Archives for category: Baby Boomer

sui generis – Unique. [L, “of one’s own kind.”] The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Dell Publishing Co., Inc., 1974, p. 692

. . . . .

IT BEING THE TENTH YEAR AFTER HER PASSING, THIS IS POSTED FOR THOSE WHO ARE STRUGGLING WITH MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES EITHER FOR THEMSELVES OR LOVED ONES.

HER HUSBAND DEMANDED THAT I RETURN TO LAS VEGAS IMMEDIATELY TO REMOVE MY DAUGHTER’S BELONGINGS FROM HER HOUSE. SO, JUST TWO WEEKS AFTER TAKING HER HOME FOR HER ATLANTA MEMORIAL, I DROVE TO LAS VEGAS. IT WAS DURING THAT TIME THAT I WAS “TOLD” TO CREATE A MENTAL HEALTH WEBSITE. I FOUGHT BACK, BUT RELENTED.

WHY IS IT CALLED AVA’S CORNER, INC.? BECAUSE, AS A SINGLE MOM, IF I WASN’T IN AVA’S CORNER, THEN NO ONE WOULD BE. SHE WAS MY DAUGHTER…MY RESPONSIBILITY FOR LIFE…GOOD, BAD AND WORSE. CONTRARY TO POPULAR BELIEF, IT’S NOT A TRIBUTE TO HER. IT’S A STORY OF HER SUCCESSES AND FAILURES AS SHE FOUGHT FOR THE HELP SHE NEVER GOT FROM “THE SYSTEM” WHICH EXISTED IN THAT TIME.

PLEASE VISIT avascorner.org FOR RELIABLE, NATIONALLY RECOGNIZED WEBSITES FOR VARIOUS MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES.

From her Memorial service in Las Vegas
Inside of Ava’s Memorial in Las Vegas in March. There were hundreds of business people, professors, performers and artists in attendance who were all friends.

. . . . .

The Gifted Development Center, http://www.gifteddevelopment.com, has a Tab on the left entitled “What is Giftedness?” I thought it poignant and telling as to Ava’s journey, which was/is mine as well. The introductory paragraph reads: “Every gift contains a danger. Whatever gift we have we are compelled to express. And if the expression of that gift is blocked, distorted, or merely allowed to languish, then the gift turns against us, and we suffer.” (Johnson, 1993, p. 15)

Well said! Too bad it wasn’t available in the 70’s when Ava burst onto the scene after her ten month incubation and astonished family, hospital staff and onlookers by doing a push-up while only minutes-old in the incubator. Her grandmothers, father and brother watched in disbelief as newborn Ava reared up on her hands in perfect push-up form and turned her head from side-to-side with a look of disgust on her face, as if to say, “Who turned on all the lights?” When my mom and son excitedly entered the recovery room reporting this incredulous event, I knew I was in for some serious parenting challenges, and I wasn’t wrong.

The blind blessing was that I didn’t know then the extent to which I would be challenged. Ava exhibited even more powers of perception, intuition and psychic ability than her brother, Carl, although Carl was certainly an Indigo kid as well. He just came with different psychic and artistic talents. They both “saw” energies early on and spoke openly of their communications and visions. With eleven years separating them, Carl wasn’t around much of her childhood; however, they instantly adored each other unconditionally.

Newborn Ava holding her head up at birth!

Ava sensed when something was wrong with Carl even before I did. And, when Carl disappeared without a trace (Ava was six years old – he was eighteen), she was the first person to “see” him. She was playing outside at my mom’s when I heard her yelling “Carl! Carl! Wait!” As soon as I heard her panicked voice, I ran to see what was wrong. Ava told me Carl had just walked up the steps where I now stood! I frantically looked around calling his name telling him we love him and to give us a hug. Ava said he’d walked toward the woods behind Mom’s. We ran through the woods for about an hour calling his name. She described what he was wearing down to his shoes. It wasn’t until fifteen years later that we knew without doubt that he had presented himself to her that day as if to prepare us for the fact that he was gone. I never “saw” him until his burial service but Ava “saw” him on many occasions.

Although Ava’s years between birth and puberty weren’t easy, I always felt the extenuating circumstances of my divorce from her dad, Carl’s own emotional issues and ultimate disappearance exacerbated her own instability. I often dismissed her early symptoms of separation anxiety and dysfunction as stemming from these outside influences and tried to give her what she needed emotionally by literally spending all my time with her when I wasn’t working. Even though we always started off with me staying in her bed until she fell asleep, I woke up with her snuggled next to me. When she was ten, I insisted on her staying in her own bed as mine was just getting too small for the two of us…she would command the whole bed! But, even then, I’d almost step on her as she slept in her sleeping bag positioned as close to my bed as possible. After Carl disappeared, my life focus was on giving her stability by moving into my mom’s and finding a good Christian private school (I could afford) to anchor us both.

She had her way of not being ignored!

