Tag Archives: family

Ain’t too proud to beg, or Fedoralady seeks supporters for critters in need

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In case you didn’t already know this, Fedoralady is a sucker for animals. I grew up on a farm surrounded by critters, from cows and pigs and chickens to the dogs and cats who patrolled the property. When I married, Benny and I started adopting pets–and we’ve never stopped.

 

We will celebrate our 30th anniversary in June, and in that time we’ve shared our homes and properties with Smokie, Ginger and Mary Ann, Thumper, Lucky, Puddin,’ Callie, Scarlett, Rascal I and II, Daisy, Junior, Seabee, Greedy, Teeny Weeny, Tom, Cheeto . . . well, you get the idea. Some were adopted from a shelter or humane society; others came to us via a good Samaritan or simply showed up on our doorsteps.  Did we choose them–or did they choose us? I’ve never been completely certain.

Right now, I’ve got Scarlett, who once resided in the city animal shelter, bathing on my legs. Callie, formerly a semi-feral kitten roaming the nearby woods, is roosting happily on my shoulder and chest. They are beautiful, bright, very spoiled and very much adored.

BeFunky_P5057096rqascal.jpgOur beautiful Rascal, who was part of a litter of puppies abandoned on the side of the road in a neighboring county. All of the photos in this post, with exception of Second Chance collage, are my own work.

Pets have brought a lot to our lives–love, affection, friendship and companionship. Laughter. Snuggles. Fun. For some people, the love of a pet is the only unconditional love they will experience.

I hate seeing animals who are healthy and adoptable being euthanized. It seems like such a horrible waste. In my part of the country, sadly, there is a greater supply of dogs and cats than there is a demand to adopt them. That means some animals end up being put down. However, the number being euthanized at the Greenville Animal Shelter has dropped in the past two years by 83 percent.

How have we done this? Lots of work on the part of our wonderful animal control officers, Kristi and Christy along with our Butler County Humane Society and its Second Chance Rescue, which is a no-kill facility operated by my cousin by marriage, Kandys.  The shelter and humane society work together with reputable animal rescues around the country to find homes for the homeless critters of Butler County.

 

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Here are Kandys and Tommy,  who is one of her hard-working assistants at Second Chance Rescue. These people have hearts of gold.

Animals are driven out by relay transport by volunteers to other states and even flown to new homes through the generosity of Pilots n’ Paws. The number of animals being adopted locally has also risen as the shelter actively promotes available dogs and cats on FB and Pet Finder. Humane society member serve as foster parents to pets awaiting adoption or rescue commitments when the shelter and Second Chance facilities have no “room at the inn.”

Obviously, we can’t save them all, but we strive to save as many animals as possible.

As one of our members pointed out, all this takes love and money. We truly do have big hearts, but we live in a largely rural county that is far from wealthy. We seek assistance through corporate grants  and donations from caring supporters from near and far. We also hold several fundraisers each year. And we ain’t too proud to beg!

 

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Four of the fifteen private planes that were a part of the “Great Sunshine Fly-In” in January 2015 that transported more than 200 felines and canines from the Greenville Airport to various parts of Florida where new homes awaited them.  😀 The Butler County Humane Society sponsored the event and the Greenville Animal Shelter helped coordinate it.

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One of the Pilots n’ Paws volunteers with a precious pup who will be flown to a fur-ever home in Florida. 

So here’s the deal.  Take a look at the Booster.com campaign.  Consider making a small donation online via PayPal or major credit or debit card, or buying a shirt to donate as a prize for one of our fundraising events, such as bi-annual Bark in the Park The campaign ends March 18 and we are currently one-third of our way to selling 75 shirts.
And thank you from the bottom of my critter-loving heart for whatever you can do.  😀

EDIT: THIS FUNDRAISER IS LIMITED TO US RESIDENTS–FOR READERS OUTSIDE THE US, PLEASE CONSIDER SUPPORTING YOUR LOCAL HUMANE SOCIETY IN SOME WAY! ❤

https://www.booster.com/butlercohumanesocietytshirt

 

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A fine madness, or maybe not. Fedoralady’s very personal take on it all.

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This is a story of madness, in both the jocular and more literal sense.

For example, our ISP has become notoriously unreliable over the last few weeks and frankly, it’s driving me a tad—crazy.

They also provide our land line phone, which went dead as a doornail today. Not even a hopeful crackle and not a storm cloud in sight. Retrieved my cell phone so that I could touch base with Benny and let him know, and of course, the cell battery was dead. Thank goodness Hubby brought home a recharge for the wi-fi hotspot.

I felt so out of touch with the world earlier–disconnected. I could have walked outside and screamed my head off and the only ones who would have heard it would be my two dogs, who would presume Mama had officially become the mayor of Crazy Town.

