Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Happiness and Sadness of May

Where has the year gone? Just yesterday we were celebrating the holidays and now I’m back to working in the yard. My Granny Devine always did say time speeds up as you got older, and now I’m seeing this is so true.

While I’m not a hot weather, summer person, I am glad to finally leave the cold days of winter behind. Too many days of sub-zero weather has made my joints ache and creak, so I’m ready for a change. Warmer weather means more time in the garden, more time to walk and more time to soak up the daylight. Of course, it's still Kentucky, so we are still having some cold days - not to mention the inches and inches of rain we have had.

The month of May is the perfect time to shed our winter skins and slip into the latest summer fashions. After months of cabin fever and overwhelming darkness, you feel an almost rebirth at the excess of sunshine and warmth.

May has always been a transition month for my family. We are transitioning from the long winter and spring into the warmth of summer and from school to summer break. We are transitioning from slow time, early darkness and structured schedules to fast time, later sunsets and relaxed casualness. We say goodbye to prime-time television, large pots of chili and blue jeans with sneakers and say hello to drive-in movies, salad from the Farmer's Market and shorts with flip flops.

I cannot believe I no longer have any children in the local school system. Christine has just completed her first year at Berea College and she is excited about her college career. It has been hard adjusting to no children in the house, but now I have her home again, even if it's only for three months.

I am so incredibly proud of all three of my daughters – I could not have asked for three better girls if I had tried to order them from a catalog. They are all intelligent and responsible adults and they fill my life with joy. My granddaughter, Devon Mikayla, is already a special girl - and spoiled rotten - she has us all wrapped right around her little finger.

May 19th is a special day for Keith and I – it will be our 21st wedding anniversary. We have been together for 25 years and are happy to be celebrating such a great milestone. Like most couples, we have had our ups and downs, our sicknesses and health, our richer and poorer, but we have created a unique family with strong ties and our bond is even stronger today than it was 21 years ago. We have raised three beautiful, intelligent daughters and they are our pride and joy and we are both spoiling the granddaughter. We may not have done everything right, but we keep plugging away and try to keep everyone happy and on an even keel.

A big event at Fort Harrod State Park – Bark in the Park - just took place last weekend (May 14th). The Community of Mercer County Writers - my writing group - has written our 2nd volume of "Prose and Poetry for Pets" and we sold them for $5 each. All proceeds go to the Mercer County Humane Society, the charity of choice for our group. Even though it rained cats and dogs - pun intended - there were several people who ventured out. Trying to keep our tent above water was our major problem.

May also brought us Mother’s Day near the beginning of the month (May 8th). This is the first Mother's Day without my mother, Brenda Sallee; I really didn't handle it well, hiding in the house and wanting to be alone. My mother-in-law, Christine Holtzclaw Rightmyer, is a special lady and I am blessed to have her in my life. I thank God everyday that she brought Keith into my life.

Even though my Momma's first Angel Day is on the 23rd and I can't believe she has been gone one year, May is shaping up to be an exciting, memorable month,. It will be a time of great joy and happiness, grief and sadness and I look forward to making lots of new memories. Reconnecting with family and friends should be a priority this year, so why not plan some special events with your loved ones. Time is only getting shorter, so make the most of it while you still can. Remember, memories live on forever.

Thursday, April 7, 2011


The loss of a family pet can have a major impact on your lives, it is like losing a member of the family. About five years, our family experienced the death of our beloved dog, Pebbles. Although we have lost many pets over the years — mice, hamsters, fish, gerbils, iguana, cats — losing Pebbles was the first dog Christine had ever lost and she was taking it very hard.

Pebbles was adopted from the Mercer County Humane Society in 1997 — Christine was about five at the time, so the two of them have grown up together. Pebbles was a Sheltie-mix and she was approximately one year old when she came to live with us. Keith had seen a picture of this cute dog in the Harrodsburg Herald and the next day he and Christine went to check it out. It was love at first sight and they adopted her on the spot. He took a picture of Pebbles to bring home and show the rest of the family because it would be two days before she was ready to come home.

Christine picked out the name Pebbles after the Flintstone’s Pebbles and Bam-Bam. Amber and Marie were also excited about the new addition to the family; they had been wanting a dog and we just kept putting it off because we had an indoor cat. Pogo was Keith’s cat and she didn’t warm up to new people or animals easily. After Keith and I got married, it took a long time before Amber and Marie were able to even get near Pogo to pet her, much less pick her up. We were afraid a dog would throw her into shock. We lost Pogo over 20 years ago — she was over 18-years-old.

It didn’t take Pebbles long to become one of the family. She was most attracted to Marie, although she loved to be around all of us. After the first few weeks, Pebbles was not the same skinny dog we had originally brought home. She was happy and healthy and had put on some weight. Apparently, Pebbles had come from an abusive situation, because she had a tendency to “cow down” whenever anyone raised their voice.

I could never get Pebbles to come to me when I would call for her — she always seemed to run in the opposite direction when I would call her. But she would always come to Keith’s call or whistle. Pebbles would do almost anything Keith would tell her to do, with the exception of getting her to stay down at meal time.

Pebbles loved table scraps and she was not above begging everyone for a bite. We knew table scraps were probably not good for her, but she loved them so much. We also had a hard time keeping her out of the cat food, even though she always had food in her dish — she would always sneak back and finish up whatever the cats had not eaten.

Even though she would not come to me when I called her, Pebbles would follow me around the house like a shadow. Whenever I was home she would slept at my feet or follow me from room to room—even the bathroom. Pebbles could be a nuisance at times, but we all loved her and we could tell that she loved us.

