Sunday, June 19, 2016

Poems about My Father on Father's Day

A young couple live in Florida during the Great Depression when jobs are scarce and a young man must do what he has to do to keep his family housed and fed. 

The Ice House Job

After working 9 hours in the hot Florida sun,
he came home to eat a meal with her and his kids.
She told him how she wished he could stay with her
and rest, let her rub his back. I get scared here without you.
But he said he had to pay the rent, put food on the table.
As the kids were tucked into bed, he climbed
into his old truck, headed to work.

It should have been a relief after the sun burned
his skin to dark brown leather, but he wore his ragged
jacket and a cap with flaps over his ears
as if he had walked into dead of winter in Wisconsin.

Alone in the quiet he wondered how long could he go on
working two jobs, getting little sleep.
His back, tired from plowing mules all day,
his hands cold and chapped, he chopped
the fifty pound blocks. With both hands he clamped
the tongs that griped the slippery squares, swung his shoulders
tossing his burden up on the platform, over and over
until the clock said midnight, quitting time.

He climbed into bed too tired to bathe.
Her hand reached through the night,
touched his face. He slept but she lay awake
thinking of going home to Georgia, seeing her folks,
hearing him laugh again, and tell his stories to the kids.

After forty years of farming, a man can't just sit down and quit. He rises early every day and works a large plot of ground that feeds his children and grandchildren all summer, if only they would come and harvest his crop.

Daddy with his granddaughter, Carrie, on his birthday. Note the baseball player and the baseball on the cake. He loved baseball and was a very good player when he was a young man.

Once he cultivated vast acres of cotton,
peanuts, harvested bounteous crops 

Grey haired, now he sits in his frayed lawn chair,
sweat staining his chambray shirt, pock-marked
with burn holes from his Pall Malls.

His stooped frame rests from a morning
spent spraying tomatoes, trying to murder
small bugs who battle him for his harvest.

His eyes survey a pristine garden.
Tall corn and green beans climb twine
strung on poles in rows equally distanced.

Piles of summer squash strewn on clean straw
hide under leaves large as sun hats.
He caresses the cropped ears of his canine friend.

The cigarette ash grows long. He hardly notices
the shortened smoke, the fire against his callouses.

            ---Glenda Council Beall

Saturday, June 18, 2016

I am in love with the Irish

Watching Celtic Thunder perform Legacy, an album of their most familiar and best songs on Georgia Public Broadcasting this afternoon, is better than being in a concert hall for me. On TV I can see each young man's face up close, and I can't do that even in the Fox Theater in Atlanta. I have been a big fan of this group since they first appeared on public television 8 years ago. Their personnel has changed some over time and we lost the wonderful George  Donaldson who died unexpectedly a while back.

Now without George and without the fantastic tenor, Paul Byrom, I wondered if I would enjoy them in the same way. But I love their Irish music and their great harmony. I also enjoy the fabulous band that accompanies them.

Their audiences range from young kids to elderly people. The performers are personable and I love the accents. I have become a huge fan of Celtic music, Irish and Scottish movies and TV shows. I am so appreciative of Public TV and Public Radio for giving us something clean and beautiful to watch and to listen to in our cars.

In 2014, I went with Gay and Stu, my sister and brother-in-law, to see Paul Byrom at Kennesaw College in Atlanta area. I told him that I really miss him since he left Celtic Thunder and he said, "You don't have to miss me. You can come to see me in concert and you can listen to my solo albums." And I do. His concert was in a small venue and he interacted nicely with his audience, but I still miss him when I see the group perform.

Irish Tenor, Paul Byrom and me in 2014

Sunday, June 12, 2016

A Picture Book

I grew up on a farm where we raised cattle and I learned to appreciate the gentle beasts. A field of cows grazing brings a smile to  my face. I could hear the soft munching sound as the grass was wrapped around by the long thick  tongue and broken  off . I could stand in that field with those cows and the grazing would be the only sound I'd hear. I think this yellow weed is a wild mustard. 

