Category Archives: VIP Posts

Eyeball to Eyeball: Fifty Years after the World-Saving Blink


One of the photographs that started the crisis.

The two-ish week period from October 15 to October 28, 1962 has gone into history under many names. Some call it “The Thirteen Days,” some “The Brink of Brinksmanship”, but most know it simply as “The Cuban Missile Crisis.” Regardless of what name the historians call it, this stretch of days in a fall fifty years ago mark the best known time when the United States and the Soviet Union came the absolute closest to a full-scale nuclear exchange. I say best known because our country and the USSR actually came even closer to firing mushroom inducing ICBMs at one another on several occasions but these were almost always caused by equipment malfunctions or misinterpreted data. The Cuban Missile Crisis was neither of those. It was a case of “we’re being threatened by what you are doing and we’re going to kill you if you don’t stop doing it.”

The history surrounding the Cuban Missile Crisis is well-known and has been the subject of articles, books, and university classes for the past five decades. It was one of — if not THE — hottest points of the Cold War. For the only time since its inception in 1959, the US military moved the DEFCON alert readiness to DEFCON 2 prompting Strategic Air Command — again, for the only known time in history — to launch the nation’s fleet of B-52 Stratofortress bombers to their airborne orbit points in preparation for an imminent nuclear retaliatory strike against the Soviet Union.

What is not common knowledge is the crisis actually involved some live fire and one American pilot gave his life to obtain the information that would ultimately move President John F. Kennedy to put his finger firmly on the “Big Red Button” and issue the ultimatum to Soviet Premier Khrushchev to remove the missiles immediately or face World War III. What is even lesser known than THAT is the only casualty of the Cold War’s hottest moment was born and raised in Greenville, South Carolina just up the road from where I am writing this. He also graduated from my college alma mater, Clemson University. His name was US Air Force Major Rudolf Anderson and around these parts, he is a really big deal.

This is Maj. Anderson’s memorial plane in Cleveland Park, Greenville, SC.

I grew up visiting Cleveland Park and the Greenville Zoo on weekends and each time we would go, Papa Wham would take me by “The Big Plane” as I called the memorial Greenville had erected to Maj. Anderson’s memory. The monument still stands today and all this year it has been undergoing extensive renovation and improvement in preparation for a rededication Saturday, October 27, 2012 to mark the 50th anniversary of Maj. Anderson’s death. The memorial’s centerpiece is an F-86 Saber jet fighter of the type and markings Maj. Anderson flew during his service in the Korean War. The Air Force donated the Saber because the U-2 type spy plane the major flew on his fatal mission was such a new plane with so many top-secret systems they could not release one.

At the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis, the U-2 was the best kept secret in the US. It was a sophisticated spy plane able to fly so high the pilot had to breathe pure oxygen and wear a space suit. When the U-2s first flew, the thought was the Soviets had no interceptors or anti-aircraft missiles capable of reaching the altitude necessary to bring a U-2 down. Unfortunately, the Air Force learned that if you shoot enough missiles at an aircraft, the law of averages starts to work against you and the first U-2 was shot down by the USSR on May 1, 1960.

Even though they now knew the U-2 was vulnerable, the Air Force brass still used the plane to great effect and it was the pictures taken by Maj. Anderson and his fellow pilots earlier in October 1962 that provided the photographic evidence needed to for President Kennedy to confront the Soviets. Major Anderson knew the danger he was flying towards as he took off fifty years ago, but he went anyway and his death, terrible as it was, gave the President the excuse to issue a final ultimatum to Khrushchev to remove the missiles or face annihilation.

My mother was ten years old during the events of October 1962 and she recalled daily “duck and cover” drills in school for those two weeks. I think it shows more than a little naiveté on the part of the Civil Defense people to think that a textbook and a school desk would provide adequate protection from a hydrogen bomb, but those were simpler times.

Thankfully, as I alluded to in the title, Khrushchev and the Soviets backed down and agreed to remove the nukes from Cuba. The hottest spot of the Cold War thankfully cooled down and the mushrooms never started popping up. The world could breathe a collective sigh of relief and I take a lot of pride in the fact that a South Carolina boy, in giving his life for his country, was a big part of making it possible.

Rest In Peace, Major Anderson; and well done.

Love y’all and keep those feet clean!

Westboro Baptist Church Stands Simpsonville Up . . . Thankfully


PFC Justin Whitmire: son, brother, soldier, friend. Rest in peace, soldier.

Another one of our boys was laid to rest today. PFC Justin Whitmire, an army combat medic and 2010 graduate of nearby Hillcrest High School, was ushered to his final resting place by the combined populations of Simpsonville, Fountain Inn, and several surrounding hamlets and villages. Driving downtown today as the human wall started to form, I couldn’t help but get choked up. Here was a young man who went off to war to do the duty his country assigned him and he fell in the honorable performance of that duty. His family and friends are justifiably proud of him and, judging from the attendance at his send-off, so were a whole lot of other people.

Conspicuously absent from the crowd today, despite dire warnings of their imminent arrival, were any protestors from the notorious Westboro Baptist “Church” of Topeka, KS. Now for those who don’t know, Westboro Baptist (hereafter to be called WBC) is a tiny Fundamentalist church out in Kansas. The pastor is an octogenarian disbarred lawyer named Fred Phelps. The vast majority of the massive 50 member congregation are Phelps’ children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and anyone unfortunate or stupid enough to marry into this sorry bunch of lunatic fanatics.

Fred Phelps, frontman for a hate group

The church slithered onto the national scene in 1998 when members protested and picketed the funeral of Matthew Shepard, a 19-year-old Wyoming University student who was tortured and beaten to death after he allegedly “made a pass” at another man in a bar. WBC doesn’t like gay people. The church’s home page URL is Since then, members of the church / Phelps family have taken to protesting funerals of soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. They claim the soldiers’ deaths are the result of God’s wrath upon America. Oh, and incidentally, they are insanely happy about the 9-11-2001 World Trade Center attacks. If you haven’t figured it out by now, these people are “out there.” I would say they are the fuzzy endmost strands of material on the far end of the lunatic fringe. They hate everybody — homosexuals, military, Muslims, the list goes on and on.

This is funny. How do you know when you are too far over the line? Well, several counter-protests targeting WBC have included members of the Ku-Klux-Klan. True story. You read that correctly. The Klan joined with other regular people to protest WBC. Try to ask yourself this, “just how big of an asshole do you have to be for the freaking KKK to consider you a hate group?”  Hard to fathom, ain’t it?

