Sunday, November 27, 2016

just one more slice of pie

sometimes we forget to be thankful

sometimes we are thankful to be forgetful 

Kay: Those pies look so good, could I have just a sliver of pecan pie?

Ken: You already had a whole slice of pecan pie with ice cream on top and a sliver of pumpkin.

Kay: (looking doubtful at him) no, I don't think I have had any pie yet... 

Kay, what is that on your purse?

She looked closer and read it out loud, I am a Georgia Voter

So did you vote in the election?

Yes I did.

Who did you vote for?

mmm (thinking) well it was the Democrat but I don't remember his name


oh it was a woman? that's good! (face lights up)

yes it was! girl power! but she lost

(face falls) oh well at least she tried

We are thankful to have Thanksgiving with the family once again. It is usually the same - the same food, same place, same sentiment.

But each year there are differences. The kids and grandkids are now cooking and bringing covered dishes to granma's house. We had some new dishes this year - pecan pie, shepherd's pie, ratouille.

The youngest in the family is 19 and full of excitement and adventure and plans for the future. The eldest is 74 and wishes she could remember being that young, you see our sister Kay is struggling with memory.

But we remember for her, reminding her of how she used to be young and full of passion to save the world, a champion for kids and animals, how she used to be a social worker at the Family and Children Services and at the nursing home. 

We told the story of Thanksgiving 1973 when she brought her new fella to dinner, how they met when he turned up her driveway on his motorcycle. Kay: "Yes it was the motorcycle that did it for me". Ken: "The day that I made a wrong turn." It is fun to remember and to tell the stories for Kay. 

We are thankful that Kay still remembers us, thankful for Kennon who takes care of her, makes sure she takes her meds, fixes her meals, and everything else he does. 

sometimes we forget to be thankful

sometimes we are thankful to be forgetful

to forget that you already had pie

to forget who won the election

yes, it actually sounds like a wonderful world to live in, Kay, go ahead and have another piece of pie

Saturday, November 19, 2016


I love to rake leaves

when I say this, my kids say yeah right mom, good one

but I do

outside in nature

beautiful colors

hearing the crispy crunch as you walk through them

feeling the autumn sun and cool breeze

instead of the sound of the leaf blower

and the smell of gasoline

and the numbness in your hands from holding it

just rake some leaves

it is therapeutic

if you sit inside all week at a desk

even though your office view is a good one

you need to get out and do something

like rake leaves

like clean out a spot for the turkey fryer

so the old man won't set the woods on fire


even rake the driveway 

because those leaves are covering up the gravel

and you will need that soon

for traction in the snow and ice

just get out and rake some leaves

and then more leaves will fall

and it will rain and they will get all wet and heavy

and then someone else can handle it...

with a big gasoline leaf blower

I love to rake leaves

when they are dry and light and crunchy :)

Friday, November 11, 2016

family veterans

As she stood looking out over the NY harbor she wondered what was she doing here, about to board this giant gray ship and travel to the other side of the world?  Her thoughts were interrupted by the squeeze of a small hand in hers, the young boy said, "Mama the line is moving!" Up the gangplank they walked along with the other women and children and babies, lots of babies.

It was 1948 and the ship was the USS Buckner, former troop ship converted for dependent transport, headed to Japan.

They met while both stationed at Fort Benning, Georgia, and married after the war was over, Christmas 1945. She quit her job making parachutes, well more like they no longer required her service, because the war was over. But before long the orders came in for him to go to Japan for the Occupation, rebuilding of the war-torn country. So she was alone with her son in Georgia, until word came that wives and children were to come too. She was skeptical but he said they would be living right on Yokohama Bay and it really was beautiful.

So here she was in New York, after a long train ride from Georgia. The ship would leave and go south through the Panama Canal and out into the Pacific Ocean, a trip of six weeks or so. At first it was an adventure but not for long. The ship was full of dependent wives and babies. The babies were sick and crying nonstop. She decided if she ever got off this boat she didn't want to see a baby for a long time, much less have one of her own. Be careful what you say.