By the sixth grade, I realized the Christian school Ava attended was failing miserably to teach her on so many levels. The school set their curriculum for the teachers to cover and it didn’t matter that some kids were left behind. Not only was I spending a great deal of time helping Ava with her school work but her teachers lacked empathy for this emotionally struggling child. I gave the principal an ultimatum…change your methods or I’d teach her myself.

A few years later as puberty knocked at the door, I quit my job of twenty years and started my own consulting business so I could be with Ava during those very difficult years. My instincts were that it was going to be one rocky road and I needed to have as much time as possible to be emotionally and physically available.

During Ava’s year of home school, she fought me like a hellcat. She hated me for removing her from her social life. In truth, she hated me for everything…the divorce, her brother’s disappearance, the Christian school, home school, Desert Storm and everything in between. It was a true test of my faith to keep steady and give her structure amongst her rantings, ravings, threats and tantrums.

So, I took our lessons in negotiation to new level. As she’d never been a morning person, I told her she could perform her schoolwork any time of the twenty-four hour day that suited her best. After all, she was a seventh grader and didn’t need me sitting over her shoulder all the time, plus, I could have my days to work or write and she could have her sleep. Every Monday I handed her the weekly lessons she was to perform and gave her all week to get them done. Each week, if she got them all done correctly, she could choose between a field trip or lunch at her favorite Chinese restaurant on Friday. It gave us a small level of peace…thank God.

She still harped at me constantly to find friends for her like they magically appeared at my command. And, believe me, I searched everywhere for them. There weren’t coveys of them like there are now (no less than 50,000 home schooled children in metro Atlanta then).

Not a single group at the local church or ice skating rink were kids she liked. In the spring of 1991, I introduced her to my then best friend’s daughter who was an “A” student, cheerleader and all around great kid. She was involved in a Unitarian church and, as Ava had always been in private Christian schools, this youth group was the plus I was hoping for as Ava was always faith challenged. Little did I know that the youth group was infected with an eighteen-year old pedophile who posed himself cleverly as a big brother type to thirteen year-old Ava, aiming directly at her greatest childhood pain.

She was so starved to have her brother back in her life that she let this creep step in her big brother’s shoes not realizing the disaster that would come to her from him. I pushed hard to keep her away from the group but the pedophile won. The day this man raped my daughter, she dissociated for the first time. It was the blow that threw her into full-blown BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder, of which she wouldn’t be diagnosed with for another fifteen years). I didn’t know what her behavior meant then other than trauma, but it became all too evident to me later.

The strangest part of this whole experience was watching Ava internalize the pain this rapist continued to inflict upon her for two months. She refused to leave the youth group as she still thought of them to be her “friends.” All the while, the pedophile bragged about his conquest to others in their “group” and Ava lashed her pain out at me. Her outward anger was so singly focused on me that she refused to speak about the incident.

I understood her fragility and didn’t push to have the pedophile prosecuted as I was truly afraid she would kill herself if she had to face the humiliation of a trial as she had always been a very private person. She’d often berated me if I’d spoken too loudly on something she deemed to be a private matter. By the end of that summer and just six days before my father died, Ava attempted to overdose on nonprescription pills. As much as she hated hospitals and needles, I thought taking her to the emergency room to have her stomach pumped would snap her out of her episode of self-pity and self-destruction. Wrong!

Ava had already been going to different therapists over those last three years as my concern for her mental well-being continued to increase. Now, with this event, we were in deeper than I ever imagined. It would take a woman she trusted to open her up enough to show her vulnerability. The woman therapist she was seeing recommended group therapy as well. That BOMBED and, as usual, I was, again, the brunt of her rage. She became more withdrawn and bitched constantly about living in my mom’s very rural area.

My last ex said I liked being shot out of a rocket. I don’t. I was simply doing what had to be done. I’d jumped off cliffs knowing God was my parachute so many times that it was my norm. With God by my side and a nickel in my pocket, I negotiated to buy a house with no money down and seller financing. We moved into our new house two months after we working fifteen hour days trying to update the 1972 paint and wallpaper with that nickel. Ava worked hard and was looking forward to being in a neighborhood and meeting kids. I didn’t have the money to keep her in private school, but that was fine by her. She was ready for a change. She tried out to be a cheerleader and everything else available. She made friends and things looked okay for ten minutes or so. Then everything began to unravel again.

I’d learned the value of therapy in 1972 and used it wholeheartedly to unlearn some unhealthy childhood teachings, cope with my son’s antics and work on how to help Ava. She was still in therapy as well but it didn’t seem to be doing much and I had very little “extra” money to throw away on her playing games with therapists.

By the time Ava was seventeen-years-old, she had unilaterally decided to quit high school, which kept me crying over two weeks. Why didn’t I know she had quit school? Because she got up and drove to pick up her girlfriend every morning. I don’t recall how I found out that she was going to her girlfriend’s and was getting stoned instead. During their play dates they had cooked up a plan to go to the local adult education school endearingly and rightfully called “Tokewood.” I was already familiar with this school as Carl, too, had gone there years before. It was all a shell game…one where everyone lost.