Irony: a group that claims to hate gays carrying rainbow colored signs in their picketing.

Now, to be honest, I wouldn’t care about a bunch of homophobic nut jobs carrying cheap posterboard signs around if it wasn’t for the fact that these particular homophobic sign carrying nut jobs claim to 1) be Christians and 2) speak for God. That bothers me. It bothers me because they are such vitriolic hate mongers and media whores that they are guaranteed to boost newscast ratings. As a result, anytime they show up they get tons of attention they don’t really deserve. Then, non-believers see them and realize they are nuttier than a can of Planter’s and form the mistaken opinion that “kooky homophobic media whores” equal “Christian.” In the eyes of way too many people, these loons are what Christianity is all about.

That saddens me greatly.

I wish that instead of WBC getting so much press, the news could interview the staff of the church I attend so the world could hear about the Osbornes. This couple took their three preschool aged children with them to the mission field in Papua New Guinea. If you’ve never heard of Papua New Guinea, don’t fret. Most people haven’t. Suffice it to say it’s a 22 hour plane ride from LAX and some tribes on the island still practice head hunting and cannibalism. These lily-white yuppie Americans left behind a nice cushy life to take the Gospel to people who’ve never heard it before. They will be gone from the USA for at least 20 years.

That is what Christianity is all about. Not the putrescence Fred Phelps and his brood spew on a daily basis.

Fred's daughter, Shirley. Apparently, homosexuality is a sin, but flabby arms and unshaved pits aren't.

I don’t expect most of the folks reading this to be mighty theological scholars, but I’m pretty sure most of you know that the Holy Bible has an Old Testament and a New Testament. Apparently, Fred doesn’t. The entire misanthropic website is laden with Old Testament polemics from the always cheery book of Leviticus or dire threats of doom and gloom from the minor prophets. Almost nothing from the New Testament. No Gospel quotes and very little Pauline writing. If I could sit down with Fred and his clan, I’d like to start the conversation by saying, “Fred, you ever hear of this guy in the Bible named Jesus Christ? You may not know it, Fred, but Jesus was a pretty big deal.”

I doubt Fred’s ever seen Anchorman: The Ron Burgundy Story though so he wouldn’t get it at all.

Happily though, despite claims by one of the Phelps Phanatics that “six members of the congregation flew to South Carolina to protest” not a peep came from their mouths, if indeed they ever did show up. Of course, that is probably for the best, considering the appearance of some of the rougher looking members of the Patriot Guard Riders motorcycle group who showed up to form a human shield between the family and any WBC protesters. The “Member of the 1%” on a few of those guy’s riding jackets means something totally different than the Occupy people talk about.

So poor Simpsonville will go unedified by the Gospel according to hate monger Fred at least until our next brave soldier comes home in a flag draped coffin. Should that happen, though, the Patriot Guard and the good people of the Upstate will be here in force one more time.

Love y’all and remember to love each other and keep those feet clean.

Go Rest High on that Mountain, Papa John


Papa John on Mama's wedding day.

I’ve found it exceptionally difficult to look out the window all day today and see such a beautiful cerulean sky with the Sun shining warm and high.

Five years ago on this day, rain fell so hard and so long that it made a rivulet beneath the funeral tent where I stood giving Papa John’s eulogy. It rained so hard the canvas of the tent sounded almost like a ten roof. I couldn’t see the highway only twenty yards away.

When the time came to leave, Budge and I drove out of the cemetery and I couldn’t think of the words or tune of a single hymn or gospel song. All I could think about were the words to Stevie Ray Vaughn’s signature song . . . “The Sky Is Crying.”

As unbelievable as it was to me, my Papa John – Mama’s father – was gone and it seemed as if Nature herself was taking part in our grief.

It’s taken me five years to write one word about Papa’s death because all these years later, that wound is no less open, raw and putrescent than it was the day Papa John passed away.

I didn’t get to spend nearly as much time with Papa John as I did Granny and Papa Wham for a variety of reasons I will not discuss here. However, of all my close ancestors, I share more traits and characteristics with Papa John than I do any other relative. Some people who read this might not like that. The person writing this doesn’t really care if they do or not.

My Papa John was special. He faced down more calamity and disaster; overcame more ill will and hard breaks; and fought off more despair and personal demons than any man I’ve ever known. Whenever I think of Papa, I think of the quote some attribute to Rabelais “What cannot be remedied must be endured“. My Papa John endured where others would have fainted, if not fled in terror at what was happening to them. Death alone could stop him and even then, he didn’t go without a fight.

Papa was a Pentecostal preacher. He was never happier than when he was at the front of our little white church playing his guitar or delivering a sermon. When he wasn’t preaching, he was busy doing the Lord’s work and when he wasn’t doing the Lord’s work, he was working in textile plants all over Laurens and Simpsonville, SC.

Papa worked hard, but he never had anything to show for it. I’ve seen him give the coat off his back to someone who needed it more than he did. He was big-hearted and generous and kind and the world hated him for it. He was slandered and lied about and run through the petty small town rumor mill over and over — because he was good to people.

Throughout all the false accusations and tribulations in his life, my Papa never lifted a finger against anyone. He didn’t have to. God had Papa’s back. Oh, I know a lot of you reading this, especially members of my own family probably don’t believe that, but again, ask me if I care. You weren’t there. You don’t know as much as you think you do. What I know is everyone — man and woman, kin and stranger alike — who mistreated my Papa John either had to come to him to apologize on bended knee or else died in horrible, Old Testament ways. One wagging tongue silenced itself with a blast from a 12 gauge shotgun. Another died choking while drowning on his own blood. A family member who spoke too harshly about things which weren’t her business one too many times died of a horrible wasting lung cancer . . . and never smoked a day in her life.

Believe what you want to.

From the time I was 13 until I was 35 and he passed, Papa had MULTIPLE strokes and heart attacks. I was with him the night he had his first stroke in our church parking lot. I was 13 and didn’t know what the change in his voice meant and neither did he. The ailments took his body, but Papa never succumbed to the slightest bit of dementia. Until he lapsed into his final coma, he was as sharp as the kitchen knives he used to keep to cut radiator hoses.

For years before he passed away, his left hand and arm were completely useless. He drove his car with a steering knob. His left leg was halt and somewhat withered. He walked anyway.He never stopped. He endured.

