Friday, September 30

Strike Up the Band

The Riverview Restaurant is a local favorite for all things fried...especially catfish. It's nestled between a bluff and the Cumberland River and indeed has an excellent river view. They also have an RV Campground and riverboat cruises. Kind of a one stop, mom and pop, eat til you drop hangout.

Editor's Note: sorry, but I couldn't resist the rhythm of this last sentence...go back and read it again, but this time, take a breath between "stop" and "pop" and then end it with a Little Richard "Hey!". It kinda swings doesn't it?

I digress...back to the's always crowded with folks from all ages and there's always a line...not for a table, but for the ladies room. Tonight, I stood in line with a couple of vintage ladies who could have been my great aunts. We had a lovely chat about purses and such. Being flanked by these Southern Belles, I expected a little wave of nostalgia, but I wasn't prepared for the flashback I encountered when it was my turn in the ladies room. As I entered, I thought I had made a wrong turn to 1959. You see, wanting to be delicate about such matters, the lady before me left her calling card...a very distinct smell...that of a struck match!

In my childhood home and in all of my relatives homes, there was always a box of matches on the back of the toilet...which in my youth I thought was to light the gas heater in the wall...but later learned, the struck match is the equivalent to todays can of Glade (or whatever you use in your private chamber). As I was passing the torch to the next in line, I wondered if I should say something like...don't be alarmed if you smell smoke...but I thought no...why break the illusion and walked away with a big grin on my face.

Gloria Steinem Where Are You?

There's a thread of commonality connecting the retreatants who have come to Penuel Ridge over the past few weeks. They are all women in on the cusp of ending a 20 year marriage, another in flight mode after receiving a cancer diagnosis and an overwhelmed stay-at-home mom with a young child.

This is not uncharted territory for any of us these days, with the divorce rate over 50%, disease so prevalent in our society and the constant tug of war between career, family, relationships and community, we are all on a tight rope expecting the balance to shift at any moment.

Sitting with these women, listening to them talk about their struggles, I'm often compelled to offer solutions, but I don't. My role is that of active listener...sometimes with sympathetic and at other times, empathetic ears. This is a challenge for me, especially when I hear them say things that send up red flags in me, like:

"I found out about your retreat center and I need a place to run to, but my husband won't let me. He sees my need to retreat as a rejection of him and our family. I just need to get away from all of the screaming."

"I need some time away from my small child to get closer to God, but my husband won't watch our son."

"I have a very real reason to be afraid [of my husband]."

It's hard for me to process women being in this position in the 21st century. As a benefactor of the Womens' Movement, I cannot fathom allowing anyone to stand between me and what I need to be a whole person. Is the pendulum swinging back to the patriarchal structure of the 50's or is it geography? I don't know.

Thursday, September 29

58, 70, 44 Hut!

I'm doing the happy dance in the meadow this morning! When I woke up, it was 58 degrees. A cold front blew in while I was sleeping. The high today will be 70. The overnight low will be 44. Yes, 44 honkin' degrees. This calls for a celebration!

Wednesday, September 28

Horizontal Stripes on a Big Girl

I've always shied away from horizontal stripes. Being all of 5 foot tall and round in shape, it's not the best look on me. "They" say vertical stripes are good...will create the illusion that I'm less short and less round. Since being here, I've discovered something...I've been wearing vertical stripes on the outside and the inside. Years and years of pushing things down the center of my body has created a mine shaft...dark, dank and damp.

So, I strapped on my hardhat...the kind with the light in front, grabbed a bucket and repelled down the slippery sides of that mine shaft. When my feet hit the bottom, they sunk into muck and goo that had been there for at least 40 years. I did the only thing I knew to do...shine my light on it and fill that bucket with all the fear, humiliation, abuse, disappointment and conflict that would fit. I've spent the last few weeks hauling up buckets and buckets of it. At first I dumped it out and dug around for artifacts that would explain why I had given it space inside me...but I soon realized the only thing to do was dump it in a running stream and let it be swept away.

Today I choose to no longer live vertically...I don't care how I look in horizontal stripes.

Saturday, September 24

Up the Creek without a Paddle

What does a canoe oar and a Jeep Grand Cherokee have to do with one another? Apparantly, it's a "must have" tool when attempting to get your Jeep started.

This was quite a site...a cherry red Jeep Grand Cherokee with the hood up with 3 or 4 lesbians standing around looking at the engine and 1 woman had literally crawled under the hood, canoe oar in hand, jamming it down the back side of the this was...oh, I don't know...normal! After a few intentional blows with the oar, she crawled down, they all piled in the Jeep, started the engine and drove away.

Now, I'm a girl who's pretty handy with tools. I own tools. I use tools. I like tools. I don't have a canoe oar in my tool box or in the back of my car...maybe I should.

