Thursday, December 3, 2009

Baby’s First Christmas – Again

(Desiree Carter Semones; born October 28, 2009)

The Christmas season is upon us again – where did the time go? It seems like the older I get, the faster time flies by. I no longer have any little children in the household, so our Christmas routine is somewhat different than it was years ago. I can remember the kids being so excited to get up early Christmas morning and open their presents. Christmas really is for children.

Although I can’t remember back to my first Christmas, after all I was only four months old, there is one picture of me I vividly remember from the Christmas of 1962. I am lying on my Granny Devine’s couch and there is a huge stocking next to me, the old-fashion type of man’s stocking. My Granddaddy had filled it with lots of baby food, or that’s what everyone has told me. I have no memories at all of my Granddaddy; he died when I was still a baby. What knowledge I have of him is from the stories my Mom has told me and the few precious photographs that still exist.

I can remember so many details of my first daughter’s Christmas in 1982 – Amber was only three months old. Of course, she was too young to know what was going on, but I enjoyed making memories and taking photos. She got lots of clothes and toys that have long been forgotten, but there is one precious gift that holds special memories. My parents gave her a solid white stuffed kitten – it was almost a duplicate of one I had as a child. I can remember Amber carrying this kitten when she got older, and I eventually had to store it away in a closet, least it fall apart and be gone forever. Since then, my other two girls have been given white kittens and this will be a tradition I will carry on with my grandchildren. My girl’s cats are all lovingly packed away with my own kitten and they will eventually end up in a shadow box or some type of display, but until then, I’ll keep them safe and sound.

When Marie’s first Christmas arrived in 1984, she was already walking and talking. At nine months old, she was a little pistol, trying to do everything her older sister was doing. This was an exciting Christmas for our family because Amber had just turned two and she was starting to understand what Christmas was all about.

This year, there were toys galore under the tree – rocking horses, Strawberry Shortcake, Gizmo and more. Although the He-Man castle was technically Amber’s, we had a hard time keeping Marie out of all the paraphernalia that went along with He-Man and Skeletore. This was also our first Christmas in our brand-new house – it seems like such a lifetime ago.

Christmas 1988 brought us the first Christmas of my niece, Ashley, the only child of my sister, Amy. Being a baby of three months, I’m sure Ashley doesn’t remember much, but she was the newest addition to the family and we were all happy to have another baby to love on. We’ve stored away memories and photographs, which are fun to look back on and remember.

When Christine’s first Christmas rolled around in 1992, our lives had changed so much for the better. We were a happy family blended together and the holidays were a joyous time. Christine was only three months old, but Amber and Marie were 10 and 8, so Christmas fever began before Thanksgiving was even over with. Again, Christine was too young to remember this first Christmas, but like the other girls here are tons and tons of photos, plus descriptions in her baby book.

Christmas 1993 brought us the first Christmas of a baby boy, my nephew, Ethan, son of my brother and sister-in-law, Brent and Patty. Like Marie, Ethan was nine months old, so he was almost walking and talking and enjoyed the excitement from his first Christmas. Now there were five grandchildren to fill my parents home and we all loved being together.

As the years have passed, we continue to gather at my parent’s home on Christmas Eve. A hearty meal my Mom slaves over all day gives us turkey and ham, mashed potatoes and dressing, corn and macaroni, broccoli casserole and oysters – we eat until we are so stuffed we’re miserable. When the kids were all younger, we had to rush through the meal because they were so anxious to open gifts. Now that the kids are older, the meal is more relaxed and less hurried. We have time to clear away the meal and spend time together before the rush of wrapping paper and ribbons start to litter the floor.

Although I continue to love spending the holidays with my family, it has just not been the same without little children in the house. I long for the days when my own grandchildren will gather around on Christmas Eve to celebrate the season. There is just something magical about a child at Christmas – a wonderment you can only see through their eyes.

Christmas 2009 will again have a new baby in the family, Desiree Carter, daughter of my niece Ashley. Although she is less than two months old, it is such a joy to have a baby at Christmas again. There will be lots of presents she won’t remember, lots of memories that we will remember, and plenty of photographs to show her when she’s grown. I know this is the beginning of a new phase in the life of my family, a new generation of babies to love and enjoy and I look forward to entertaining them all, not just at the holidays, but all through the year.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Giving Thanks

Although I’ve never really taken Thanksgiving for granted, I have sometimes glossed over the true meaning of the holiday in favor of yummy turkey and mouth-watering dressing. I enjoy being with family and friends and remembering all that we have to be thankful for, but am I really giving proper credit to the things I am thankful for?

This year has brought us two new members to our family and an expanding family is one to be grateful for. First is our new son-in-law, Jason Wilham, and although he an Amber have only been married a few months, he is the perfect fit for our family. Our second addition is a brand-new great niece, Desiree Carter, precious daughter of my niece, Ashley. Desiree is the first new baby in our family in over 16 years and we are thankful to be celebrating her first Thanksgiving. A new son and a new baby – my family is truly blessed

During this past summer, my family lived through a traumatic time in our lives - a fire at our home. This was not a total loss fire, but it did enough damage to disrupt our lives for several months. In addition to redoing the laundry room – where the fire occurred – we also had smoke and water damage to clean in the kitchen and living room. You don’t realize how much of a packrat you are until your pack-ratty ways are staring you right in the face.

Really? There are just so many file folders of corrected stories I can keep – why do I feel the need to hold on to every corrected copy? Really? There are just so many foam cups from Speedway my hubby can bring into the house – why do I feel the need to save every one? Really? There are just so many glass jars one family can own and use – why do I feel the need save them all instead of placing in the recycle bin?

Our clutter problem probably wouldn’t be so bad if it were just me, but my hubby is a packrat, too, and between us, we have a hard time letting anything go. Both of us can see objects in a new light, with a new purpose and we know that one day, we will need this item. The problem is, we never have enough time or energy to do anything with the item. I’ve saved old furniture thinking I can refurbish is, I’ve saved old pots and pans thinking I can use them as flower pots or seed starters and I’ve saved plastic bottles thinking to make mini-greenhouses for spring plants. I really do have good intentions, but for some reason, life just gets in the way.

For many years we used to eat Pizza Hut pizza every Friday night – it was a family tradition to have pizza and a movie on Fridays. I always saved the boxes because they could be used to make stepping-stones. At one time, I had a stack of boxes in my kitchen I called the “leaning tower of pizza.” I did make some stepping-stones with a few of the boxes, but the process took so long and the stones were so heavy, I couldn’t move them by myself. I did use some of the boxes as a weed barrier in a new garden bed and they worked beautifully when covered with mulch, but I could never use all the boxes I had saved.