Speaking of crazy, mental health has been on my mind lately, what with the news that our Richard is going to play Francis Dolarhyde, a cannibalistic serial killer in six episodes of the upcoming season of “Hannibal.”

I admit I have a certain fascination with abnormal psychology. I like reading and watching stories of true crime and trying to learn what makes some people became psychopaths and sociopaths. Is there some sort of defective gene involved, a sort of “bad seed,” or is it the environment? Nature or nurture or a combination of both?

It’s been said here in the south we don’t hide our crazy relatives, we bring them out to the front porch, give them a glass a sweet tea and show them off.

 

My paternal family could easily be described as “eccentric.” There was the boy-crazy aunt who used to dye her hair to match the color of her current automobile. Another aunt, a pharmacist who self-medicated herself into bliss, eventually did a strip tease in the middle of the nursing home hallway, announcing with gleeful relish, “Well, NOW I guess they will pay attention to me!” My grandfather over-indulged in food and other women and never tried to hide his vices. Oh, the stories I could tell about Big Daddy. And yes, he was called Big Daddy. Tennessee Williams, you ain’t got nothing on me. 

And then there’s Uncle Comer, who was committed to the state insane asylum. Yes, a genuine crazy uncle.

I have a copy of an old family photo, with all the Killoughs, the nine living children and my grandparents, posed together in front of the big Victorian farmhouse, c. 1922 or ’23. Among the offspring, some twenty years between the oldest and youngest, there stands a bespectacled blonde boy, neatly dressed in a suit and tie for this formal photo. He’s handsome and a bit solemn. For me, there’s no hint of what was to come, the unreasonable outbursts and frightening violence. The need to “put him away.”

Daddy, who was much younger than his brother, used to talk about Comer’s periodic furloughs home. What he remembered most was when it was time for Comer to return to Tuscaloosa.

Comer got so upset when he knew he had to go back. It took four or five of Daddy’s strongest field hands to wrestle him into the car,” Daddy would say, the pain of the memory evident in his faded blue eyes. He had a lifelong fear after that of institutionalization, just as he feared fire following that big house burning to the ground when he was a teenager.

There were flashes of—something, some imbalance, something disconnecting—in my own father from time to time, and,as we learned, in his younger brother Dan, the baby of the family. There was never anything on the scale of Comer’s behavior, but we knew it was happening when the look came into Daddy’s eyes. When we saw that darkening, that anger and—emptiness. Thundering rage and that strange emptiness.

Those moments were frightening and confusing for all of us. When they passed, regret and melancholy would wash over my father, who is so very many ways was such a good man and a good daddy. It took me years to really come to terms with the contradictions that were my father. 

I have always had this fear in the back of my head that it would happen to me one day–the disconnect, the imbalance. I have a temper I have worked on controlling for much of my adult life. Would I, someday, fly into uncontrollable and dangerous rages and hurt people I loved?

I have made it 54 years and stayed out of jail and the mental ward thus far.

Still, that gnawing fear keeps nibbling away in a corner of my mind. Maybe it always will.

In the meantime, I read, I watch and I try to understand what makes some of us go more than slightly mad. And I lament the stigma that mental illness still carries with it in the 21st century. I wonder if modern drugs and therapies could have helped my uncle. 

I will be very interested to see Richard Armitage’s take on a flesh-gnawing serial killer (thankfully, I don’t have one of those in my family. At least, not that I know of). Maybe he can bring something to the table (sorry, pun not intended, but I do have a slightly dark and twisted sense of humor) that will help me see things more clearly. Who knows? Whatever the case, I am certain he will wow me with his performance. Life has dealt me a fair share of disappointments, but RA is not one of them. 

(FYI My uncle died from complications after an appendectomy while he was still a young man and still an inmate at the asylum. My grandfather went to Tuscaloosa and asked to see his body to thoroughly check it over and make sure the death was from natural causes.)

Obla-dee, obla-dah, life goes on, brah . . .

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Yes, I am still here, just dealing with a lot of Real Life Stuff, health-wise, money-wise, etc.  I did escape (complete with my big clunky purple cast) for a few days to our beautiful Gulf Coast, the so-called “Redneck Riviera” 😉 to spend time with my two sisters and sort of celebrate all our birthdays together.

Never mind they are in three separate months–September, August and January–celebrate when and where you can, that’s our motto.