I could fill a book with my papa’s life, but most people — even many who knew him — wouldn’t believe parts of it. He was a mystery to most people. I don’t have space or time to talk about cars and restaurants and the Harakin Pine Woods. I could make an entry about Papa in this blog every day for the rest of my life and the half wouldn’t be told.

Papa John didn’t measure success in dollars and cents. That confused lots of people. People might not have known how to take Papa, but they knew who to turn to for help. He never stopped his ministry. When he could no longer stand in a pulpit, he’d sit in a Waffle House at 3:00 AM talking to a stranger about God over a cup of coffee. Five years later, Mama and I are still finding out about lives he touched that we knew nothing about.

Here’s what matters though and here’s what you need to take away from this post about my grandfather. He didn’t have a bank account. He never owned a house. His only possessions were his bible, a few clothes, and a hand-me-down Ford Fairmont. The day he died, he had one $5 bill in his wallet. As I said at his funeral, according to our vision of “The American Dream” he had NOTHING to show for his life. Some people might have looked at him as a complete failure.

I’ll tell you what he did have though — in the middle of a driving rainstorm that would turn to sleet later that day — he had more people at his funeral than the Fletcher’s Mortuary tent could hold, but the people came anyway and stood in that driving rain to pay a last visit to a man who had a heart no one could measure.

THAT is what you need to know about Papa John. That and the fact that I loved him more than breath and since his death nothing has been the same and never will be. Men like Papa John leave a hole too big to ever fill on this side of the Jordan River.

Rest on the mountain for a little while, Papa, and look for me . . . I’m trying.

Love y’all and keep those feet clean.


Deuce, Part I — An Unlikely Alliance


Um, Laura's the big one.

My first day as a librarian at Bell St. Middle School in Laurens District 56, I met Laura. She was in charge of teacher IDs and email passwords so at lunch on the first day of the new teacher orientation, I fell in with the rest of the newbies and trooped down to the IT Department’s basement outpost in what was then the District Office to have my ID made and get a login for the computer network.

Now, when I am nervous, I talk very fast. Think of an auctioneer and double his speed. When I am excited, I also talk very fast. This was my first day as a school librarian AND I was in a new district, I was extremely nervous while being incredibly excited. Think of an auctioneer with Tourette’s Syndrome, Asperger’s Autism and severe ADHD standing in a nest of fire ants with his hair ablaze and you’ll have a close approximation of what Laura received that hot August day.

While,  in line I noticed a Michigan poster on the wall with a photo of Laura and another girl (later I found out it was Ho-Hum Amy) in front of “The Big House” in Ann Arbor. I also saw a photo of an ankle with a crescent moon tattooed on it. In my nervously excited state, I was bouncing on the balls of my feet taking in everything around me and checking it off against info in my head. I was last in line to get my stuff so as soon as Laura spoke to me, I started talking.

According to Laura, the conversation went somewhat thusly (with my part approximating how she says I answered her):

Laura: “Hi. What can I do for you?”

Me: “Hi-my-name-is-Shannon-ShannonWham-W-h-a-m-Wham-just-like-George-Michael’s-old-singing-group-Wham!-before-he-got-weird. Is-that-you-outside-the-BigHouseinMichigan? DidyougotoMichigan?Are-you-a-Michigan-fan-it’s-hard-to-tell-’cause-you-have-a-USCposterontheotherwall-soIthoughtyoumighthave-goneto-USC-but-I-need-to-get-my-idandlogin-Imthenewlibrarian-over-atBellStreet-do-you-have-a-tattoo-is-that-the-tattoo-in-that-picture-ofyourankleisthatyourankle-you-have-a-nice-office-it’sgoodandcooldownhere-it’ssohottoday-that’sareallyprettyplantwhatisit-oh-you-already-got-myidandloginbutI-didn’t-tell-you-my-social-didyou-lookitup-wowyou’refast-well,Igottagoeatlunch-thenextsession-startsinthirtyminutes-thanksalot-itwasnicetomeetyou!

And I left.

She never looked at me after her initial greeting, but over a year later I found out as soon as I left, she went back to where the IT guys ate lunch and announced, “The new librarian over at Bell Street is certifiably insane. I mean, he SERIOUSLY needs medicated,” and she proceeded to recap my entire spiel.

Little did she know how right she was . . .

Among her other multitudinous talents, Laura's a very accomplished actress.

I didn’t see much of her that first year. Of course, the year pretty much passed in a blur anyway. I emailed her when one of my little monsters forgot his or her password so she could fix them up a new one and we’d chat a bit here and there but with no premonitions of what was to come.

The next year started off pretty much the same way. I’d call if I needed something IT-ish and every now and then she’d stop by to drop off something. Laura is a wildly engaging person and she’s hysterically funny to talk to when she gets going. That fall, I found out she loves college football and is a die-hard Michigan fan. As the fates would have it, Appalachian State scored a monumental, historic upset over Michigan in the opening game of the college football season so I downloaded the App State fight song and sent it to her as her ration of crap about that fiasco. Then right after Christmas, I blew a disc out in my back and was laid up and out of work for most of January. She emailed me a time or two while I was out of commission and she was one of the first to call me up and welcome me back once my discs finally healed.

Still, at this juncture, she was a colleague from work who had some similar interests to me and I never dreamed she’d be anything else. Then I called her the Monday afternoon after spring break. The day had just ended and I was feeling spring feverish and blithering on like I do when I’m nervous or excited.  I didn’t know it at the time, but Laura has something in common with my Budge — they are both “Stuffers.” Anything bad that happens to them gets shoved in a huge mental trunk and stuffed away to be dealt with a some indeterminate time in the future. She wasn’t answering like she usually did and that’s when I caught a note in her voice that told me something was very, very wrong.

Since she is such a proficient “stuffer,” anyone would have difficulty discerning anything out of the ordinary was amiss in her voice, but — as I said — I just caught a hint of something not right. Now Laura also has in common with Budge being a VERY private person. Neither one of them “do their business out in the street,” so just casually asking “what’s wrong” wasn’t very likely to get any sort of accurate answer. I suppose I’ll never know why I asked or why she answered. I just know the Lord truly does work in utterly mysterious ways to bring extremely special people into our lives when it’s time.

Turns out her spring break had been HIDEOUS — absolutely hellish. She told me all about it in an hour-long conversation. Out of respect for her privacy, I won’t divulge details but suffice it to say it involved loved ones dying, betrayal, car problems, unexpectedly moving houses . . . just think of the worst week you could have then double it and you’ll get close to Laura’s spring break. She was living in a commercial for Murphy’s Law. I was blown away by how wounded she was and I just wanted to be some comfort, so I think I said something profound like, “Wow. I am so sorry. Can I do anything? If I can help, let me know.” That’s what we Southerners do. “If I can help, let me know” is right up the list with “Bless her heart!”