I photographed this field on Mother's  Day when I was driving out to Hinton Center for lunch with friends. The  sight of this golden expanse in the  bright sunshine had to be captured and shared. But a small picture  can't do it justice.  The Moore family owns this  property, I believe, in Clay County North Carolina.

Today was exceedingly hot in our part of the  world. It was not the best time to  be outside. I read some poetry at the Enchanted Gardens Tour held by the Clay County Historical and Arts Council. I was there only an hour but I read several poems and they were appreciated even by those who had to  stand in the sun to listen.
I was pleased when someone asked me to read a certain poem from my book, Now Might as Well be Then. It is titled In the Dark.  She said she loved that  poem and one of the women photographed the page. She really  liked the poem. I had not taken any of my  books with  me,  but I  believe I would have sold some if I had.

Because of the heat, I enjoy looking at pictures I've made of winter scenes. The one below is the view from my living room to the east.

My little Chi-weenie has presented me with another  challenge. This past week she escaped her potty yard and ran away. She is small and when she is in the woods, I can't see her. The only method I have found to get her to come out of hiding is  to start my car and call her. She likes to  ride in the car. 
I had to find out how she managed to get out of her fenced area so I checked every corner and found no sign of digging or opening in the  fence. I let her  out with me thinking I will watch her and see if she will show me where she is getting out. Immediately, she went up to the  fence and began to jump and if I  had not caught her she would have been gone again. She can jump the fence in one place, I  know, and I wonder if she has other places where she flies over.  She has a  long body and when she stands on her hind legs, she can almost reach the top of the fence. Who would ever think we would  need a five foot fence to keep an eight pound dog inside?

 Look at this face. He tiny teeth, about the size of rice kernels, peek out even with  her mouth closed. She  has a funny  little face.  I can tell her brain is going in this picture as she plans her  next move to get my attention.

This is Lexie, sweet and sleepy. I can't think about how much money I have spent on this "free" dog, or I would get mad at myself. But the joy she brings into my life makes it all worthwhile. 

I have a feeling that most  of my readers have pets. Do you have a special four legged friend that costs you more than you had planned?

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Hair, hair, long beautiful hair

From as early as I can remember, my hair has been an important part of me. Perhaps because Mother and June, my older sister, had very pretty hair and June spent most of her time on her hair as she got ready for work each morning. Like me she had long black hair, down to her shoulders. I don’t mean dark brown hair, but I mean dark black hair the color of a raven’s wing, that black that shines in the sun.

We get our black hair from our mother
My hair and Gay, my little sister’s hair, were that same black. I remember our neighbor calling us the little black-headed girls, as though we were somehow special. Maybe that was because all of his kids had dishwater blond hair or dark brown.

Mother let my hair grow long and she braided it into two pigtails that hung down past my skinny shoulders. Gay’s hair was naturally curly until she became ill with whooping cough around the age of three. Then the curl fell out of her fine hair. As a child she had a simple haircut, what I think of as the Pilgrim look, the same length all around and bangs cut straight across.  I am sure mother cut her hair the easiest way possible.

June had beautiful black hair

When I was in first grade at Mulberry Elementary School, Mother and June thought it a good idea to  take me to a beauty shop in the home of a lady near the school. I think it was June’s idea to take mother for a Permanent Wave. June worked and had some money to spend on such. I don’t know why they put me through this torture. Maybe it was because curly hair was desirable and mine was far from curly. The owner of the shop rolled my hair with a foul smelling liquid on it. Then she hooked each roller to a cord that ran to a machine on a stand. The rollers heated up I believe and cooked that awful smelling concoction into my long hair.

Mother used to say my hair was like a  horses’ tail, coarse and thick. When finally the rollers were taken out, my head looked like it had been wrapped in a mass of tight curls.  The beautician tried to run a brush through those curls, but it tangled, stuck and would not go through. She held my head and struggled with her brush, pulling my hair until I cried. Mother could not stand by and see me cry so she paid the lady and took me home.