 

It was the first time we had been together in–what, over a year? Haven’t been to the beach in close to two years. Way too long. Sara was her usual gracious self and prepared wonderful food–the Omaha Steaks filet mignon was to die for–while Tony took us out for a couple of memorable meals of Gulf Coast seafood and southern sides. Deb had to cut up my food for me, but I managed not to make too much of a mess. 😉 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA My sisters Deb and Sara on the balcony of Sara’s Orange Beach condo.  I never fail to marvel at the sunrises and sunsets when I am down there.  Below, Sara sporting the Alabama monogrammed cuff and scarf I gave her as part of her birthday and wearing a shirt from Deb in anticipation of Crimson Tide Game Day; the palms in front of the Phoenix VIII silhouetted against the sky and Sara and her “little” sister, who now towers over her.  And there’s the adorable Hannah, my sister’s sweet, sweet little dog.    OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA   OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA   OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA   51cbf09a_o Little things mean a lot, and there are so many things we simply take for granted. I didn’t realize how long it have been since I had enjoyed a refreshing glass of juice until we had the orange-pineapple kind for breakfast on a couple of mornings. My gosh, but that juice was good! I really savored it. That’s one of things that has fallen off our grocery list of late. Too many medical co-pays, too little money, just can’t make it stretch far enough. Some of you know how it goes.

As far as my health issues, the cast is off and the forearm has definitely improved by resting the tendon through forced immobility, just as Chavan hoped. Hooray! However, the wrist is still problematic and I am not dismissing scoping surgery of the wrist in the future. (Come to think of it, my entire body is problematic. I feel like that old fixer-upper in the neighborhood: I’m full of character and a certain charm, but I definitely needs lot of work.  Caveat emptor.)

We worked last weekend covering a homecoming dance for PRP and an attack of sciatica nearly did me in. But I survived, as always. I just pay for it over the next several days. C’est la vie. Keeping fingers crossed that everything goes well with tomorrow morning’s assignment for the newspaper.  I need the bucks, whenever and however I can make them–within reason, of course. And due to the cast, I am seriously behind on some of my projects.  On those all-too-frequent days when I feel overly stressed and bummed out in general, I close my eyes and remember this: OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA And this. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA And also this. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA   P9195505   OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA The sugary white sands of Orange Beach, Ala., and the ever-changing blues and greens (not to mention pinks and oranges) of sky and sea. All photos, save the one of Sara and me taken by Deb, are my own. 

 

I’ve got a soft, beautiful cat on my lap, and new books to read and escape into,  thanks to Sara’s generous gift of an Amazon card; the birthday cash from Deb helped buy groceries and gas. I have a darling husband who can always make me laugh even when I am low, and two sisters who love and support me in various ways.  I’m not where I want to be, exactly, in life, but I am trying to make the best of where I am with what I have.   31186d5f9b8d386572e9c22701f29d64 I think this guy would approve (he tends to make me feel better, too, BTW.  Edit by Fernanda Matias).  6a735308b1b03cd89f2f588348135454

“A little laughter in life.” Mr. Armitage, Joy Ambassador, would surely approve.

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(photos above)

Daddy in his military uniform on a suspension bridge in beautiful Tenn., where he was stationed during WW II as a military policeman at a German POW camp.

 Daddy in his favorite attire, a pair of Liberty brand overalls, sturdy work boots and a cap, sitting in his favorite piece of furniture, his recliner.

My daddy always said, “A little laughter in life.” Daddy didn’t always have a lot to laugh about. His mother was a semi-invalid from the time he was a toddler, leaving the help to more or less raise him,  while his father was a tyrant of the “do as I say and not as I do” variety. Daddy almost lost an arm and did lose portions of two fingers in a sawmill accident as a teen. He had to work so hard on the farm–in spite of the fact my grandfather had enough farm hands to require his own company store and to labor in the fields, cotton gin and the saw mill–that my daddy ended up dropping out of high school. His home burned down not too long after that.

During infantry training during WWII, he suffered a nasty bayonet injury that had him hospitalized once more. He worked long, hard hours mining iron ore, planting fields, baling hay, and tending to tens of thousands of chickens so he could provide for his family. It was not an easy life.

Being able to laugh and joke and see the funny side of it all helped my daddy through some of the darker patches. Maybe those of us who have struggled and known hardships and sorrows also most appreciate the relief and release smiles and laughter can bring.

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Richard Armitage is someone who seems to understand the value of laughter, of having a strong sense of humor and the ability to let one’s playful side come out. He takes his work seriously; himself, not so much, I suspect.  The mischievous twinkle in those blue eyes, the teasing smiles, the geeky giggles, the big guffaws from deep in that well-toned belly–the sheer infectious joy he can spread when we see and hear him share “a little laughter in life” is a wondrous thing.

He hasn’t experienced some of the misfortunes that befell my father, but I am certain Richard’s had his share of personal and professional disappointments, rejections and heartaches (his characters certainly have!). Hooray that he is garnering attention and accolades and going from strength to strength these days. Yet he’s never become too full of himself nor has he forgotten the gift of good humor.

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I hope wherever you are today, you are able to find comfort, and release, joy and peace through “a little laughter in life.” My daddy and Mr. Armitage would certainly approve.