After the fire, I was surprised to find a small stack of pizza boxes in the kitchen that had escaped the fire. It has been almost two years since we’ve routinely had Pizza Hut pizza on Friday night – two years! With the economy so bad, I’ve started making homemade pizza because it is cheaper and we can control the toppings. Why was I still holding on to old pizza boxes? I don’t know, but I took a deep breath and threw them in the trash.

Although I realize possessions can be replaced, we did lose a few things of sentimental value that will be greatly missed, our cedar wardrobe being the largest. The wardrobe actually belonged to my mother-in-law, but we’ve been using it since we were married over 20 years ago. I loved that wardrobe and I had always planned to have it turned into an entertainment center for our living room so we could see the beautiful wood. Inside the wardrobe were my wedding dress and the first quilt I ever made. I’ve saved them both, but they will never be able to be used again. Part of my packrat mind won’t let me throw them away because I may be able to turn them into a pillow or something, but who knows?

Other things, like the washer and dryer, deep freezer and clothes organizer – these will all be replaced. No sentimental attachment to these things. Old winter clothes waiting to be put back into use; we can always buy new clothes. Some Halloween decorations were also in the laundry room waiting to decorate for fall, but maybe I had too many decorations; maybe the universe is trying to tell me simple is really best.

This year at Thanksgiving, I’m thankful the rest of our house was spared. I’m thankful my husband, my daughter or myself were not at home. We grieve for the loss of our three beautiful cats, but we have lost pets before and I’m sure we’ll lose pets again. I am thankful for the love and support of our family and friends and I am grateful for all their thoughts and prayers. This year, Thanksgiving is blossoming in a new light. This year, it really is a season to give thanks.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Hallowed and Hushed

Unknown. Hallowed and Hushed be the place of the dead. Step Softly. Bow Head.

Living in Harrodsburg my entire life, I have a sentimental attachment to Youngs Park, located on Linden Avenue, between the Mercer County Fairgrounds and Haggin Memorial Hospital. I have so many memories of playing in the park, eating picnic lunches and attending family functions. My Granny Devine lived within walking distance of the park and I’ve walked the short block from her home so many times, I could walk it blindfolded.

Youngs Park has always been one of my favorite places to escape to when looking for a nice, quiet lunch. Many times I have driven behind the park to the lower picnic tables and enjoyed a sandwich while watching the antics of the squirrels. The squirrels have become so used to human contact, they will sit within easy reach of picnic tables or cars, eagerly waiting for a scrap of bread or a French fry to be thrown their way.

Many of my fondest memories of Youngs Park occurred during my Girl Scout years and our annual summer Day Camp. One week of each summer was dedicated to numerous scouting projects with a different theme for each day. I can remember tie-dying T-shirts, painting pictures, cooking over a campfire, learning how to mark trails, just to name a few activities. During the summer of 1971, our favorite song to sing – and we sang it at the tops of our voices – was Three Dog Night’s “Jeremiah Was a Bullfrog.” We thought we were so cool.

The highlight of the Day Camp would be the sleepover on Friday night. For the sleepover, the Boy Scouts would come and help us set up tents in the back portion of the park. Camping out was exciting and we looked forward to it every year. Campfires, homemade stews, and s’mores were all on the list of activities.

Another eager awaited tradition for the sleepover was the telling of ghost stories. Because most of the Girl Scouts ranged in age from 8 to 14, we were all susceptible to having the beegeezus scared out of us! And Youngs Park was the perfect backdrop for these scary stories because of the legend of the “girl who danced herself to death.”

I’ve heard the story all my life – an unknown young girl arrived at the long-gone Graham Springs Hotel and attended a lavish ball where she danced all night. She eventually danced herself to death, collapsing onto the ballroom floor at the feet of her partner. She was buried in an unknown grave on the Graham Springs property. It is only as I’ve gotten older that I’ve had the desire to check more into this legend.

Historic Graham Springs was located in the area of the current Physician’s Park and Haggin Hospital and was on the site of a natural spring. There were numerous springs in the Harrodsburg area and they were reported to have healing and restorative properties.

This Spring, that would eventually be called Graham Springs, was turned into a spa as early as 1807. In 1827, Dr. Christopher C. Graham purchased the Springs and in 1842 constructed the main hotel, Graham Springs Hotel. The hotel was a brick four-story building which Graham said would hold one thousand people.

Graham charged a fee of $20 per month to stay at the Springs and “take the waters.” Not only did guests enjoy and benefit from healing waters, they also joined in a lively social season which lasted from June until September. Balls and other entertainment occupied the guests while they drank the mineral waters. Graham claimed the waters helped to alleviate the aches and pains of people who suffered from such aliments as gout, rheumatism, dropsy, neuralgia, and “Autumnal fevers.”
Often called the “Saratoga of the West,” Graham Springs flourished until 1853, when it was sold to the United States Government for use as a military asylum for aged and invalid soldiers. Fire later destroyed main buildings and the place fell into disuse.

Sometime between 1842 and 1853, legend says a beautiful young lady appeared at the Springs. No one knew who she was, but it is rumored she came from “down South.” When arriving at the Springs, she signed the guest register with a fictitious name. After her dancing death, she became known as the “unknown lady,” although most people from Mercer County still refer to her as “the lady who danced herself to death.”

After her death and burial at the Springs, a monument honoring her was erected. Currently, the tomb is located between the road and the shelter house, with a sign bearing the words:
Hallowed and
Hushed be the
place of the dead.
Step Softly.
Bow Head.

As I child, I thought I saw the ghost of this mysterious lady on numerous occasions, but as I’ve grown older, I realize it was probably mass hysteria brought on by ghost stories around the campfire. Although, there was one night in 2004, as I was leaving work at the Haggin Hospital at three o’clock in the morning, I would swear I saw a woman dancing through the park. She appeared to be dressed in white and was walking near one of the large oak trees in the middle of the park. Thinking back, it was probably exhaustion or my mind playing tricks on me. But then again …

Added note: As recently as 2002, an article appeared in the Mercer’s Magazine claiming to have finally learned the identity of this unknown woman. This article can be read in its entirety at:

Acknowledgement: I would like to thank my brother-in-law, Don Rightmyer, from the Kentucky Historical Society for helping me find information on Graham Springs.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Buildings of Days Gone By

In recent months, I have been so proud of all the improvements going on in downtown Harrodsburg. Historic buildings are being refurbished and repainted and new businesses continue to thrive despite the struggling economy. Even older businesses are beginning to join in the remaking process.

Three of my favorite businesses on Main Street are Studio G, Beehive Gifts and Kentucky Fudge Company. The first two are longtime businesses and continue to attract new customers every day. The Fudge Company may be a new face in downtown, but it is fast becoming a favorite spot in Harrodsburg.