June was there and she began to try doing something with the mass on my head. She thought a comb would work better than a brush, but the comb would not penetrate my new hairdo either. I hated my hair and felt ashamed of how I looked.

Each morning was sheer torture as June tried to make me presentable before I ran out to the school bus. As soon as I heard the bus horn, I escaped from June’s clutches, and tore out the door, my face wet from crying.

Looking back, I think I might have been the first white person with an Afro hairdo. My head looked twice as big as it was and it looked way too large for my tiny face.  June and Mother constantly discussed what should be done with my hair. Even I knew I could not continue going day after day without my hair being combed. One day Mother took me back to the beauty shop and told the owner that she needed to do something about my hair. In spite of my objections, she cut about three inches off, shampooed my hair and when it was dried, she brushed and combed it into a more reasonable style. Mother said I was too tender-headed to  have curly hair and in time the  Permanent Wave grew out and left me with straight hair again.

My brothers, who were in their late teens, spent hours in front of mirrors putting on hair tonic, Brill Cream and arranging their hair. They sang together in a gospel quartet and learned from the concerts they attended, that the men who performed on the gospel stages had taken considerable time with their hair styles.  

My brothers looked as comfortable on the stage as the Statesmen Quartet. Ray had blue eyes and short, black and rather thin hair but it was neatly in place. Max had black hair, carefully oiled and combed. Rex, the blond one in the family, wore his hair long in front and combed to the side. Hal, the lead singer of the quartet, took pride in his good looks and never a hair was out of place on his head. They were quite handsome and the women loved them.

We can hardly describe anyone without mentioning their hair. My tall, thin father wet his head and combed his thinning dark hair straight back from his forehead, wearing it the same as when he was a boy, I imagine. He seemed to not care a whit what his hair looked like nor did he want to do anything unusual with it.When he was outside he always wore a hat.

My hair was as black as my poodle, Brandy, when I was first married.

Over the years, I have loved my hair and I have loathed it. Permanents that went wrong, haircuts too short, and some terrible hair styles. In the seventies, wigs became fashionable again. My sisters-in-law, Yvonne and Salita, bought wigs far different from their natural hair color. I wondered why at the time. But they looked good as blonds, and they say blonds have more fun. I tried to wear one, but it was hot and never stayed in place. 

I once tried to change my hair color when I was in my thirties. However, the color I had  hoped for was not the color I saw in the mirror. I had not wanted red hair. I didn’t look bad, but it was not me. The pictures of me at that time look like photos of a stranger.

When, a few years ago, the gray in my hair began to outnumber the black, I turned to coloring my hair again. The dark brown low-lights covered much of the white. I had a salt and pepper look. Salt and pepper just gives a hint of age to a woman.

Ten years ago, June in the chair, Glenda on the left and Gay on the right. I was more salt and pepper then.
Today, my hair is white, but I have a few strands of blond thrown in to keep the color from being too flat. I don't  like looking old, and I hate that people automatically think you are senile or feeble when you have gray hair. People definitely do treat you differently when your hair changes from dark to light. I can vouch for  that.

I like my haircut and the compliments I get on my hair, but when I look at myself in the mirror, it startles me. Who is that woman? Where did my shiny black hair go? Inside, I am still that girl with the dark hair, only smarter and more confident, and, in many ways, much happier.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

NCWN West will be on the Historic Courthouse Square again in July

Each year our writers' organization, North Carolina Writers' Network - West, sets up a booth at the annual Festival on the Square in historic Hayesville, NC. 

Thousands of  people descend on our little mountain town for that weekend. This year it will be held July 9-10. This event is sponsored by the Clay County Historical and Arts Council. This is one busy organization throughout the year. Their devoted volunteers work tirelessly on the festival and on the Tour of Homes at Christmas plus working to bring art into the schools.