Two of my favorite people in the world: Budge and Laura, Ace and Deuce.

I talked to her off and on that year but I really got to know her well over the summer when I was volunteering as an IT tech at the DO. The group of us would eat lunch almost daily at El Jalisco,  a hole in the wall Mexican restaurant in Clinton. At the end of the summer, she was moving again and asked if I could help out, so one hot, muggy Saturday afternoon, we moved her from Ware Shoals to Simpsonville.

That next day was the first time I mentioned to Budge we should take Laura out to eat. She had just started working a second job as a barista at Starbucks and hardly ever had time or money for herself. She was making it on her own though. Laura is tough and proud that way. Anyway, Budge was glad for a chance to meet this “Laura” I had been fretting about so we took her to Anita’s Mexican Restaurant. Within a month, Anita’s on Tuesday was a weekly ritual.

As we hung out more and more, I realized Laura was my lost baby sister. She and Budge were like twin sisters and became best of friends. For the next few years, we were inseparable. We’d eat out or I’d cook two or three times a week; Dana and I would take supper to her at Starbucks; we’d go to movies; we even did a few holidays together . . . Laura and Budge used to joke that we were Mormons. Budge was Ace and Laura was Deuce — my two sisterwives.

I have never met a stranger, but a plethora of quirks hinders me making close friends. I haven’t had a friend anywhere as close as Laura since college or before. She could even deal with me during a meltdown. Mama, Budge, and Laura are the only people who can calm me down once I go off the deep end. It helped Budge out more than anyone could understand knowing Laura could help when I was spiraling. She’s one of two people Budge can call and say, “He’s having a bad day,” and Laura would know exactly what was going on and how to help. It gave Budge someone to lean on and another pair of hands when I became more than one handful.

For example, last summer Budge went to Hawaii with Ki-Ki for four weeks. I don’t do well when Budge isn’t around, so Laura called every day to make sure I was out of bed. She even forced me to go out so I didn’t sit in the house like a cabbage while Budge was gone.

So over the last few years, Laura has gone from a casual acquaintance to an adopted sister. For my part, it would have suited me just fine for things to rock and roll on forever and for a good long time, it looked like that’s how it was going to be.

I liked it. I was content. The three of us could take on the world.

However, I didn’t know about the buckeye . . .


So It Goes . . .


In an absolutely perfect world, I would go to Bell Street Middle School and spend the day getting ready for my 8th year spreading library love amongst my students and teachers. In a slightly less perfect — but wildly-superior-to-the-present — world I’d be headed back to Woodmont High School for my 17th year teaching lit or history– preferably to sophomores or juniors. In any iteration of a good and righteous world, I’d  be going somewhere to educate some kids.

Instead, I will spend the third consecutive first day of school sitting home or helping Budge prepare her room. Barring an unforeseen parting the Red Sea or feeding of the 5,000, I will never set foot in a classroom as a teacher or librarian again.

When a plummeting economy, archaic policy, my complete lack of tact, and Wayne Brazell’s disingenuous ineptitude cost me my librarian’s position at Bell Street following the 2007-2008 school year, I should have seen the handwriting on the wall. I had been offered a position in the District’s IT department at a third of my salary for twice the hours worked. Faced with this unpalatable scenario, I spent March through early May taking home my office, hounding friends in other districts, and chasing leads to find a new place to land. When I didn’t get a call back from any of my three interviews, I chalked it up to competition and cuts.

I was wrong.

One night in May, an HR staffer I knew risked his  job to tell me the assistant principal I thought I had at least a civil working relationship with had BUTCHERED me in a reference. My buddy called it the worst reference he’d ever seen.  Well, anyone who knows me can guess how I responded to that revelation. I went into a fine rage and, while extremely angry, had a FaceBook chat with a “friend” about this odious person, said “friend” felt the need to print said conversation and give it to Bosslady. That got me into a gorgeous shouting match with D.O. people and I ended the year suspended with no contract.

I managed to get her damning reference deleted, but the milk was thoroughly spilled. I have always burned my bridges behind me fairly well on my own, but this woman started a conflagration AHEAD of me. I never knew or even suspected such animosity. When no position came up, I sat out the school year and hoped unemployment insurance would stay funded. I couldn’t even sub because districts within reasonable driving distance had hiring freezes on subs.

I took a fresh shot at the resume circuit last summer. I was called for one interview, then called back a day later and told the job was being filled and not to bother coming in. What was costing me was what any accurate reference about me would show, even from people who think highly of me. I have a tremendous work ethic, drive to get things done, and a boundless love of young people accompanied by a complete disregard for idiotic policy red tape and no patience with stupid people who think a title, a suit, and a big desk give them some special power.

Another year started and ended without me teaching. The black dog started making a tremendous din and the clouds rolled in. Around Christmas, I started looking into other avenues to income if I couldn’t get back into a school. I tried public libraries, private schools . . . anything. In the end, with little hope this summer — or realistically any summer — being any better, I bowed to the inevitable and on the advice of my therapist, I consulted a lawyer and filed for Social Security Disability.

With the OCD, BPD, GAD, and SRDD, the United States Government feels I have enough issues to prevent me from working.  I now have a small but steady income to supplement Budge’s salary, but — at the age of forty — the game is over for me. I have ceased to be a contributing, constructive member of society. For any of my readers who are devotees of the Tea Party or Rude Limburger and Company, I am now one of the “entitlement” parasites on our country’s economy you hear lambasted with unmitigated passion on talk radio and Fox News. I am — barring the aforementioned miracle — permanently “on the dole.”

Please let me assure you that no political pundit will ever despise me more than I despise myself. I never had a great plan, but being a washed up nervous wreck at 40 wasn’t part of ANY plan. No one has ever loved being a teacher any more than I did, and still do. Then I got a chance very few people ever get — I got to work my all-time dream job. I got to be a school librarian. Unfortunately, some demons who have plagued me since late childhood just kept rearing up and causing me to wreck my career track. I had help going off the rails, but the blame for my plight must lie finally at my own feet. It is a fearful thing when your greatest asset (in my case, my mind) turns on you and becomes your worst enemy.