Studio G – owned and operated by Goldie Goldsmith-Vigneri – offers instructions and seminars for men and women fours years old and up. Pageant training, vocal and acting lessons, and confidence building are just a tiny portion of what is offered at Studio G. In addition to lessons, Studio G can also be rented for private birthday parties, meetings, dinners, weddings and casino nights.

Beehive Gifts – owned and operated by Jim and Shirley Sprague – is a wonderful gift shop and great place to find all types of collectibles. Boyds Bears, Willow Tree Angels, Precious Moments, Tim Wolfe Sculptures, and Cherished Teddies are all available for purchase. Beehive Gifts also offers several different lines of candles, including Yankee, Bridgewater, Candleberry, and Woodwick. If you are having trouble finding the perfect gift, Beehive Gifts will offer the ideal suggestions.

Kentucky Fudge Company – owned and operated by Tim and Jennifer Kazimer - is located in the historic Dedman’s Drugstore. In addition to the yummy homemade fudge, Kentucky Fudge Company also offers an assortment of ice cream treats from cones to milkshakes to sundaes. The cafĂ© offers a different soup of the day, as well as the Harrodsburger, chicken salad, olive nut loaf and several other sandwich options. Many groups have discovered the joys of meeting at the Fudge Company, including the Community of Mercer County Writers who meets every Tuesday evening at six o’clock.

As I reminisce about my favorite Harrodsburg locations, I am faced with the sobering reality that many historical places disappearing from our landscape, most notably the Mercer County Court House. I understand the need for more space in the Mercer judicial system, but watching the demolition of the court house has been very sad. I drive through downtown Harrodsburg every weekday on my way to work, so I have watched the demolition of this building with a heavy heart.

This also reminds me of the destruction of the Hat Factory several years ago. Until its demolition in 2003, the old St. Andrews convent – known as the Hat Factory – was the oldest residence in Harrodsburg. Although the ROC building owned by the Harrodsburg Baptist Church has been a huge success, I can’t help but wonder what our ancestors would think about our practice of tearing down a historic building to put up a gymnasium.

Most rural grocery stores have totally disappeared, only to be replaced by convenience stores with gas pumps. Two of my favorite stores, Purvis’ and Peavler’s, both ceased to operate while I was still a little girl. The building for Purvis’ Grocery was totally removed, replaced by the Mooreland Avenue entrance into Mr. Kwik. Peavler’s Grocery was located on Magnolia Street, and although the building is still standing, it is a sad reminder of our past. Other small stores I miss were located in Bohon, Duncan, and Antioch.

Driving through the country, I also notice many barns and outbuildings slowing falling into decay from lack of use. Tobacco barns and cattle barns with roofs falling in or lumber falling off, they are pictorial reminders of a life gone by. Occasionally you can still see old outhouses, smokehouse, springhouses and root cellars, but these are also disappearing with each day that goes by. Along with the shrinking of family farms go the buildings that made small farming possible. I recently heard someone call old barns, “the graying bones of our past;” poetic, but true.

Even the gas station where my father used to work is long gone. Once located at the intersection of Mackville and Perryville Roads, I have so many fond memories of visiting the gas station and being treated to a cold Coke from the old fashion machine. The old Mercer Roller Rink building is still standing, albeit vacant expect for one week during the year when the Grand Old Mercer County Fair and Horse Show comes to town. During this week, the old roller rink is turned into the pride of Mercer County with the many exhibitors of the Floral Hall.

The Harrodsburg City Pool is now nothing but memories – I actually cried when the pool and building was torn down. I spent so much of my childhood swimming in the pool and sunbathing on the decks overlooking the Salt River. Now the pool is only a memory and my children will never know the joys it could bring.

On some of my photography sessions throughout the Mercer countryside, I have discovered many old barns and buildings, and they are forever captured through pictures. One of my favorites is a small barn located at the intersection of Fallis Run and Bardstown Road near the Antioch Church. I think the reason I like this building is because of the large Coca-Cola sign hanging on the side of the barn. I have always admired these old tin signs hanging on buildings and they fetch a hefty price at flea markets and yard sales. Unfortunately, the last time I went to visit this old barn, someone had removed the Coca-Cola sign. I’d like to think the owners removed it to keep as a piece of nostalgia, but with the building being right next to the road, I have my doubts.

Take a drive in the country and admire the old barns and buildings before they are all gone. Think about the old courthouse as you watch the new construction on Main Street and visit the thriving businesses downtown. Our historic landscape is changing, so store up as many memories as possible to share with your children and grandchildren, because you never know when it will be gone.

Thursday, August 6, 2009


Have you ever wondered if the childhood memories you have are actual memories, or just other people’s interpretation of your memories? I sometimes wonder if my first memories are implanted memories from old photographs or stories told by my parents or grandparents. I have specific memories of the first home I remember living in and I know I lived in this home from the time I was two until just before my sixth birthday, but how much of what I remember is true memory?

As the oldest of three children - my brother, Brent, is 21 months younger than me, and my baby sister, Amy, was 19 months younger than my brother - we were like stair steps, three blond heads in a row. I’ve seen many childhood pictures of my siblings and me and we were usually always lined up by size, but I have no recollection of having these pictures made. No memories of the tears I’m sure we shed during photography sessions, after all, my kids shed lots of tears on occasion when having their pictures taken.

I think I can remember my brother as a baby, lying beside him on my parent’s double bed. But is it really a memory? It may just be the picture I have hanging in my hallway, the one of the two of us laying on the bed. Granny Devine used to tell me I was like a little mother hen, but I think this is my recollection of her memory, not my own memory. I do have a vivid memory of pushing Brent in a toy car in the backyard and try as I might, I can’t find a picture like this, so I feel this is a true memory.

I have another vivid memory of my brother, and he was walking, so I must have been at least three, if not a little older. We were playing in the backyard with our Farmer See ‘n Say and I was trying to teach him the sounds of all the animals. When a thunderstorm blew up, Mom rushed us inside before it started raining, but in our hurry to get inside, we left the See ‘n Say in the yard. Mom tried her best to get me to run across the yard to get the toy before the rain ruined it, but I was too afraid of the rain. She ended up racing into the yard while my brother and I both cried at the back door. I don’t remember anything else about the See ‘n Say, but this is one toy I bought when I had children of my own.

I also remember the Inchworm riding toy we used to own. These toys were very popular in the 1960s, and they are still popular today. You can find them in most stores selling toys, or on the Internet. Brent and I, and later Amy, used to take turns riding the Inchworm – up and down, up and down, from one end of the sidewalk to another. This is another toy I bought for my own children and they loved it as much as I did.

