Goodbye, Virginia

ashtrayA few weeks ago, my little brother Matthew, his wife Jennie and I were sitting in our back porch. It was about 3 in the morning and we’d just spent the last hours catching up. Not catching up as in “How’s the basement reno?” or “How’d your garden turn out this year?” but really getting down deep in there, addressing questions of happiness and health, fulfillment and disappointment, the future and the past.

Matthew and I have always taken time to do this, no matter how little we get to see each other during the year. All we usually need is one good late night to get reconnected in that nitty gritty way.

So when I brought up the issue of Matthew’s smoking habit, we were already in the calm place where we can tell each other anything. He was actually having a Benson & Hedges he’d brought from Alberta at the time, and I was well on my way down my fourth Virginia Slim.

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A discussion on man jobs

vaccuumCan I be sexist for five minutes and say there are certain jobs in a household that should only be done by a man? I’ve been thinking about this for the past few months and I think I’m ready to go there.

Let me begin by saying, I think I’m somewhat of a progressive housewife. Let me also say I have a very helpful husband. No flies on this guy, girls. He washes dishes, vacuums, makes the bed, the works if I need him to.

But I’ve noticed in myself there are certain things that I simply expect my husband William to do. And by expect I mean there is absolutely no way I am willing to do it myself so will ask, then wait, ask, then wait, for as long as it takes.

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Watching the freshman

gabrielleLast Thursday, William, Gabrielle and I walked down the hallways of Pulaski County High School. It was freshman orientation and William had Gabrielle’s schedule in his hands.

“A205,” he said. “OK, that should be … this way.”

Having been born without a sense of direction, I followed dutifully behind him. But Gabrielle wasn’t convinced this was the right way to her geography classroom.

“Isn’t it down those stairs?” she asked.

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Goodbye, my Mr. Baker

10464284_10152172806445493_8514185049131813487_nThis week we lost a wonderful man. After a brave two-and-a-half year fight with prostate cancer, my father-in-law Billy Baker slipped away on Monday.

To me, he was Mr. Baker and he was my first friend in Kentucky. Shortly after I moved here, he must have recognized I was a fish out of water, gasping and twisting alone in the house. So he righted me. Every week he would come for coffee. In fact, it was only because of him I learned how to use the coffee maker. We’d sit at the kitchen island and he would talk about his childhood in Hail, Ky., featuring a coal-mining dad, a loving mom, nine brothers and sisters, plenty of chocolate gravy and middle-of-the-night walks to the outhouse.

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Whiter whites

teethTimer set: 30 minutes. OK, here we go. Countdown is on.

You can’t tell this right now, but I’m typing really fast because anything I do fast distracts me. For the past two weeks, I’ve been the same with vacuuming, dusting, cleaning the bathroom and scrubbing the toilets. I need to be fast and efficient, press hard against that toilet bowl with that brush. Because then I don’t think about it.

Except it’s there, of course. Of course it is.

Three weeks ago, I decided it was high time for me to jump on the bandwagon and get myself some white teeth. So I went to the dentist to find out my options.

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A change for Pace

CandiceLet me tell you a little about my friend Candice Pace. We were sitting in the fountain square the other day and she was telling me about how she had driven to Pikeville to visit her mom. Along the way, deep in McCreary County, she passed three turtles that were crossing the road.

So Candice Pace stopped the car three times and picked up the turtles to help them across. Each time, she would turn them over to make sure their shells hadn’t been cracked. She discovered that the last turtle she encountered had indeed been injured. “Smooshed” would probably be the word most people would use to describe the poor creature, but Candice, who is a veterinarian, looked at the reptile and decided she could save it.

So she put the turtle in her car and made her way to Pikeville. When she got home, she went to work. She called a vet friend of hers and bought some antibiotics and painkillers. Then she injected the thing with the medicine, all the while deftly avoiding his snapping jaws as he vigorously tried to amputate her finger.

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The boats are back in town

lakeThe boaters have arrived. I saw them the other day when we were driving home from Lexington. Hitches, canvas, sparkles, decals, yellow tubes latched onto roofs, beach balls and pillows in the back seat, kids and dogs hanging out the window — it was there in all its glory.

With Lake Cumberland nearby, people come to Somerset from all over to spend their vacations. I like that they do. It makes me feel lucky that people choose to take their holiday in a place where I get to live all the time.


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When life gives you lemons

lemonadeOne of my fondest memories of childhood involves sitting at the end of my driveway hawking lemonade. It was a simple business, but it was my first one, and sometimes when I’m driving I want a cup of the warm, watery stuff more than anything in the world.

Before heading out, my best friend Kristin and I would sit in the kitchen and make a batch of the powdered variety in my mom’s chocolate brown Tupperware pitcher. Then we’d attach a tiny sign on a huge plank of plywood. “Lemonade for sale,” it would say in crooked letters. “Just 5 cents.” Usually, we would draw delicious looking, yet small, lemons on the sign, thinking we were incredibly, incredibly clever.

We’d haul a card table, the jug and the plywood to the end of my considerable driveway. Inevitably, we’d run back to the house for pens, paper and a calculator in order to make formal receipts for our customers — just in case they wanted to write off their purchase for tax purposes.

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The chicken and the egg

BGEThis summer, my husband got a new best friend. Happily, he’s not like that other guy he ran around with for a while whose wife would only eat chicken teriyaki at the sushi restaurant. Nope, this one’s a foodie. He’s big and green, has dimples all over him and is in the perfect shape of an egg. Can you guess what he is?

It was tricky, readers, but you got it: It’s the Big Green Egg. And we love him.

For those of you yet to be introduced, this contraption is basically a souped up version of those orange, round Weber grills. BGE, though, is made of ceramic and can get to a whopping 700˚F (woof, woof).

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The thrill of the chase

roadSo there we were the other evening standing in the middle of the street. It had been an overcast day and the kids’ hair was still stringy from a dip in the cold pool. We’d just finished eating hamburgers and hotdogs as part of a Memorial Day family celebration. But now it was time to get serious and stand in the middle of the street.

The players were my two nephews Eric and Reece, my niece Kennedy, my stepdaughter Gabrielle and myself. Eric’s girlfriend Emily was there too, but didn’t want to do it.

“How far?” said Kennedy, the coolest 8-year-old in the world. She squinted into the distance, putting her hand on her forehead.

“To the turn off?” Gabrielle said, placing a hand on one bent knee.

“Looks good to me,” I said.

“Wait, how far again?” Reece asked, the braces on his 12-year-old mouth clunky and gleaming.

“To the turn off, to the green sign,” Gabrielle answered.

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