As I was ripe for yet another nervous breakdown because Ava was convinced that she knew everything, I spent the next six weeks selling everything in the house and found a renter. I had put the oxygen mask on just as the airlines tell you to do. It was an all too familiar territory I had experienced with my still missing son years before but it was time for Ava to figure out how little she really knew about life and living as it appeared that I wasn’t able to teach her in a way which registered with her. Plus, I felt like I was dying. I offered to pay her living expenses as long as she was working toward getting her GED and stayed in college. The world was going to do the rest.

And boy did it ever. The world taught her all sorts of things like how to take her self-destructive nature to a whole new level with her best friend’s discovery of how to make easy money as an exotic dancer. She learned that cocaine just helped her concentrate better (she was off doing school work while her friends partied), that marijuana made her paranoid (more than usual), that drinking was her relief from the intrinsic pain in her soul, and that she could sign up for school and make me think she was taking classes so I would continue to fully support her. This radical self-destructive mode lasted until she was about twenty-four years old when I’d gone as far as a human could go. I let fury fly on her about her behavior and said I was through. I was selling out (yet again) and she’d better find a place to live and a way to support herself.

Ava fought back to regain control of her life, joined a church and found where she wanted to live…Little Five Points near downtown Atlanta. It was perfect for her. It gave her the community spirit she needed…drum circles and a sense of well-being. She still struggled, but not like before. She focused on her studies, got a job, married and got her Associates Degree by 2007. She was finally on the right track. It took every bit of my earnings to support us both in our respective homes but it was worth seeing her blossom in her little apartment that cost twice what I paid for my own home.

As Las Vegas was always where her husband wanted to live, he moved there while she stayed in Atlanta to finish her Associates Degree in music. Ava expressed her reluctance to move there but, finally in the fall of 2008, she finally agreed having run out of excuses to stay. As her husband sat in the loaded truck, he raced the engine. As she would follow behind in her car, she ran back inside the apartment for one more hug and said, “Mom, I’m afraid to move to Las Vegas.” Naturally, I asked why and her answer still makes my heart stop, “Because I think I’m going to die there.” I told her, “No, baby; you’re going to LIVE there.”

The first year in Las Vegas was not just hard. It was bad…really bad. I truly didn’t believe she would live through that first year in Vegas for so many reasons. Just two weeks after moving her to this very alien desert region in a town away from everything familiar, her husband left to work in Japan for six months. At least he gave her the phone number of a woman who was from Georgia and lived in Vegas. However, when she was this fragile, it only took a small pebble in the road to cause Ava to fall back into her comfortable, self-destructive behavior. Abandonment was the pebble which caused a tsunami.

Desperate to feel better, she self-medicated. She called me on Halloween crying so hard I could barely understand what she was saying. Finally, I got the message. She wanted me to pray with her so she could flush it all down the toilet. I stayed on the phone with her as she performed her exorcism…yet again. I encouraged her to think positively and move toward getting back into her studies again. It was 2009 and her already rocky marriage was getting worse by the day but in true BPD behavior, she clung to it relentlessly…yet forever tortured by its failings.

It was then Ava made friends with the woman from Georgia who helped Ava regain balance and become aligned more closely with Ava’s first tribe. Her new friends accepted her openly and lovingly. She was finally keeping company with an amazing group of performers who were family to her. It was the emotional nutrition she desperately needed and the salve to the open wound of her failing marriage and tortured soul.

By the next January (Spring semester 2010), she had registered at UNLV to push herself again toward her Bachelor of Music Degree in Vocal Performance. She dug deep to find the energy she needed but, again, had to withdraw from school as her mental health wasn’t where it needed to be. It was exactly what she swore she wouldn’t do again, but knew she had to if she wanted to live…and she did. She was placed on probation from the college which embarrassed her, but also charged her toward a new resolve.

Fall semester of 2010 both recharged her dreams with success at UNLV but also exhausted her with disaster in her failed marriage. Everything was reached a crescendo of extremes. Domestic violence combined with intense operatic training for her junior year recital wore her out. In fact, that December, she told me she didn’t think she could finish her degree because she was so sick and exhausted. I told her I didn’t care how long it took to get the degree and suggested that she should take time off to figure out what she was going to do with her marriage and career.

The next day, UNLV told her she could graduate in two semesters and that if she didn’t finish her course work by December, 2011, she wouldn’t be eligible for any more student loans. It was the best and the worst news. She was excited to know that she was so close to attaining her dream, but also unbelievably strained with all the negativity from her spouse and fellow students in the Music program at school. But she pushed back hard to be successful getting domestic counseling, creating study groups and playing as much as possible to relieve the many stresses of her existence.