One of my fondest memories is of swinging on our swing set and singing at the top of my lungs for my next door neighbor to come out and play with me. Diane was probably five or six years older than me, but I followed her around like a little puppy dog. I would get on the swing glider and sing; “Diane, Diane, come out and play with me.” I can vividly remember this and my Mom also remembers this. A few years ago I met Diane again for the first time in probably 35 years, and she remembered me singing for her to come out and play. I know this is not an implanted memory, because I can actually remember the tune of the made-up song I sang.

One other memory I have is of a baby chicken my brother and I owned. I’m not sure if it was an Easter present or not, but I think it must have been. The chicken eventually got too big to keep in the house, and we were going to have to take it to Granny and Granddaddy’s farm in Bohon. I cried so hard because I didn’t want the chick to leave. On the day we were to take the chick to the farm, I was in charge of carrying the chicken which we had placed in a closed box. On the way to the car, my parents were too busy talking, so I lagged behind so I could hide the chicken. Passing by the tobacco barn behind our house, I opened one of the side vents of the barn and threw my chicken in, closing the vent as quickly as I could. Unfortunately for me, we only got a few miles out of town before Mom and Dad missed the chicken and I was forced to tell them what I did. I’m sure I probably got into trouble, but I don’t remember that.

Real or implanted, pictorial or video, I have many memories of my childhood, but try as I might, I’m really not sure what my very first memory is. All I know for sure is that I love to share my memories with my children, and I love to listen to the memories they remember from their lives. Memories are special, and sometimes fragile, so go out and make some memories with your children today.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


For almost 6 years now, I have enjoyed the antics of a pair of Red-tailed Hawks who live in a tree near the back of my property. I love to watch these beautiful birds floating high above the trees, gracefully gliding through the air.

Red-tailed Hawks are large birds with razor sharp talons and can be very aggressive when defending nests or territories. They frequently chase off other hawks, eagles, and Great Horned Owls.

The Red-tailed Hawk is the most common hawk – raptor – in North American occupying just about every type of open habitat on the continent. This includes grasslands, roadsides, deserts, scrublands, pastures, parks and even rainforests. They love to soar above open fields, slowly turning in circles on their broad, rounded wings looking for prey. They also enjoy sitting on telephone poles or other tall structures watching for a meal.

Mammals make up the majority of the Hawks diet, including voles, rats, mice, rabbits, squirrels and snakes. Yes, I’ve seen my Red-tails flying by with a snake clutched in their razor sharp talons. They will also eat other birds: starlings, blackbirds, bobwhites and pheasants.

It is this love of other birds that lead to a hilarious sight a few weeks ago when I came home from work. As I pulled off the highway into my subdivision, I noticed one of my Red-tailed Hawks frantically flying overhead, but he (or she) was not alone. Hot on the Hawks red tail were three Starlings. The Starlings were dipping and weaving, trying their best to attack the swift Hawk. I can only surmise Mr. or Mrs. Red-tail had decided on baby Starlings for lunch. As Starlings are the one bird I dislike, I was rooting for the Hawks.

The Red-tailed Hawk has a raspy scream sounding exactly like a raptor should sound. It is this shrill calling that alerts me to the adventures of my Hawks. I enjoy sitting in the backyard and watching their aerial acrobatics.

The largest female Red-tailed Hawk only weighs about three pounds, but it is still one of the largest birds on the continent. The Hawks typically hunt in pairs, each guarding opposite sides of the same tree in order to catch a squirrel.

Both male and female Hawks help with building the nest, many times just refurbishing their nest from a previous years – this is what my Hawks do, because their nest is always in the same tall tree. Usually the nests are tall piles of dry sticks and the inner aspect is lined with bark strips, fresh foliage, and dry vegetation. Red-tailed Hawks typically put their nests in the crowns of tall trees where they have a commanding view of the landscape. They have also been known to nest on a cliff ledge or on artificial structures such as window ledges and billboard platforms.

Courting Red-tailed Hawks can be seen soaring in wide circles very high in the sky. The male will make a steep dive, and then shoot up again at an equally steep angle. He performs this ritual several times before approaching the female from above. He will extend his legs and briefly touch the female before flying away. Occasionally, the pair will grab onto each other by clasping talons and spiraling downward – they will then pull away before coming near the ground. Mated pairs typically stay together until one of the pair dies.

After courtship, the mother usually lays three eggs and sits on the eggs to keep them warm while the father hunts and feeds her. The babies will hatch after 30 days and they are covered with white down. The babies learn to fly just before they are two months old, but they still depend on their parents for food. During the summer, the fledglings follow their parents around, watching and learning how to hunt. Because Red-tailed Hawks are very territorial, it may be hard for the young hawks to find a new place to live. They typically leave the parents after the first year, but they are two or three years old before they mate and start raising babies of their own.

I’ve had the privilege of watching my pair go through the mating ritual several times and it is beautiful to behold. For the past two summers, this ritual has produced two hatchlings each year. When I saw the first set of babies learning to fly, it was so fascinating. All summer and fall I watched the babies learning to hunt with the parents, but then when colder weather was here to stay, I lost track of the babies.

By the following spring, the babies were not longer flying high with the parents. I’m not sure where the babies migrated to, but they haven’t stayed around with their parents. I guess when young Hawks fly the coop they stay gone.

Red-tailed hawks usually live six to seven years in the wild, so I’m preparing for my pair to be gone in the next few years. I just hope they are replaced by another pair of lovely hawks – maybe the offspring of my current pair - because there is nothing better than forgetting the stresses of the day by watching the free forms of the Red-tailed Hawk.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Wedding Bells

“Amber, I am going to try and make you the happiest, healthiest baby alive. I want to make sure I do everything right. I love you so much, I want you to have the best life has to offer. When you’re older, I don’t want you to hesitate to come to me with your problems – I will always be here for you and so will God. He is the one that made it possible for you to be here and he will always have the answers you seek. Amber, you are the most precious little girl alive. You will always be my little angel and I love you with all my heart.”
(Excerpt of a letter by me from the baby book of Amber Dawn Huffman, written September 16, 1982)

The day was rainy, but there was nothing but happiness in my heart. “Tuesday’s child is full of grace” – this verse from the Mother Goose rhyme “Monday’s Child” was making me smile in spite of the rain. My first born child will be a girl full of grace - a child I knew in my heart was a daughter, although I had never had an ultrasound. The date was September 14, 1982 and Amber Dawn Huffman came into this world, screaming at the top of her lungs, at 1:31 in the afternoon – a Tuesday afternoon.

At 20 years old, my dream of being a mother had finally come true. After a short labor and extremely easy delivery, my first bundle of joy – all 5 pounds and 14 ounces – was placed in my arms and I knew I was the happiest woman on earth. Even though she was three weeks overdue, she was tinier than I had expected, especially after gaining 20 pounds. I guess most of the weight was due to the plain M&Ms I consumed on a weekly basis.

