Author Archives: Horton Hears Herself

About Horton Hears Herself

Here I am, listening to myself for the first time in my life! I like what I am hearing, most of the time. This time of listening to myself, discovering myself, and learning how to have my dream life is a rocky path with surprises, good and bad.

The Southern Drawl

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I didn’t grow up in the South, but as we say, “I got here as soon as I could.”  When I moved to North Carolina, the first time, in 1964, I admit, I was totally culture shocked.  I found myself having to ask for translations of our English language, much like I have to do with my Australians.

People “cut on” the lights, and “toted” their sacks, and got a “buggy” when they went to the grocery.  More than the phrases, though, was the delivery…the soft sounding vowels and the dropping of the final “g” at the end of gerunds.  Then I moved away after a dozen years, and when I would order (times before online ordering) from Hanes on the phone, I would engage the operator  just so I could hear her talk.  I would tell her I was homesick for her accent, and she would remind me that I could come back anytime.

When I finally did come back thirty-five years later, I knew that Thomas Wolfe was dead wrong…you can come home again.  I also found that the Southern Drawl, as I had known it, has been watered down.  The influx of transplants, like myself, has changed the accent, and I am hard pressed to find the voices of my misspent Southern youth.  Still, I never get tired, even at my age, of being called “Baby Girl” and “Darlin’.”  The lights are still “cut on,”  the “buggies” are still stacked at the grocery, and the sacks are still “toted,” thankfully.

During the time that I was away, I was never accused of having a Southern accent, though I was accused of having Southern pronunciations…specifically, “m’arm” for my arm.  Imagine my surprising myself just yesterday, when I was talking to a friend, and I actually found myself saying, “All y’all,” with the accompanying arm swoop, I might add.  I knew I was slipping into a drawl when I would say, “Hail Mary, fulla Grace,”  but “all y’all” even took ME by surprise!

Yes, I got here as soon as I could.  And I prolly got back here, as soon as I could, too, bless ma heart.

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Wisteria

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I love a good vine, and there is no better vine than Wisteria.  It’s the viney-est vine I have ever come across.  I first saw Wisteria at a beautiful place in Sedona, Arizona called L’Auberge.  I was enchanted by the gigantic clumps of purple flowers that flowed down from the most amazing arbor, covered.  It would have made a great wedding canopy.

My Wisteria is more like something from a science fiction movie.  I have literally had nightmares about these vines creeping through my summer windows while I slept to overtake me in my bed.  The other day, I wasn’t sure if my wisteria would even wait until the night.  I was sitting on my bench in the front, catching a break from yard work (a.k.a. weeding), when I looked over to see this…the reaching, stretching, waving tendrils coming right at my face.  Chilling.

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My sister planted Wisteria, on purpose, to grow up over her deck.  It was like Kudzu, and eventually came up through the floorboards.  My Lake sister did the same thing.  Again, on purpose.  She looked at me the other day, and said, “I’m going to regret it, aren’t I?”  Ya think?

My Wisteria comes up randomly in the yard.  I mow it.  Two years ago, I got so tired of the Wisteria War, I bought a trellis, and stuck it in the ground.  The picture above is the result.  Remember those Sedona grape-y bunches of flowers I was so enamored of?  Never seen ’em on my vines.  I think L’Auberge had some Disney-type person that went out and pinned up a massive amount of bouquets for the entertainment of the visiting public.

I do love a good vine, but I desire flowers on mine, and it’s just not happenin’ with my Wisteria.  Not happenin’ with my Trumpet vine, either, but that’s another story.  Hoo-boy.

 

 

 

 

Mowing…

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I was gone for two weeks, and when I came home, my yard looked like a hay field.  In my absence, a tropical storm had come up from the Gulf of Mexico, and poured copious amounts of rain on my town, as well as the rest of the Carolinas.  Plus, it’s spring, and you know…growing season.

So my first day back, I waited until evening for the grass to dry out and the air to cool down, and I mowed.  It put me in mind of the summer my sister and I mowed her yard/acreage, then raked and tossed the grass over the fence to her baby steers.  Because, grass-fed.