My attitude and behavior cost me two jobs and the root of those problems has now cost me a career. I’d try again, but I just don’t have the emotional strength and I can’t bear to put Budge or Mama through any more seasons of drama and despair than I already have. Budge told me she feels like a weight has been lifted off her back now that she no longer has to worry about getting “the call” from me telling her what fresh hole I’ve dug myself into this time. I’m trying to think of her and not myself.

I never claimed I was a particularly good teacher, and I wouldn’t claim to be more than a mediocre librarian. I couldn’t care less about copyright issues. I think Wikipedia isn’t even a minor devil, much less the offspring of Satan. I think every scrap of paper with a bubble on it should be taken to Iceland and dropped into the gaping maw of Eyjafjallajökull along with the people and politicians who believe testing is the be all and end all of education. I didn’t learn any of those traits in library school; I just feel that strongly.

I will also be the first to admit that, despite my dreams, I was never in any danger of being  Teacher of the Year or holding an office in SCASL. I don’t play with others well enough. I WILL say without hesitation what I lack in tact and judgement, I tried to compensate for with passion for my craft and undying love for my students. I can’t count all the run-ins and heated exchanges I had with administrators, professors, and other “higher ups” in 12 years in schools, but I can tell you the number of serious altercations I had with a student in those 12 years — ONE.

But none of that matters anymore.

The book of my education career is closed. I try to keep a spotless house for Budge. Mama says I make the best cheesecakes. I have this blog and other writing I dabble in, but honestly, I don’t know where to go from here. I never figured on things turning out like this. I can’t say how I expected them to turn out, but I know it wasn’t like this. How this will go from here, I don’t know. I know it makes me sad. I miss my library. I miss my kids. I miss being strong and steady enough to enjoy both of them.

So all my teaching colleagues and librarian buddies, this is where I leave you. Please pass this along the grapevines to my acquaintances and friends who do not patronize “Granny Beads and Grocery Store Feet” so they will know I have not died or joined a monastery. Should either of those events occur, Budge has instructions on who to call, what to post, and how to make news of my demise or decline known to anyone who cares.

In any event, I still love y’all and hope you’ll stick around — clean feet or grubby.

In the words of the late Kurt Vonnegut, “so it goes.”

15 Down and a Lifetime to Go!


I love you, Budge 🙂

Fifteen years ago today, I hit the lifetime lottery. Hopefully, Budge feels the same way even if she’s had less of a reason to rejoice than I have all these years. We celebrate our 15th Anniversary today. The traditional gift for the fifteenth anniversary is crystal. I’ve thought about that some lately and I’ve come up with some thoughts about the Crystal Anniversary.

Crystal is fragile — just like a marriage. Now by that I don’t mean marriages (especially Budge and I) are about to fall apart anymore than I mean an expensive crystal vase is going to shatter just by sitting it on a table. When I say fragile, I’m talking about easy to break. No matter how good a marriage is, it’s easy to break. Break trust, break hearts, break a whole lot of things. Just like crystal, you can glue it back together but it won’t ever be the same. No, it’s much easier to keep things together in the first place rather than having to try fixing it. Thankfully . . . VERY thankfully, Budge and I haven’t had to reach for the glue.

Crystal comes in all shapes and sizes and crystal is useful for a plethora of different things. HOWEVER, crystal isn’t meant to do everything. Some jobs need steel. Some need paper. The important thing to remember is not to try forcing something onto an object that isn’t meant to take the stress. A marriage is wonderful. It’s an opportunity for love and warmth and intimacy that cannot be found ANYWHERE else. HOWEVER, a marriage isn’t meant to take the place of everything in the couple’s life.

Way too often, people marry and expect their spouse will NEVER change and will ALWAYS provide EVERYTHING necessary for happiness. Going into a marriage like that is begging for trouble and ultimately a divorce. Marriage isn’t the be all and end all. Couples need each other but they need friends and family too. Most of all, they need God. Remember, I’m a Christian and make no apologies for it so all my atheist friends will just have to skip this part. Trying to make a marriage fulfill a role in life that only God can fill is a disaster waiting to happen. Budge has told me more than once that she loves me, but she’s known all along that I can’t make her happy. It took me a few years before I understood what she meant.

Crystal has to be cared for to look its best. Put a crystal plate on the mantle and leave it. It’ll sparkle for a long time. It’ll look good even longer, but if you walk up to the mantle and look closely, you’ll see dust and dirt. Marriage is just like that. Leave it unattended too long and the dust and dirt start to accumulate. It’s much better to take the plate down and rinse it off with clear water and maybe a spritz of cleaner to keep the plate shiny. To keep a marriage shining, it takes regular cleaning and care.

Speaking of cleaning, here’s a little known and somewhat unpleasant fact. Vinegar is a great cleaner for fine crystal but it has a harsh smell and isn’t really fun and pleasant to work with. Marriages do better if they have a little “vinegar” every now and then. When everything is sugar and teacakes, you don’t really know what your spouse can handle. A good dose of vinegar sets your teeth on edge and shows the true mettle of the matter. My Budge and I have drunk our fair share of vinegar . . . and part of some other couple’s allotment as well — I’ve BEEN the vinegar in Budge’s glass more than once. Thankfully, the sour times have made the sweeter times just that much sweeter.

Finally, remember this if you remember nothing else. Someone will ALWAYS want your crystal. That vase you were once so proud of? Now it just doesn’t sparkle and you’ve gotten tired of it. SOMEONE WILL TAKE IT IF YOU LEAVE IT OUT. What you may be tired of is exactly what someone else is searching high and low to find. Something else I’ve figured out along the road . . . the BEST way to DESPERATELY need something is to get rid of it and see it in someone else’s possession. Hopefully, we’re all adults here and I don’t need to draw you a picture. Keep your crystal safe and clean and shining. Don’t start yearning for other vases and glasses and knickknacks. Yes, the grass does always look greener on the other side of the fence but that’s because it’s got more cowsh- well, you know what I mean. If you want a good marriage, work at it. Be where you are and quit wishing to be somewhere else.

When Budge and I started dating, our relationship was very complicated for a multitude of reasons. I can’t tell you how many people, including members of our families, didn’t give us a chance. A good many people claimed we’d never make it. In fact, within 18 months of our wedding, eight other couples in our church at the time married. Of the nine total couples, only four of us are still married to the same spouse. Budge and I are one of them 🙂

No matter what people said, we’re still here. Still standing. Still together.

Still crazy after all these years.

Happy Anniversary to my best friend, my biggest cheerleader, and my favorite snugglebunny.

