Little country store

Kentucky, like many rural places, is peppered with country stores. They were once hopping with business as travelers on their way to work, the next town or, the next state, would stop and get their fuel or fill their belly with a fried bologna and tomato sandwich.

I deterred from my normal stop at a modern gas station with it’s pay-at-the-pump impersonal convenience. With my gas gauge teetering on empty I was certain I wouldn’t make it the 8 miles to town. So I pulled into our neighborhood country store with their marginally higher fuel prices.

An older man with a white and gray beard came out to meet me at the pump. He was dressed in his work clothes complete with his stitched and worn name tag; his ball cap bill, slick with oil from countless adjustments.

“How much?” he asked.

“Twenty, please.”

I went inside with my youngest boy, his brothers already off to school for the day, he was sure to get a morning treat. A pack of donuts, maybe more.

We picked our drinks and he held his donuts like a prize and we walked to the counter. With each step the uneven wood floor creaked, worn by thousands of steps. As we waited on my sausage biscuit to warm up, my little guy struck up a conversation with the gentleman who pumped our gas.

“What’s your name?” Little guy said.

“My name? My name is Mark,” the man said.

He told the man his name and the man told us how he shared a first name with my son. He told us that he was named after his grandfather and also a famous writer. After our conversation we made our way back to my car and down the road to Nana’s house.

That encounter made our day a little more rich with humanity, something a a modern pay-at-the-pump convenience store cannot do. I will be stopping at more country stores and mom-n-pop restaurants in my travels because I enjoy getting to know the people who make these places unique. Do you have a favorite little stop? Have you ever been surprised by stopping somewhere you weren’t sure about at first?

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When a setback meets good people

A recent adventure has lead me and my family to learn when a setback meets good people, that setback soon melts away and becomes a cherished memory.

Camping. You either love it or hate it. I don’t think there is any in between. I happen to love camping. I love primitive camping and I also like the little mini-homes-on-wheels all lined up in a park somewhere. Some piled in a small pop-up camper some in campers that are nicer than my home, complete with granite countertops and every size and shape in between.

When I was a child my family camped in tents primitive style. My parents woke up, started a fire and boiled water in a percolator pot for coffee, everything was cooked on an open fire, homemade treats were plenty. My husband’s family camped in a camper when he was young, mostly on the riverbank in the middle of nowhere. I used to make fun of him for his more cushioned style of camping, but I have since grown used to having a bed, refrigerator and everything you need all neatly packed up in the big white box we call a camper.

Our most recent trip started like most. I spent Friday baking up a storm. Blueberry muffins, apple hand pies, rice crispy treats and spaghetti for campfire spaghetti sandwiches. We were packed and ready when the kids arrived home from school. Soon my husband was home from work and we were on our way.

We made our way south and up a rather steep hill. My husband decided, since there was a passing lane, he would pass the slower moving camper in front of us. He jokingly asked if it was a Chevy or Ford as we began to speed up and move around it (we drive a Dodge truck). It was another Dodge.

As we reached the top of the hill something began spraying from the front of the truck. The truck began overheating. He found a place to pull off to accommodate our convoy. It was the parking lot of a hydraulics company. It also happened to be directly across the road from a good friend of mine.

As we pulled in and the truck engine resembled an old locomotive; steam rolled out from under the hood in a billowing cloud of antifreeze scented doom. My husband opened the hood to assess the damage. I did the only only natural thing any girl would do in these circumstances, I called my brother. He jumped into action immediately, went to pick up my vehicle incase we needed it to haul the kids to a better location, then he ran to the nearest auto parts store and picked up the new radiator we needed.

I texted my friend who lives across from where we broke down. The kids were worried we wouldn’t make our camping trip and were beginning to panic. I got them out of the truck and took them to an empty grassy lot and played dodge ball, ante over and jump the creek while my husband worked on getting the busted radiator out.

Several people stopped by to see if we were okay. My good friend from the paper, and photographer extraordinaire, stopped when she and her husband were coming back from a photoshoot. She caught me up on news from the newsroom and said I looked happier despite my current circumstances. I am. I’m so much more healthy, the stress headaches, panic attacks and anxiety are almost distant memories.