Her second son was born in Japan. Living on the bay was hard on her lungs, having asthma. The doctor would send her to the mountains to recover, the higher elevation air dryer and thinner. This fact would come into play many years later when they retired in 1964 and moved to the mountains of north Georgia.

~family stories - James Austin US Army, Alma Austin WAC, little Jimmy Austin, baby John born in Japan - Veterans Day 2016

Friday, October 28, 2016

checking out

parenting in the checkout line

It all started out when we were newlyweds, living in our first apartment south of Atlanta. Standing in the checkout line at Richway or Zayre or someplace like that… way before Wal-Mart… thoughts on parenting.

The checkout line is the worst place for parents, everything at kid eye level, mostly candy.

The pleading and whining starts then the crying. Yes that day back when we stood there, probably still in our late teens, and heard this line that resonated loud and clear: "If you don't stop crying, I will GIVE you something to cry about!" 

Oh and that worked so well to stop the tears, NOT.

Just the other day I was in the line at Wal-Mart and from the buggy behind me the little girl wanted something displayed to eat. Her father went into a long list of why she did not need that - you just ate a hamburger and fries and ice cream and that is bad for your body blah blah. I just smiled and was thankful that I am past that time in my life.

I saw this online - foam core dividers installed by Dad to keep the peace with triplets - and thought it might also be a good idea for checkout line buggies - what do you think?

Thursday, October 20, 2016

peaks and valleys

From rock hopping on the Little Pigeon River in Greenbriar or at the Chimney Tops picnic area, to the obligatory stop for photo op at Newfound Gap, we just can't decide which is our favorite, the peaks or the valleys that make up the Smokies.

Monday, October 17, 2016


Cataloochee Valley in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, former home to 1200 folks before the park was created and they all had to move. 

Townsend may be advertised as the peaceful side of the Smokies but Cataloochee wins the remote award.

The 11 mile narrow gravel road will hopefully weed out all but the serious visitors. Way up and over the ridge and down into the remote secluded valley, hiking trails, a campground, and some old homeplaces and churches. The reward at the end if you are lucky will be watching the majestic elk graze in the grassy fields.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Dollywood firsts

As many times as we have been to Dollywood, this time we had a couple of surprises.

We arrived early, around 8:30 or so, and got to park all the way in B section! We stood at the entrance waiting for the park to open, the ropes dropped and we moved forward to an area where they were checking bags - a first time for that.

Then we moved on up to the turnstiles which were not open yet. Standing there with all the other early folks, with the sun rising over the top of the Show Street Theater, a lady came out and welcomes everyone to Dollywood on this beautiful day, and then invites us all to take off our hats and put our hands over our hearts to join her in the national anthem - another first, a great way to start the day.

As is the case at places like this - hurry up and wait. We headed over to check out the latest greatest roller coaster, the Lightning Rod.

Waiting in line for the Lightning Rod we are listening to all the other folks, how they have been trying to ride this but it is often shut down for repairs, wow that is encouraging. About this time I am asking myself why do I let him talk me into these things, what if something happens, oh well it's been a good life and will make a good story to tell - about how granma flew off the roller coaster at DW.

Sitting in the roller coaster car, making sure everything was extra tight, we made the curve out of the loading area and faced the vertical rise. The car paused for a second like most roller coasters do to start the slow ascent, but not this one - we were shot out like a cannon up to the top of the first hill. My heart was in my throat, no wait it was my breakfast. From then on it was a minute and a half of eyes wide shut and jaw clinched tight telling myself just breathe it's almost over don't pass out.

All in all it was worse than the Tennessee Tornado or The Eagle or Thunderhead -  or in rollercoasterspeak I guess you would say it was better if that's the kind of thing you like - the nausea the lightheadedness the getting all shook up.

Check that off the list, we had now ridden all the coasters at DW, then on to the shows where the old folks go to rest.