I love you, Budge.

Habeas Corpus


Today is Easter Sunday.

Today, Christians the world over celebrate the most important event in the history of the world — Jesus Christ’s rising from the dead. The Resurrection is not only the most important event in history, but also the most ridiculed event in history as well. To adherents of other religions, including atheism and its current priestly triumvirate of Dawkins, Harris, and Hitchens, the idea that a man can — and did — rise from the dead is mythology akin to Prometheus being bound in the Caucasus Mountains or Odin and his offspring riding down the Rainbow Bridge from Asgard to fight Ragnarok.

From time to time I have wrestled with doubts over the veracity of the Resurrection accounts, but one compelling and unanswerable detail has nailed me to my faith in Christ as surely as He was nailed to a Roman cross. If Jesus of Nazareth did not raise from the dead, where is His body?

The founders of other religions of the world are accounted for. Gautama the Buddha was cremated and containers of his ashes given as relics to shrines. Confucius is interred in Qufu, China, his hometown. The Mohammad lies beneath  the Mosque of the Prophet in Medina.

But wither the Carpenter of Nazareth? Where are the remains of He whom Pilate, a Roman provincial governor not prone to flights of superstition, named “REX IVDAEORVM” ? Where is the body of The Christ, the Holy One of God?

First, Jesus of Nazareth was a real person who died on a real cross at a real point in time in the very real and verifiable Roman province of Judea in or about 33 AD. Forget about “the search for Jesus” or “the historical Jesus”. We have the Gospels and they say He lived. We have Josephus and Philo and they say He lived. Still people want to dispute Jesus’ existence. To them I say, was Julius Caesar real? Prove it. Less contemporary material exists mentioning the would-be Roman emperor than mentions Christ by a magnitude of ten yet no one doubts Caesar’s life and deeds. Why must Christ’s life be called a myth? If we are going to play these reindeer games, let’s all play by the same rules for all historical persons.

So, where is His body?

The Resurrection DESTROYED the Roman Empire. It made Jews, sadly, a cast out and hunted people. Logic dictates that if either the Romans or the Jews had knowledge or possession of Jesus’ body, as soon as Christians like Peter started preaching in the streets, these men would have gone to a tomb, carted out Jesus’ body, unwrapped it and said, “Here is your ‘Savior'”.

Christianity would have come to a swift end.

But it didn’t.

Through reading I have settled on two unassailable facets of Roman life. First, the Romans were excellent record keepers. Second, the Romans were excellent killers. The Romans in Palestine who crucified Jesus didn’t “misplace” the body and they didn’t take Jesus down “alive” from the cross so that He “got better” then showed up later on. I don’t have the time or space to shoot those two arguments against the Resurrection as full of holes as they deserve to be, but luckily others have done that yeoman’s work in my place. My suggestion is to start with the thin book by Josh McDowell titled More than a Carpenter if you want to start exploring the arguments over the centuries around Jesus’ death and resurrection.

I must warn you, though, before you undertake such a journey. Many extremely passionate and intelligent men have set out to debunk Christianity’s claim that Jesus rose from the dead. None have succeeded and many have become believers and followers of Christ in the process.

Will you?

Love y’all and Happy Easter.

Why are you seeking the living among the dead? He is Risen, just as He said He would.

Flanders Field is Empty


A very hale and hearty Mr. Buckles at the ripe old age of 106 at a veteran's function in Washington, DC.

For the United States of America, the guns of the Western Front have been silenced at last and an important period of US History passed from the realm of living memory yesterday evening. With the death of Mr. Frank Buckles at his home near Charles Towne, West Virginia, everyone who remembers the blood and the mud of the Western Front has left the battlefield. For our country, World War I — The Great War — that they said would “end all wars” now resides only on grainy film and yellowing newspaper pages.


I will leave Mr. Buckle’s obituary and eulogy to better writers than I can hope to be. The New York Times has an excellent write up about his life posted now. Instead, I want to speak to the passing, not of a wonderful and beloved old  warrior, but of history itself. Up until yesterday, if a thorny or ambiguous question about life in the trenches arose, a car ride to Charles Towne, West Virginia could straighten the mess out quickly once Mr. Buckles spoke five powerful words: “I know. I was there.”

Now, we only have the history books. World War I has joined the Spanish American War, the War Between the States, the Mexican War, the War of 1812, and The American Revolution as a historian’s bailiwick. The next great event in American History will most likely be the death of the last World War II veteran and at the rate those men and women — all in their 80s now — are leaving the world stage, it might not be as long.

A handsome 16 year old Cpl. Frank Buckles just before his shipping out to France.

The loss of the last living figure of an event like World War I is a huge tragedy in two ways. First is the human loss. Mr. Buckles had become quite famous in his later years (and he had PLENTY of later years) and our nation is diminished by his passing. Secondly though, is the loss of the eyewitness. Now historians can “interpret” and “reinterpret” America’s involvement in that long ago global event with impunity. No one is left who can speak for the multiplied thousands who lie beneath the white crosses in Belgium’s Flanders Field.

For now, Holocaust deniers have one insurmountable obstacle to the free spread of their cancerous message and that obstacle is the every shrinking handful of men and women with numbers tattooed on their arms and horror engraved upon their souls. For now, at least, those who would say “It never happened” must answer to the likes of my beloved friend Mrs. Marion Blumenthal-Lazan who spend years of her childhood in Bergen Belsen.

For now, those who would seek to cover up the grave tragedy that was the Cambodian Killing Fields have the survivors to answer to. The aging veterans of the Japanese army must still confront the living, breathing presence of the “comfort women” whom they abused so many years ago. War Hawks who would rush to hurl nuclear weapons at one another must still look into eyes that saw a bright flash above their two cities in 1945. Some are still among us who were there to hear Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr tell a million people on the Washington, DC Mall that he had a dream.

In time, however, these memories, too, will fall silent — as silent as the grave.

What then? How will those events, so important to the world, our nation, and even to us, be remembered? It is said that history is written by the victors. That is not a true statement. History is written by the survivors and when they are gone, what is left is but hearsay and conjecture.

In Pace Resquiescat, Corporal Buckles. May you find your rest at long last.

Love to all of you as well.

Sincerely, G.S. Feet.

Food Fight


This is a pretty long post, but stick with it, thanks!

