Taking Momma Home

Recently I had the chance to take my momma back to her hometown. Now for some people this might not seem like a big deal but growing up, we lived like gypsies. When asked where I am from, I have a hard time answering. It seemed like we moved every couple of years. Maybe not far but we did move lots.

But I took my momma back to her hometown of McRoberts, Kentucky. At one time, the small community was part of the larger mining community of Eastern Kentucky. There is not as much there as there used to be but from the outpouring of community spirit I witnessed there, it still means something special to most who grew up there. They had a car show, live music, booths, inflatables for the kids and their first annual parade.

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But the most fun for me was watching these “older” ladies run squealing the length of a football field when they spotted one of their old friends. They had way more energy than I manage on a good day. And when the good old songs played over the loud speakers, they just couldn’t keep from dancing. And the men took up their teasing where they must have left off in their high school days.  Stories of their younger days spilled from their lips, punctuated by laughter, faster than I could keep up with. I heard many tales that my mother would have never been comfortable sharing with me in my younger days. But I am blessed because I got to hear these stories and share a part of my momma’s life she probably wouldn’t have shared otherwise. And the smile on her face the two days we were there was worth more to me than all the money in the world. I love you Momma!

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Peeling Apples

The sky lightens around me, uncovering the yard beyond my porch. The autumn air dries the apple juice on my fingers, the chill permeating my knuckles. Pains streak through them as I run the knife around and around the rough red peels. The peel skims off in one solid spiral. I study the movements my hands and fingers make. I contemplate all of the women of my family who have swung on this porch swing, doing the same job that I am at this moment.

The pull of my past beckons me. I remember sitting on the swing with Mamaw, eating slices of the apples as she spoke of family or sang the old hymns. Sometimes when I’d get greedy, the juice would drip down my chin as I tried to eat faster than she could peel. She would laugh at my attempts then wipe my chin with her apron tail. It’s softness only rivaled by the touch of her hand upon my cheek, the love shining in her eyes. Those times spent upon the porch swing are precious to me now.

I wonder if she learned at the knee of her mother or grandmother. At the time, I didn’t think to ask and now I can’t. She’s been gone for years. Her voice echoes around me as the world awakens. My peels pile up in her old floral bowl as the slices fill my new bowl. Mixing the old with the new, I wonder when my hands became hers.

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We don’t need television in Hope

We don’t need television in Hope. Now I know I’ve said this before but it really is true. Anything you’d ever want to watch, we have live in Hope.

We have our own personal weather man, Doc. Now he may not get the weather right for Hope but he can tell you the weather for every other place in the world. And make you believe that it’s all going to hit here today.

If you are into politics, we have our own version of a political debate. And forget about Republican or Democrat, we just have the right side and the wrong side. Now our friend Bob represents the right side and our son Daniel represents everything else. This makes for some interesting viewing. If you are into sports, we have Will wrestling or Tommy’s triathlon. We’re not sure what the exact sports are in Tommy’s triathlon but it sure is fun to watch. We have our own version of music videos with Alyson, usually performed on top of our picnic table or the trampoline. Then we have hunting stories with Bob, among other things. Some days he gives concerts or is a stand up comedian.

If you like the show “Cops,” all you have to do is watch next door. Sometimes they even show an episode of “Emergency.” Randy has been known to stage his own version of “Gunsmoke,” complete with lots of actual gunsmoke. If you hang around any of the local loafing spots, you could be involved in Hope’s version of “The Andy Griffith Show.” And I, of course, am the star of “Charlie’s Angels.” Well, maybe my show would be more like “Golden Girls.” Some days, it’s like a scene from “The Brady Bunch” around here, minus all the niceness and the spontaneous song and dance routines, and with lots of yelling added. With all of the mishaps around here, it could pass as “Green Acres.”

But whichever “show” we are involved in at the time, we are sure to have a wonderful time. Life here is not quite normal but we can’t say that we are ever bored.

