Tuesday, July 29

Scenes from the Road

Mocha and I just returned from a weekend with Lovely Linda and her pack of furry, four-legged ones. I took my camera, but never unpacked it, so here are some word pictures:

Wildfires in Cherokee National Forest sent narrow ribbons of white smoke skyward. Mother Earth is cleaning house.

The French Broad River glistened in the mid-day sun. So clear, the water looked turquoise from the high bridge spanning its girth.

A gentle rolling hill, dotted with horses grazing on deep green grass. A graceful fence framing the scene.

Blueberry bushes groaning under the weight of swelling berries in shades of pale cream, pink and purple. A mockingbird serenading and scolding from a nearby crepe myrtle as ripe berries went plunk in the bottom of our buckets.

Rivers and creeks carrying canoers silently along veins of cool, clear water.

Majestic wings soaring over an interstate, the unmistakable white head of a Bald Eagle and a double-take behind the wheel to make sure it wasn't an apparition.

Good friends sitting around a table, sharing life stories and dreams for the future over ample food and wine.

Long, leisurely naps in a room with soft blue walls. Awakened by the tolling of deep, resonant chimes hanging from a tulip poplar in the front yard.

A feast of tender touches, messages spoken with eyes, not mouths, breathing, moving in tandem.

Wednesday, July 23

I Brake for Turkeys

The other day, I'm driving down River Road and an oncoming car blinks its lights at me. If I were in Houston, this would mean there was a cop ahead with a radar gun and an itchy, ticket-writing trigger finger lying in wait. In rural Tennessee this courtesy signal can mean any number of things: 1) beware, farm equipment ahead blocking all lanes, 2) beware, fresh roadkill ahead, 3) beware, Billy Bob is on the loose again with a chainsaw and a pick ax, [see item 8 on my list of Good Things to Know] or 4) ____________ fill in the blank.

I slowed down and proceeded cautiously on this twisty-turny road. After several minutes of not seeing anything out of the ordinary, I wondered aloud what the fuss was about [yes, I was alone in the car and yes, I do talk to myself out loud in said vehicle on occasion]. Just then, I picked up movement on the left side of the road in my peripheral vision.

A wild turkey hen appeared to be playing a game of peek-a-boo, bobbing her head up, looking around, then ducking down in a tall patch of grass. Now folks, this is not "normal" turkey behavior, so I knew something was up and braked to a stop. After one more peek (or was it a boo?) she stepped from her protective cover followed by another hen and a brood of chicks. They casually strolled past me and disappeared into what was surely greener grass waiting for them on the other side of the road.

I moved on, happy in the knowledge I hadn't increased the roadkill percentages that day. Then it hit me, the conscientious motorist was not the pace car for the turkey parade, nor would he have even known momma turkey was about to step out with her brood, so I again slowed down and sure enough, on the next hill was a man walking toward me and away from a broken down van stopped part-way on the road. I didn't stop to offer help as he was nearing a local tavern where he could get help and a cold adult beverage.

This little haiku bubbled up later in the evening [after an adult beverage, I might add]

I brake for turkeys
their heads bob across the road,
safe till November

Tuesday, July 22

The Water Between Us

When I was a child I lay in bed at night and looked out at these
islands. "There's no sense sailing to San Miguel," my father always said. "There's nothing out there." Sometimes when the wind shifted and blew in from the southwest I could hear seals barking and a sound like women singing, and I wanted to swim to San Miguel. It stood for the separateness I felt from my family, for the mystery of how identity is formed. Now I find I can't say I am one thing without saying I am another: as these islands are defined by their relationship to the coast, so is my sense of aloneness rooted in the context of family, and because of it, I knew the ways in which I was different, and how the "water between us" could be bridged by what we share.
It is not my custom to use this blog as a forum to articulate the merits (or lack thereof) of books, music, art, etc... The way I see it, all genres of expression are subjective and what resonates in me may not resonate in you, heck, it might downright repulse you.

This blog started out with an excerpt from the book "Island, The Universe, Home" by Gretel Ehrlich. I didn't read this book, I ingested it and in less than 48 hours. Yes, it resonated with me, particularly this passage.