Ava was such a fatalist. The day before commencement in December, 2011, Ava called me to say that she’d completed all her course work and finals but was worried that she wouldn’t be able to participate in graduation exercises because they were to be next morning and she didn’t have her cap and gown. I reminded her that it was only 2:00 P.M. Ava-Specific-Time (she called me never aware of the 3 hour time difference). I excitedly said that she’d best hang up and call the school to tell them she was on her way to pick it up! That’s when she got excited. The next morning, she woke up at 5:30 and got to the school and started texting pictures to me of her experience.

She was so happy that day. She insisted I cancel my flight so I wouldn’t spend the money and, instead, for me to come out for a Senior Recital in May. I was sad that I’d gotten so caught up in her drama and at her insistence to cancel that I missed being there on her big day. But, with her constant updates, pictures and big smiles, it was the next best thing to being there. She was so very proud and happy that day. I believe it was the only truly happy day of her life.

Graduation Day – Bachelor of Music (Vocal Performance)

For graduation, I gave her a trip to come home for Christmas. It was a promise we’d made to each other the prior year. We were both so horribly miserable Christmas of 2010 that we were determined to have it together in 2011. And we planned every minute to be with each other, close family and friends. It was surreal. She was calm, even more adult-like and confident knowing she had an opera singing job waiting for her in Vegas even if her estranged husband was already emotionally divorced from her.

I don’t have to tell you that the wheels fell off the wagon rather quickly from problems with her work and her unhappy home life.

Ava’s gift was music. From very early on, she craved a broad spectrum of it from heavy metal to opera, but opera was her greatest passion. Her voice had a rich, soulful tone which set her apart from others. Ava’s dream was to become so famous that she could help save helpless animals from being tortured in labs, circuses or zoos, to feed the children, save them from worldly pains and give universal love. When she thought she couldn’t hold on any more because of negative, hurtful things people said to her at home and work those last days, she imploded…not able to cope with a broken heart any longer. The shooting star faded into the darkness of the night.

Although Ava had a great sense of humor, was intelligent and loved courageously, she felt like she never fit in…not in kindergarten, first grade, high school, college or Las Vegas until she found her “tribe.” As a child, she’d always said her “tribe” would come for her one day. She had one part of that detail wrong…she had to find her tribe; actually, several of them. She was that complex. Each tribe wholly embraced the part of her uniqueness they understood and appreciated. And in the end, through her death, Ava brought her tribes together.

Literally hundreds of people who would have never met had it not been for Ava’s love and appreciation for their own sui generis found lasting friendships in each other. Dictionaries will need to add “Ava” to the definition of this Latin term.

BELOW IS THE FRONT AND BACK COVER OF “OUR” BOOK. It tells my truths. My son’s truths. My daughter’s truths. Again, I was “told” that we three were to write it 35 years ago and it took those 3 decades and three lives to this end. I use the sale of this book by taking donations to Ava’s Corner, Inc. (501[c]3) IRS sanctioned non-profit (no salaries). If interested, please go to our Home page at avascorner.org to see the several ways you can donate a minimum of $25.00 to receive a personalized copy of this limited first edition book.

There was a decade in my past when I camped/hotel-ed my way, alone, over 150,000 miles across the back roads of US and lower Canada. It was what had called my soul to do since I was a young woman. On those journeys, I met so many wonderful people and fell in love with places to which I’d return every single time I traveled westward. Those places still reside within my soul and always will.

Lately, I’ve been busy writing my book, creating large yard art, working on my inner growth, loving my Chirren (adults blessed into my life by my daughter before and after her passing) and helping them in prayer and Mom support. I’ve also been settling into doling many of my home maintenance, repairs, and projects which I’ve always wanted to do.

My book, from a FRIEND, came in bits and pieces over the last 35 years after I was given the “message” that I was to write it. In 2017, I was “told” to go to the desert to finish it, so I did, reluctantly. I don’t like the desert but, there, I found it to be perfect because there were NO shiny objects to distract me!

The next couple of years were spent in writing, editing, learning graphic design, perils of publishing with the big boys which take all your rights away, then back to more editing and, finally, self-publishing to raise much-needed funds for Ava’s Corner, Inc.

The result of all this arduous work resulted in a 262 page book of fearless honesty complete with color photos in a slow build in the hope that readers would see how I overcame unthinkable situations and tragedies through hard work, therapy and HIS blessings as explained in Chapter 20 entitled, “Hindsight is 20-20, but Knowledge is Power!.”

As to Ava;s Corner, Inc., it’s the non-profit (501[c]3) mental health information website (avascorner.org) which provides one-stop-shopping for finding places to start your search for answers found in nationally recognized websites.

ALL funds from the sale of my book go directly to this non-profit to pay website expenses…no salaries. Those interested in donating to Ava’s Corner can go to our Home page and find several ways to make your donation of a minimum of $25.00 to receive your personalized copy of it from me.

Below are pictures not found in the book of “Warrior” (my son, Carl), “Songbird” (my daughter first named Jennifer and, later, Ava) and me.

