July 2010


Last weekend I went home to celebrate a major milestone in the lives of my parents–their 60th wedding anniversary! Can you imagine being with one person that long? My brother Jim,  HK and I had planned a private little celebration up at their lake house with good food and champagne.

“Home” to me was Harlan, Ky. , a tiny little town of just over 2000 people. It is nestled in a valley surrounded by the Appalachian mountains, and as a child I spent a lot of time discovering and experiencing all that nature had to offer.  We lived in a quiet neighborhood just on the outskirts of town, with easy access to creeks to splash in and cliffs to climb. When I was 10, Dad built a vacation cabin and a lake on top of Pine Mountain,  about a 30-minute drive from our house.  It was an idyllic setting in which to grow up, riding my pony, hiking all over the mountains and swimming in the cold, stream-fed lake.  One of my favorite places on Pine Mountain was an outcropping of granite that had long before been dubbed “Scenic View”, for it looked far out onto the hills of neighboring Virginia, and on a clear day, you could (I am told), also see North Carolina. I could sit on that rock, legs dangling, for what seemed like hours, taking in the tranquility of the beauty that surrounded me.

Scenic View from Pine Mountain-Before

As the years went by, I went away to school and college in different states,  but often brought friends and boyfriends back home to enjoy our little refuge on the mountain.  Eventually, my trips became fewer and farther apart, until now I find myself only going home once a year, at most. My closest childhood friends have long since moved away, and, quite honestly, after 2 or 3 days there, I find myself bored to tears. I do, however, always make the effort to get back up on the mountain to take a hike and swim.

So last week, HK and I took a hike back in my old stomping grounds. So many memories came rushing back to me. That’s where I got stung by a bunch of hornets. That’s where mom blasted a big old rattlesnake with a shotgun. This is where I used to take my pony swimming… it was a hike down memory lane, and I’m sure i was boring poor HK with all my tales.

As we proceeded down the old dirt road, we came to Scenic View, and hiked to the end of the overhanging boulders.  But we weren’t met with scenic views of neighboring states surrounded by the glory of the Appalachians.  No. What I saw broke my heart. The mountains, my mountains, had been literally raped by mountain top removal. Instead of meandering old-growth forest, we stared out onto naked plateaus where wildlife once took refuge. Now, instead of black bears and deer, there was gigantic machinery and massive scarring.  I’ve known about this dirty mountaintop removal for some time, now, but didn’t really realize how it would impact me personally. As we turned to descend off the rocks, I silently bid adieu to what I prefer to remember as pristine perfection.

As we left Harlan to drive back to my now-home in Atlanta, I was faced with miles of more evidence that what I once took for granted was now changed forever.  It seemed that every mountain was standing helplessly naked, robbed of it’s dignity for the greed of it’s citizens. And I thought to myself, you really can’t go home again. Not to the “home” you remember as a carefree child, the home, that in your eyes will forever remain unchanged and innocent. I won’t go back to that spot on the rocks anymore. It hurts my heart too much.  I’ll try to remember the beauty that I assumed I would never forget.

"Scenic" View-After

Busted! Damn!

So, you may know by now that I rescued a little doggy that I named Chance about 2 months ago.  He has been a delight, for the most part.  After he was cured of his skin infection and his hair grew back he finally looks like he is supposed to–a fluffy little furball.

In the past, I have always had large or medium sized dogs. 25-30 pounds was as small as I went. No real reason, that’s just usually what I ended up rescuing (all of my dogs have been rescues).  So I get this little 10-lb. pup, and he never ceases to crack me up with his antics.  If I leave the house, he jumps on the kitchen table to watch until I am out of sight.  Then he runs from room to room to check my whereabouts, and waits at the last place he saw me until I return, repeating the ritual in reverse.

As you see in the previos post about Chance, he loves to swim. he also has a drinking problem. Let me explain.  While he is swimming, Chance takes huge gulps of water consistently. Seriously, he consumes gallons. So last weekend, after a fun day at the lake, Chance began acting weird.  He threw up a ton of the lake, then started staggering around and fell down.  He couldn’t lift his head or control his bodily functions.  I rushed him to an emergency clinic to the tune of $500, where he was diagnosed with diabetes. (which I found out the next day was a false diagnosis–another $100.)  He is fine now, they just said it was water toxicity. No more gulping, we’ll have to figure out a way to control his drinking. (any ideas are welcome here.)

So, this morning I found him eating something outside. It was bright red, I actually thought he was eating a ball.  Turns out, it was one of the neighbor’s heirloom tomatoes.  Yep, Chance and a very crafty squirrel are in cahoots. The way I figure it is, the squirrel goes into the neighbor’s garden, picks the ripest, biggest, most prized tomato, and rips it off the vine.  He has his one or two bites, chucks it over on our side of the fence where Chance eagerly devours the remaining fruit.

A dog's version of flipping you off!

The neighbor, Barb, has been complaining that her tomatoes are disappearing, and we, naturally, blame the pesky rodent.  HA! Well, today, Chance got BUSTED—big Time.  Good thing IYum! I LOVE tomatos! had my camera close by!

Holey Moley!  What in the world have i gotten myself into this time????

Last year i hooked up with my old buddy from Sewanee Academy (a boarding high school), and we went back to our old stomping grounds and spend a very successful day (and night) of reuniting.

This spring, Martina and I got together again, this time with two other old Sewanee classmates, for a long weekend that left us all with a sense of reborn kinship and rejuvenation.  We have since stayed in touch, and 3 of us had an impromptu cocktail party when we discovered that we would all  be in Destin, Fla. for Memorial Day weekend.

I have also reconnected with several old peeps from my past, and have found that some of these relationships are just as, if not more, fulfilling than some more current ones.

Anyway, I got a call from Martina a couple of months ago. It went something like this…

“Potsie! I have a proposition for you!” (My nickname at Sewanee, and on into college was Potsie, but I won’t go into details here.)

“‘What’s up, Martina? Want to meet in Sewanee again?”

“No! I want you to come to Disney World with me and Sara Beth (her 15 year old daughter). She thinks you’re the coolest!!”

Well, how can I resist that offer? I mean, I never had kids, but for some strange reason that is beyond me, teenagers have always thought  I was the shit (that is meant in good ways).

A couple of my friend’s kids call me “Auntie Jules”, and confide secrets and problems to me. I’m a good listener, and they know that I’m gonna tell them my honest opinion, because I remember all too well hating the bullshit that adults fed me when I was a teenager.

So now, at this moment, I am packing my suitcase and heading to the airport bright and early in the morning. I’m staying 4 days in a house they’ve rented, then we’re driving the long haul back from Orlando to Atlanta. This is gonna be very interesting, to say the least.  Check back for the story!

All I can say is, Watch Out Mickey!


i-am-awesome.jpg (482×390)

I was over at my friend Bern’s blog today, and was intrigued by her account of seeing a guy in a t-shirt that read simply “I am awesome”.   The guy seemed like your average Joe, but a soul brave and proud enough to sport his feelings on his chest (or back–not sure about that).

Anyway, as I read her post I was in total agreement, that I love that shirt! How cool is it that a person can be self assured enough not to care what others thought about his wearing it–I think that some people with low self esteem may like to think that guy is an asshole, or conceited, or whatever…

That prompted me to think about how, not so many years ago, I would never have even remotely considered myself an awesome person, much less (more…)

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