Yesterday was Budge’s first day on her medically supervised six-week weight loss plan. This isn’t the first time she’s attempted to lose weight, but it is the first time she’s gone to this careful extent. My job is to fix the shakes and provide moral support and encouragement. I plan to eat a bigger lunch and forgo supper to avoid cooking and eating in front of her and hopefully that will make this easier on her. I don’t trust diets like this, but she is under an excellent doctor’s care AND — more importantly — she’s promised me this is for HER not ME or anyone else. She’s my Budge no matter what she weighs and that’s all that matters, but her mama fought the battle of the bulge her entire life before dying at 46 of complications from pancreatitis and a final stroke. With 46 looming large in life’s windshield, Budge told me she didn’t want to go out that way so I told her do what she had to do and I’d have her back.

Needless to say, I’m insanely, stupefyingly proud of her.

With Budge starting this diet, many people are pressuring on me to join her and want to know why I’m so resistant to adopting “the healthy lifestyle.” As I’ve mentioned before, I am not a small man. I am slightly south of six feet tall and slightly north of 350 pounds. I believe the medical term is “morbidly obese.” I prefer the much cuter sounding euphemism of “as big around as I am tall.”

Lately, my glib put-off has been “I’m going for the heart attack before the diabetes has a chance to get me.” That statement is anchored in a grain of truth. The men on Daddy’s side of the family die of massive coronaries. Granny Matt had ten children who lived and that included six sons. Of the six, five died at 78 or slightly before of the aforementioned coronary. Uncle Jack was the lone dissenter, but that’s another story for another time. Daddy had HIS first heart attack about nine or ten years ago. Many of Daddy’s male blood related first cousins have already had one or more heart attacks or have perished from the sudden squeezing of the chest.

On the other side of my family tree lurk diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease. More of Mama’s kin than I can count have fallen victim to “The Sugar” and the lucky ones died quickly. The unlucky ones left the world a piece at a time. Many dodged diabetes only to succumb to Alzheimer’s and left the world not knowing themselves or their closest loved ones. I have no intention of going out like that if at all possible. Given the choice between slow piecemeal death and quick heart exploding death, my decision is clear.

As I said, that is my somewhat humorous glib smart-ass answer. The pure and simple truth is, to paraphrase Oscar Wilde, not so pure and definitely not simple. Fact is, obesity and I are old and bitter foes and after many bloody engagements fraught with pain, sadness, and disappointment, I have bowed to the stronger will and chosen not to fight my weight anymore.

See the oh-so-pinchable legs?

I was BORN fat. I weighed 10 lbs and 5 ozs the day I came into the world and I was born hungry. The story is I slurped down an 8 oz bottle in two minutes and started crying for more. After 8 more ounces, I was still hungry so the nurse asked Mama what she wanted done and Mama, probably glimpsing the future, told her to go ahead and get me full. I was over 14 lbs by the time I came home from the hospital with rolls of fat on my thighs that my beloved great-Aunt Pearl delighted in lovingly pinching and patting.

I never looked back.

I think I topped 100 pounds by fifth grade. I may be off a year, but I do know that all my clothes came with the “HUSKY” label. I suppose that was the clothier’s way of trying to salvage the self-esteem of  a fat pre-teen. From almost the start, the family was worried about my weight. I was placed on a few diets by Dr. Monroe, our long-time family physician, but they all required keeping track of calories and such. I wasn’t clear on the concept of “serving size” or “portion control” so I figured a bowl of cereal was “one serving” of “180 calories” when a true serving size was 3/4 of a cup of cereal meaning my punch bowl of Cocoa Crisps with whole milk actually contained about SIX servings.

One of the greatest ironies of my saga with obesity lies in how Granny Wham tried to help me lose weight. She was THE most concerned of all my family, Mama included, when it came to my being — in her words — “a little too heavy.” She would constantly admonish me about eating too much at supper or cutting myself too big a slice of pound cake (Granny Wham made the greatest pound cake this side of paradise), but at the same time, SHE was the one asking me if I’d had enough to eat and did I want more chicken or rice with gravy or roast beef or whatever delicious dish she or Papa had prepared that night. It was like living in rehab with a drug pusher!

God bless her precious heart, it was confusing as all get out when I was a child, but looking back, I understand a little better. Granny couldn’t stand to see me fat but she couldn’t stand to see me sad either and not getting enough of that wonderful food would always make me sad so the doting grandmother in her usually won out over the concerned for my health responsible adult and I’d get another piece of pound cake . . . with ice cream on top . . . and Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup . . . and Cool Whip. You get the idea.

All through elementary school and junior high, I just got bigger. Of course I got picked on and bullied because of being

Mama LOVED to dress me in horizontal stripes. Michelin Man anyone?

fat. I was called “fatty,” “lard-butt,” “two-ton,” and — my all time favorite — “The Great White Marshmallow.” I tried to shrug off the barbs as much as I could. I was dealing with other stuff. Unfortunately, one of my earliest and most cherished coping mechanisms was “escapism eating.” I’d get to Granny and Papa’s after a day at school enduring the shark tank of junior high, grab a book and a bag of Oreo cookies and go hide in the yard until supper. That kind of emotional eating did wonders for my waistline.

That’s the way things rocked on pretty much until my first year of high school. I was a nonathletic 225 pound blob when I went out for wrestling to try to get a date with Kim Robertson. The date never materialized, but I fell in love with wrestling, even if I was getting creamed twice a week at heavyweight. Funny thing is, the more I wrestled, the smaller I got. Who knew?

Then, right after wrestling season, I got braces to fix my crazy teeth. Now, I didn’t get the cute little “invisible brackets” glued to my teeth. I got the full monty of railroad track bands all over my mouth. My head, jaws, and mouth hurt so much that I couldn’t eat. I did good if I could sip some Cream of Chicken soup through a straw. I endured that pain for two months and when summer came and my teeth had finally moved enough for the agony to ease up some a funny thing happened. I looked in the mirror and a skinny kid was staring out at me.

Junior year of HS. This was the best it ever got. Skinny AND hair.

For 24 blessed months — a brief, shining moment — I was svelte. I dropped from 225 to 160. I could shop in the regular men’s section for the first time in my life. My inseam was actually longer than my waistline was round. My acne cleared about the same time and another odd thing happened. Without all the lard in the way, girls began to notice my crystal blue eyes and thick strong blond hair. Oh, and the straight white teeth — shout out to what made it all possible! It seemed like overnight I was being favorably compared to guys like Rick Mathews, our class’s resident Adonis, who played football and wrestled the weight class right above me. I was actually kind of a big deal.