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My mama, daddy, sisters Sara and Debbie and yours truly–Christmas ’97, I believe, at our house.

And by the way, my daddy used to play Santa every year for certain community events and also visited the homes of friends who asked him to drop in and pay a visit on their youngsters. He got such a kick out of spreading holiday joy. I can envision Richard doing something like that–with a bit of padding, of course. 😀 He’s already got the deep, jolly laugh and twinkling blue eyes. 😀

‘I got a Nikon camera, I love to take photographs . . .’

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It’s packed away somewhere, that camera, my first “real” single-lens reflex, a gift to me from my parents for graduation. I took so many photos with that old Nikon, including tons of photos of my niece, Heather. She was my oldest sister’s first-born, coming into the world six weeks before I turned 17. I spent many, many hours with that child during school breaks and holidays, playing pretend games, plunking out tunes on the piano and singing to her, drawing pictures for her, reading her stories.  And taking her photo.

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Heather, intrigued by the scuppernong vine in her grandparents’ yard.

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Just had to crop in on that sweet little face.

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Our  miniature Daisy Duke was fascinated by the cows. She tried to get bossy once or twice. “Hey, you cows–come here WIGHT NOW!” They paid little heed.

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A five-year-old niece is lots of fun at Christmas.

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At age 10, Heather flew from Alabama with my sister and Mom to visit us in South Dakota. She was such a delight that summer–she’d get tuckered out, and then we’d arrive at a new destination and she’d perk up and be as excited as ever. Here we are in Reptile Gardens.

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Me and the sweet child circa 1990.  I am so glad to have had those special times with her along with the Nikon (and Yashica and Canon and Minolta and Olympus) to document them along the way . . .

OT: Blasts from the past . . .

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Benny as a very little fellow. Matt Smith aka Doctor Who would approve of the caption. 😉

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College graduation, Troy State University, 1982.

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Benny and our niece taking a break during our visit to Six Flags over Georgia near Atlanta. On a visit home during Benny’s AF years, we took our two oldest nieces for a day of fun at the big amusement park. Hard to believe it but her oldest daughter is now older than she was in this photo.

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Benny on the steps of our first home together in Rapid City, SD, with our very large cat Smokie on his lap. Smokie was adopted while we were on vacation in Denver–a rather unique souvenir. 😉

The Scent of A Woman: Memories of My Mother & a Childhood on a Farm

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It’s said that scent is one of our most enduring memories. Having grown up on a farm, I can recall a mixture of aromas, strong and delicate, sharp and sweet.

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The heady scent of honeysuckle drifting into the farmhouse with the spring breeze. The smell of sunshine and earth clinging to a tomato plucked fresh from the vine and begging for a knife and a little salt. The mouth-watering aroma of a homemade cobbler, made with blackberries picked on a trip to the pastures, baking in the oven.  The acrid scent of a warming wood fire on a  cold winter’s night. thCABU735V

And the not-so-pleasant ones.

The stench of “cow patties” steaming in the summer heat on the path down to the pastures. The strong whiffs of ammonia inside the poultry houses after their inhabitants had been in residence for several weeks. 

The curious metallic tang of blood, sharp as a paring knife’s edge, mingled with the odor of singed feathers on the days when some of those chickens went to the chopping block, their eventual resting place in the deep freeze on the back porch.

Some scents, not necessarily of the most delicious kind, were so familiar as part of the landscape of my childhood they remain strangely comforting—the smell of chicken feed pellets pouring into the giant bins atop the poultry houses, for example. That scent memory returns to me every time I open a bag of dry dog or cat food. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I can never forget the unmistakable aroma of the Vicks Vapo-Rub my mother applied to my chest when my many allergy and sinus problems plagued me, its fumes working their way into congested nostrils, allowing me to breathe a little more easily once again.

And I remember the scent of my mother herself. Working on a farm surely left her sweaty and dusty, but the aroma of physical labor is not what I recall.

It’s the fragrance of the cream she religiously applied each night to her face, encountered as I pressed a good night kiss to that soft and slightly greasy cheek. The clean smell of the Dove soap she washed her face with each morning and evening and the body powder she applied liberally after showering.

It’s the scent of the various colognes she wore over the years, most especially Youth-Dew, which became a sort of signature fragrance for her. I was allergic to its spicy Oriental notes and could not wear it myself, yet I loved the way it smelled on her. thCAD3CHSC Youth-Dew was a treat, a luxury she wouldn’t buy for herself, so it was often a gift from one of her girls. Mama reveled in its rich, uber-feminine scent, and was delighted when gifted with it in its various forms—eau de parfum, dusting powder, lotion—allowing her to layer the fragrance and make it last even longer.

And it still lingers with me, four years after she left us. If I catch a whiff of Youth-Dew now, my nose twitches and my eyes water a little  (yes, still allergic), yet I cannot help but smile.