For those of you who I met along the way and have continued to support me, I thank you!

Pictures of Carl and Jennifer (later Ava) below.

Sleeping Jennifer (“Songbird” in book and later in life known as Ava)

Carl (“Warrior” in book) and Jennifer (“Songbird” in book and, later, Ava)
Drawing of “John Doe” found to be my son, Carl, after he disappeared in 1984
Ava’s last head shot (formerly named Jennifer and “Songbird in book)

When I started what I thought was the final draft of my book, from a Friend, in 2017 in the Mojave desert, I thought I’d be finished in 2018. However, after driving back with the travel trailer through every western & mid-western state with no less than 60+ MPH crosswinds, I had to sleep.

The good news? It rained for the first three months after getting home. The bad news? When it stopped raining, I literally faced vermin (venomous snakes), pestilence (invading ants), flooding (river) and other such things which took over most of the rest of that year. So, decided I needed to create my “Laughin’ Place” where I could watch the world go by and relax for a hot minute or two!

MY Laughin’ Place

In 2019, I decided I needed another year off as my brain was still fried from the intensity of 2017 & 2018. So, I traveled around north Georgia and looked for the best BBQ eatin’ places and festivals. I was convinced that 2019 would be the year I could focus on edits, re-writes and filing for my copyright in anticipation of a 2020 publication.

Well, heck. COVID had other plans. It hit 2020 and us all in the gut. The good news about 2020? I was rested up, in isolation and ready to work on the last edits/re-writes. I became even more “driven” to have the First Edition Published in early 2021 in light of all the news of suicides from COVID isolation and depression.

During breaks between edits and re-writes, I investigated my publishing options. It turned out that most publishers want you give your blood and most your rights and take royalties without any help in marketing your book. That’s all up to you! In fact, as this year has progressed, I’ve heard tell of some publishers which have even dropped books because they didn’t like the content or parts of it or some such.

I decided to go with Self-publication with a local printer, anxious to leave my money at home where it counted. Unfortunately, their graphic designer was not able to work on my book for personal reasons, so, yet again, I was “pushed” to learn how to find my “third eye” to complete edits as well how to create the graphic design for it. Good thing I can work from both left and right sides of my brain when pressed!

I kinda this book think it turned out as a great read. It’s not a Pat Conroy (my hero), but it’s my truth which builds and grows from the first page to the last, fraught with tragedy, yet full of unconditional love, faith, healing and finding blessings in it all.

Those who have given me feedback have said, “I have been glued to the book! My heart hurts and sings at the same time.” “I enjoyed the book so much. I couldn’t put it down….read it from cover to cover at one time!” “I read it twice.” and, “I’m on page 90 and I feel like you’ve already lived 100 lives!”

FRONT COVER, from a Friend, written by me, and includes my children’s own stories of Carl (Warrior) and Ava (Songbird), as told and transcribed by me while in the desert in 2017.
PROLOGUE – from a Friend
BACK COVER – from a Friend

A Limited First Edition of my book, from a Friend, was issued as a fundraising event for the benefit of my non-profit, IRS sanctioned 501(c)3, called Ava’s Corner, Inc. with the affiliated website called avascorner.org.

All funds for this first edition go directly into the Ava’s Corner, Inc. account for website expenses. You may donate directly through VENMO on our website’s Home Page (geared for desktop) of a minimum of $25.00, or send a check in that amount payable to Ava’s Corner, Inc. and mailed to address on website. Upon receipt of your funds, I will mail your personalized, signed copy to you right away. You can email me via the address on the Home page as well with questions or comments.

Hope to hear from you soon, and, as always, HAPPY TRAILS…UNTIL WE MEET AGAIN!

This telling didn’t start yesterday. It began in my yesteryears of writing letters, memoirs and blogs. In October 1987, I received in the early morning dream state the first chapters which began the 35 year journey of writing this book. However, it was a 1995 prediction of it by my daughter’s friend which reinforced the decades of moving toward its publication. It has taken, literally, three decades and as many lives in the making of this book.

Since I returned home from the Mojave Desert in southern Arizona in early 2018, I’ve been editing and tightening up this book to make it what I was “told” to write several times over those decades. I was told “there is no shame in telling the truth,” so, I’ve done that (with limitation, out of respect for others), but with no shame in my own telling, “Mother’s Words,” as did both my son, Carl, and daughter, Ava. They both participated in “telling” their own stories entitled “Warrior’s Words” and “Songbird’s Words” visa vie their dictation of them to me for my transcription.

Mother’s Words” is the story of my personal journey beginning in Deep South roots of then Northwest Atlanta, Georgia’s farmlands where my family all pitched in to build our home, raise the food we needed (vegetables and beef) to sustain us in those post WW II years where building materials were tight and so was money. We helped to forage for materials and we provide the labor needed on our small farm which tested our mettle.