I think it's safe to say we've all felt, at one time or another, disenfranchised from our family, that they didn't understand us, we didn't speak the same language, they were from another planet, I had to be adopted, etc... For me, this passed as life experience and a little wisdom crept into the creases of my know-it-all brain, but in reading this today, I realized the water between me and my family is getting harder and harder to bridge because we share so little.

This bugs me.

Saturday, July 19

The Vine

move through thorns
past copperheads
without being pricked
draw back a fistful of blackberries
warmed by the midday sun

a tangy, sweet squish in your mouth
the flavor of purple in summer
lauds over the aubergine scarf
now hanging limply in the corner
like a barren vine or slumbering snake

Friday, July 18

Move over Big Boy

Yes folks, there are reasons to celebrate the tomato.

Yesterday, the FDA declared it's OK to eat tomatoes again. Whew...glad to know that nightmare is behind us. If that's not enough to send you rushing to your local grocer, consider how good the tomato is for you. Under slick, shiny, not always red skin is a fruit (or is it a vegetable?) packed with vitamin c, lycopene and are your ready for this...small traces of nicotine.

If knowing all of this makes you want to revel in the street then you are not alone. Head to East Nashville in a couple of weeks and you can join other tomato enthusiasts at the:

There'll be parades, tomato art, children's carnivals, a Bloody Mary making competition, recipe contests, a Tomato King and Queen pageant, music AND a tomato Haiku competition. Now folks, I'm not a big fan of prescribed forms of writing, but at the encouragement of my sisters in the Eastword Writers Group, I dipped my pen in the sauce and here's what bubbled up:

tomatoes can-can
to salsa or not salsa,
my stomach rumbas

Thursday, July 17

Thought for the Day

It costs nothing to be kind.

Sunday, July 13

A New Day

Friday at 12:00 noon, a lone carpet-layer packed his tools, remnants of carpet and left. 5 weeks of intense renovations had come to an end. In 30 minutes, 12 people would arrive for an overnight retreat. 30 minutes to allow the house to settle around itself, become still and quiet. I walked barefoot from room to room, breathing in and breathing out. The color scheme has changed, hardwood floors have been refinished, new carpet has been laid, but the bones of this house are unchanged. Steeped in love, hospitality and reverence, I uttered a prayer of thanksgiving and Penuel Ridge was again a respite for weary sojourners.

I exhausted myself, physically, emotionally and mentally over these 5 weeks. The last day and 1/2 have been my Sabbath. I have slept, read, walked, watched birds and rabbits feast, lightning criss-cross the sky and thunder echo between ridges. I feel more rested, centered and hungry to write, to return to the music of poetry.

Many thanks to Guest Bloggers, Cathy, David and Kathy for breathing energy into this blog and my life. When I can return the favor, you need only ask.

There will be more renovations to come, but for now I am grateful for the return of silence and stillness.


Friday, July 11

Continuing Education - Essential for Southerners

TGIF y'all...meet Kathy. We've been in writer's group nearly as long as I've been in Tennessee. Her writing and life are filled with humor, honesty and endless curiosity, all inspiring to me. A few fun facts about Kathy...she has an outstanding collection of bumper stickers on her car that leaves no doubt where she stands on social issues and she introduced me to Gospel Drag.

Hi—I’m proud to be a guest blogger on Laura’s site!

I had a similar experience to Cathy’s having grown up in Guntersville, Alabama, during the Civil Rights movement. I watched the awful things going on further south on my family’s black and white (apropos) TV and might as well have been in another country. Only when I went back to college at age 35, twenty years ago, did I start to learn some of “the rest of the story.”

I remember sitting in a history class (my teacher was an African-American female) and learning the story of Emmett Till (
www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=1969702) and crying. I had never heard of him.

Growing up where I did definitely had an influence on my ignorance. We were fairly poor, and while it’s terrible to think of the way African-Americans were treated—my small town had the separate movie areas, the separate waiting rooms, and the separate windows at the local Dairy Dip—the physical accommodations for us were not much different. I was not mature enough to realize the emotional ramifications. I remember Southern writer Rick Bragg, also from Alabama, saying the local black people were the only ones around poorer than his family, and that was pretty much all he thought for a long time regarding racial issues. My family was not as poor as his, but we were not well off, and we were isolated. My relatives had the idea of separate but equal and supported it with the fact that species of birds did not mix together.