(Amber sitting on Granny Sallee's lap - age 5 months)

I was so scared the day we brought her home from the hospital. Her father worked nights, so I was going to be home all alone with a newborn. What if I couldn’t quiet her when she cried? What if I didn’t have enough breast milk to feed her? What if she got sick? What if, what if? I was so nervous I think I called my own mother three or four times before the night was over, and this was before speed dial and cell phones.

By the time Amber was one month old, she had doubled her birth weight – three cheers for mother’s milk. No longer a skinny newborn, my beautiful daughter now had little ham hocks for legs. And she was no longer bald because tiny wisps of blond hair were starting to peek through.

For her first Christmas, Amber was three months old and she was smiling and kicking her legs whenever she was awake. She was such a happy baby and she loved for family to carry her around - and carry her around they did. She turned into a typical first child who demanded to be carried whenever she was awake. She received a high chair from her maternal grandparents on Christmas Eve and within months she was able up and start on solid foods.

(Learning to walk - age 1)

Before I could blink my eyes, I was planning Amber’s first birthday party. Where did the time go? We had a house full of family and friends to help us celebrate the day. Amber was taking her first tentative solo steps and she enjoyed tip-toeing from one person to another. When she stuck her entire face into the birthday cake I baked for her, I caught myself crying and wishing she would never grew up.

(Dressed as Rainbow Brite - age 3)

For her second Halloween I dressed Amber up as Raggedy Ann. By her third birthday she was in love with all things Rainbow Brite and she had a younger sister, Carolyn Marie. When she was four years old she joined the Mission Friends group at church and sang in the preschool choir. The years were flying by at warp speed.

(My family at my nursing school graduation; from right to left: Amber, Marie, Mom, Dad, and Granny Sallee - May 12, 1990)

When it was time for Amber to start school, we both started at the same time – she in kindergarten and me in nursing school. Those three years of my nursing school career were the hardest times of my life. I was a single mother with two small children, but we all managed to survive healthy and whole, and we are stronger for it. Of course, I never would have made it through the tough times if it weren’t for my wonderful children – they were the reason for everything I did.

(3rd grade - 1990)

Elementary school flew by in a haze – PTO, teacher meetings, parent volunteer days and even though I was working the night shift, I always made time to attend all of Amber’s activities. Middle school brought her first dance and a whole new set of worries. Hormones and acne, boundaries and groundings, like most young teenagers she gave me a run for my money. But she was never in any serious trouble and always kept up with her school work.

(Age 16)

Soon she was moving on to high school, with an unpleasant surprise. Chicken pox at the age of 15 was a hard pill to swallow and we both learned that home schooling was not something we enjoyed. High school graduation was a blur of smiles and tears – graduating with honors, I could not have been more proud of my oldest daughter. Intelligent, beautiful and self-assured, Amber was ready to make her mark on the world. No longer a child, this young adult was now full of hopes and dreams of her own.

(Age 17 - senior picture)

My baby is now 26 years old and beginning the next phase of her life. She has found the man of her dreams – Jason Wilham – and they will be married in just a few weeks on June 20th. I am so happy for the love my daughter has found and I am confident her future will be bright.

(Amber and Jason - Christmas 2007)

So as I stress and worry about the upcoming wedding, one thing is clear in my head – I’m not losing a daughter, I’m gaining a son. And although I’m not rushing things, I feel I’m one step closer to beginning the next chapter in my life with bundles of grandchildren.

Congratulations Amber Dawn Huffman and Jason Wilham!

Friday, May 1, 2009

The Joy of Amusement Parks

I have always been a sucker for theme parks: Silver Dollar City (now Dollywood), Ghost Town in the Sky, Kings Island, Opryland, and Beach Bend were just a few I visited as a child. But one of my favorite Kentucky attractions - Tombstone Junction – is no longer in operation.

Tombstone Junction was a Wild West themed park just outside of Corbin, Kentucky and it featured a real steam engine train and live “country” entertainment. Tombstone Junction had a railroad system of its own and was subjected to many “train robberies” over the years. These train robberies used to scare me as a child, but I always insisted on riding the train.

As a teenager, I was privileged to see Tanya Tucker and Glenn Campbell, Conway Twitty, Waylon Jennings and a few others I’ve long since forgotten. Unfortunately, or fortunately as my hubby likes to say, I grew out of the country music phase, but as a young child, I loved listening to my parent’s music. I even had a real “Tombstone Junction” cowboy hat I used to wear to the park.

All that remains of Tombstone Junction today is an empty parking lot, one crumbling shack, and some decaying bits of what was once the billboard, along with the memories of those who say the park in its glory days.

Another western amusement park I enjoyed as a child was Silver Dollar City in Pigeon Forge. Renamed Dollywood in 1986 when Dolly Parton bought the park, the old Silver Dollar City was started in 1961 - one year before I was born. It began life as Rebel Railroad, and changed names again in 1966 when it became Goldrush Junction, before finally becoming Silver Dollar City in 1977, named after the original Silver Dollar City in Branson, Missouri.

Dollywood is organized into several different themed areas including the Show Street, Rivertown Junction, Craftsmen Valley, the Country Fair and Timber Canyon. These areas reflect the historical eras and culture of east Tennessee. When Dolly bought the park, the Dreamland Forest and Adventures in Imagination areas were added and these emphasize Parton's life and imagination. Many attractions at Dollywood preserve the history and culture of the Southern Appalachian region.

Show Street includes the Show Street Palace Theatre, were most of the musical shows are performed and The Southern Gospel Museum and Hall of Fame. Rivertown Junction includes the Tennessee Mountain Home, the Back Porch Theatre, and the Smoky Mountain River Rampage whitewater rafting ride.

Craftsmen's Valley is my personal favorite and I usually spend the majority of my time at Dollywood in this area. In addition to the Dollywood Grist Mill, this area includes the Eagle Mountain Sanctuary, Wings of America Theatre, all the craft exhibits and Blazing Fury coaster. Blazing Fury is an enclosed steel roller coaster and was built in-house by Silver Dollar City Tennessee in 1978, prior to the park becoming Dollywood

Since my children are older, we rarely visit the Country Fair because this is the area with the children’s rides including the Dizzy Disk, the Amazing Flying Elephants, Dolly's Demolition Derby, the Scrambler, and the Wonder Wheel. We do visit the Village because this is where the train station is for the Dollywood Express steam engine – a “must ride” for every visit. When Christine was younger, the Dreamland Forest was her favorite area of the park, especially the Dreamland Forest interactive play area and the Mountain Slidewinder water-toboggan ride.

Kings Island is another family favorite amusement park, located just outside of Cincinnati, Ohio. The park owns close to 775 acres of land, but only 364 acres are currently developed. Kings Island was opened in April 1972, just before my 10th birthday, and I visited the park for the first time when I was 12 years old. Kings Island gained nationwide attention when it was featured on a 1972 episode of The Partridge Family, and again in 1973 on an episode of The Brady Bunch.