It smells like Mama. BeFunky_247758_10201273982156793_942115194_n.jpg Happy Mother’s Day to you all.

Assorted & Sundry Things I Ponder (and Smile Over) This Saturday Morning

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Woke up and Even Worse Knee was being totally stroppy. Rain and thunderstorms are due later. Went and got an ice pack and somewhere on the way back with my meal replacement shake I lost the ice pack.

Don’t ask. Blame it on fibro fog.

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Spouse brought me another ice pack before heading to town (I just LOVE that man, I really do!) and after icing, EWK is cussing at me with considerably less enthusiasm. This is good. Now if I can just manage not to trip or fall or do something else to aggravate it. We have the dance recital to shoot this afternoon and I will be playing production assistant and sales consultant.

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More good news–we’ve already sold eight DVDS! Benny and Harry made it to part of the dress rehearsal last night after work and several parents hit them up. Here’s one of the photos Benny took last night.

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Love the costumes and sets and really looking forward to see the kids perform. But this photo is the one that really made me smile.

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Speaking of images that make me smile, a photo I took of my mother at her favorite restaurant, Cracker Barrel, on Mother’s Day. I think she was 80, or thereabouts. Mmmmmwhaaa, Mama, I love you!

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This makes me smile, too, of course, and go “awwwww” and “sweeeet” and all that. Richard, darn it, could you be a little less ADORABLE?!

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Hope you all have a great day!

Hope you all have a great day!

Scenes from my ancestral home: Ireland calls to me

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English: Swan at Killough Bridge, near Killoug...

English: Swan at Killough Bridge, near Killough, County Down, Northern Ireland, October 2009 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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A scene at Killough Bay in County Down, Northern Ireland. My maiden name is “Killough,” and we know an ancestor named David Killough journeyed to the American colonies in the mid-18th century from Killough, later serving in the Revolutionary War.

Long before that, it appears there were the McCellaughs and before them, the MacKellochs, who lived in Scotland and eventually emigrated to the Emerald Isle. The name “Kellogg” as is Kellogg’s Corn Flakes, is said to be a derivative of Killough.

There was once a manuscript my father had some genealogist compile detailing a good deal of family history (including an Indian massacre of a group traveling by wagon train to Texas), but it has long since disappeared, I am sorry to say. I have always enjoyed history and hearing family stories. And as I get older, I find myself more intrigued than ever to know the story of those who came before me.

I would love to go to Ireland one day and visit Killough. I felt so at home when I visited England more than a decade ago; I wonder, would that feeling be even deeper and more profound if I found myself walking the same earth my ancestors had once walked?

Killough_Bay_County_Down_Ireland_Photo06The lighthouse at Killough Bay.

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The ruins of St. John’s Church near Killough.

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A shot of Killough Harbor.

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Love the drama of the sky and sea here.

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Yes, one day I would like to be able to shoot my own photos in Killough. It’s on my bucket list. 😀 Happy Saint Paddy’s Day!

Priscilla, you still inspire me.

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“Back Porch Screen Door” by Angie Long

My former high school art teacher, who moved mainly into the arena of fine art photography a number of years ago, has been on my mind. She’s also an animal lover and fellow board member of the local humane society and I know she will love our new “additions.” It’s great to have someone who was a mentor to you when you were young become a friend as an adult.  We are a generation apart in age, but we are still kindred spirits and that always bridges the gap.

I took some photos this afternoon during the afternoon walkies with the canines and did some editing that I rather liked. Definitely feeling very artsy-fartsy. Priscilla, you still inspire me–and plenty of others, I am certain. Thanks.

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Puppy”

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“Sky Meets Screen Door

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“My Old Bedroom Window”

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“Mama’s Clothespins”

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“Daffodils”

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“Daddy’s Barometer”

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“Farmhouse on March Day”

The Songwriter in Liberty Overalls: ‘Baptized into Music’

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A feature story written by yours truly that originally ran in Camellia Magazine, a publication of The Greenville Advocate.  My cousin is quite a talented fellow and good raconteur.  He gave my family a large collection of albums given to him by RCA early in his music career, when he was still concentrating on folk singing. As a small child, I listened to everything from Bing Crosby to the Ink Spots, the Chuckwagon Gang and Lester Lanin’s Orchestra “Waltzing on the Continent,” all thanks to Arthur Lloyd’s gift of music. I still have eclectic musical tastes . . . and some very interesting relatives.

 

The Songwriter in Liberty Overalls: ‘Baptized into Music’

Like the man himself, Butler County native Arthur Lloyd “Rock” Killough’s favorite pair of Liberty overalls has a story to tell.

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There’s a well-rubbed spot on the left pants leg of the faded blue fabric, a spot made by the body of his guitar resting there during an untold number of jam sessions, rehearsals and concerts.