I  have  lived here for over twenty years and have attended this festival most of those years. My family from south Georgia used to come up and we would sit in the shade of the big trees on the square and listen to local musicians and singers entertain us. We ate the best bar-b-que cooked right on the site and ate ice cream, drank home-made lemonade, and visited with folks we might not  have seen in a long time. 

Visitors come from Florida, South Georgia as well as our local region. It is a wonderful opportunity to introduce this beautiful area to people who might want to retire here or open a business here. We would love to have small businesses locate around our historic courthouse square. 

Clay County has much to offer tourists who come for a vacation. We have the fabulous Lake Chatuge, a huge lake for boating and fishing. The John C. Campbell Folk School, just across the county line, has become world famous for their educational programs for crafts and music as well as classes for writers.

Not far away is the new Cherokee Casino, another Harrah's, here  in the mountains. In Hayesville, we have two community theaters and the plays are topnotch. The Peacock Playhouse is another landmark in the county. 

This year Joan Ellen Gage is our chairman for the NCWN-West festival booth. She will set up our tent with tables and chairs for our members to sit and talk with visitors about their books and about membership in NCWN West. 

We will hold a drawing two times each day, Saturday and Sunday, for books or discounts on classes.

FESTIVAL ON THE SQUARE 2016   Hayesville, NC 
Festival dates – Saturday, July 9 (10-5) 
Sunday, July 10 (10-4) 
Street Dance Friday – July 8

Families turn out for the street dance on Friday night. Elderly and children enjoy the mountain music played by a local band.

I hope to see you at the festival in July.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Twenty-one years ago this weekend

Twenty-one years ago this weekend, Barry and I moved from Albany, Georgia to the mountains of North Carolina. It was a beautiful weekend, just as it was today, not too hot and a slight breeze set the leaves on the hardwoods dancing.

We had been moving some things each time we came up, but this weekend we actually moved in. We sat on our deck that first evening overjoyed with our new place, our new beginnings, and our new way of life. Happiness spilled out around our smiles. Our voices sang with anticipation of good things to come.

Barry could continue to work with Hercules Bumpers from home thanks to having set up a network before he left so that he could use his computer just as if he were in his office in Pelham, Georgia. We had sold the family business but Barry and my brother, Hal, continued to work for the new owners. Barry’s new job included some travel and on those nights when he was gone, I sat on the deck alone looking up at the wide open sky with a million stars sprinkled in it. I wondered what this part of life would hold for me.

We had always wanted to live in the mountains near a lake. This little vacation cabin was to be a transition home until we sold our house in Georgia. It was nothing to look at, but it had location, location, location--at least that was what it had for us. A nice high deck in the tree tops with a view over Lake Chatuge that included Brasstown Bald, the highest mountain in Georgia.

Evening view from our upstairs deck

Moving from 3,000 square feet into living quarters of 1,000 feet meant most of our stuff, that which I had not given away or sold, was stored in the garage. I can hardly believe that some of those boxes are still unopened.

The small house had a full basement but it was nothing but one large open space with a toilet and sink. We decided to put our computer desks and computers downstairs. Only part of the basement is underground. The front is open and has sliding glass doors. We knew we could do something with that basement in time.

The basement before we bought the house

To reach the living level, we had to climb two flights of steps. That was twenty one years ago, remember. We told ourselves it was good for us to climb those stairs every day. After a few years we had a driveway put in that goes up to the back of the house to the living area.

The first winter in our mountain house we had rain almost every day. One evening when the rain had been falling for two days, I went downstairs to find about a foot of water in our basement. I was alone. Barry was in Virginia. By this time we had put down indoor/outdoor carpet. Several pieces of furniture including a couple of chairs were wet. I could do nothing until morning.

That began a period of time when I was so, so sorry we had bought this house. I told Barry I wanted to move and soon. I would not live in a house with a basement that leaked. I remembered when my brother’s basement leaked and turned moldy. They tried everything to stop the water and nothing worked. I remember how cute Yvonne had made the space with a bar and comfortable sofa and chairs only to have it turn into a nightmare.