 

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Why we don’t have rubber snakes

If you are looking to remodel, I’m the girl for the job. That is if you want a new hole in the wall. At least that’s what my family says. They tested their theory a while back.

Daniel had gotten a rubber snake as a gift. I don’t know what kind of fool would buy a rubber snake but they did. And he brought it home. And hid it on my desk under some of my papers. Well, I needed something off of my desk and I was rummaging through my papers. (I have five kids at home, so the paperwork from school alone keeps me covered up.) I raised up one of those papers and there that thing was! I screamed, threw papers everywhere and ran, straight into the wall. If I’d had a little more room, I could have busted right through.

Then this spring, while mowing the grass, I spotted another one. Usually, the first time we mow, the riding mower never works. So I end up push mowing the yard. Well, this year, I had mowed about half of the huge front yard, when I saw something sliding through the grass in front of my mower. Normally, my husband says I can walk on water when I see one but since I had extra children over, who don’t really know of my irrational fear, I was trying to stay calm. So I pulled the mower back toward me, shut it off and half-walked, half-ran around the house to where my husband was. I calmly informed him that I needed him to get the gun and come with me.

At my house, I firmly believe that my health is much more important than the snake’s right to live. If they want to live, they need to stay away from me. Far away! Well, the dingbat, my husband not the snake, looks at me and says, “What do you need a gun for?”

Ok, so now I freak out. “I’m mowing the yard! And I come ask you for a gun! You know what I need a gun for!!” My need to stay calm and protect the children has fled. I just need him to understand that I need that snake gone!

He finally consents to get the gun. I grab a wooden katana, it belongs to one of the lovely children, and take him by the finger to lead him to the offensive object. We go out into the yard and there is no sign of the thing. He begins to tell me how it’s probably three counties away by now but I’m not buying it. I tell him that it went down a crawdad hole. He tells me that they will not go down a crawdad hole. I am determined to prove him wrong. So I leave the mowing until it’s dead. There is no way I’m going back out there without backup.

The next afternoon, I convince him to go back out there with me. He is unarmed, because he doesn’t believe that it’s there. I, on the other hand, know better. I have the katana and his finger once again. I tiptoe through the yard toward the hole that I’m convinced the snake is in. My wonderful husband is making fun of me with every step. We reach the spot where I left the mower. He says, “See, it’s long gone now.”

About that time, I look down and guess what is streaking between my feet. Yep, the snake that isn’t there. So I scream and proceed to wrench his finger out of its socket. He grabs the katana from me, I think he was afraid I’d beat him to death with it. By that time, the snake has slithered down the crawdad hole. Right where he said it wouldn’t go. Yep, I’m sooooo I told you so!!!  He is making excuses for himself. Like he’s never seen one go down a hole before. Yeah, right, he just wanted the yard mowed.

So, while I’m screaming and dancing in place, he’s examining the hole. Go get me the gas, he tells me. I’m thinking, “Gas, really? Get the gun and fill that hole full of lead!” But he reassures me that the gas will kill it in its hole. Ok, I’ll give it a try. I run to the shed and get it gas. I bring it back to him and stand back while he pours some in the hole. He then stomps on the hole, trying to cover it up. “Now, you won’t see that again.” He stomps it one more time for good measure and puts his hands on his hips. About that time, I screech. Yep, it came back up out of that hole and right up over his foot. He takes the katana from me and I won’t go into details but by the time he was finished, I was happy. He nursed his sore finger for a week, next time, maybe he’ll listen to me when I tell him it went down a hole.

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Bob: Handsome Hair and Hunting Stories

Bob has handsome hair or at least he says he does. He likes to comb it and tell everyone how handsome it is. And we all know what kind of liar he is.

 

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                                                        Handsome Hair

So we take him to the barber shop to get a cut. Our barber is an avid deer hunter and has a television set up in his shop playing hunting shows. Bob climbs up in the chair and the barber starts cutting. The show on the television is showing a large buck. Bob looks up at the barber and says, “I killed a fourteen point.”

The barber pauses.