Check out the musician and songwriter’s guitar and you’ll find a corresponding spot rubbed on the wood.

“I reckon I’ve had this pair of overalls for, oh – a good twenty-five years. They became my trademark. People expected to see me in them when I performed,” Killough says with a smile.

There’s a twinkle in his blue eyes when he talks about the subject that has dominated his life for six decades and counting: music.

“Mama always had the radio on at our house. I started singing in a trio with my parents when I was just seven or eight,” he recalls.

Killough and his dad Arthur Lloyd Sr., also known by the nickname “Rock,” and mother, Lurline, harmonized together at funerals, church singings, school events and more venues across Butler County and even further afield (the Killoughs were also a part of a group known as the Greenville Singers who performed on local radio stations).

“I liked singing the uptempo songs with Mama and Daddy, like ‘I’ll Fly Away.’ I liked the kickers. But I grew out of that,” Killough, who considers himself first and foremost a balladeer, recalls.

During the years Killough’s family lived in the country near his grandfather L.A. Killough’s big farm east of Greenville, he recalls walking to the home of a black couple, Tut and Celestine Marsh, to hear the “Game of the Week” on the radio.

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The old cotton barn on Rock’s grandfather’s farm, which became his Uncle Joe’s farm. Rock loved spending time with his aunt and uncle, and after moving to town, would tell his mother he had to “get his farmin’ britches on” to pay them a visit. “Aunt Ovie,” he said, “looked just like a movie star,” adding, “I just adored that woman.”

“It was usually the Brooklyn Dodgers playing – and they had some great black players on their team –  so folks would come from all around to listen, drink and talk. Some of them would bring their guitars, too, and play and sing together. That’s the first place I ever saw a slide guitar,” Killough says.

He pauses to lift his Auburn cap and run a hand over his close-shaven salt-and-pepper hair, a head once covered with dark curls.

“I guess you would have to say I was baptized into all kinds of music as a kid – gospel, big band, bluegrass, the blues, country. And I decided all I wanted to do was play and write my songs.”

He discovered songwriters like Cole Porter, Johnny Mercer and Hoagy Carmichael . But it was that lanky local songwriter in the cowboy hat who struck a special chord in his heart.

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The legendary Hank Williams Sr., a native of Garland, Ala. Yours truly has sung live on the same stage where Hank debuted his new band, the Drifting Cowboys–the Ga-Ana Theatre.

“Here was Hank Williams, this guy from the woods, without a lot of formal education, and he was able to write songs that captured what ordinary people felt like. Guys like Porter and Mercer wrote about high society, and they were great. But Hank’s the one most people could relate to.”

He shrugs. “If I could have written songs like Johnny Mercer, I would have done it. But that wasn’t meant to be.”

Instead, Killough focused on penning country tunes, infused with touches of blues, gospel and even a little rock and roll along the way.

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The cover of Rock’s “Rusty Plows” album.

By the time he was “discovered” by Hall of Fame songwriter Hank Cochran, Killough was already a seasoned tunesmith.

“I was 33 when Hank took me with him to Nashville. They loved what I did and kept me there for ten years . . . but I never really felt I found a home for my music. So I hit the road,” he says.

And he loved performing live.

Songwriting, he says, is “a real kick. It’s better than a psychologist.” Killough nods.

“Songwriting is great.” He smiles with glee beneath his brushy white mustache as he throws his arms open wide.

“But actually being out there and playing for people – now, that is the real deal.”

Killough estimates he logged in more than one million miles traveling over a good chunk of the U.S.

One of the places he became a regular was the famed Flora-Bama Lounge, located on the Florida/Alabama line in Perdido Keys. It’s a musical partnership that started in the late 1980s.

“I got invited to come down there to the 3rd Frank Brown International Songwriters Festival. I went and performed a couple of songs . . . the owner of the Flora-Bama, Joe Gilchrist, was someone I knew from college. I’ve been to every one since then,” Killough recalls.

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Almost leveled in a hurricane a few years ago, the Flora-Bama was rebuilt and is as popular as ever, still the home of the World Famous Mullet Toss.

“I told Joe I’d come down and play for him, and that’s where my band the Dixie Flyers came together. The Flora-Bama has never had a house band as such, but we played there as regularly as anybody.”

Killough discovered what it was like to hit it really big when he toured as the opening act for Willie Nelson in 1980.

“We traveled all over, playing at Madison Square Gardens, state fairs, you name it. That experience convinced me I did not want to be an artist, but a songwriter . . . there were fans everywhere wanting to meet Willie,” he says.

“Even at the hotels, the employees would be lined up with menus and napkins and what have you for him to sign. Sometimes he would stay holed up in his room just to get some peace.”

He pauses for a moment, lost in thought. “The difference is, Hank Williams could have gone anywhere, a restaurant, a movie theater, and nobody would have known who he was except in Nashville. I don’t think Willie could even go to the bathroom in peace.”

