Saturday, December 3, 2016


It's one of those once upon a time nights.  It could be the holidays, could be having a little too much time to think, or it could have been seeing an old restaurant customer the other day, not sure it isn't a combination of all those things.  Sometimes, I think about the old days, and how I should probably write down all of them for my grandchildren to read one day.  I wish my mom had written down her memories.  As it is, I can only recall the stories she told about her and Uncle Bill, all those years ago on the little farm in Fairmont.  I wish I had been more attentive.

Anyway, I'm not sad tonight, just thinking of old times and how good they were, even if I didn't think they were, at the time.  So here goes.

Once upon a time, there was a man named Marshall. He was the baby out of twelve children born to Robert and Nannie Belle Parks.  Marshall dropped out of school, lied about his age, and joined the airforce back in the 1950's.  He travelled to places he never thought he would see, to places so different from the large farm his father owned.  He didn't like some of those places..said New York City was dirty, and he would never go back there again.  He was stationed in French Morocco, and there, he bought an Arabian Knights tapestry for his mother, which I have on the cedar chest that also belonged to her.

Marshall's father became ill, diagnosed with colon cancer in his 80's, and Marshall was honorably discharged from the airforce to go home and care for his ailing father, and to take care of his mother.  He found a job at Burlington Industries, and there, he met a beautiful young woman named Janice Britt. Eventually, they eloped to Dillon, South Carolina.  He sang to her on the trip, wear my ring on your finger...How romantic.

He had several jobs after Burlington - one, as a prison guard, but he didn't like the way the convicts (as they were called back in the day), so he quit to become a truck driver.  That took him away from home too much, so in the 1960's, he followed in his father's other foot prints and rented a building to open his own store.  And that was the beginning of an adventure for all of us.

My father had vision, and a great eye for opportunity.  He chose a location close to home and on the main highway that intersected with the Ft. Bragg Military Reservation, built his own store with a little diner attached to it, and he was quite successful.  My brother and I worked there in the mornings before school.  Mike pumped gas, and I was the burger slinger.  The store was a landmark, and it was also a gathering place for some in the community.

Looking back, I didn't realize how great it was.  The work was hard.  The summers were so hot, running around the grill, playing waitress.  We used to fight over who got to go the the cooler for more tomatoes. But it was the people who made the place, for me.  I can see them all, still, in my mind's eye..Geech, Berdie and his crew, David, Jack, and Eloise.  Twinkles (because we never knew his real name, and he had twinkly blue eyes), the guys from the military jump school...and I met my husband there (the second one).

I won't go into all of them tonight, because it's late, and I'm very tired, but I will write them.  I never knew I would miss them so much, and often, I wish I could go back and do it all over again, only better.

Monday, October 10, 2016


Has it only been three days?

It seems so much longer since the winds whipped and the sky opened up.  I sat on the porch watching the wind tangle in the trees, making its way toward my little corner, trying to rip the umbrella from my hands.  What a foolish thing to have, anyway, an umbrella, in a storm like that. But it was awe inspiring, seeing the trees bend to near breaking, then standing again.

But a mere three miles down the road from my house, eight large pines fell onto power lines.  Less than a mile from my house, multiple trees were downed. Just east of us,  Hoke County was already experiencing high water.  In Cumberland and Robeson Counties, water rescues would shortly be taking place.

We were so fortunate in our area.  We aren't in a flood zone.  The twenty six  hours we lost power and water are nothing compared to what our neighbors to the east and west were going through: major flooding, trapped in their homes, trapped in cars that either sank or were carried away in the currents. Folks are being rescued by helicopter from rooftops, by boat from cars that couldn't make it through, from their homes. In Edgecombe County, the coast guard rescued a labrador retriever that swam and tried to climb a tree.

Ten people in our state, alone,  lost their lives during Matthew, with some still unaccounted for.

Never have I seen the likes of this, and I have been in many hurricanes over the course of my life, have huddled in the house and listened to the roof groan and the walls shudder.  But this rain, this slow moving innundation has all but brought North Carolina to its knees. The flooding and evacuations will continue through  the end of the week as the waters make their way into the Cape Fear River and are fed back to the sea. And even then, it won't be over as the clean up begins.

Gasoline is in short supply due to out of county folks making their way to our area to fill up. Grocery stores are nearly depleted.  Traffic is bumper to bumper in small towns as Florida refugees are detoured through to safer routes leading to I95.

I have frantically been trying to get information about my family in Robeson County, which is now underwater.  The entire town of Lumberton is flooded.  Thankfully, news came this afternoon that they are stranded, but ok for now.  We still have no power, water or phones at the prison, and the atmosphere is tense, to say the least, but we will get through this, if we work together.