“Yep, he come up out of the creek and I put him down. Killed him with a shotgun. Up in the holler.”

Bob keeps embellishing his tale while the barber is cutting. Finally the barber stops and looks at Randy.

“Really, he really killed a fourteen point?”

I think he seriously believed this five-year-old sitting in his chair. But Bob is entirely serious when he talks of his expeditions in the woods.

Randy shakes his head and laughs. The barber laughs and continues to cut Bob’s hair as Bob relives his non-existent hunting adventures. One of these days, he’s really going to kill one and no one will believe him.

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                                                               Bob’s New Do!

 

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                                                    Bob, winking for the ladies! 

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More Characters from Hope

There are many different characters in and around Hope. I’m sure there are strange folks everywhere but some of these guys take the cake.

Like the time John got a scooter. Now he enjoyed riding that scooter all day and when it started to get late, he headed home. He got there and hollered for his wife. She came out on the porch and he told her he was going to park his scooter in the house. “So them boys won’t take off with it.” Was his reasoning, he had a couple of sons that would have loved to get a hold of it. Now his wife wasn’t too worried about the scooter being in the house seeing as how the porch was six feet off the ground. But John wasn’t deterred. He came around the house toting a large board. “Now you hold this right here, I’m going to go around the house on the scooter to get up some speed. Then I’ll run up this here board and right up in the house.”

His wife never said a word, but I bet she was sure thinking a lot. John started up that scooter and headed around the house. By the time he got back around to the board, he had his speed up but he missed the board. The bottom of the porch caught him right in the middle of his forehead. He woke up about two hours later and his precious scooter was under the porch. I don’t think he ever rode it much after that.

Another one of the locals, Timmy, went to the store and came back with a set of boxing gloves. For some reason, he thought this would be a good idea. So he went from house to house in Hope, trying to find someone to spar with him. No one would take him up on the offer until he got to Mumbles. Now Mumbles got tired of being aggravated, so he agreed. They drew off a square in the hallway of the barn. Timmy got his gloves on first while Mumbles was still struggling with his. Timmy snuck up to him and punched him square in the nose. Well, that set Mumbles off. He dropped the gloves and lit in on Timmy. About beat him senseless, if he’d had any. The last they saw of Timmy and the boxing gloves was as he stalked out of the barn, throwing the gloves over his shoulder. “F- it. I quit!” He never asked anyone to box again.

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He Waited For You (poem)

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He waited for you.

His tail wagging, his ears perked up as you drove away.

He waited for you.

As you left the drive, he laid his head upon his paws. Content to stay until you returned.

He waited for you.

So patient, he lay there until the sun turned to shade.

He waited for you.

The cool breeze ruffling his coat as he listened for the sound of your truck.

He waited for you.

As my tears damped his fur, he never doubted your arrival.

He waited for you.

While the dew fell on him and darkness cloaked him.

He waited for you.

 

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Old Country Stores, Daily Entertainment

Around Hope, we prize our old country stores. Though some have changed over the years, we still derive much pleasure from them.

One of the stores around here once had a drive thru added. But not in the way you might expect. There was a light snow on the roadways and Jack, having lived in California most of his adult life, had never gotten the hang of driving on snow. He gave his signal, slowed down and turned. Or so he thought. His car continued on the path it was travelling, heading straight for the side of the block building. Well, he went crashing right through the wall knocking cases of Ale-8 one, our local soda, all over the place. When Sue, the owner of the store, walked up to his door to check on him, he rolled the window down, grinned at her and said, “I came by for a pop and a cake.”

At another of our local stores, the older gentleman running the place was complaining about his eyesight to my husband. Now the gentleman knew that he used to be able to see well out of his glasses but something just wasn’t right with them on this day. He asked Randy to look them over for him. Randy picked up the offending object and held them up in front of him. “Well, this here’s your problem.” Randy told him, pointing out that one of the lenses was missing from the frames. “No wonder I couldn’t see a thing.” He told Randy, chuckling.