Me on the “Green Dragon!” around four years old

It’ is also of my finding myself alone, pregnant and on the streets of downtown Atlanta at the ripe old age of seventeen, newly graduated from high school, engaged and struggling to survive with the help of some mid-1960’s hippies living in mid-town with whom I’d recently become acquainted. Thank God they took me in and my best friend from high school fed me my only meal…my lunch every day I was pregnant.

I found myself to be a single mom at age eighteen but was taken back into the fold after Carl was born. Ten years later, I married another man who posed himself to not be his true self and became a single mom of two very intelligent and challenging children. I unabashedly tell of my challenges raising them and of how it challenged me to the brink, a few times, but found my way back.

Any of you who were blessed to have known both of my children have witnessed that they were quite dynamic and challenging people on both planes, earthly and on the Other Side. Therefore, I find it important to state that their individual portions of this telling, WARRIOR’S WORDS and SONGBIRD’S WORDS, were transcribed by me as their vessel.

Carl was born a with a Warrior‘s Spirit
Ava was born with a Songbird‘s Spirit

I now have acquired my Copyright Certificate and am the final stages of finalizing the book for publication on a popular website. When I’ve submitted it there, I’ll let you know. I’m also working on orchestrating my audio version of the book which I will also have to Copyright (separately) and will keep you all posted on that progress as well.

This past couple of years has tested us all on several levels. For me, I focused on my health, home repairs and this book. Now that all is well for the most part, I’m excited to get the audio version ready.

HAPPY TRAILS…until we meet again!

(Copyrights to these photos & parts of this blog have been obtained.)

This year I’ve been grousing about all the warm weather we’ve been having in my hood. We’ve had way too much spring-like weather for months for it to even be categorized as “winter.”

My point of moving north of my Atlanta hometown twenty years ago was to be where I could enjoy having four seasons again but the climate has been a’ changin’ no matter what the cause…deforestation…too much forestation…too much coal…too little of it…blah, blah, blah. Gotta say that Mothers Earth and Nature have a way of handling all things like this in ways we still don’t understand. After all, in the bigger picture of these matters, we’re still infants relative to their ages and experience levels.

Also, I believe in the power of prayer and I’ve been praying way too hard for snow to happen right in my front yard and kissing the belly of the little snowman I have hanging on my front door just to make sure the Big Man Upstairs will know exactly where I want it to snow…and it WORKED!

And as they say, pictures are worth a thousand words and, as you’ll see by these pictures, I’m totally mesmerized by snow on trees especially when those trees are in walking distance in 4 inches or better of snow!

These may look like the same trees and some of them are but at different times during the snowfall or perspective with me hiking in the snow to get better pictures!! The snow was PERFECT for a snowball fight! Crunched with every step!

2020-02-08 Snow-4 Tree

Facing the river…

2020-02-08 Snow-6 Tree

Facing the driveway

2020-02-08 Snow-7 Tree

The Dogwood trees

 

2020-02-08 Snow-10 TreeRv

More hemlocks and such on the river

2020-02-08 Snow-11 Tree

My favorite…and…

 

2020-02-08 Snow-1 Tree

And my other favorite!

I truly believe that it’s staying in touch with one’s inner child is what will keep us young! I certainly do get all giggly and excited when it snows in my hood more than all the other places I’ve been and seen in my decade of back road travels (150,000 miles and counting). Find what makes you giggly & excited and hold onto it as if your life depends on it as it might just be the thing that heals your soul!

Speaking of healing, my book is with the editors and I should have it back by the end of this month, printed in April and on Georgia roads for book signings in May!

Teaser: Here’s the first draft my from a Friend, the Book, business cards. They’ll look a great deal better when the pros get a’ hold of them, for sure!

 

2020-02-06 FmAFriend Bs card-1 front

from a Friend, the Book –  Bs Card Front

Happy Trails…until we meet again!

This fall mountain festival was so much fun! It had all the elements of a great adventure if you love walking in the woods to the sounds of good ole mountain music echoing through the valley, seeing great views, inhaling fresh mountain air while seeing all sorts of homemade products for sale and historic mountain foods to taste like apple cider, fried apple pies, fresh churned ice cream and more!

It’s well worth the $12.00 entrance fee when you consider all there is to experience in your exploration of this historic period. This authentic Pioneer Village sweeps you back into another time and place as does their Exhibit Hall teeming with antique and vintage farm equipment. Along the meandering path you’ll also find areas of Authentic Demonstrations like what it was like to cut logs into boards, make moonshine, apple cider and soap while hearing varied entertainers do their thang as you walk.

There are competitions going on this week for Cooking, Arts & Crafts, Flower Shows and the Georgia Official State Fiddlers’ Convention (Friday, 10/18-19) and Chases Racing Pigs (three shows daily) and a great deal of good clean air!

But, as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words, and I have about twenty pictures to share from yesterdays journey which only wetted my whistle to get back there this week!  Check out their website: GeorgiaMountainFairgrounds.com!

