A Sudden Appreciation for Silence

A Sudden Appreciation for Silence

I started losing my hearing back in 1981, when I was 11 years old. This was probably due to multiple ear infections and viral illnesses in childhood. My ENT doctor in 1981, told me I would one day lose most of my hearing and require sign language to communicate – probably by adulthood. By age 14, it was bad enough that I needed a hearing aid. I magically “lost” it a year later and learned to ignore my partial deafness – read lips, pay very close attention to what people said, including their body language. I started reading books at the library about sign language (now called ASL, in a politically correct world) when I was in high school, and practiced on my own for fun since I had no real use for it. That exposure opened many doors for speaking new languages and just “being open” to communication.

It’s been 30 years since then, and after a lifetime of subtle quietness, the deafness has finally started to progress again. Of course, I knew I needed a hearing aid, but with my fixed income, I could never afford one through an audiologist. Even the cheap ones are hundreds of dollars. I researched “over-the-counter hearing enhancement” devices and found one for $30 at CVS. Ironically, it looks exactly like my old hearing aid that I magically lost in a fit of teenage embarrassment, except it doesn’t require batteries – I recharge it overnight just like I do my cell phone. It works perfectly, and I would recommend it to anyone who truly needs it. (It’s called an MSA-30X Sound Amplifier).

Now that I’ve worn it to work and my coworkers have seen me with my hair in a pony tail, sporting this thing wrapped behind my ear lobe, I’ve been confident enough to wear it everywhere – and let me tell you something that I didn’t notice before: People in general, are as loud as chickens in a coop. Clucking together like hens! Even when people are quiet, theres background music everywhere! Or noise from TV sets that are placed everywhere you go. Grocery stores have it, shopping malls, the hospital, the elevator?? And everyone feels like their opinion matters, and that they know more than you do about any given topic, so they have to show you what they know, even if the subject is something intangible and immeasurable. I’d give a dollar if people would just be quiet.

You sure can’t enjoy life if you’re busy pecking at somebody, showing off your pointless trivia, or nit picking, or worried about what someone did, or said about somebody else.

And todays quote-unquote “music”?? I never really tried to understand the words before, because it was muffled and garbled like everything else. Some of it is STILL undecipherable, and others, I wish I never found out the lyrics.

When I’m at work, I enjoy not having to guess what people say anymore. When I’m not at work, I enjoy being able to turn off the crap and retreat into a quiet universe. Take it from someone who never really heard you until recently: If you’re a chicken pecker – just talking to be heard? You sound like an idiot. Do us all a favor, and shut up.

Immeasurable Miracles


I took this photo 2 days ago. With it, I want to talk about healing.

God is the Great Physician. God heals miraculously, spiritually, physically, and emotionally.

Sometimes when we pray for healing, we think the prayer is answered only if the measured miracle happens – the illness disappears.  For a disease, we ask for a cure.  During and after a crisis, we ask for safety and security.  When we are watching a loved one deteriorate at the very end, we ask for a peaceful passing.

I remember 3 months ago, praying for Adam to survive his stroke.  There was a warm feeling that rushed over me when I pleaded with God for a miracle, and I knew Adam would live. I knew he would never be the same, but that there would be a greater good happening as a result.  I didn’t know the details. I didn’t know the when or the how, or the why. I’m thankful for that, too – because waking up every day, seeing his progression as his spirit and his physical body heals,  is such a gift.

As I’ve watched the physical and spiritual transformation happening to my life partner over the last 3 months….over the last month…over the last week….as I come to grips with his newness and appreciate his oldness, I see Healing before our eyes that is without form, immeasurable, and undeniably God.

The world around us says that healing takes place one way, but God will give it His way. In truth, the Healing that comes is for the Glory of our Creator, and it’s only in whatever form God says is right.

It’s not always visible and immediate, but it is given always.  

Reflections of Vietnam


Vietnam War Memorial, Washington,D.C.  Visual credits http://www.crazywebsite.com

When the rebellion attacked our battalion, the issue wasn’t communism. They were simply people, who wanted to be left alone.  Blood oozed from my friend, and he died as the rain fell. That’s what I remember.


That’s in response to this weekend ‘s 36 word Trifecta challenge. When I was 21 years old, I was able to visit the wall. It had been a lifelong need, to go see it. I don’t know why. I was born in 1970, and my father never fought in that war, so why would it affect me so deeply?  But it has.  The day I went to the wall,  and I touched it, I felt such loss. There were voices crying out “wronged” and souls searching for peace. When I gathered my self and was able to walk away, which took a while… I saw a vendor selling T-shirts, and the painting on it depicted exactly how I felt, so I got one. It was a copy of this same painting shown above. That was in 1991, and I still have it.

Her Final Gift


Grandma, circa 1945

On a humid Alabama day in July of 2010, my 87 year old grandmother had a severe stroke.  She had been suffering for the last few months with lung cancer, having never smoked a day in her life. I remember thinking that her lung cancer was unfair, especially since she was already a 40 year survivor of breast cancer. I also remember praying that her end would be merciful. Her father had “stroked out” in the same manner she did, only he lived 2 years afterwards, and his long wait for freedom was agonizing. As it turned out, God was gracious enough to take my grandmother in 17 days.