We had two more incidents of flooding basement before we found a company that fixed our problem. They guaranteed their work for twenty years, so I am going to be on the lookout now for any leaks.

Since 2010, that once leaky basement has become WritersCircle around the Table, my studio where we hold writing classes, and I spend time working at my computer. It is also where my guests sleep in a private bedroom and have use of a private bath. I can hardly remember how it once looked but recently found pictures taken the day we first looked at this place.

1995, our first Christmas in our mountain house. 

My house this spring. The first level is the studio.
Barry and I and our dogs, Kodi and Rocky, had fifteen wonderful years together in this house. We experienced five snows our first year and each time we were like kids tramping around in the woods and the yard. We felt like we were on vacation all the time even though Barry had a job. We often loaded Kodi into the old Jeep Wrangler and drove the dirt roads up into the mountains, exploring and finding exquisite scenes for him to shoot.


I am grateful to my brother Hal and to Barry, who convinced me I could leave the family, my dream house we had saved for and eventually built, and the land I loved. Change is often difficult at first. I thought I’d never stop dreaming about the house I had designed and planned, for years, and had watched the building of it, day by day. 

I think Barry missed the farm as well, but he never said he did. He said he was happier here than he had been in Georgia and I was also.

This weekend, I am celebrating our moving to this place where I found peace, where I found myself, finally, and where Barry and I, really alone together for the first time, had the chance to talk and talk and talk, to get to know each other in a way we never had before. We made many happy memories.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Congratulations to our Will

Families can work so well when all the members share and care about each other.  In recent years, I have been fortunate to live close to my sister Gay, my sister June and her two daughters. June passed away a few years ago, but her children and Gay and I have stayed close. 

June's oldest daughter, Lee, has a terrific son who is  graduating from high school this month.We are very  proud of him, not only because he is in the honors program and will continue in the honors program in college, but because he is one of the youngsters who has  never disappointed his parents, has a  level head on his shoulders and has respect for  his  elders. He has an outgoing personality and has good leadership qualities. He is poised and carries on a  great conversation. 

I think his  mom and dad should write a how-to book on parenting. I wonder what goals most parents have for their children. I've heard people say, "Well at least my kid has never been in jail."

Is that the  goal of raising a son these days? My parents never had a child in jail either, but they wanted more than that for their kids. None of my siblings or I were ever in trouble with the law. 

I can't say that for later generations. It seems that drugs and easy access to them is the biggest threat to raising children today. When I was growing up, we didn't  hear of dangerous drugs and certainly had no way to get any. My parents did not drink or keep alcohol in the home until my brother-in-law brought beer into our house. That would  have been around 1955, I think.

But my brothers had not been brought up with alcohol available so even after they were grown and social drinking became prevalent everywhere, only one of the four really liked it. He was the one who liked to push the envelope in other things so it was not surprising. 

My great nephew Will, the high school graduate, has a wonderful future, I think. Whatever he decides to do, he is prepared and knows he has supportive parents. I am very proud of him and his precious mother who made motherhood her top priority. I know that as this part of  her  life is over and she finds her son moving on and away from home, she will be sad. But she won't need to worry. She and Will's father have taken raising him as the most important thing in their lives. 

Like my own mother, Lee loved being a mom and enjoyed her child immensely. Now that he is a young adult, they seem to have found how to keep their close relationship. And she will not be one to call him at college all the time, but he will know that she and his dad will always be there. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Looking for Old Stones in hot south Georgia

On my recent trip down to south Georgia where I was born and lived half my life, my brother Max and I, along with two second cousins, Latrelle and Rob, visited a couple of cemeteries. One was in Pelham, Georgia where my grandfather and grandmother Robison are buried. That is also where my grandfather and grandmother Council are buried, but we were only looking for Robisons on this trip.