Killough pats his chest, shaking his head adamantly.

“I couldn’t live like that.”

And while he didn’t earn great fame and fortune in his musical career, Killough says he has no regrets.

“I consider myself to be one of the luckiest people in the world. Not everybody gets to do what I’ve done, to earn a living using the talent God gave me. I got to meet great people along the way, like James Garner. Stayed at his house when Willie was filming ‘Honeysuckle Rose.’” Killough gestures toward the doorway.

“Garner is a big guy, as big as that doorway – but just the nicest fellow. I found out the bigger the stars, the nicer they usually are.” He peers over the tops of his wire-rimmed spectacles.

“It’s the ones on the way up that are so difficult.”

Killough chuckles. “One day I am gonna write a book, but I’ve got to wait for a few more folks to die first.”

When asked to name his favorites among the songs he’s written, he stops to think.

“Well – I do love ballads. ‘Still Loving You.’ ‘Absence of Love.’ Those are songs with stories, messages. And kids love ‘The Lord Will Provide,’ but I just arranged that one, I didn’t write it,” he says.

These days, the man who traversed the country playing his songs, who performed on “Austin City Limits” and had songs recorded by musical luminaries like the Oak Ridge Boys, Hank, Jr., Waylon Jennings, Randy Travis, Carole King and Sammy Kershaw, among other, is now a happy “house husband” with his wife of 25 years, Kandys, and also serves part-time as a bank courier.

“Now, if Kandys wants me to perform for the humane society, or something like that, fine. But my gigging days are over,” he says firmly.

Killough may not have pots of money, but he says he’s made a lot of friends during his life-long musical odyssey.

“There’s a good part of this country where I know I can travel and never have to pay for a hotel room or buy a meal. I’m one of the richest guys I know of. I’ve had a good life.”



Randy Travis performing a song written by my cousin.

Friday Diary on a Saturday: Canines, cotton barns, porches and–have you ever seen one of these?

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Friday was another beautiful if chilly day here in Lower Alabama. Our guests were still with us, as you can see.  They seem quite at home.

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Puppy continued to share those looks. Geez, they don’t call them “puppy dog eyes” for nothing, do they? Time for our walkies, boys (and girl)!

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The new grass, kelly green, that has sprouted in the recent rains, heralds the coming spring. That old barn, once used to store cotton from my grandfather’s vast fields, later to store wood shavings for the family’s poultry houses, is now a sort of large-scale dog house for the family canines. Weather-proof, it shields from rain and wind and provides a cozy bed courtesy of those same shavings.  Puppy just had to explore!

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is the brick front porch of the old farmhouse, which will be 75 years old in 2014. The house was built in the late 30s following a fire that destroyed the rambling two-story Victorian in which my daddy’s large family had grown up.  The fire (of mysterious origins. Arson was suspected but never proven) also took one of several barns and a shed with vehicles. My dad was in his teens when all this happened. A fear of fire never left him.

Even though the family was downsizing (most of the ten living children now adults and on their own) my grandfather still took the blueprints for the new house and had all the rooms enlarged and extra closets added–the Victorian house possessing a distinct lack of said conveniences.  And while the new farmhouse lacked the elegant wrap-around veranda of its predecessor, it did have three porches, one of them accessible from two of the house’s bedrooms (including my own).

Later, my father built a rather rustic wooden back porch. What it lacked in eye candy appeal,  it made up for in convenience. It was a perfect place for shelling peas and beans from the garden, dressing chickens from the poultry houses, and enjoying homemade ice cream and salted slices of watermelons plucked from the big deep freeze.

When my mother was still alive, our dogs used to enjoy commuting between the two houses, spending some time lounging on the cool bricks of the front porch on hot summer days.  My parents had a small ceiling fan installed years earlier to make it more comfortable for humans and canines alike.

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Rascal (he of the soulful cinnamon brown eyes) still enjoys stretching out on the farmhouse’s brick porch.

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I used to stretch out on this very–pillar?–what do you call the porch portions flanking the steps?–as a girl on summer Saturdays.  Armed with a Popeye fruit-flavored frozen treat and a good book, I would let the sun dry my freshly shampooed waist-length tresses.  My lips turned some peculiar shades of orange or purple as I lost myself in an engaging story . . .

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Elvis–who ain’t nothing but a hound dog. Well, one-quarter bloodhound and who knows what else! 😉

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As I said, it was another beautiful day!

But here’s the thing I am wondering if you’ve ever seen before . . .

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Yep, a genuine outhouse. This is located behind the chicken coop, the one where my grandmother once collected eggs ( I have her basket atop my kitchen cabinets). The coop is now the storage shed for the riding lawnmower.