Friday, September 23

Bird of Paradise

Tonight, I went to a landmark in Nashville...the Bluebird Cafe. It's a tiny little dive, cramped, dark, bad food, but what a banquet of music! When we entered, the place was packed. We sat at a table with total strangers (not for long). I scanned the room and from the looks of the sophisticated lights hanging from the ceiling, I thought we were in for one throw down drag show...but I was wrong. In the middle of the room was a simple set up; four chairs facing each other, four microphones and a spotlight. It was singer/songwriter/acoustic night and for 2 hours, they took turns playing their original music, more for each other than for us.

I won't name drop, but some pretty famous people were discovered at The Blue Bird. I don't know if any of these young, struggling songwriters will one day be in the spotlight, but for tonight, they were in ours and it was mighty fine.

Tuesday, September 20

An Open Letter to Corporate America

Dear Corporate CEOs, CFOs, CIOs, SOBs, etc...,

I understand that moving telephone and email support functions from America to India makes perfect business sense, however, when I cannot get the technical support person (named Hasraj) to believe that the serial number (labelled "serial number") on the bottom of my digital camera is REALLY the serial number of my digital camera, regardless of what his manuel says, I'm not inclined to buy your product any more.


Having Curry for Dinner

p.s. to my friends expecting an ongoing slideshow of my life in rural digital camera is on the fritz and I can't seem to get anyone to help me fix it at HP, so stay tuned...either more letters will ensue or I'll begin loading pictures again.

Thursday, September 15

The Pharoah's Dog

Close your eyes and picture this (yes, I know you cannot read the blog with your eyes closed...just go with me on this!)

Last night it was about 60 degrees outside, the moon had risen and was casting an orange glow in the air. As I walked out of the health food store with grocery bag in hand, I noticed two women standing transfixed between the cars in the parking lot. They were looking up, but not to the heavens...their gaze was much lower. As I walked up the incline, drawing closer, I heard them giggling like little girls. My eyes followed their gaze until I saw what was filling them with glee.

There, in the parking lot was a large Chevy truck with Texas plates. Not an unusual sight in my world...and then I saw it....lying on top of the cab of the truck (not in the bed of the truck mind you, but on TOP of the cab) was a full grown yellow Labrador Retriever who was stock still, body and eyes trained on the door to the health food store...not responding to calls, whistles, cars driving by...nada. It's entire being was poised in wait. People even ran to their cars, whipped out their digital cameras and took pictures.

More people gathered and we loitered in the parking lot for a while, amazed at the discipline and devotion we were witnessing. We all drove away with big smiles on our faces...each of us imagining in our own way the reunion between dog and master.

Monday, September 12

Where I Live

I realized I never loaded a picture of the Retreat Center. I'm told it was originally built as a hunting lots of knotty pine paneling and vaulted ceilings.

Thursday, September 8

Other People's Words

"Better to be a pilgrim without a destination than to cross the wrong threshold every day."

Monday, September 5

Comment Spam

I had to put a filter on my blog to stop what's called "comment spam". Within moments of posting to my blog...4 comments popped up selling broadband phone service, laser hair removal and information on Crohn's disease.

I want to shout outloud, "Hey...get the hell off my blog!" So keep out the unwanteds...if you want to make a comment, and I hope you do, a magic word will appear on the screen you will need to type in.

Sorry...but that's the world we live in.

The Rail Trail

This abandoned train tressel is now part of a hiking trail. I'm told eagles nest in the trees along this trail. Didn't have my hiking boots this trip, but I am definitely going back!

Sunday, September 4

Where the Pavement Ends

Yesterday I meandered through rural Tennessee, stopping at every state park and recreation area I came across. I even ventured down some roads that looked interesting. This was the scene at the end of one of those roads.

The Beauty & The Beast

Isn't this a beautiful butterfly? it's sitting on a pile of dog's still pretty.

Saturday, September 3

River Traffic

I heard the basso horn blast before I saw the barge make its way down the river. Mocha and I spent a lazy couple of hours at Pardue Recreation Area. Mocha stretched out in the soft grass and I perched on top of a picnic table and we let the cool breeze lull us into a restful nap.

Two great things about this little park by the river, there was a sign driving in that read, "Road Ends In The Water" and they had the most spacious, architecturally interesting and cleanest porta potties I've ever used!

Friday, September 2

A Silent Alarm

I woke up at 5:30 this morning to the sound of sobbing. I stirred, opened my eyes and a flood of tears streamed down my face. Partly conscious, partly asleep I was dreaming that my mother had just died and my mind was projecting scene after scene of the rituals we go through when someone dies. I tried to shake it off as a by product of all the scenes of loss and devastation I had watched on the national news before going to bed.

A phone call several hours later to assure me that everything was all right didn't work...she wasn't home.

Thursday, September 1

Thrice is Nice

I gravitate towards things in threes...something about the rhythm makes me happy. Here are a few tres items that come to mind:

Maiden, Mother, Crone
Kiss My _ _ _
Sugar Free Popsicles

Oh My God
Pray For Peace
I Love You

Pico de Gallo
Make My Day
Alice in Wonderland

Love Your Neighbor
Have a Seat
Take A Nap

Post War Reconstruction
Get To Me
Credence Clearwater Revival

That's enough for now...feel free to add your favorites.