Pebbles would get so excited when it was time to go outside. She would jump and prance around the door waiting for someone to open it. Then she would charge out the door like the Calvary coming to the rescue. She would run several laps around the front yard just as fast as her legs would let her. She would sometimes bark and root her nose into the ground.

Pebbles was a wonderful guard dog because she would bark at any noise she would hear outside. Once she became used to friends or relatives coming to visit, she would become excited to she them — running to the person or trying to jump up on them. The jumping up on people was something we were still working on with Pebbles, but we weren’t having much success.

Over years, Christine and Pebbles became the best of friends and you could tell they loved being with each other. Sometimes Christine would but the leash on Pebbles’ collar and take her for a walk, other times they would just run and romp in the backyard or the back field. I can still see Christine rolling around on the lawn with Pebbles jumping on her, trying to lick her face.

When Pebbles died, we still had three indoor cats, but Christine missed Pebbles. She immediately started to talk about finding a replacement dog. Although there is no substitute for Pebbles, it would be nice to have another guard dog. We are trying to put Christine off — we wanted her to get over the initial shock of losing her first dog before we become attached to another one.

Pebbles is buried in our pet cemetery, along with Pogo the cat, Tully the bird and Snowball the rabbit, WeeHawk the cat, and several more I cannot recall. I will occasionally see Christine near the pet cemetery and my heart aches for her sadness. We have a new dog now - Rusty - and even though he is a great guard dog and Christine loves him, he is no replacement for Pebbles. Pebbles will always remain in our hearts.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Buildings of Days Gone By

(Photos by Dan Felstead of Wood and Pixel Narratives)

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 struggle along in 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.

As I reminisce about my favorite Harrodsburg locations, I have a sobering reality of the 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 down town Harrodsburg every weekday on my way to work, so I have watched the deconstruction 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 the 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, spring houses and root cellars, but these are also disappearing with each day that goes by. Along with the shrinking of family farms, along goes 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, 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.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


Five years ago I was a happy, energetic married mother of three beautiful daughters, and although I am still happily married with three beautiful daughters, but I was no longer happy or energetic.

When my baby sister died in January 2005, my life went downhill fast, into a swirling, liquid, non-stop flight of depression and grief. I eventually quit my job as a Registered Nurse because I was suddenly unhappy with my work – or was it because my sister had been in nursing school and we had plans of her joining me at the hospital where I worked? Although I don't regret leaving my job for a single minute, I have isolated myself away from the world, surrounding myself into a cocoon of grief.

I used to love working in my gardens, but the past five years, my poor gardens have been terribly neglected because I haven't had the energy or desire to take care of them. My home is also not as clean, my meals not as delectable, and my volunteer work has blown to the wayside.

My wonderful hubby accepted me for who I was and loved me unconditionally, but I knew he was worried about me. The same goes for my three daughters – gone was the mother who participated in every aspect of her children’s lives, replaced by the shell of a mother who was just barely hanging on.

Up until about four years ago, I was the "take charge" person in every crisis, methodically working through the problems to find the right solution. Only after the crisis was over and everything was going back to normal did I allow myself a moment of panic. But since the death of my sister, the "take chargedness" has left me. Suddenly I am a person who falls apart at the first little hint of trouble, and when things really get bad, I melt down and have to go to sleep. Sleep is my new coping mechanism, protecting me from having to deal with situations or problems that cause me great stress.

For the past five years, I have been running from life - running from the grief of my sister's death. Her passing left a huge crater in my heart and it has been difficult to leap over the wide expanse of pain. My family has given me space – given me time to come to terms with my heartache and for that, I will always be grateful.

Just when I think I’m ready to jump back into the real world, my mother dies. For three weeks, on and off, she was in and out of the hospital and with the exception of one night, I stayed with her every night. If I hadn’t stayed, my Dad would not have left her sight and I knew he needed his rest. And after all, I had been a nurse for 20 years.

Again the pain and grief came crashing down on me. The only difference is my Momma had been sick for a long time, and I was comforted by the fact she was no longer in pain. I miss her terribly, even still pick up the phone to try and call her before I remember, I won’t be able to talk to her again for a long time.

My bottomless pit of misery didn’t last as long this time, probably for two reasons. The first is as soon as I realized how sick my Momma was, I worked with my psychiatrist to change my medications to help me deal with the depression, anxiety and anti-social behavior that still plaque my life. I knew I would be in and out of hospitals, so my anxiety had to be more under control so I could be more in control. The second reason, I think, is because my sister’s death was so sudden, unexpected; she had just turned her life around. Amy had changed her life; Momma was very sick.

Now it is time for me to begin living again. This year I am trying harder to pull my life together and enjoy the small things in life. Last year at my husband’s encouragement, I signed up for a writing workshop at my local public library. This was one of the best things to happen in my life for several years.

Not only did this workshop jumpstart my writing career, it has made a huge difference in my attitude on life and has given me a network of other writers to lean on. For someone with a severe anxiety disorder and phobia of being in large groups of people, I have been forcing myself to participate in public readings.
To say these activities scare me to death is an understatement, but I can actually see myself growing as a person and a writer, instead of always hiding in the shadow. I realize that in order to introduce myself back into society, I am going to have to put effort into going out in public.

After five years of self-deprecating pain and grief, I am now running toward life with new hopes and dreams. I'm still struggling, but the baby steps are turning into toddler steps and for the first time, I'm catching glimpses of my former self.
The shadows of my past are still leave scars upon my soul, but some are lightened with age; some are still fresh like a huge, gaping wound. The trials and tribulations which have shaped my life have been a mixture of feelings and hope, emotions and tears, lessons and sins. I have clawed my way up from the inside out, testing and trying to find the right way, hoping the shadow of painful memories will stop cutting me too sharply. I’m learning to stand tall again, learning to live life again and learning the mysterious lessons presented in my life.