One day with innocent simplicity, coming from a conventionally religious home, I decided that God would not segregate heaven, and that was that. But still it was only a couple of years ago in graduate school that I learned what an important part Nashville played in the Civil Rights movement. Read David Halberstam’s The Children. Visit the Civil Rights Room at the Nashville Public Library where part of it is a replica of the lunchroom counters that were boycotted here. Watch the amazing documentaries they have. And read Toni Morrison’s Beloved. So many things I didn’t know until I was in my fifties but that I’m so glad I finally stumbled across in this journey called life because in print or in person, the ordinary heroes are amazing.

water the plants he’d cry
on his way out the door
to god knows where on one of his trips
i’d write notes to myself
set glasses out on the counter
as a psychological ploy to remember
but i’d lose the notes
and make tea in the glasses
so when he came home
the plants were brown and dry

one day i ran off with a black man
to a cabin in north carolina
he plays drums
i bake bread
and the flowers that grow in the garden
are watered by the rain


Thursday, July 10

Meeting Myself Coming and Going

A friend is grieving. Her grief is being exacerbated by the behavior of the deceased's adult children. But this post is not about her, you see I ran smack into myself, listening to her share accounts of their actions. She doesn't understand why, less than 24 hours after their father's death, they've had a dumpster delivered to his house for a literal and metaphorical purging.

My father and I have been estranged for more than 20 years. I recently saw him at a family wedding and once again appreciated the decision I'd made. I wonder how I will react when he dies, what relationships (healthy or otherwise) he's formed over the last two decades and how my reaction may impact those who are closest to him. Will reconciliation come? Do I even want reconciliation?

I think about my step-father, who died a year and a half ago. My mother was his third wife. He had children from his first marriage, but shared very little about them. From what I was able to learn, his children were estranged from him by their choice. He was such a wonderful father figure to me, I can't imagine what could have happened to create that void, but it existed.

So...here I sit, wondering.

Wednesday, July 9


Hello Everyone, Laura asked me to be one of her guest bloggers while she has her hands full with Penuel Ridge responsibilities. Being one of her EastWord writer's group friends, I was happy to say "yes".

I'd like to share a writing spawned from a conversation we had two months ago at writer's group. I kept this a secret from everyone for 3 or 4 years until the subject of "living in a bubble" came up on this particular evening. I was inspired to speak up because of Laura who bravely shared one of her childhood bubble secrets. Thanks, Laura, for inspiring me to talk and to write about my embarrassing realization...


Imagine my horror. Imagine the look on my face. Imagine the feeling in the pit of my stomach. Imagine the anger, and imagine my utter embarrassment that night as I sat in front of my big screen TV watching that movie. It was one of Michael Moore's controversial documentaries. Which one I don't remember. (Bowling For Columbine maybe?) But what I DO remember is the 10 minute American history lesson that was similar to a commercial in the middle of the movie. It was an animated account, similar to a South Park snippet, of how white men back in US history set sail toward Africa, kidnapped the local residents, and brought them to the US for the sole purpose of using them as slaves on their plantations.

I kept rewinding and reviewing that portion of the movie over and over. I was absolutely stunned that I had lived to be 47 years old and did not know this. I may have been just as perplexed at the fact that as a person with above average intelligence and a 4 year college degree I had never even been CURIOUS about how slaves got here. Yes, an hour before that movie I could have told you slaves were African, but if you had asked how those Africans came to America I suppose I would have said "the same way the white man did". And I would have been right - to an extent.

Knowing this about my past might make it easier to believe this as well: I was born and raised during the Civil Rights era and that, too, is not a memory of mine. But let's keep our focus for now on the "Where'd the slaves come from?" elephant in the room.

How CAN someone who was born and educated in the early portion of the second half of the 20th Century come out of it not having learned such a critical part of US history? I must have been living in quite the airtight bubble.

Was it imposed or self-imposed? Was every student in my high school in the same big bubble? Or was this one of my own sub-set bubbles? Did my history teacher choose to skim over the topic or was it missing from the text? Was I living in Bubbleville instead of Chapel Hill? Did my parents choose not to bring it to my attention at home for the same reasons they never brought the JFK or MLK assassinations to my attention? Was it protection? Apathy? If they passed up "teachable moments" such as those, then how could I expect them to bring up something from the past?