I have no idea how far back this outhouse dates, but judging by the concrete pad for it and the toilet itself, it’s a more upscale 20th century form of privy.  The chicken coop is adjacent to what is known as the cook’s house or little house, so I am guessing it was built in the 2os or 30s when that house was constructed (a bathroom was added to a side porch at some point).

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For a short time after their marriage, my parents lived in the little house, which is built shotgun style, each room backing onto another. If you shot a gun through the front door, it would go straight through into the back door (or wall, in this case).  Meanwhile, back to the privy!

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The seat bears a plate stating it’s “odorless” and was manufactured in Andalusia, Ala. I didn’t lift the seat to test things out.

And yes, the farmhouse where I grew up had indoor plumbing, although my mom always wished for a second bathroom, what with three girls and periodic guests. 😉

Oh, Mama and her son are ready to move on!

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Feeling as if I am moving on

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The intricate lace-like pattern of bare winter tree branches, silhouetted against the steel grey clouds rapidly filling the sky, catch my eye today. I am out for my daily constitutional, wishing that I’d brought my camera with me to capture those trees. I remember how, as a young art student, one who normally preferred drawing people, I went through a phase of tree mania. I was fascinated with the patterns of bark and the dance of the branches and the serpentine nature of some tree roots.  Every tree has its own special sort of character.

This photo courtesy of browncreative.com doesn't quite capture what I saw today, but it gives you the right idea. Love the abstract look you get with pattern of branches.

This photo courtesy of browncreative.com doesn’t quite capture what I saw today, but it gives you the right idea. Love the abstract look you get with pattern of branches.

I have to say that the barren look of the trees contrasts sharply with the sultriness of the air. I push up the sleeves of my long-sleeved t-shirt and wish I’d opted for a regular one. And put my hair in a ponytail. It may be January, but it feels like spring. It feels like thunderstorms. And indeed, heavy rain and the potential for severe thunderstorms is in the forecast, moving in after midnight and continuing most of tomorrow.

The twinges are beginning; FMS does not like big changes in atmospheric pressure. Tonight & tomorrow will not be easy days for me.

Oh, well, at least I am getting some fresh air and exercise while our dirt and gravel road is not a mud-slick morass. I live in a somewhat hilly county and I can feel the muscles working as I make my way up this incline: the calf muscles, and thighs, and those gluteus maximus muscles.

 It’s good to feel a soreness that is not related to Fibromyalgia Syndrome, that is not a searing, burning sort of pain that makes one imagine they know what it feels like to be tortured with a red-hot iron poker.

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Later, that will come. But I won’t think about that right now.  More pleasant prospects fill my mind.

I will think about the luncheon date planned for Thursday with a friend. We got to know each other while I was working for the newspaper and she was always a big fan of my writing.

SM was an orphan who lived in several foster homes before being adopted into a loving family when she was a little girl. She grew up to be a tireless advocate for foster parents and children. A former city councilwoman, SM founded and orchestrated an annual dinner for our county’s foster families for many years, an event held in memory of her late husband, a prominent businessman who died in a tragic drowning accident.  She’s active in the Kiwanis, which gives foster parents and their children a luncheon each Christmas with a visit from Santa and gifts from wish lists provided by the kids.

SM is a go-getter who has dreamed of creating a children’s book about foster families and adoption. She’s approaching 70 now and says she wants to make sure it happens soon. And she’s asked me to collaborate with her because she believes I “can tell an interesting story and do it justice.” I am excited about this opportunity, I have to say.

There are some other opportunities presenting themselves, although I am not quite ready to discuss them yet. Let’s just say that I feel that this year may be the year when things really do turn around for me.

For that, I am grateful.

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Sad Tidings & Reflections on a Good Man

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A few days ago we lost a member of my family, a cousin. Today my husband’s uncle–the one he has been looking after during a recent illness–passed away during surgery to replace an infected heart stent. Thankfully his own son and daughter-in-law from Ohio and other area family members were able to be there at the hospital when it all happened.

Benny’s cousin thanked him for all he had done for his dad. Benny insists it wasn’t much, but it was. He did his best, and that is all anybody can do.  Uncle had reached a point where he did not want to eat or drink and had allowed himself to get into an even more weakened state before going into the hospital.

Benny had taken him to doctor’s appointments, wiped him when he soiled his pajamas, washed his clothes and dishes and bought groceries trying to coax him to eat. If the man had employed a paid caregiver, he wouldn’t have been cared for any better. Perhaps not as well.

I am so sad for my husband, yet I am so proud of him, too. These words from the Bible keep popping into my head: “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

Just as I sometimes think I couldn’t possibly adore Richard Armitage one whit more, I find myself falling even more in love with the love of my life.

Enjoy your friends and family and loved ones as we enter a new year. And cherish the memories of all those you’ve loved and lost.  Blessings.