This feller that lives close to us had a long trench coat that he loved to wear. The guys around here teased him about it, calling it his “Columbo” coat. Now he wore that coat everyday that winter. But one fateful day, when he went to the store to pick up a quart of oil, that all changed. Now this was in the days when motor oil was still sold in the old paper quart containers. Up until this time, the top and bottom was made of metal. But for some reason, the company changed the design so that the bottom of the containers were now plastic, unbeknownst to this feller. So he came into the old store, picked out his quart of oil and set it on top of the old wood stove and backed up to it to warm up. Well as the oil can heated, the bottom melted all over the top of the stove and the oil leaked out and caught fire. The guys started yelling about the wood stove being on fire, so “Columbo” turned around, saw the oil fire, whipped his coat off and put it out. There was no damage to the store, only the lingering smoke from the fire but the coat wouldn’t live to see another day. He never did get him another one of those coats.

And then there was the one conversation that Randy heard a couple of old timers having in the store. One looked over at the other and said, “You know, I reckon it’s about time for the new cars to come out.” The other feller looked back at him, cocked his head to the side and said “The fire went out? What’s he doing with a fire anyway, it’s too hot for that.”

So around here, we don’t need television, we just head down to the old country store and see what the locals are up to.

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      This is Blevins Grocery, located in Preston, one of my husband’s favorite haunts

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Teaching my kids the “Oldies”

Music plays a huge part in my life. I love music. If I go for a couple of days without listening to any kind of music, I feel depression begin to creep over me. I am a lover of all types of music, from rock and roll to classical, bluegrass to rap. Music moves me. I have been schooling my children in some of the classics. We have a wonderful time driving down the road, blasting golden oldies on the ipod and singing along.

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Here are Alyson, Daniel, Thomas, Will and Bob in the car getting ready to sing!

Some of their favorites are: Rockin’ Robin by Bobby Day; The Battle of New Orleans by Johnny Horton; Build Me Up Buttercup by The Foundations (they like this one even better when I sing it cornily to them); Great Balls of Fire by Jerry Lee Lewis; The Lion Sleeps Tonight by The Tokens; No Particular Place to Go by Chuck Berry; School Days by Chuck Berry; Sugar, Sugar by The Archies and Under the Boardwalk by The Drifters.

But the all time favorite of my crew would have to be Little Bitty Pretty One by Thurston Harris. It just makes my heart happy to hear all my little ones singing along with this.

 

Here is a link to the song on Youtube. If you’ve not heard it, check it out and imagine all my little voices singing along. 🙂

 

I’ve also been schooling them in music from the 80s and classic country but I’ll save those for another day.

What kind of music do you like? Any other favorites I should share with my crew?

 

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Hillbilly Games

My kids have great imaginations. Sometimes that’s a great thing, other times it causes multiple trips to the emergency room. At our house we have “hillbilly” games. These games are like ordinary games but with some twists.

One of their favorite games is “Hillbilly Sledding.” This consists of using a common sled, like the one’s used for snow sledding. Each of the kids gets a sled and starts down my mother’s asphalt driveway. If they don’t fall off and have to go to the hospital, we have to take Mamaw for her heart palpitations. We’ve not had any bad experiences yet, just a few cases of road rash. And Mamaw is still with us.

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                         Alyson and her cousin Colton doing their “Hillbilly Sledding”

Now another game they like is “Hillbilly Basketball.” Now I think this is just like regular basketball with a few extra rules. Like: no biting, no pulling people’s clothes off, no kicking, punching, headbutting or pantsing. But most times these rules get broken anyway. Bob has the worst time with all the rules, usually breaking the no biting rule in the first minute of the game.

They have many other “hillbilly” games they play, some of which include chickens, dogs, tobacco sticks, and duct tape. I’ve figured out that sometimes it pays not to ask.

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                                  My husband and kids playing “Hillbilly Basketball”

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                                                       Dad’s still got it!!

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Everyone survived, Bob just bit Alyson and Daniel downed Bob, resulting in him being carried off the playing field. 

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