We arrived at Pelham Cemetery around noon and it was hot as I expected it to be. What I didn’t expect was my reaction to the heat. After only a short time while Max and my cousins stood out in the hot son discussing family,  I tried to find a place in the shade where I could sit down. There was no place. Inside the car was even warmer. I found a short stone wall and sat down hoping the dizzy feeling I was having would disappear. For a few seconds I felt I might pass out and fall right there on a grave. I leaned over and put my head down as far as I could without tipping off the wall and breathed deeply. Would they ever stop talking? How could I get them to take me out of that heat?

I called out, “Can we go now? I need to find a bathroom.”

That was as good as calling  Fire when you need Help. Everyone turned and headed for the car. The AC saved my life, or at least saved me from keeling over. I just can’t take heat anymore.We found a Hardee’s and went inside. A cold drink helped immensely.

Soon we were back on the road searching for the tiny little town of Whigham, Georgia, the birthplace of my mother and most of her family. There we would search for Providence Cemetery near Providence Baptist Church. My grandparents attended the Tired Creek Methodist Church, I think, but my great grandfather, John Monroe Robison and his wife Idella Cooper Robison are buried in Providence Cemetery. I don’t think John Monroe was a Baptist, but he is there. Between Rob’s memory and my memory of visiting there over twenty years ago, we found the old cemetery, but what a different place.

When last I was there, the graveyard was overgrown and unkempt, as though it had been forgotten.  It was a long way from the church. But on this day we found the place looking peaceful and serene surrounded by farm land and forests. Only the sound of birds broke the silence as we approached the green field with the modest grave stones.  

No one was there but the three of us. I headed to the right side where the oldest stones laid weathered and gray. Rob agreed with me that this was the area where he had seen John Monroe’s grave when he visited with our cousin Peggy many years ago. But we could not find it. We found Ida Jones Robison, the first wife of my grandfather William. We found George Jones, the father of Ida, and some others of the Jones line.

I began to wonder if we were in the right place or if somehow the stone of the one we sought had been removed. I walked down past all the Merritts and the Waldens who were also distant relatives, descendants of our John Robison, their graves newer and shinier than the one I was looking for.

I was hot and ready to give up on my search when Latrelle called out. “Here is a Robison. Is this the one we want?”  

We gathered around the grave and read the words carved into the stone. It was our ancestor, John Monroe Robison, who served in the Confederate Army as a blacksmith. He survived the war and lived a long life.

Beside him lies his wife whose name was not spelled out. I.F. Robison is carved into the stone of Idella Frances Cooper Robison. Women were not as important as the men in the world where she worked hard and bore children, cooked and cleaned and met her husband’s needs.

John Monroe Robison in chair with his five sons and five daughters. Third from left is my grandfather, William Henry Robison

In a letter to the editor of a local newspaper, someone wrote about this large family and how important Mr. and Mrs. John Robison were to the community. The writer said he remembered the family sitting on the porch in the evenings and singing together. I am not surprised that my mother came from a musical family. She loved to sing and listen to music, especially the singing of her four sons.

Latrelle who lives in Franklin, Tennessee and Rob who lives in Arkansas, made pictures of each other at the grave sites. I’m sure they want to share them with their families who have never been to south Georgia.

It was a long day, but one I will not forget. I enjoy Rob so very much. He reminds me of my mother, open and friendly and interested in everything. My day with Latrelle, who is also a writer, could not have been more fun for me. I feel like we are old friends. Maybe there is something to this DNA thing. Perhaps our connection is strong because the same genes run through our blood. Perhaps it is because we all care about our ancestors and their life stories.

We agreed that we would get together next year at my house in North Carolina. I look forward to that time. 

Coffee with the Poets and Writers in Hayesville, NC May 18

Few people in the rest of North Carolina know that in our far west region we have a writers' colony. Each month writers gather in Murphy, Hayesville, or in Blairsville, Georgia, for literary events. The first of the month we meet for Poetry Critique group and last week we had twelve seasoned poets at the table.