Could it be that it's as much my fault for not knowing as it is anyone else's? As an adult looking back I recognize that my childhood was a sheltered one. And I am grateful to my parents, for the most part, for that. And I know I wasn't an A student with boundless curiosity for things outside myself, outside my bubble.

But do you think any of this has to do with the fact that I was raised in Chapel Hill, Tennessee, at the time a rural community of approximately 800 people south of the Mason/Dixon line and not far from Pulaski, Tennessee, the hometown of the Ku Klux Klan? And do you think it has anything to do with the fact that I went to Forrest School for 12 years?

Yes, that's Forrest with two Rs, as in Nathan Bedford Forrest.

Thanks, Laura, for letting me fill in and rant a bit in your absence.

Peace To All,
Cathy Purdom

Monday, July 7

Drum Roll Please

Some very kind folks have agreed to sit in the host chair for a little while. This doesn't mean I'm breaking up with you...just need a little non-blogging time to finish a few projects.

Readers, meet David. He answers to several names and you can read about that little quirk on his blog. I check his site most every day and like Spam, you never know quite what you're going to ingest. Without further adieu...I give you my bongo playin', cigar smokin', boiled peanut eatin', mischief-maker...Mr. Mears:

On the Naming of Children

Many thanks to my dear friend and blue-eyed-soul-sister LaLa for the invitation to share a few words with you, her worldwide blogregation. Just so ya know, I'll probably just keep sending her stuff until she reads one that she LIKES. So yeah, this could take awhile.

My first article is about the naming of children. Today is Monday, July 7, and there's a headline on CNN.com that reads: Kidman names baby girl Sunday. ('Kidman' in this case is actress Nicole Kidman, who is married to musician Keith Urban, which explains why the child was born here in Nashville - they live here. Well, actually they live in a nouveau-fancy picturesque valley south of here, which used to be, well, a valley and a river, and now is a CELEBRITY-FILLED valley and a river. But I digress.)

So this headline confuses me just a tad, because I thought that the child was born on Sunday, but apparently she must have been born late on Saturday, and then was NAMED on Sunday. This doesn't bother me. Nearly every child enters this world unnamed for a time, although that time is usually just a matter of minutes. A few people have been known to live without a name for several days. I suppose it's just as well that they aren't at all aware of this fact. What would it be like to know that you don't have a name? Sorry, I digressed again.

Where was I? ... AH, so as it turns out, the child was not named on Sunday after all. The CNN headline was correct, but the child was not named on Sunday. The child was NAMED SUNDAY. She was born early this morning. On Monday.

I'm glad I could clear this up. I'm not going to opine on the merits of the name. All I really had to do on this one was report the facts: hey, Sunday was born on Monday. You guys go nuts if you're feeling it. It does, however, remind me of the Sheryl Crow lyric ('Every Day Is a Winding Road,') "He's got a daughter he calls Easter ... she was born on a Tuesday night." I always liked that line.

Finally, (sorry, I thought I was done,) I just remembered something. My favorite Keith Urban song is "Raining on Sunday." Y'all ... this is just gonna get complicateder and complicateder.

Sunday, July 6


I've been thinking about posture lately. Not the "sit up straight young lady or you'll get a hump in your back" kind of posture but the metaphorical posture we take with others, whether it be intellectual, emotional and yes, sometimes physical.
Is this a hard-wired homosapien trait or the remnants of a caste system we as a nation claim to abhor? This oneupsmanship seems to me an exhausting way to live.
This is what I want...to be fully present with others in an atmosphere of mutual respect. Is that too much to ask?

Wednesday, July 2

I know...I know

I hear your fingernails rapping on the desktop, your feet tapping out an SOS on the floor. Mocha feels your pain and recommends a long nap in a soft bed, accompanied by your favorite toy.

Things have come to a screeching halt here at Texas2Tennessee.blogspot.com. What could be silencing the woman of the woods? You'll have to wait a bit longer for the answer to that question. In the meantime, enjoy some photos from the road and in the coming days, some contributions from guest bloggers.