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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So much more than a desk

My desk at home was mostly non-existent. When I had worked from home years ago, I was in a basement office with a makeshift table/desk, an upholstered office chair, baby toys, a comfy rug and soft music. This was where I locked myself away, along with my walking 11 month old son, to do design work.

When I began a full time career in the newsroom I didn’t have a need for my makeshift office/playroom. The newspaper provided a laptop for any weekend writing so my computer and little office/playroom went into hibernation. I did all the big no-nos you should never do with a Mac. I didn’t update, not one single time, for two years.

Because we’re busy (or haven’t felt the force of necessity) we still haven’t fixed the fact that our basement has zero power. Thus, the office is out of order. One afternoon, soon after I put in my two weeks notice at the paper, I brought my iMac upstairs, set it on the only logical surface in my house, an end table. This has been my desk for almost a month. This is where I stayed awake into the wee hours of the morning cursing my neglect of my computer as I tried to update my OS. It is where I typed my last blogpost. It’s where I warned my kids nearly one hundred times “DO NOT TOUCH!”

My friend/boss/farmer had made some purchases at a liquidation sale at a school. He only wanted file cabinets, however, because of the bundling that was done at the sale he found himself the owner of a couple desks he had no need or place for. After taking out a bucket of rotten tomatoes from the grading room I admired one desk with a pencil sharpener mounted on the corner. I love using pencils, there’s something about the sound a No. 2 pencil makes when you are jotting down notes or writing out a grocery list. I know, it’s weird. A really good pencil sharpener is either expensive or hard to come by so when I saw this metal hand cranked Boston KS I was a little excited. I asked him if he would mind parting with the pencil sharpener. He asked if I wanted the whole desk. I didn’t really know I needed a desk, but what the heck. We haggled a little over the price and next thing you know I was bringing the truck back on my next work day to take home a hefty piece of furniture.

My husband knows by now that I can’t pass up a nice piece of old furniture. By no means am I at hoarder status, every piece I’ve brought in has found a nice place in our home. He eventually grows to like, even love, the pieces I’ve brought home. However, it has become our tradition that he complains about unloading it and moving things around to accommodate it. He’s not entirely comfortable with change, poor guy, he didn’t know when we got married that he was marrying a furniture rearranging mastermind.

We moved the living room around a little and set up my new little corner. I stepped back admiring the new living room. The thought struck me that this is a step in the right direction. I needed this more than I knew. I’ve muddled through these last few weeks not really knowing that deep down I’m still trying to find a place. I know I have my place with my family, no one can ever change that. Family and faith have been my rock and my foundation. But my soaring thoughts and ideas need a place to go.

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What I guess I’m trying to say is this desk is more than a new piece of furniture in our home. It is a permanent symbol and physical manifestation of me grabbing ahold of something and reclaiming what I knew was always mine, a part of my being I thought I lost: My love of writing and my ability to create. It’s just an old school teacher’s desk with an iMac and a few antique relics, but this is the space where I will take back what is mine, where I can start to feel like me again.

That camera takes good pictures

Yep, that’s right, that camera finds the best composition, focuses itself, it adjusts its own exposure, waits for the right clouds to pass in the background and just at the right moment it takes a great picture. At least that’s what I was thinking when yet again I heard that deplorable phrase from yet another close family member (my husband has been one to say this, but quickly learned the error of his ways). I just want to hand them my camera and say here have at it. I want to say that to a lot of people in a lot of situations; here take the machine see if you can produce the same result; here take the computer and the programs and don’t forget to check for typos. I don’t get hurt with comments like these, I just find if funny that people believe it is so simple and easy to produce something that looks nice whether it’s a picture, quilt, great piece of writing or what ever it may be. I admire photographers’ work,  writers’ well written literature and all those beautiful things I know somebody has poured their soul into. To all my friends and blogging friends out there whose talents I so greatly enjoy, thanks for the hard work. 🙂

Pictures the camera took:


On a side note we have begun our house building. My husband is so anxious to start framing it. He is going to be working with his friend who is a builder to frame the house. Can you imagine the excitement of a man who loves building things and working tools I can’t name, when he knows he is going to be building his family’s home with his own hands, nail by nail board by board. It’s been like watching a kid before Christmas, he can hardly contain himself.