Deanna Klingel and Madonna Wise at Coffee with the Poets and Writers

Mary Ricketson reading at WNO
The second Friday evening of each month, we gather in Blairsville at the Union County Community building at the beautiful golf course for our Writers' Night Out. We can eat together and sit back and enjoy a professional writer for about twenty minutes and then the floor is open for anyone to come up and read a poem or a very short prose piece. This is a social time and we get to visit with our friends.

Next week, on Wednesday morning, May 18, we meet at Moss Library in Hayesville for Coffee with the Poets and Writers. We began this program back in 2007 and I am delighted that it has continued all these years.  We have had poets as old as 90 and we have had children read for us. 

Coffee with the Poets and Writers 

This is a friendly and welcoming time to munch on a cookie and have a cup of coffee, sit back and enjoy listening to original poetry or stories.
If you are within driving distance, come and visit with us. You are invited to share your own work at our Open Mic.  

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Families are Forever

Once again we celebrated the Robison Family, my mother's family, with a reunion in Albany, Georgia. The descendants of William Henry Robison and Lula Jones Robison came together at Kamp Kirksey, a Methodist Retreat, for a great meal and great conversation. We reminisced about our loved ones who have gone on to Glory.

All of William and Lula's children have passed over, but four of us third generation cousins were there.  

I hope our younger generations enjoyed the gathering. I remember going to a Robison Reunion in Cairo, Georgia back in the early sixties. Mother insisted all her children go and, at this one, my brothers entertained. The four of them had formed The Council Brothers Quartet, and they performed around the area and on local radio.

Wish I had photos of that time. I don't, but I have a newspaper article about the event that mentions all the names of those who attended. I was in college and had no interest in extended family as I do now.

Last year we gathered on the farm down home for a gathering at the pool. My great niece, Carrie Hutchinson, who plans events including weddings for people, set us under a big tent with round tables and long white table cloths. Because it is hot outside in south Georgia in May, she had large fans blowing constantly and that made it comfortable. 

This year we met at Kamp Kirksey inside a large air conditioned dining hall. My second cousin from Arkansas, Rob Robison, came the  longest distance. My cousin, Virginia Ingebrigtsen, was the oldest attending, and the cutest and youngest was Elliot Hutchinson, my brother's great-grandson. 

I was delighted my second cousin, Latrelle, who writes romance novels under the pen name, Darcy Flynn, came down from Nashville. I spent as much time as possible talking with her. I feel as if I have known her forever, but actually, we didn't remember each other from when we met when she was a little girl. 

My goal is to write a family history similar to my Thomas Council and his descendants book, but this time I want it to be about William Henry Robison and his descendants. I hope my nieces, nephews and all the young Robison descendants will join in to help me like the Council cousins did when I started the first book. 

And in this book, the youngest of those who live now will be counted.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

If you say you are going to call, then call!

I heard a noise on my roof, and then saw leaves and twigs floating down. I hurried to the door and saw a ladder against my house. I knew who it was—a company I called last week to clean out my gutters and replace the old covers. They estimated a hefty price, but the gutters have been neglected since I became the sole decision maker around here. I agreed to the work on my house and the stand-alone garage. But my last words to the owner were: You will call me before you come, won’t you?

I distinctly remember him saying, “Of course. We’ll call you before we come over.”

So why were three men working on my roof before I even knew they were on my property? Three leaf blowers whirred like monster bees. It was 4:30 in the afternoon and I was on my way out for a 5:00 appointment. 

I had no time to prepare for this invasion. Had I known they were coming at this time, I’d have my little dog secured inside and I would have covered myself, especially my face before going outside. Dust flew like a tornado had wrapped my house in fury.

As I tried to go out to talk with the men, my dog slipped past me, and I didn’t even know it. I imagine she was curious to see what all this ruckus was about. I stood outside as far from the blowing dirt and dust as possible and screamed up to the men. No one heard me or maybe they were simply ignoring me.

I hurried back inside to put little Lexie in a safe place until I returned home around 8 p.m. That was when I found she was gone. I searched the house twice. I went outside and yelled above the leaf blower that now was blowing away the debris that had come off my roof.

