you are somehow hurting yourself. I know the sleepless nights, when you wake up from a dream of your child(ren) and its so real you can smell them, you can feel them, its so real you don’t want to wake up…but you do. And when you do, you go to work, and you lose 60% of your paycheck, and that makes paying the bills very hard.

We have to remember one thing, when the days seem so glim and hopeless.

We are still MOMS. The ex-husband can never take that away. The new step-mom, can never take that away.

The star that burns bright in the night sky, that you look at every night when you pray before you go to sleep, was first carved out …by you. She or he grew inside of you, for 9 months.

Don’t give up. You’re not alone out there…. and you can survive, no matter what you must overcome to see your child’s face again.

And they do want you in their life, no matter what their father makes you out to be.

Start Your Engines

Start Your Engines

I’m a girl. I’m not a car girl either, but when I was a teenager, somewhere between Duran Duran and Bon Jovi, I fell in love with the 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air. It’s was the rumble, I think, that got me. It didn’t matter if it was candle apple red or primer rusted, if it had no interior at all, or was in mint condition. I wanted that car.

It’s 2013 now, and you don’t see many of them on the road anymore – like anywhere. They’ve gone the way of the do-do. Why would something so classic that screams Americana, be pushed off the road map? Because something newer, younger, faster, fancier, with lower gas mileage and less carbon emission has come to take its place. I can almost hear the theme intro to “6 Million Dollar Man” for this . “We can build him… faster, stronger.”

Why do I bother even going to through this build up of a scenario? Because I found out this month that I’m a lot like that classic car….I rumble loudly. I use more fuel to get the job done. I’m not as fast as these newer models. I don’t shine like a polished apple.

I took a job at the end of January, at a factory. Making great pay, with great benefits, if I could get past the 90 day trial period. I forced myself into doing it, with all the determination I could muster, to be my fastest, my best, and work to meet the quota, just like all the other robots around me were doing. That first week I didn’t think I could survive til the weekend. My hands hurt. My thumbs were numb. I woke up in the morning with swollen fingers and couldn’t open the bottle of Tylenol or Aleve that I knew would get me through the day. I changed my mindset about myself. I decided to “put a new coat of paint” on the old car that was me. You know what I found out? A new coat of paint on an old car, still makes it an old car…

By the end of week two, I knew I wasn’t going to be able to work there. My coworkers were all half my age and pumped out 150%, and even though I was doing my required 100%, I was slowing the production because I couldn’t do it fast enough for my peers. And my hands? I don’t know if the pain and swelling will ever go away. God knows what damage I did in two weeks.

I really don’t know what’s next for my financial future. I would love to work in an office, but I have no experience in office work. I don’t think that having a degree in something will benefit you in your career – I’m living proof of that, being a degree bearing licensed teacher in two states. Thats why I named my blog “It’s Not What You Know”. Its who you know, that allows you a chance to succeed, to get a foot in the door, to grab hold of something profitable. I don’t know anyone in the common place working world who would give an old girl like me a chance to shine.

All I know is, this ’57 Bel Air isn’t ready for the junk yard…

The Screw: A Sweet Reminder

The Screw: A Sweet Reminder

Adam and me met when we were teenagers. It was back in 1986, when we were 16, and wild. Believe or not, Adam was also very shy back then. He has always broken the ice with a good joke, and I remember the first time he handed me a screw and said “Wanna screw?” We were 16 and standing in front of my Mom’s house in Virginia, and it was a sunny day, probably late spring or early summer, on a weekend and trying to make plans to get into some sort of mischief.

I think the best part about him handing me that screw and asking me that question was knowing I made him squirm a little bit. It was another year and a half before we dated! We loved each other from the very beginning of our friendship, but neither of us had the courage to come out and say it at the time. Adam said it out loud first, when we were 21.

Now 27 years later, I woke up this morning to see this by my pillow. That screw brought a smile to my face. I’m glad I can still drive my sweet man crazy, make him squirm, and that after everything, he still loves me.

Friendship Found in Music: Crossing the River

Saturday we came to Huntsville, Alabama to see family. It felt like another retreat after the flood, the being in limbo as the trailer gets repaired – it’s been a strange and long, drawn out two weeks, but we take everything day by day. Love gets us through – Love for each other, and from our family and friends.

Many good things have come from the flood. Just one, is that Izzy Miller got to meet Adam. As soon as he learned about what we had been through, he asked Adam if he had lost any instruments or recording equipment in the flood, or if he needed help getting anything replaced. Adam didn’t, by some miracle the water didn’t get high enough to wet the equipment – but just the idea that Izzy was willing to help him replace his instruments – holy crap. Anyway, they’d been hoping to meet each other and jam together for about a year, and the timing was freakishly right on Saturday, at Dads house – despite Huntsville getting hit with some equally freakish snow – southern style of course (about half an inch, and gone by noon).


Within just a few minutes of tuning up side by side, Adam and Izzy were strumming together like they’d known each other for years, and the music didn’t stop for hours. I’ll have you know, that rock star has a country heart of gold, and his bluegrass roots run deep. The food went fast and the energy was great. It was high time for a day like that.


Two “new” friends, kicking back and playing every song they loved, except their own.


One thing I never thought I would see until a short while ago – a rock star,  in my Dads kitchen.

It was such a wild hoot, and good food for the soul. About two weeks ago I blogged about how I was still in that river? Well, I’m out of it! I’m all healed up and ready to keep going. Being at dad’s house helped as much as the music did. Hearing my aunt Margaret cackle like a hen at the thought of having to go to church twice the next day to make up for the fun she was having right then made me realize how much I love my crazy little family!  We’re a bunch of mixed nuts, but if we know you well enough to invite you home for the cookin’  – we love you.  Next time, it should be warm enough to crank up the grill – and this southern girl can’t wait!