Category Archives: Announcements

Seven Years a Blogger


WordPress just informed me I registered Grocery Store Feet seven years ago today. Just a couple of days later, I posted this for my first entry into the bloggosphere.

Ahh . . . Labor Day!

Labor Day is a most excellent holiday for teachers and others who work in the school system. It comes at just the right time . . . usually after the second full week of school . . . to give us a much needed rest. After all, it’s a gear-stripping, heart stopping jolt to go from the “lazy, hazy” days of summer to full throttle with a room or library full of students and a brand new year of expectations and goals — some reasonable, some, as Bogie said in The Maltese Falcon, “The stuff that dreams are made of.”
So, however you chose to spend today, I hope you got some rest in. We did here around the old haceinda. No picnics or partys, beach trips or barbecues, just sleeping late, catching up on reading and family and generally being good for nothing layabouts. Perfect day all ’round.
Tomorrow, though, it’s once more into the breach dear friends. I have a computer that is waiting on me and it will behoove itself to start acting appropriately lest I be forced to go completely Office Space on it.
Take care all. More to come later.

That’s it? I didn’t even have my usual, “Love y’all and keep those feet clean” sign off in place. Still, I think it’s crazy I’m still posting — erratically and on no set schedule, but still — after seven years. See, for me, plans are nebulous things. People will ask me what I’m doing when and where for some ridiculous amount of time in the future, like, you know . . . a week, and I just have to laugh. I do well if I’ve got tomorrow thought of. About all I know for certain is I’ll go to Clinton every Tuesday morning to check on Granny and sit with her awhile until she passes away or Gabriel blows his horn. I’m also 99% certain I will gorge myself to the point of immobility on Thanksgiving at the Hall homestead until I’m no longer invited. You get much past that, I’ve got a few murky days creeping around on my calendar here and there. No goals, no plans, no problems . . . if only.

Anyway, for me to be doing something seven years consistently is a pretty big deal in my life. That’s longer than all but one job I ever held and longer than any romantic relationship I’ve been in until I married Budge. In short, in MY life, seven years is a freakishly long time. Now I don’t claim to have improved all that much as a blogger over those seven years, but the fact remains . . . I’m still here. For me, that’s an accomplishment. So Happy Anniversary to the crusty feet and here’s to seven more — maybe.

Love y’all and keep those feet clean.

What’s Going On With Me


Hello everyone out there. I suppose y’all’ve noticed I haven’t written much lately. I don’t think I’ve updated GB&GSF since Thanksgiving and that’s NOT how I like to do things. It’s not been a matter of not enough to write. I’ve had plenty of ideas . . . I just can’t get them down on the screen. This has caused me no little amount of consternation especially when several times during the day I get a message telling me I have a new follower for the blog. Now I realize some of those followers are probably generated by bots or spider searchers, but some of them aren’t and I feel an obligation to produce good posts to give back to those who’ve taken the time to stop by this little blog. Because of all this swirling morass of feeling, I felt an explanation is in order. Here’s my explanation . . .

Life is kicking my ass — pardon the French.

My grief at facing the holidays without Mama has grown each day and now it IS an elephant in the room. I’ve tried to bear up, do the brave thing, keep calm and carry on . . . and I’ve failed completely. Over the next two weeks I have to face Mama’s favorite holiday, then two days later her birthday, then New Years, and finally my first birthday without getting a call at 6:19 AM and hearing “happy birthday, Little Man; Mommy loves you.” It’s a lot to take in over a short time frame. The fact is, I miss my mama and the nice facade I’ve built to try coping with it is crumbling.

That grief alone would be enough to cripple me, but it’s not all I’ve been hit with. I recently found out one of my best friends and former work colleagues has a cancerous mass on her kidney and another in her lower colon. This young lady has been like a baby sister to me for over a decade. When I was cashiered from my first teaching job, she was the only person to speak in my defense. She is also a triathlete, having competed in nine Ironman races. She’s also an agnostic who leans more atheist than not.

Even THAT doesn’t complete the tableau. A week ago today, Baby Eli was born . . . took two breaths . . . and died. He was the fourth child of a couple at our church. They found out in late September that the pregnancy had hit a developmental crisis. Eli’s little kidneys for some reason failed to develop and the way it was explained to me, when a baby’s kidneys don’t develop, his lungs don’t develop either, and no amniotic fluid gets produced. According to the doctors, little Eli never had a chance and their suggestion to the couple was a second trimester abortion which the couple refused. From the time I first found out about little Eli, I was seized by a concern I can’t really explain. See, I serve the God who formed us all in our mothers’ wombs and I knew if He chose to, He could repair little Eli’s body and make liars out of the doctors. So I prayed harder for little Eli than I’ve prayed for anyone in a long time . . . even Mama. I went so far as to ask God to take my life for Eli’s. I’ve lived already . . . at least it would give the baby a chance, but in the end, Eli died . . . God’s ways are not man’s ways; man’s ways are not God’s ways. That may be truth, but it still hit me harder than I expected.

Then, my stepdad called me. He is extremely sick. He’s got the flu the doctor says, but for some reason the congestion in his lungs won’t break up in response to medicine this time . . . much like Mama. As much as losing Mama has hurt me, my grief pales in comparison to Rob’s. Mama was literally his world. He cared for her needs even more than I did. Now he is a grief-stricken, broken man, and I’m having to convince him to keep fighting when all he really wants to do is join Mama and I’m afraid if something doesn’t change, he may do just that before this sickness turns.