The centerpiece of Kings Island is the Eiffel Tower, a one-third scale replica of the original Eiffel Tower. Elevators regularly take patrons up to the top of the tower, which offers a view of the entire park and, at park closing, offers the best view of the nightly fireworks display. Because of my extreme fear of heights, I have only been on top of the Eiffel Tower twice, once on my first trip to the park and once on the first date with my husband.

One of the first star attractions of the park was the twin roller coaster, the Racer. The Racer is a traditional wooden out-and-back coaster and is credited for reigniting the second golden age of the roller coaster. To honor the Racer’s staying power, the American Coaster Enthusiasts the Racer an “ACE Roller Coaster Landmark” during a ceremony at the park in 2008, making it one of only 14 coasters in the world with landmark status. Ten years after Kings Island opened, the right car of the Racer was turned backwards and remained on a backward course until last year. For the 2009, both Racers will be once again running in a forward motion.

My favorite roller coaster at Kings Island is the Beast. When the Beast was built in 1979, it was the tallest, longest, and fastest roller coaster in the world at the time. After nearly 30 years, it still holds the title of the world's longest wooden roller coaster at 7,419 feet (1 ¾ miles). The Beast tracks spread across a densely-wooded, 35 acre site and the rugged terrain adds to the excitement of the ride. Top speed of this coaster is 70 miles per hour and the ride lasts almost four minutes. In addition to two huge vertical drops, the cars go through three dark tunnels and makes a 540 degree helix turn near the end of the line. The Beast has been my favorite roller coaster for almost 30 years.

In addition to several more roller coasters – Vortex, King Cobra and Son of beast – Kings Island is home to several water rides and a huge water park featuring several slides, a wave pool, a lazy river and other attractions.

Of course, after spending all day enjoying the rides, great food and other entertainment, you must stay until closing time to see the spectacular fireworks display – it’s the perfect way to end a memorable day at the park.

I’m not sure I will ever outgrow my love of amusement parks. Not only are they fun places to spend time with your family, but they are great at making you feel like a kid again. It seems like the older I get, the more I enjoy a great roller coaster ride. Now I’m looking forward to spreading this joy to my future grandchildren.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Most Days Lead to Granny

Most days take me back to Granny. There in the warm coziness of her four-room house or outside in her tiny yard, I would follow her like a shadow on a sunny day, mimicking her every action. Granny would be crocheting a new afghan and I would sit patiently with my crochet hook like a surgeon wanting to start a delicate operation as I watched her knobby, arthritic hands manipulate the yarn with the speed of a typist. Granny would complete a row and then show me another stitch before moving on to start another row. I never did learn to crochet as well as Granny, but then again, I’ve never been able to do any of the miracles as well as she.

Baking cookies was always a thrill and Granny never seemed to mind the mess, and believe me, there was always a mess. Mixing the thick sugar cookie batter and then rolling it out on a slab of marble. When the dough was rolled to the right thickness, Granny would hand me a juice jar to use as a cookie cutter. Dipping the open end of the jar into a bowl of snow-white sugar, I would cut out one cookie after another. I was married with a child of my own before I realized you could buy preformed cookie cutters in all shapes and sizes.

While the cookies were baking in the old gas oven, Granny would mix up the frosting, several different colors – red, yellow, green and blue. The green was always my favorite and by the time we had finished frosting each cookie, I would end up with green lips from tasting so much frosting. Back then no one worried about how bad all the sugar was on a growing child and grandmothers were always trying to feed their grandchildren. Later, when my Mom would pick me up, Granny would send us home with a fresh tin of cookies and fresh memories I would look back fondly on in my later years.

Graveyards and cemeteries have always been some of my favorite places to visit, and when I was a child, I loved walking through row after row of old tombstones and statues looking for great grandfather so-and-so or great grandmother so-and-so or aunt and uncle so-and-so. This may be a morbid activity for a young child, but my Granny loved visiting these places and paying her respect for ancestors who have gone before us. Mom would usually take us – Granny, my brother and sister, and me – on Sunday afternoon drives. We would end up in the cemeteries of Deep Creek or Antioch or Bruner’s Chapel and my siblings and I would have free rein to run and play while Mom and Granny would clear weeds away from tombstones.

Although I have a fairly extensive family history I have been working on for many years, I can’t remember exactly who is buried in what graveyard, but I can find each family tombstone from all the cemeteries we used to visit. I remember walking down a deep hillside at Deep Creek, I remember walking up a small rise at Bruner’s Chapel, and I remember someone is buried near the old outhouse at Antioch. My childhood memories can carry me to these places like someone walking in a dream.

Another autumn adventure occurring on these Sunday afternoon drives was gathering bittersweet vine for fall decorations. Traveling the old back roads to the out of the way cemeteries, we would find bittersweet growing wild on fencerows near the road. Now a day, I would never dream of pulling over to the side of the road and gathering wild vines, but in the late 60s and early 70s this is exactly what we did. We would go home with the car trunk full of bittersweet vines full of bright orange berries. Granny would make wreaths or table decorations to help brighten the house for fall.

Gathering hickory nuts is another autumn adventure I loved to help with. Granny had friends who owned a farm near Perryville and one field of the farm had five or six hickory nut trees. We would fill several large sacks full of nuts, knowing Granny would use them in her wonderful jam and orange slice cakes, or in fudge or fruit salad. Once we had the nuts back home, we would sit in Granny’s side yard and remove the hulls from each nut. Although not as messy as working with black walnuts, the green hulls would still stain our hands. Mom and Granny would then crack the shell of each nut and carefully work out the sweet meat inside. It would take hours just getting a small bowl of nuts, but we knew the reward was worth it.

Although my Granny loved to sew and make crafts, I think her first love was working with plants in her small yard. Elephant ears were one of her favorite plants and she would grow the same bulb over and over again every year. During the summer, the huge green Elephant ears would grow happily in old buckets on the back porch. When the air started to chill in the fall, Granny would drag the buckets to the crawl space below the house. After wrapping the entire bucket in layers of old newspaper, the elephant ears would over winter in the dark dampness of this small cramped space, getting just enough warmth from the furnace pilot light to keep from freezing and damaging the root bulbs. Every few years, Granny would repot the elephant ears, harvesting baby bulbs to turn into new plants.

Granny also enjoyed growing sage in the tiny flower garden between her home and her next-door neighbor’s house. She kept the flowers plucked off each sage plant in order for the leaves to grow big and fat. During the late summer and early fall, Granny would start harvesting the sage leaves, lining them on paper plates and allowing them to dry on the back porch if it was a sunny day, or placing them on top of the refrigerator where it was warm. Granny would then use the sage for making her wonderful dressing on Thanksgiving and Christmas. My mother still grows and dries sage in the same manner as Granny and her dressing is always the highlight of the holiday season.