Real Mountain Music

You’re first greeted by this true mountain music.

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You follow the flowing trail through the Pioneer Village to see firsthand how they lived/survived this rough existence.

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Can and Meat House.

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Corn Crib

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Moonshine was a by-product of corn and an important source of income for the mountain folk of that day which was made in a still just like this.

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Modern kitchens had these items but only after the turn of the 20th Century!

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This was a clothes washing machine which pre-dated the one we had at our house in the early 1950’s which was similar to the next photo!

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A much nicer version of the clothes washing machine we had in our house!

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This is the nicer version of the refrigerator we had in the late 1940’s to early 1950’s! The freezer section, if you could even call it that, was about the size of a shoe box which always needed defrosting.

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My mom’s best friend, Nell, had a sewing machine just like this and I never got tired of watching her fast pumping feed on the pedal while she expertly directed the material toward the needle.

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I remember when Mom and I were visiting an historic venue which had one of these when Mom laughed as she said she’d had her hair “curled” with one of these! I’m still amazed she wasn’t  electrocuted in the process!

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Wonderful spontaneous music playing throughout the area!

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Exhibit Hall full of mountain farming and processing equipment! Love me some old tools!

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Snow sleds were needed back in the day. No so much now but I remember when!

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Antique printing press. Huge, isn’t it!

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Blacksmithing was an integral part of pioneer life for creating every type of tools needed to survive.

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The general store was a place where most pioneers could only afford to go monthly for basic provisions.

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When you went, you’d sit around the pot-bellied stove and visit with neighbors, get news and play checkers.

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Even though this picture is a bit fuzzy, I thought it revealing as to other items for sale at these stores…like herbal tinctures and cures.

So, if you’ve got a hankerin’ to get soak up some Pioneer spirit and step back in time with great music and fun, make it a point to go here for a wonderful day in the mountains at a great annual festival!

HAPPY TRAILS…UNTIL WE MEET AGAIN!

I absolutely LOVE where I live. It’s quiet…except on major holidays.The residents here are respectful, kind, generous, flag waving, patriotic and the core of the earth kinda folks. They also love their rodeos! So, after being slammed to the floor with horrible neck pain for the last three weeks and just had some miraculous healing on Friday, I decided it was high time to get out and join my neighbors in some fun last night. What better way to do that than go to the local Bull Riding Championship Rodeo? Yeehaw and Giddy up!

I do love watching all the preliminary warm ups and preps…and the views.

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Rabun County, GA Arena

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Bulls and Cowboy getting ready for what comes next!

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Love to watch this man work his horse, Colt-45!

Now, I don’t pretend to understand why any young, good lookin’ kid would ever want to jump on the back of a 2000 pound raging bull to be thrown off in three seconds or less and get stomped on by same raging bull, but these youngins sure love them some type of adventure and excitement!

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First Bull Rider

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All of the Bull Riders ready to give us a show!

Opening ceremonies are all about the USA flag, country, Pledge of Allegiance, hats over hearts and being grateful.

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Opening ceremony!

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Colt-45 ready to roll! He gets all the bulls back into the pens!

I do enjoy watching but not witnessing them getting hurt or trampled…which happened in the opening gate. First young man out got hurt…ambulance hurt. However, everyone else faired quite well even if thrown immediately off. They had some seasoned riders which made the grade but, eventually, I was so excited, I forgot to take pictures!

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Hits the dust!

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Yeehaw! Ride that bull!

I’m just sayin’ those Rodeo Clowns are worth their weight in gold!

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Those clowns work to keep the Bull Riders safe!

I met some wonderful people last night! Next time the rodeo comes to town, come on out to play! You might just have a laugh or two and meet some great peeps!

HAPPY TRAILS…until we meet again!

Franklin, North Carolina is just a little over thirty minutes away from where I live so I  decided to explore it a little more this past few months and found some gems!

And, although my focus has been on North Georgia BBQ these past months, I couldn’t resist writing about this neat little place I found hidden in an older shopping center behind the Lowes Store called FAT BUDDIES RIBS AND BBQ! I didn’t have my phone so I don’t have any pictures for this part of my post but I encourage you to check out their website at http://www.fatbuddiesribsandbbq.com to see what they have waiting for you! I had their Lunch Platter of sliced BBQ Pork and Chicken with Cole Slaw and Potato Salad and I’ve just gotta say it was so juicy and good!

Take the time to find these guys! You’ll be happy you did!

As I needed to walk off some of that lunch, I drove down Highlands Road (toward Highlands…not towards Franklin) a couple of miles to find the Whistle Stop Depot in Franklin, NC. Check out their website at: https://whistlestopantiquesnc.com.

When I drove up, I was greeted by different kinds of vintage and antique vehicles, farm equipment and other really cool and inviting items.

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WHISTLE STOP DEPOT

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As I entered their antique mall, I gotta say I was quite impressed with all the vintage and antique items of every shape, color, size and category available that any shopper could ever dream of finding! The ladies at the entrance behind the counter are pleasant and eager to help you find whatever your heart desires!