 She didn’t know it, but during that time, she gave the family by her side a priceless treasure.  There was a unique family reunion in what was by then, her death room. My aunt and I took shifts, watching over her as she transitioned with one foot in this world and the other already in the next.  She would occasionally come to, and want to see or speak to certain members of the family. She had important things to say to all of us. The most special moments to me were when she called on family members who were already with her on the other side.


Me and Grandpa right before his sudden death

 The majority of my deceased family had passed on some 30 years before, before I was a teenager. It had been a long time since I had been in their company.  Some had passed on when I was an adult, but I didn’t get to know them the way she did. None of them got to know my own children, so it made the reunions that much more special.

Most of these ascended conversations would take place for a few minutes right before sunrise. I remember the air would somehow change right as the sun would crest outside the window, and on more than one occasion her talks wouldn’t be finished, and she would call out to that person, as if suddenly they were gone. I would smile through silent tears and say, “It’s OK, Grandma. He’ll be back.” She spoke to her husband, her brother, friends, in-laws, a nephew…the one person she didn’t seem to get to speak to for some reason, that she asked for repeatedly, was her own mother.


My great-grandparents

My father told me that as soon she gave her last breath, the front screen door opened and shut. My aunt tells me she had a look of peace. She was surrounded by love, in her own home. I can’t think of a more peaceful way to go…

I like to think that when her spirit walked out the front door, that her mother, who she so longed to be with,  was walking her out and taking her to meet Jesus, who she loved her whole life.

Messages in The Clouds


I took this photo as Adam was driving down Highway 441 in Sevierville. The mountains on the horizon are the Smokey’s.  The sun was creeping down the sky, peeking out from behind a cloud that looked like an eagle with its wings outstretched, and so I grabbed my camera as fast as I could, to capture and keep it forever. I wrote the “message from God” on the photograph because that’s what I was feeling as I snapped that picture and gazed into the clouds.  It was an almost verbal  response that I felt in my heart, to an ominous feeling in my gut. We were about to get rain… a lot of it.

Just a few hours later, the rain started pouring down.  That was when the Little Pigeon River flooded and just about washed us away. It rose 4 feet in less than an hour.  I wrote about it in my other blog. It’s in the January archives of It’s Not What You Know, titled Roll, Back Water….  

It took me a month to emotionally recover from that ordeal.  Adam and I both had our share of nightmares of rain and being washed downstream, dreams of the cold water waist high, losing everything. In reality – by what I can only say was a true miracle – we lost nothing but our clothes and a few personal items.  Our very good friends and the Red Cross helped us dig our way out. The river was level with the lip of our front door, but didn’t come in the house.

I’ll never question why – because I know in my heart, that the whole situation was Being Taken Care Of, before the crisis, and after.

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….

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!

Healing through the camera lens

Since January 14th, I’ve been going through cycles of feeling stuck, and feeling happy to be alive.  Part of me is still in that river.  I don’t know what part that is quite yet…. Adam feels the same way.  I can see it in his eyes. He’s got that same drawn out look.  We’re waiting for whatever happens next, and at the same time, we’re not wasting a single moment – because we know how fast life and everything in it can be taken from you.

Through the last week, we’ve been witness to some amazing and spontaneous acts of grace.  A few people have gone out of their way to make sure we had what we needed not only to replace what was lost, but to make us feel safe and secure, and loved.  Our friends in another county, some sixty miles from us, welcomed us into their home and fed us, gave us clothes and shoes. The Red Cross dispatched someone to us from a hundred miles away, just to make sure we had enough food, gas, propane, clothing, and shelter.  Someone 250 miles away offered to help Adam replace any music or recording equipment we lost in the flood.  It’s been surreal.

Another thing I’ve realized as we have watched all of this unfold, is that for some reason, people who have close to nothing are more willing to give you (literally) the clothes off their backs than rich people are. Rich people tend to look at you with apprehension, not knowing what to say or how to act.  Just an FYI thing – for anyone out there who maybe in a position to help others who are in dire straights, the people who need help after a natural disaster, or something along those lines, won’t have the strength to even ask for it. When we were flooded out of our home and had only minutes to decide what to grab before we dove in the water, the future was the last thing on our minds.  Your numb after an event like that, and time stops for days. This was what amazed me the most. When we were unable to think or move, or know what to do next, that was when our truest friends, and the emergency services of the Red Cross, jumped in with us – and dragged us out, giving us hope and direction.

While we were retreating from the soaked earth, we stayed with our friends sixty miles away.  Their home, also known as Sunshine Stables, is a place filled wall to wall, and acre to acre, with love.  Even their animals love you, which is a simple reflection of the hearts of their “people”.  The beauty and the vibes of the place inspired me to start taking pictures.  Adam was up for it, so we started inside the house and made our way out to the barn.

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If there’s one lesson we can walk away from this with, it’s that you can be gone before you have time to blink.

So live it now, and love it.