“Did you see my dog?”


“My dog must have gotten out and I can’t find her. If you had called me like you said you were going to do, I’d have been ready for all this.”

Obviously he could not have cared less about my lost puppy. “What’s her name?” 

When I told him, he hollered a few times, Lexie, Lexie, and then went back to blowing the deck, the ramp, the steps and I went to my car.

I drove around our circle looking for my tiny little companion that I loved so much. No sign of her. She loves to ride with me and I knew if she saw the car, she would come running. Maybe she didn’t stay on the circle. Maybe she headed up the mountain through the woods. Would she come back? Would she know to come back?

It was after five now. I called to explain my no-show. I came home, wondering if I had locked her in a room without knowing it. She is so small and quick, I have done that before. When I miss her, I retrace my steps and open a door. There she is so happy to see me, wiggling her little body and white-tipped tail in total joy.

But, once again, I found the house was empty. Would I find her before dark? I went back to my car and started out again. This time I planned to stop at each house and ask if she had been there or had been seen. Just as I reached the bottom of my driveway I saw her, trotting happily down the street heading home. I don’t know where she had been, but I opened the car door and she popped right in. I hugged her and she gave me kisses on my nose.

I did not go back to my house. I was due at a writers’ meeting at six o’clock and it was five-thirty. I made the decision. Lexie would go with me. I’d feel far safer with her in my car than at my house with the crew working on my roof. Besides, I didn’t know what I might say to the business owner if I had to face him in the state I was in. I wanted to scream at him, and I wanted to tell him I would never hire him again.

I try to be as courteous as possible whether in a business situation or in personal contacts with people I know. If I tell you I will call before coming over, you will not be surprised to see me knocking on your door. Many of us have our pet peeves about repairmen showing up unexpected or not showing when expected. If I have to have the cable guy come out, I prepare to be home all that day, no matter what time I was given by a friendly voice two thousand miles away.

You might say that coming to my house without calling is my biggest pet peeve. I sometimes stay in my pajamas all day if I am writing or not planning to go out. I might not answer my door if someone shows up without calling first.  I like to know who is on my property and who is standing at my door before I open it.

Needless to say, the local gutter repairman will not be coming back to my house. When I came home tonight, I found his bill with the huge amount for his time tucked into my front door. I am tempted to deduct about a hundred dollars for the stress and discomfort he caused. My time is as important as his, even though I don’t make big bucks in my job.

What do you think, Readers? Do I have the right to charge him for what he put me through?

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

An Angel Named Amos

Some years ago, I wrote a personal essay about Barry and a horse named Amos. I sent this essay to a company that published anthologies on various subjects. I hoped my story would make it into a book, The Cup of Comfort for Horse Lovers edited by Colleen Sell.

When I received the acceptance letter, I was overjoyed. I knew this book would be widely read as were all the The Cup of Comfort books. It was published in 2008. Little did I know that my husband would die in 2009.

My story was about Barry and how he became deeply depressed after he had heart surgery. That was not unusual, I learned, but I could not find a way to bring back the man I knew and loved. While he was recuperating, trapped at home with nothing to do all day, I saw the sadness that slowly sapped his enjoyment of life.  

We had both had horses at one time and loved riding until Barry found he loved golf more. But he could not play golf while healing. I did not want him to do anything but take it easy and get well. Barry, however, had a different idea in mind. 

My story in Cup of Comfort for Horse Lovers is inspiring and touching. In the book, the title was changed to An Angel Named Amos, and rightfully so. Barry was pleased to be the subject of a published story. 

The book is out of print now, but used copies of it are practically free on Amazon. It can be purchased for your Kindle. I think you can get a used paperback for just the cost of shipping. 

Click on the link above and get yourself a copy. All the stories in the book are uplifting and interesting, whether or not you love horses. I'd love for you to read how Amos changed our lives.

I'd appreciate your thoughts on my story and on the book.