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But I was really focused on finding my friend’s booth called “Mountain Laurel Makings” just past the main entrance in the front/center. It’s smaller than most of the other booths but has so many wonderfully exciting items to explore from vintage jewelry to current styles, a magnificent Peacock fabric Chair, paintings and more!

Please take the time to look at each of her display cases. I’m still dreaming of those gorgeous Glass Green vases on the top shelf in the case on the end! Well, yeah, those and the Peacock chair.

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Exquisite Peacock Fabric Chair!

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Paintings and jewelry

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Green glass vases on top shelf…a must see!

I’m so glad I took the time to check out my other neighborhood because not only did I get to eat some great BBQ, find all sorts of cool things to drool over but met a really nice woman who is known at Whistle Stop Depot and at the Rabun Gap, Ga. Outdoor Flea Market as the Dip Lady or, as her card says, “Dip Mix Chick!” Tonita creates her own fresh herb mixes for you to add to your favorite base!

HAPPY TRAILS…until we meet again!

I’m just sayin’ when you find what you really can’t stay away from and are willing to drive across the state for two and a half hours to get it, ya’ might just be on to somthin’!

Yup! Happened to me and I’m not ashamed to yell out FIRE IT UP because I will be back again!

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Seein’ as how I’ve been known to drive 10,000 miles dreaming of the best steak I’ve ever eaten since I was a kid, so this lil junket was nuttin’! Well, on that steak trip, I have to admit there was a pork belly bacon burger involved as well as my daughter-by-another-mother, Jenni, can attest to. And, I kinda’ think we’ll both be road trippin’ it drive back to Montana to taste those again sooner than later! (It’s all on my blog from 2017)

But I digress.

And, as Jenni was with me on that trip and here from VegasBaby for a visit, I just HAD to take her to experience FIRE IT UP!

They have the BEST BRISKET on the planet! So juicy that it MELTS like buttah, honey. My mistake wasn’t taking a bite of Jenni’s”brisket until I was full on ribs but, don’t you worry, I’ll get some of that to go next time! And their pork skins? Get out! Best EVER! Brunswick stew done right! And more of it ALL will be riding home with me next time!

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Brunswick Stew, Collard Greens, Brisket and Ribs! YUM!

While I got my usual of awesome Ribs, outstanding Baked beans, killer Collard Greens! Everything is FRESH and done the way it’s supposed to be.

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We were never rushed and were treated with the Southern style of eating most places miss by a mile. I sure wish they’d open up a place in Clayton, Georgia now that Clayton wants to be thought of as a “Foodie” City! This would sure put us on the map if these folks did come up here! HINT! HINT!

Anyway, Jenni, being a professional musician visiting from VegasBaby and all, that gurl  just about went crazy when one of the musicians for the entertainment that night showed up with an instrument she’d never seen nor heard of before. It took her seconds to leave the food behind to find out what this contraption was all about. It kinda’ surprised me seein’ as how she being a Kentucky gurl that she ain’t never heard tell of a base tub fiddle!

I had so much fun watching her learn all about how it worked and then taking lessons on the spot! She played the melody her teacher taught her in just a few minutes!

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Yeah. I think you need to FIRE IT UP and get over to FIRE IT UP! Check them out at: http://www.fireitupbbq.com

Happy Trails…until we meet again!

As I have the occasion to travel across North Georgia this year to meet family or friends, like today, I search out for what is rated to be good BBQ establishments. In researching today’s adventure to Blairsville, Georgia, I found a place called RIB COUNTRY for my next Rib adventure. I was not disappointed.

The outside was just as inviting as it was on the inside! The folks were friendly and the interior was handicap accommodating! 2019-04-11 RibCountry-1

When I told the waitress that I was writing a blog about finding the best, friendliest BBQ restaurant in North Georgia, she took me around to see this beautiful hand-made wood flag with tin roof stars! It’s hung high and behind a beam and she felt it was too beautiful to be “hidden” like it was. So, I took a pic and now it’s not!

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The whole place is decked out with cool local paintings and antiquities but the best part is the service…oh, and the food!

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As for me, there was only one thing for me to order on their menu. RIBS! So, I got the luncheon baby-back ribs, coleslaw and baked beans. Yum!

Oops! Note to self: remove toast before taking picture of juicy ribs!

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And when our waitress said “cobbler,” yep, my bro and I just had to try one of each. Blueberry and Peach.

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They have several locations so check out their website at http://www.ribcountrybbq.com!

And, as I pass right through Hiawassee past a little place I’ve always wanted to check out but was in too big a hurry to stop before, I stopped to check out LINDA’S. Maybe you should too! It’s a lovely store she’s had at 46 Main Street for a very long time. She has so much to explore in there including quilts, antiques, gifts, wicker and rustic furniture! I also saw lots of fabrics in there too!

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