The other kids “at Christmas” with the giant toys.

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

 

My minivan isn’t as friendly as my Jeep was

Every week I stop and fill up my gas tank at a locally run gas station/mechanic garage/tire place. I go there because it is a full service station and I don’t like dragging the kids in and out of the car anymore than necessary. When I’m in a hurry on a morning that I have to go to the office, wrestling with the five point harness while making sure the other child is staying put then having to carry the one that has no self-control, struggling with holding the hand of a four-year-old boy who has “out-grown” holding mom’s hand while weaving through a busy gas station parking lot is not on my list of favorite things to do. Oh, and how could I forget the part about dodging the curious glances (of course I put that nicely) of various construction workers off to their jobs. Okay they aren’t always construction workers. There is also that creepy guy that used to come in to the little diner I worked at and would flirt with me <<shudder>> who always seems to be lurking around the gas station in the morning. Yeah, you get the picture.

Anyway, I have been going to this full service station since I had my first son. I love that they wash my windows, fill my gas tank and chat with you about whatever the subject of the day may be. By the way, it is always a good idea to find something other than the weather to chat about they hear about it over 50 times on any given day. When I had my Jeep, I’d pull up and roll down the windows to talk. My oldest son loved the attention he’d get from the service man. They’d talk about trucks, camping and other boy stuff. Since we got the minivan, however, he has not been able to talk to Mike or Donnie. This upsets my son almost to tears! We pull up to the gas pump and he begs me to open his window. I’ve tried to tell him that they don’t roll down and he gets frustrated and is left to tap on the window to get attention from his friends. “Mom I only want to be friendly.” Poor guy. I guess we’ll have to take the truck next time we pass that way so he can let his friends at the filling station know that he isn’t trying to be rude, mom’s minivan simply isn’t as friendly as the Jeep was.

My Town Part II

We walked through the downtown area of Bardstown took some pictures of some of my favorite homes. Still haven’t taken a picture of the building named for my husband’s ancestor (it is undergoing repairs).

We went to My Old Kentucky Home State park. That’s where I became disappointed. It is a pretty park, everything is well maintained, and as you walk along the brick paths you hear this constant ringing of bells playing every song that Stephen Foster composed. Maybe it was, in part, due the the headache I was developing but stubbornly ignoring in attempt to limit my intake of tylenol, asprin or my all time favorite excedrin. But the bells that were trolling from outdoor speakers around every corner were nauseating.


I love old buildings, I love to look at them and imagine what it must have been like to live when they were new and opulent. But I just can’t get passed that music. Cheesy bells playing Camptown Races, My Old Kentucky Home, Oh Susannah, over and over, bells bells bells. Ugh. I came really close to saying something to one of the park officials, but my growing head ache urged me to press on and get it over with.

Other than that I love Federal Hill itself. It’s beautiful with it’s old brick, masonry stars, and Judge John Rowan’s spring house turned law office down the hill. The boys enjoyed the walking and the boys enjoyed running around the rotunda.

We ended our day out with a stop at the library, then some fun at the park.


Oh yeah, one more thing adding to my frustration with my experience with My Old Kentucky Home. There was a lady that offered to take my picture with the kids. I was thrilled, but in the back of my mind I knew that the picture—like any other that someone takes of me with my family—would be out of focus or I would have a goofy looking face or my eyes would be closed or look like they are ready to pop right out of my head. I was right. I don’t blame her for it, it wasn’t her fault the picture was crumby. I can barely master my new camera myself let alone trying to explain it to a well intentioned stranger. So there you have it, my latest experience attempting to show you my town. The next involves bourbon, hopefully that will be a little more fun! 😉