Sewing, gardening, baking and crafting, in my opinion, there was nothing my Granny couldn’t do – except maybe drive a car. Granny never learned to drive and never had any desire to learn to drive, depending on my Mom and aunt to take her the places she needed to go. It is because of Granny I love to work in my gardens, although my plants never seem to grow as good as Granny’s did. It is because of Granny I love to sew and craft, but my fingers will never be as nimble as Granny’s were. It is because of Granny I love to bake – although I hate cleaning up the mess – but my desserts will never stand up to the delectable sweets she would create.

Granny has been gone for 24 years, but I still think of her often. Although all my memories of her are happy memories, it saddens me to know my children and my husband never got to know her. In recent years the motto, “What would Jesus do?” has become very popular, but whenever I’m in doubt about something, I catch myself asking, “What would Granny do?”

Sunday, March 1, 2009

School Days, School Daze

School days, school days
Dear old golden rule days
Readin' and ritin' and rithmatic
Taught to the tune of a hickory stick ...

Are there people you try to remember more clearly, phantoms you'd like to reach back into the past and take a firm hold of? What do you remember of your early school years? High school years? College years? These are questions my best friend and I were reminiscing about a few weeks ago and I couldn’t believe it has really been 29 years since I graduated from high school? Where have the years gone? In recalling these memories, I was amazed at the details I remembered from certain years, while other memories I only had a vague recollection.

My first foray into the world of education was kindergarten at Lad & Lassie. I don’t remember much from this time in my life, but there are a few things I can remember with clarity. I remember the cold feel of the leather car seat on the backs of my bare legs as Daddy would drive me to school. I normally wore a skirt or dress with knee socks and this left the backs of my legs exposed to the elements when I would sit down. I remember the "play" we put on - everyone dressing and acting out a part in a circus. My best friend at the time Jennifer "General Foods" and I were the double-headed fat lady - both of us inside the same dress with our heads and one arm a piece in each sleeve. For the life I me, I don’t remember why I called her General Foods, unless it was because Jennifer and General sounded alike.

First grade was at Rose Hill Elementary in 1968 - the last year the school was open. At six years old I had this huge puppy crush on Duane, who was an older man, a mature seven years old. I got in trouble one day because I wrote him a note and then pushed it through a crack in the wall between my classroom and his. I was humiliated when his teacher brought the note to my teacher and then proceeded to read it out loud to the classroom! I also remember having a field day or party day, and my Mom got to come and bring my little brother, Brent. I got so upset when Brent tripped and rolled down a hill on the side of the school yard. I was so afraid he was hurt, but he managed to end up with only a few scratches.

When the Mercer County Elementary School first opened, I was in the first second grade class. I don’t remember much from second grade, but third grade was a different story. I took my best friend's, Ella Jean, turtle out of his bowl on pet day and put him on the table. Then, during the morning Pledge of Allegiance, the turtle walked off the table and fell to the floor - Ella Jean was furious and the Miss McGinnis made me stand in the corner. I also thought it was okay to sharpen my yellow crayon in the pencil sharpener on the wall; this earned me my one and only spanking at school. Actually, I didn’t get a true spanking – the teacher took me into the supply closet and told me to never sharpen my crayons in the pencil sharpener again. She took the paddle and smacked her hand with it twice to make noise and then told me not to tell anyone. After that, Miss McGinnis was my hero!

Seventh grade at Mercer County Junior High – we all thought we were so big back then. No longer with the younger kids at the elementary school, we were one step closer to being with the cool kids in high school. This was the year I let several people touch my legs because everyone thought I was wearing pantyhose with my shorts. Fact was I used to tan brown as a berry from days spent in the sun and my legs were just naturally dark. This was also the year I started to seriously keep a journal, something I’ve continued to do for the next 35 years.

All four years at Mercer County High School, I dated the same boy and I was head over heels to the point that I began ignoring all my old friends and did everything I could to please my first love. The one person I managed not to alienate was my best guy-friend, Damon – he managed to stand by me no matter what and for that I’ll always be grateful. My only regret from my high school years was not listening to my family and friends when they told me I should not have settled for the first guy who caught my eyes. Oh well, hindsight is 20-20.

Going to college as a single mother of two children under the age of six was the hardest thing I've ever done in my life, but it is also the thing I am most proud of. After my divorce I attend the Midway College nursing program. My children started school at the same time – Amber was in kindergarten and Marie was in Head Start. Those three years were so hard, not only because of raising my children, studying for classes and attending clinical rotations, but because I also had to hold down a job. This was 25 years ago and when I look back I don't know how I survived with my sanity intact, or how my children turned into wonderful young women. The majority of the credit goes to my boyfriend, Keith, now my loving husband of almost 20 years. He is the one who kept me going, helping me with homework and entertaining the girls while I studied for tests or wrote term papers.

These are just a few of the memories my muse brought up when my friend and I were talking about our school years. The problem is I am nowhere near the tip of the iceberg on this subject. Just looking at school pictures can bring back an avalanche of memories. Capturing these memories on paper may take me the rest of my life, but I think I’m up for the challenge.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Lights, Camera, Action

On February 17, 2009, all over-the-air analog television transmission signals on channels in the United States will come to an end – or at least that is the current plan approved by the Government, via the Congress and the FCC. Since we have had to deal with this message “crawling” across the bottom of our televisions for months, I thought this would be a good time to talk about the progression of television in my life.

The first program I have any memory of watching was “The Monkees” - the misadventures of a struggling rock band. This show first aired in September of 1966, so I was only four years old. I can still remember begging my mom to let me stay up past my bedtime so I could watch. At the time “The Monkees” premiered, they were a fictional rock band, but Davy, Micky, Peter and Michael soon became overnight sensations.

I don’t remember if mom actually let me stay up late on the night in question – 8:00 pm was past my bedtime – but I do remember religiously watching “The Monkees” on Saturday afternoon television. According to Wikipedia, “The Monkees” began airing on Saturdays in September 1969 – by this time I was seven years old.
I have no recollection whether I first watched “The Monkees” on a black and white television, or if we had switched to color. Colorized television was wide-spread by the time I was born in 1962, but not many families could afford them. It wasn’t until 1972 that color television sets outsold black and white sets in the United States.

“Dark Shadows” is the first show I remember watching in color, although it started out as a black and white show. I know I wasn’t old enough to have watched “Dark Shadows” from the beginning – it started airing in 1966 – but I do remember at some point coming home from school in just enough time to see most of the daily episodes. This series ended in 1971 – I would have been nine years old.