I think about Haiti, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, our own southern coast, and as bad as things are,  I am thankful, so very thankful it wasn't worse, because it could have been.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Streaming, or typing just for the sake of emptying my head.

It's embarassing, how long it took me to figure out how to add a new post.  I knew if I clicked things long enough, something was bound to work.

It's the first Saturday in Autumn, a bit warm, but a beautful day after a rainy and eventful week.

On Monday, I noticed the coffee pot in the office wasn't working, tried to track down someone in maintenance to check the breaker, but before anyone could respond, everything electrical on that side of the room started going nuts.  The copier began flashing, the light on the coffee pot got bright, then faded out, and then came the awful sound of something definitely not right, and THEN the smoke started pouring from behind the coffee pot.  Holy crap, it was a fire.

Once upon a time, I was good in emergencies.  Kept a cool head, took care of the situation and only then did my knees turn to jelly.  Those days are gone.  I came out from behind that desk, flew out into the hall calling HELP, MY OFFICE IS ON FIRE.  Luckily for all of us, there were a couple of quick thinking inmates in the hallway.  They rushed in, disconnected the surge protector, and in spite of all the smoke, there might not have been a fire, after all.  I don't know for sure, I was still out in the hall, eyes bigger than saucers, wondering what to say in the incident report.

My supervisor is the classification coordinator.  I asked if she could put the inmates who helped so quickly in for merit days off of their sentence, and she did.  One thing for sure...people make mistakes and pay for them, but when they do something meritorious, they deserve something for it. Both guys were in for nonviolent crimes and are getting out soon.  Another day or two wouldn't make much difference to society, but would mean a lot to them.  I wish them well and hope they make the most of the rest of their lives in a good way.

That little experience left me embarrassed and and with enough adrenalin to run the rest of the week.

The Parks family reunion is today.  All my cousins are gathering somewhere in Moore County, and while I want to go, I have decided to stay home and enjoy some peace and quiet.  A little meditation. A little mindless keyboard prattle.  Me time.  Ain't nothing like it.

Friday, August 19, 2016

The Worst Full Moon

Well.  I do indeed have tea, and tonight, it's chamomille.  This past week has been like something out of a nightmare, and the hell of it is, I don't know whether to be glad the week is over, or to try and hang on to today for as long as it will last.  Today, everyone is still living, no one is in jail as an accomplice to murder except some dude I don't know, and he's in jail for attempted murder.  But I put the cart before the horse.  Let's start at the beginning.

Last Saturday, there was a huge boom outside.  I heard my daughter say, "It's Brandon!" and so I flew to the door, and sure enough, my nephew's car had been knocked on top of the phone box, and the car that hit him was resting in a nicely plowed new furrow in my front yard.  Thankfully, there were no injuries, except the cars and some feelings, and my landline.

Sunday night, three nights before the moon was truly full, that same nephew (who had lost his mother to cancer only a week before), went to the aid of my other nephew's girlfriend because he was beating her.  Nephew 1, Brandon, ended up beating the crap out of Aaron, nephew 2.

And when Aaron's mother found out about it, she did what she normally does.  She took to facebook and waged war.  The things she typed to Brandon for e v e r y one to see were truly horrid, unthinkable, and so awful that you felt the punch in your own gut.

I kept out of it publicly, talking to Brandon and Aaron in private to try to make them see sense and to let them know they are loved, and how family counts,  until she began, as she always does, talking smack about the family who have not taken her to the methadone clinic for her doses.  We did that for a while.  Almost a year, until either the vehicles went down or someone was sick or we had to be out of town, and she talked so much trash about us to people who believed her that we distanced ourselves from her.  We had to.  She is one of the most toxic people I've ever met.  But she is my sister, and for that reason, I love her.  Plus, I can remember a time she was not quite so volatile and manipulative.

I couldn't take her to the clinic myself, but made arrangements with my daughter to see that she made it there to get her daily dose.  Little did I know, she is also taking pills along with her methadone.

And then sis started really spiralling to the point I considered having her committed for her own safety, if not everyone else's. And then I thought - Waitaminute.  She has a husband! So i called her long-distance spouse and expressed my concerns about the broken pictures, the trashed house, the claw marks she had left on Aaron's upper body.  Well, he said, I might be home this weekend. I'll figure something out.

Oh happy day!  He might come home to check on his wife.

And then he talked to her on the phone and told her everything I said.  I would have said it to her myself, but she is not a person you can reason with, or talk to, because she truly doesn't see anything wrong with her behavior and manages to twist it to make YOU look like the bad guy, and then of course, she runs to Facebook - just what someone like her needs, a stage and an audience - and raked me over hell's coals.  And then the husband did the same thing, only in private message.  Yes, she twisted circumstances in her own favor, and as always, he took the easy way out and believed her.  All I wanted was to get some help for the woman.