Of course it went straight to my head and turned me into the exact kind of insufferable douche I’d always hated. Not to worry though. As Pony Boy is fond of reciting, “Nothing gold can stay.” Senior year came. My foibles and mistakes caught up with me. My head started filling up with thoughts and voices I couldn’t fight back. I was entering the worst depression I’d ever encountered and starting what was to become a desperate lifelong battle with my mind and emotions — but I didn’t know it. I had no idea what the hell was going on.

The final straw came when wrestling season started and the weight classes had changed. The 167 class was gone. I was now in Adonis’ weight class and Adonis was a better wrestler than I had a prayer of being.  When our 154 pounder went down early in the season with a blown out knee, everyone looked at me to cut the 15 pounds, take that spot, and make us an even greater team. I took a shot at it. God knows I tried, but the more water I drank and the harder I exercised, the bigger I got. It seemed I gained instead of losing. So I became a senior riding the bench when I should have been a captain. I gave up the fight.

I went into a headlong spiral and started drinking whenever I could, but mostly, I started eating whatever I wanted to again. It’s not like I had to keep my weight down anymore anyway. I was a three-year letter-man in wrestling. The only year I didn’t letter was my senior year.

But I’m not still bitter or anything. I’m just saying.

In college, I skipped the freshman fifteen and traded it for the freshman 50. I went from a 34 waist as a high school sophomore to a 40 waist as a college sophomore. I’d look in the mirror in disgust and I’d go on the fat wagon for a week. I’d work out every day down in Fike Hall gym. I took up tae-kwan-do. It helped a little, but in the end, the weight always won.

I was to be skinny and handsome one final time in my life. It would come after college and brought about a similar “senior year type” downward spiral with nearly identically disastrous personal results. A sordid, sad tale — for another time.

I’d started gaining back my weight from that episode when I met Budge. She married me fluffy and has stayed with me fat. I can’t thank her enough for that. These days, from time to time, I’ll contemplate hitting the fat wagon again and trying to get healthier. I don’t keep chips and dip or things of that nature in the house — fleeing temptation and all — but I watch too much Paula Deen and cook like her too much as well.

I gave up pill popping, driving fast cars, hanging out with my Five Favorite Uncles, and chasing crazy women. I started taking meds to try to quiet the cacophony in my head. All of that draws heavily from my well of willpower. For Budge and Mama’s sake, I have to concentrate my energy on what’s going to make me the most endurable. Losing weight, no matter how important I know it is, would take reserves I don’t have.

Fairly recent picture with a good view of the booth-busting belly.

Don’t get me wrong — it’s not like I revel in being fat. I haven’t bought clothes in over two years because I can’t stand the disappointment of the fitting room. I’m reminded of what, to quote from Full Metal Jacket, “a disgusting, flabtastic piece of fatbody filth” I am every time I try to sit in a restaurant booth and have to ask for a table because of my size. It isn’t like this is a high-ho bunch of fun because it ain’t. I just have to pick my battles and this is one I know the outcome of all too well.

Dr. Lopez — my primary care physician — stays on me about losing. He WANTS me to lose down to 200 lbs. I haven’t seen 200 lbs since my junior year of high school. That’s a little over 150 lbs. THAT IS A PERSON! THE MAN WANTS ME TO LOSE A PERSON. He can’t understand how a former wrestler and wrestling coach who knows so much about nutrition and exercise can be so blase’ about dropping the 10% body fat that produces measurable health benefits. Unfortunately, he also doesn’t understand something else — nothing good has ever come of me being skinny.

Sorry for the book length post.   Keep those feet clean, okay?

Love y’all.

Happy Birthday Blake AND Sissy!


Isn't this the MOST angelic picture you've ever seen? Please don't fall for it!

Today is an absolutely gorgeous azure-skied fall day and it is made all the more so by virtue of being the anniversary of the birth of two of my favorite people — Blake is my youngest first cousin (of course, I only have 2 first cousins. His brother Zach is my oldest) and Keri, who I like to call Sissy, is my much beloved sister-in-law. Blake is 23 today and Keri is somewhere south of 30, but I am not 100% sure if she’s the same age or a bit younger than Nick and the internet is no place to speculate!

Blake is the individualist in the family. He’s not the black sheep. If we have a black sheep in the grandchildren’s generation, it’s me. No, Blake is just very much his own person and he always has been. Aunt Cathy could always convince Zach to do what she wanted him to do in time.

Blake . . . not so much. He’s always been a bit of a maverick. Let’s put it like this, if Blake ever got in trouble, which was very seldom, it was because he WANTED to get in trouble. He’s never been a “follower” but has steadily marched to the beat of his own drum.

He took a stab at “regular college” and didn’t like it much, so he’s back home now and working on becoming certified as a medical technician is some field. It’ll suit him. He’s great with people of all ages, sizes, races, and creeds. Of course, I’m sure it would suit Aunt Cathy, though she would never admit it, for him to stay at home forever. Since Zach married a Florida Gator and moved to Gainesville to be a youth pastor, I think the house is a little empty for her liking. She might have a complete fit if Blake ups and leaves too!

I don’t think there’s much danger of that in the immediate future, however.

That's Sissy on the right and my devilishly handsome nephew, Mason (who will be turning ONE YEAR OLD just in a bit) on the left.

Sissy is my brother, Nick’s wife. She’s been a wonderful addition to the family on so many levels. She keeps Nick in line, which I admit isn’t all that hard, and she makes Daddy smile, which is considerably more difficult.

She’s beautiful, extremely intelligent, has a great personality and has been an absolutely wonderful young mommy to my nephew, Mason (also known as the new center of Daddy’s / Papa’s universe!).

I don’t know how Nick landed her just like I don’t know how I landed Budge, or Daddy landed Mama and then Teresa. I guess we Wham men are just extremely lucky that way.

I do know she’s brightened up the family dinners and holidays considerably since she’s started coming around and I’m glad she’s decided to stick around and put up with us!

So, that’s the spotlight on two of my family today on their special day. I’ve been greatly blessed to have the family I have for all these years. Certainly we’ve gotten on each others nerves on more than one occasion, but that’s all part of being a family. A good friend of mine put it like this, “If your family can’t drive you crazy, you cannot be driven crazy, but at the end of the day, they are the ones you want around you the most when things get crazy.”

How true!

Sissy, Blake, if either one of y’all read this, we love you both lots and hope you’ve had a wonderful birthday!

For the rest of you, love y’all too, and don’t forget to wash those feet!