“Dark Shadows” was one of the lucky television shows to make it into syndication in 1975. I think it was these repeated viewings that endeared me to “Dark Shadows” – I liked it during its original run, but I grew to love it through syndication. Now, thanks to digital technology, I can enjoy “Dark Shadows” on DVD any time I want.

By the time I became obsessed with my next television show – “Land of the Lost” – I know we had a color television. “Land of the Lost” premiered in 1974 and it was a weekly Saturday morning children’s show by Sid and Marty Krofft. To say I loved this campy show is an understatement. This show had everything a 12 year old could want – dinosaurs, danger and adventure.

It was because of “Land of the Lost” I had my first introduction into audio recording. I would audio tape this show every Saturday morning on my little yellow cassette recorder and then listen to it with my headphones every night. Today there are audio books to listen to, but for me it was always “Land of the Lost.” I still have to be listening to an audio book or have the television on very low to go to sleep – my youngest daughter is the same way.

By the time I was 13, I thought I was in love – with “Starsky and Hutch.” Actually, it was Starsky I loved the most. I never missed an episode of this show, but I had to keep it turned down very low because it came on past my bedtime. My bedroom was in the basement, so as long as I keep the volume down, I could get away with watching. Of course, this is another show I would audiotape and listen to at night.

In addition to “Starsky and Hutch”, 1975 also brought “Crockett’s Victory Garden” on PBS. James Underwood Crockett was my gardening idol and it is because of him I became so fascinated with plants and gardening. Every week I would tune in to see what was growing, dreaming of the days I would have my own garden. The show’s name changed to “The Victory Garden” after Crockett died in 1979.

With the mainstream use of VCRs, television viewing would never be the same. I can still remember the first video stores opening in Harrodsburg. Movies lining every shelf – all you had to do was take them home and pop them in the VCR, if you were lucky enough to own one. The video stores also had VCRs to rent and I can remember lugging home one of those huge machines and becoming frustrated when I couldn’t get it hooked up right. I didn’t own my first VCR until I started nursing school – way back in 1987.

No longer content to wait once a year to see “The Wizard of Oz,” “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” or “Star Wars,” you can now watch these beloved classics whenever you want. My children don’t remember much about Saturday morning cartoons, because they have always been able to watch cartoons at the flick of a switch. Videocassette recorders/players are slowly being replaced by DVD recorders/players. By 2003, DVDs were out-numbering VHS tapes in total rentals and sales.
Three years ago, I was introduced to the DVR and my television viewing will never be the same. Not only can I record programs for future viewing, but I don’t have to waste tapes or discs for recording, unless it is something I want to keep. The DVR allows me to record all my favorite shows and then watch them whenever I feel like it. Not only does it record, but it allows me to pause live television and rewind to catch something I missed.

Black and white versus color, analog versus digital, VHS versus DVD – as long as technology continues advancing, there will always be changes in viewing entertainment from your home. What will the future hold for my grandchildren? We’re already seeing movies on computers and cell phones. I don’t know how my grandchildren will view television, but I know one thing. There will be lots of stories from grandma about the good old days.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Blizzard of 1978

We've all heard stories of blizzards and snowstorms from our parents and grandparents, tales of epic snows and the struggles each one brought.

"I used to walk through snow 3 feet deep just to get to school."

"I remember the snow was up to the window eaves."

"We were snowed in for over a month."

Of course, I have a few stories of my own, like the snowstorm of 2001 when we were supposed to only get a "dusting" and we ended up with 2 feet of snow. This was the winter my middle daughter, Marie, made an igloo by digging out a 3 foot snow drift. This was not a legendary storm, but it is one all three of my children remember. And although I've lived through a few snowstorms and ice storms in my 46 years, nothing compares to my grandparent's epic storms of legend.

Not unless you count the blizzard of 1978. I was 15 years old at the time of this storm, but I'll never forget that winter. Although I kept a journal at the time, many of my facts may not be accurate because at the time, I was more concerned with writing about my boyfriend than the weather conditions. However, I was able to record some of my feelings and the increasing boredom, and my memories have grown each time I tell the story to my girls.

In my telling of the story, we were out of school from Christmas break until Valentine's Day, but I don't think this is exactly right. According to newspaper articles, the big blizzard didn't hit until January 25th, so my slice of reality doesn't hold up to historical facts. We probably had a few “snow days” between Christmas and the big blizzard, but I'm also sure we went to school a few days.

I remember the weathermen had predicted the approaching storm several days before it hit. My parents, like everyone else, had stocked up on food and supplies anticipating a few days of cabin fever. As I researched the blizzard of 1978, I found a report from the National Weather Service, who categorized the storm “as a rare severe blizzard – the most severe grade of storm.” I do have my own records showing at the height of the storm, winds were gusting up to 100 miles per hour. There were also a couple of days when the wind chill was more than 30 degrees below zero. I don't know what the official snow totals were for Harrodsburg, but in our backyard we had 26 inches.

I remember the water lines froze and we didn't have water for days on end. This happened all over town, not just in the subdivision of Riverview where I lived. I remember Daddy hauling water from my grandparents farm in Bohon so we would have water to drink and cook with, as well as to flush the toilets. We also went to the laundromat in Danville to wash clothes because the ones in Harrodsburg didn't have water.

It's funny, I can remember the water lines being frozen, but I don't remember if the electricity was on or off. Our home had a gas furnace, so I guess that would have kept us warm. And I remember we had telephone service because I kept the phone lines hot talking to my boyfriend.

The first few days after the storm were fun because we could go sledding, make snow angels and have snowball fights. My younger brother and his friends made an igloo in the backyard and it was fun watching the building process. After the igloo was finished, they spent hours having the grandest snowball fights!

Although I was a tomboy growing up, I was a wimp about snow and cold weather. After the first few days, I was tired of the snow, so I spent most of my days indoors reading. At the time I owned the first 16 “Trixie Belden Mystery” books and I re-read the entire series twice during this extended vacation. But no matter how much I loved Trixie Belden, I was getting tired of reading the same books over and over again. With school closed I was not able to check books out of the library and the bookmobile was not able to travel to our subdivision. I did have "A Wrinkle in Time" checked out from school, but even Charles Wallace and the Tesseract were not enough to hold my boredom at bay.

And bored became an understatement! After the first week, I would wake early every weekday, only to be disappointed when the radio announced school was closed again. I was actually envious of the Harrodsburg students because they went back to school sooner than we did.

Needless to say, I was so excited to go back to school - to see my friends, to see my boyfriend, to get new books from the library, and ending the overpowering boredom of cabin fever. This will probably be the snowstorm story I tell my grandchildren, and I'm sure the tale will get exaggerated, just the way my grandsparents' and my parents' stories did. But one thing is for sure, I will always remember the beauty and power of the Blizzard of 1978.