I don’t have steers.  And I didn’t rake, as I was finishing up under large droplets of rain.

And I don’t rake, anyway.  I don’t really have grass, either.  When I moved into my tiny house, I decided that I was NOT going to spend money on a “lawn.”  People here do that.

I’d raked the gravel in my yard in Arizona, to make it look nice.   Grass-ish yards were a half-lifetime of foreign-ness to me.

I do have a hellvua lot of Creeping Charlie and some sort of jointed grass-like weed I mow, and as I mowed the other night, I began to consider hiring someone to come make me a “lawn.”  Later, I reconsidered my priorities, and decided to continue to maintain my stance on spending money on grass.

When it’s all done, my yard looks as good as the next, and I feel as much a sense of accomplishment after mowing my weeds as I would mowing real Blue Grass, so there ya go.  Talked myself out of that one.  Hoo-boy.

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That’s my “other” cemetery across the street, Silver Hill Cemetery, est. 1892.  An update on that in another post.  It looks like a hay field right now, too.

About Decoration Day…

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Memorial Day weekend just ended, and I have to say, after nearly seventy years on this earth, I got it.  Slow, yes.  And sometimes I just have to be hit over the head with a brick bat, whatever that is.

On May 20, my second oldest brother passed away from a four year battle with prostate cancer.  He lived right up until the end, and was surrounded by his loving family when he took his last breaths.  It wasn’t unexpected, but it was still a kick in the gut to lose this funny, gentle, patient, and clear thinking and speaking man.  He was way too young.

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Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day.   Beginning after the Civil War or the War Between the States as we still call it in the south, people would clean winter debris off the graves of their loved ones, and plant summer flowers in their honor.  The holiday is meant to recognize those who died in the service of their country.  Mostly, though, people use the day to mark the unofficial beginning of summer, to have cook outs, and to open the pools.

My family buried our brother, son, husband, father, father-in-law, and grandfather.  It was heart wrenching and beautiful.  Reed’s wife and daughters gave him the most meaningful send off any person could ever want, and offered the best participation and inclusion any family could ever have.

A few days before his Celebration of Life, four current generations planted flowers on the graves of four generations back in the small church cemetery.  We dug out the old dirt, replaced it with fresh, and pushed down the new plants.  We pumped and hauled water.  The littlest one, age 2+, spilled a bucket or two, but he is learning the value of honoring our people who have left this world…our predecessors, our family.

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Over three hundred people filled the church basement, coming to pay their respects to Reed’s family, immediate and extended.  They came from Canada, Vermont, Georgia, and the greater Midwest.  They came to say good-by to a horseman, a mentor, a friend.  They came to offer comfort.  They shared stories, and they watched the pictures of Reed’s life projected on a screen.

It was a hard time, and will be for a long while to come.  Clinging to each other, stepping up for each other, knowing when to step back, we got through.  Sometimes we laughed, and sometimes we turned away, too heartbroken to look.  Ever grateful, we are though, to have had such a good man in our lives, and always in our hearts.

 

A Missed Blogging Opportunity…

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Warning:  Pictures are graphic and an animal lost its life in the process.

I wasn’t there.  When you read this, you will be able to figure out why.  (Also, I wasn’t invited.)  And special acknowledgements to Brother Number One for the photos, and Brothers One and Four as primary resources / eyewitnesses.

It happened like this…Brother One and I came up to the farm in Wisconsin from the south for a weekend gathering.  Brother Four, the farmer, had been trying to get a renegade steer butchered since September.  (See blogs titled Love Me Tender and Chesseburger, cheeseburger, cheeseburger.)

I will fill readers in on some background information in case you might have missed the blogs cited above.  Sister One and Brother Four raise Scottish Highlanders, then sell the grass-fed beef.  Last fall, on Butchering Day, one of the steers, aka Renegade Steer, leaped the fence, escaped and went rogue for six weeks in a two square mile area from my sister’s place.  He clearly had a screw loose with a propensity for endangering people.  During that time,  the folks combed fence lines on foot and neighbors searched on horseback to no avail, although there were a few reported sightings.