Then, my aunt, my cousin, and my dad have decided to sell my homeplace. It doesn’t mean much to any of the three of them, but it represents what could have been to me. Daddy is going to give me his share so Rob and my stepbrother’s family won’t have to move away, but home won’t be home anymore. It’s just a hunk of land, a source of money, to them . . . but it’s always been home to me and there’s no earthly way I could get the funds together to buy the other two out.

That’s because there’s NEVER enough funds. My life is a constant borrowing from Peter to pay Paul. Someone always gets left out of the paid bills stack. I always have to figure out some way to make ends meet. It’s sad, but it’s been the story of my life. Mama and I never had enough money to breathe easy. Ruin and bankruptcy has always been just around the corner and once or twice, it’s even turned that corner. No one who hasn’t lived under constant financial stress has any idea what it’s like to constantly worry about the heat pump or the car engine or some other thing because there’s no money so if the heat pump goes out . . . well, we’ll just be cold. The saddest part, though, is I know it’s my own fault. Mama made poor decisions with money and I’ve managed to carry on the family tradition. It doesn’t make it any less stressful though.

So that’s what’s going on with me . . . at least the highlights. There’s more little things, but this post already looks like I’m whining. I hope none of you think I’m being maudlin because that’s certainly not my intent. I just want my growing number of readers to know what’s happened to the content lately.

What I’ve decided to do is stop obsessing over not updating. My plan is to get through the first full week in January, past my birthday, and then start back with a renewed sense of purpose in my writing. I could slap some stuff together, but it wouldn’t be up to my standards so I’d rather get through the end of the year and try to start over. Look for newer, more consistent posts beginning in January. I hope y’all understand.

You know I love y’all. Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and keep those feet clean.

Taking the Plunge

Oh god what have I gotten myself into now?

Oh god what have I gotten myself into now?

“You should write a book!”

“I wish you’d write a novel!”

“I just LOVE your stories; why don’t you write a novel?”

“You are such a talented writer; you need to write a book.”

Okay, FINE. Y’all talked me into it, mostly because I’m tired of hearing it! So November is National Novel Writing Month or “NaNoWriMo” to the initiated and since all one has to do is sign up on their website, which I did, I suppose I’m one of the initiated.

I’m also one of the terrified. I’ve never been much on challenges. Someone would say, “I dare you to ____,” and I’d politely decline. My reasons ran the gamut from inability to fear to outright cowardice, but the results were the same. I’d be branded a chicken, but I managed to avoid broken bones, road rash, and grounding for my entire childhood and teenage years so I’m not complaining.

This challenge, however, has been a long time coming. I really have been pestered for years by people who seem to think I can produce a work of book length which people, besides them, will want to read. It was a common theme in college from my professors, especially my Southern Literature professor and my Writing Methods professor. Some of my colleagues (and a good many students) during my teaching career would goad me to turn the tales I’d spin for them of my childhood and adolescence into a book length narrative and even today, friends and family delight in saying, “I’m still waiting for that book!”

So, I’m taking on NaNoWriMo. The challenge is to turn out a rough draft of a NOVEL in thirty days, beginning November 1st and ending Midnight on November 30th. My biggest worry is the stories people love me to tell and write so much are not eligible for this contest. Under the rules, those constitute a “personal memoir” and that genre isn’t allowed. Instead, I’m supposed to produce “a work of fiction with a minimum of 50,000 words within the 30 days from 11-1-2013 to 11-30-2013.” Of course, it for memoirs to be disallowed since I’ve got a person or two still to pass away before I could write EXACTLY what I want to say and not catch hell from someone.

To give you a little perspective, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury is 46,118 words, Kurt Vonnegut’s much-lauded and loved Slaughterhouse-5 is 49,459 words, and that bane of the existence of American Lit high school students everywhere — The Great Gatsby — weighs in at 47,094 words. By contrast, HP and the Philosopher’s Stone, the first and shortest of the Harry Potter series is 77,325 words, my favorite novel — To Kill a Mockingbird has 99,121 words, and Tolstoy’s Russian tome War and Peace tips the scales at a heartbreaking 587,287 words or 37,140 MORE words than the entire Lord of the Rings PLUS The Hobbit.

Looking at the word count next to those paragons of fiction, 50K doesn’t seem like anything nearly insurmountable, but I know when I sit down and look at that blinking cursor taunting me from the top of a blank screen, 50K words are going to be magnified. I figure it’s a lot like eating calamari, sure, that bite doesn’t look very big, but when you pop it in your mouth and start chewing, it grows exponentially! I look at it as 50 of my typical 1000 word blog posts set end to end. That works out to around 1.6 blog posts per day . . . EVERY DAY instead of my usual schedule of three or four posts a month. I’m not thinking this is going to be easy.

But, to quote Julius Caesar as he stood by the cold rushing River Rubicon on January 10, 49 BC, “Ἀνερρίφθω κύβος” or “Let the die be cast!” If I’m going to write a book, I may as well do it in November. I have a couple of ideas I’m going to be whittling down over the next few days, but if any of y’all have something you think I could knock out of the park, be sure to let me know in the comments or drop me an email.

In the meantime, love y’all, and keep those feet clean!