Soon, I saw my friend coming across the road with her husband, who also happened to have been a mechanic before he acquired a job with the county. We joked about her setting her phone down after my initial “Hello, what are you into?” text and me not just coming over and knocking on the door. Apparently, people still knock on doors, good to know. She kept me and the kids company as we ate our little roadside picnic of lunchables, rice crispy treats and pork rinds. My youngest son immediately made friends with her handing her one pork rind after another, then they played a riotous game of catch.

In no time the truck had a brand-new radiator and we were on our way. We arrived at the campground well after dark, tired and relieved the radiator decided to go out in such a perfect location.

Life is made better when good people come along and lend you a water jug or socket wrench, stop to check on you, keep you company or drive an extra 40 miles to pick up a radiator. I am blessed to have such people in my life.

Another Glorious Morning

I admit it, I am one of those people. The ones that wake up early even on weekends – on purpose. I am ready to tackle the day after my first cup of coffee. I revel in the serenity the birth of a new day brings. I watch sunrises with a thankful heart for new chances and a clean slate. I can’t wait to wake up and know that yesterday is gone with all it’s sorrows, trouble and frustrations. Maybe if you saw a few of these every other morning you could become a morning person too. Maybe not. But this is (besides my family of course) what keeps me going, a clean slate written all over the sky and embodied in the jeweled grasses early everyday.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quenched

Parched, dry, dusty and dying, it appeared
laying my head on my pillow and drifting into a dream.

My senses are awakened by the scent of moist earth
riding on a cool and gentle breeze through my window.

Familiar sounds, distant but remembered.
Little pelts on my roof top.

Tiny drops of an antidote for the affliction plaguing the land.
They call it drought. Earth is now quenched.

It has rained.

Opression, Hope and what the 4th of July means to me

Yes, I’m two days late, but the other day was the 236th Birthday of my country. Not everybody likes the USA and in certain aspects I can understand. One thing is certain, however, over two hundred and thirty years ago the odds were against a group of colonies, people who had left their homeland and everything they’ve ever known to make a new life and with a fresh start. Imagine the overwhelming feeling of taking on the most powerful military in the world in the Revolutionary war. Then the daunting task of creating a government from scratch with the sparring and debating involved, while the founders carved out what we now know as the Constitution. Through Faith, Perseverance, Divine Providence and a deep conviction that we have inalienable rights which cannot be denied, they succeeded and won their freedom from the most powerful empire in the world.

Being a great grand-daughter of immigrants, I am grateful my ancestors were able to come to America to be part of the freedom that courageous people had won. I am grateful that when my ancestors decided to escape oppression there was somewhere for them to come and there was hope for a new life. When I celebrate the 4th it is not just for pride in my country but for hope in humanity. Hope that someday it will universally be realized that ALL are truly created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

The following are pictures of my great-grandpa Paul Jacobs. He came from Slovakia to America when he was 14. Years later went back to bring his parents to America who didn’t want to leave the grandmother (Bábuška in front of the house in a dark dress). They later left Slovakia after the grandmother passed away, I think in the 1940s. Beatrix Mana, my mom and author of the blog http://babydogogos.wordpress.com, will correct me if I’m wrong.

 

Great-Grandpa Jacobs (left) in front of his restaurant in Cleveland.

 Great-Grandpa and Great-Grandma “Jake”

Great-Grandpa Jake with his two sons Leo (center) and Ray (my grandpa Jake) (left).

Along with countless other people like him, Paul Jacobs was given a chance to work hard and give his family a good life; a life that probably would have been completely different in his homeland. I am grateful that I am here today, an American with my own family to raise and make a good home for and celebrating the hope that American Independence means to me.

Forced New Perspective

It is time I force a new perspective on myself. I’m tired of being disappointed and emotional. I think I need to let go, quit trying to control everything, expect less out of others and give myself a break as well. A wheat field must be ready before it can yield a harvest worthy of the bread we eat. Am I the wheat waiting on time and weather, or the farmer waiting on the wheat, or the baker waiting on the farmer, or the consumer waiting on the baker? Who knows. What I do know is I am getting ahead of myself with impatience and expectations and will probably not yield a harvest of anything if I keep it up.

 

 

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6