Finally RS turned up at a cattle farm, where the owner of which disallowed the butchering to take place on his property.  Eventually, after several months in residence, RS broke through his barn wall twice and charged said owner knocking him over.  He relented.  Also, he was promised a goodly amount of the beef, gratis.

Now comes the day long awaited for by the family,  just because the whole episode drug out for nearly six months…RS’s last living day on earth.  The boys met the sharpshooter and butcher.  The RS was clearly ID’d, as he was the only one of his breed present.  Brother Two, farrier and sharpshooter himself,  urged the gunman to “shoot, shoot.”  He was a little eager, in my opinion.  Nevertheless, the aim was swift and true.  RS was down, throat slit (sorry), and properly declared dead by Brother One, the doctor.

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The steer was drug away a short distance with a skid loader, hoisted with a crane, skinned, gutted, and cut up.  All this in the cold windy gloom of the day, and I missed the whole event.  I am pretty grateful, frankly.  I got a little sickish feeling when I asked for details this morning.  All adventures aren’t equal.

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This is what happens on the farm.  This is where hamburger, steak and pot roast come from, and had I been present, I probably would have become a vegetarian.  In a little while, we will all gather again in the folks’ kitchen and eat ham and scalloped potatoes.  I’m glad tonight’s meat entree isn’t beef

Another Successful Animal Rescue

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My baby sister is an animal advocate.  She volunteers for several Rescues, and is a participant, if not directly responsible, for many animals being placed in loving “furever” homes.  I knew how dedicated she was, but I had no idea to what degree until yesterday, when I, unwittingly, became an accomplice.

It happened this way.   Baby Sister was driving me home from her dad’s when I  mentioned that I saw an elephant on the sidewalk “back there.”

“What?” she said.  I repeated my observation.  She continued driving…right around the block…and there beside a garbage bin, lay a large gray elephant.

“He’s missing an ear,” I, now in the character of Ms Obvious, stated.  The car stopped, Baby Sister got out, scooped up the abandoned creature, and handed her off to me.

“His name is Van Gogh,” I thought, unfortunately, out loud.   Hoo-boy.

Baby Sis:  We’re crazy.

Me:  Speak for yourself.

Baby:  You saw him, you named him.  (Again, hoo-boy.  We are how old?)

So, let’s talk about the elephant in the room.  Turns out she is now named Vanna Gogh, and she has been repaired, bathed, and sits in my, yes, living room.

It seems, animal advocacy comes in all manner of forms.  And it also seems, I am very much a participant, as well.  Who knew?

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Look at her.  Isn’t she cute?

 

Fixin’ ‘Er Upper

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With a tip of the hat to Chip and Jo-jo, one of my most favorite things is home improvement.  The last two years of my full time teaching was spent with my former spouse remodeling the inside of our home.  It was basically gutted, and I came home from school many an evening to find the clothes washer and the refrigerator parked in the living room.

Each year since I moved into my tiny house here in the piedmont of North Carolina, I have scrimped and saved to improve some part of my home.  I’ve replaced the deck out back, had two corner built-ins added to the living room, installed top-down/bottom-up blinds, my ownself, in all the windows, and more.

Now…full disclosure…I am turning 70 (gasp) this year, and I have intended to turn the tiny, tiny building out back into a Craft Studio since 2011.  This is the year, and it is happening, even as we speak.  But more about that in another blog, later.

This winter, as Lenten penance, it turns out, I decided to paint all the walls inside…again, by my ownself.  I finished just last Sunday, doing a room a week, and wouldn’t you know, just one week after completion, yesterday, I spent the day tearing up the living room all over again, because this morning, I had the long-desired crown moulding put in the living room!  I am including the Before and After shots, a photo of the paint project, and the Tiny, Tiny’s initial demo.

I’m in my happy place, and this all makes turning a (cough) certain age very much worth it.