IN THE MEANTIME - sister's daughter called her boyfriend to come fight her husband (niece's husband) because he pulled her drunk ass out of a car so she wouldn't drive.  She pepper sprayed her husband and the friend riding with her began beating him.  He defended himself.  And shortly after that, when nothing else was going on, the boyfriend comes, breaks a window, takes a broken rake handle and stabs the husband through the liver.  He likely will not live.  And the niece will likely be charged as an accomplice to murder if he dies.

FOLLOWING THAT, daughter's car wouldn't start.  She couldn't take sister to get her dose.  Sister once again waged war...

That's more than enough for the picture, is it not?  And you're probably thinking - wow, with those kids, sister probably has good reason to be on drugs.  But the fact is, she has been, for some time, an addict.  And the things she has said to her children rival the remarks she made to the nephew about him and his dead mother.

I have reached a terrible point where I can no longer feel compassion for her.  She throws temper tantrums that would put a two-year-old to shame, manipulates people until they are tied in knots, and maligns and slanders us all at the first hint of noncompliance to her wishes.  I don't wish her any harm, but I cannot deal with her.  Not will not - CANNOT.  The best I can do is try to pull together the remnants of my shredded family and have some kind of relationship with them, but not at the expense of the stress that comes with some of them, always.

Maybe that's selfish, but it is what it is.

::raising my teacup::  Here's to a more peaceful weekend.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

The picture above is my little Sadie.  As you can see, she was born to shop, and she loves it.  When she was a tiny baby, she didn't love grandma - not one bit.  She had a way of looking at me that let me know I had just been stabbed and shot with her eyes.  She got over it, though, and now she seems to love ol' Mom (she calls all women Mom), Mom's makeup, jewelry and moisturizer, so much so that I had to buy her a container of her very own.  She's all girl, alright.  That is, until all the boys are around, and then she is rough and tumble.

My son has three children, Mason (8), Robert (4) and that little girl in the picture above (2),  who adore and protect each other.   I mistakenly chose to sit in front of Mason's (he's the oldest brother) drink cup.  Sadie marched up to me, hands on hips and gave me those killing eyes and said No!  That's Mason's!  I had to move before she got really upset!  Then, at the pool, a lady engaged little Robert in some play and conversation...big brother stood up, looked at her and said, Can I HELP you? He has obviously been schooled in stranger danger and was having none of that.  And Robert...he comes to me and says, Sadie is hungry.  Thirsty, too.  It amazes me, how close they are, and I hope they always will be.

My daugher's children...little Steven is 7 and a bit of a loner, but adores his older brother, Joshua.  Josh graduated high school this year.  We took him out to dinner later that evening, and when Josh made his entrance, Steven jumped up and screamed - I saved you a seat, right here beside me! Josh is the gamer, and Steven is the chef.  Just tonight, he made a Starburst candy sandwich and submitted it to his Mom, the judge.  She gave him a 10 for creativity.  Not sure how the rest went :-)

Love these children.  For the last year or so, they have spent a lot of time at my house. When they are over, the house and routine are in a jubilant state of disorganization, and when they leave, it feels so quiet and empty.  For about 10 minutes, it does, and then the peace and quiet are like an old friend for an old lady..comforting.

I had wanted one more child, in the earlier years of my marriage, but it wasn't to be.  But these guys more than make up for it.

Friday, August 5, 2016

There are few things in this life that will lift your spirits like..hmm.  A new love.  A new baby.  A new car when you have been driving a clunker that has clunked its last mile and you know it.  And there is little in life that brings you joy as much as hearing from an old friend.

Mary, welcome back to the world of blogging.  Whatever has transpired between our last interaction and now, you have been so kind to me, and to many others, I'm sure.  You have been missed.  You have been remembered fondly, and you have my friendship and support any time you need it.

I'm doing fine these days.  Not blogging like we all used to, and I miss that part of my life - the sharing, friendships borne of of that sharing, and the writing!  Once upon a time, not a day went by that I didn't write, but life has a way of turning attention elsewhere.

Unbelievable things have happened in the past four years.  Jail, hospital stays (the children, not me), and new grandbabies.  Robert and Sadie Grace arrived on the scene 4 and 2 years ago, respectively, and they breathed new life into an old lady.  I love all my children and grandchildren.  I'm glad the (jail) problems resolved favorably, glad the hospital stays have been benign, and I am joyously, delirously happy with ALL of my grandkids.

Today, I'm thankful for so much.  It's nice to be happy :-)