Death is the Key Which Unlocks the Door to Our True Happiness, by Beverly Hicks Burch

Sunrise on Simmon's Mountain 03 11 09

I thank my God for graciously granting me the opportunity of learning that death is the key which unlocks the door to our true happiness.” ~ Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart ~

When we look out our back door we hope to find tranquility, beauty, peace, refuge and a place of escape. Today’s picture is one my little Momma took back in 2009 from her backyard which makes up about 3 acres on a little mountain top in northeastern – central Alabama. Mom took this picture before macular degeneration really began dealing fits with her vision.

Nonetheless, this is her “back door” on one beautiful sunrise. I live “around the corner” from my parents and even though my view is different, I love my back door and front door views. They are a big part of why I moved here. I’ve made no secret this area reminds me of my ancestral home in east Tennessee at the foothills of the Smoky Mountains.

But, as we look beyond our back door, our view expands – our community and reasons for being where we are expand also. Think of it like the ripple effect in a pond.

My back door expands to my local community, then our county, nearest large city, then our state and then of course our Nation. Within those groups we have subgroups like our churches, work groups, school and so on.

I am a confessed “news hound”. I was this close to attending college out of state to major in journalism when I made the decision to marry my ex.

So, I have to admit there have been countless number of times I have sat in front of the TV horrified as I watched terrible almost epic tragedy unfold in fellow Americans backyards. We all know the names: Columbine, Pearl High School (MS) shooting, Sandy Hook, the Aurora CO theatre shooting, the Boston Marathon bombing and of course the 9/11 tragedy. While saying a pray for those in the embroiled in devastating tragedy, I would be untruthful if I didn’t admit I also said a word of thanks for the safety that had covered mine and my “back door”.

But, we live in desperate times and desperate times can bring tragedy, horror and unrelenting pain and grief to our own back door – our back yard when we least except.

September 23, 2014 was that day for my back door and it rippled through my community with pain that tore through the hearts of thousands of people. For on that day, a little after 9 AM a 45 year old man who was most certainly not in his right mind walked into a UPS distribution center and began shooting. When he was finished two men were dead and then he turned the gun on himself and ended his life.

Now, I am not here to debate his motives, what drove him to do what he did. There is plenty of information available concerning that. And, I will not debate second amendment rights. This is not what this is about.

This is about families – about a community – about pain and about how can we move forward.

Yesterday, I felt a tremendous burden for all involved. As the day unfolded and details revealed an anvil of pain fell on me for the shooter’s family – his wife and two young children. Law enforcement descended on the family’s home and began “digging” through the family home looking for a why. Local schools were locked down as a precautionary move – an admirable move to keep the kids in our community as safe as possible.

The more I thought of this family’s misfortune, I thought of the Amish school shooting in Pennsylvania in 2006. That lead me to post the following on Facebook:

You know I’ve been thinking about the family of the UPS shooter. Imagine how turned up their world is today. There is a wife and children that started their day today – kids who went to school, and a wife who maybe went to work. She might have already had the worries of making ends meet at the loss of one income on her mind. Now, the horror of finding out her spouse and the father of her children killed 2 men and himself in front of the whole world and that world is now digging into their home and life. These are desperate times we live in. No matter what mainstream media tells you, the economy is not better. Millions of Americans have given up on finding a job because jobs are hard to come by. But, what about this family – this family that is in OUR back door? I’m reminded of the horrific Amish school shooting in PA several years ago. A man not in his right mind went into an Amish school and slaughtered several young Amish girls. How did the Amish community react to that man’s family? With an unbelievable outpouring of God’s love. They took food to the family and when there were no mourners at his funeral (he had turned his gun on himself like the gunman did this morning) this Amish community attended to support the widow and family. You can only do that kind of thing through the love of our Almighty God. I hope in the upcoming days the UPS shooter’s family sees the sustaining love of God from our community. “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” Matt 5:7 NIV

The outpouring and response has been overwhelming. It has reminded me why I love this spot I have picked as my home. My sweet home, Alabama. There are good people here – people who realize that the tragedy of Sept. 23 ripples out and touches the families of the two men that were slain, but also the innocent wife and children of the shooter and for every ripple after that.

So this evening or in the morning, step out your back door or your front door breathe in your view – don’t be like Mozart and wait to let death be the key which unlocks the door to your true happiness.

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Filed under Alabama, Current events, News, Photography, Picture of the Day, Quote of the Day, UPS Alabama Shooting

Life Gives Us Brief Moments with Others…by Beverly Hicks Burch

Life gives us brief moments with another…but, sometimes in those brief moments, we get memories that last a life time…” ~ Unknown ~

Daddy & Uncle Lee 5-28-2014

Say what you will about technology and Facebook, there is one advantage to both – reconnecting with friends and family. So, a few years ago I was delighted when I received a friend “invite” from my cousin Mel.

We hadn’t seen each other in years, and through Mel I was able to catch up on family members and enjoy pictures and postings of the latest “goings on”. I also learned my cousin had grown up into a warm-hearted woman who took very good care of her parents.

Mel’s father is my daddy’s last living sibling. Daddy and Uncle Lee have kept in touch over the years through calls and seen each other a few times, but during the last several years time had begun to intervene. They’re both in their 80s and have had to deal with respective health issues.

So, when Mel sent word to me within the last couple of weeks that Uncle Lee’s health was declining, I was crushed – especially for my Daddy’s sake. Uncle Lee is terminal and failing fast.

As a result, this Southern Daddy’s girl was on a quest – my Daddy had to see his brother one last time.

You see, when my beloved Aunt LaRue passed away in June of 2012 we had talked almost every day for years, but it had been sometime since I had seen her. I have regretted that every day, every minute, every second for the past two years. I didn’t want that for my Daddy when his brother passed away.

So, this past Wednesday we set off for back where I came from, and where Daddy came from – East Tennessee. As Daddy says, we were just a couple of ridge runners heading home.

Mel was going to wait and surprise Uncle Lee with Daddy’s visit as an early birthday present, because Uncle Lee’s 84th birthday was the next day, but they decide to go ahead and tell him Daddy was coming in case the shock might be a tad too much. When he heard Daddy was coming, Uncle Lee broke down and cried.

It didn’t make a whole lot of difference because once Daddy got there I don’t think there was a dry eye for a few minutes. At least for me there wasn’t.

That day my Aunt Van, cousin Jan, cousin Rick and of course cousin Mel came to the hospital. Aunt Bobbi, Uncle Lee’s wife was there, also.

Aunt Van and Aunt Bobbi are sisters and had married my Daddy’s two brothers. They both have had health struggles of their own, and on that day looked wonderfully strong and resilient. My lifetime memories of them will be their strength to survive.

I remember Aunt Van’s cooking when we visited them when they lived in Ohio where Uncle Jay was working at the time. I’ll remember Aunt Bobbi’s soft spoken inner strength and love for her family.

My memories of Jan are of us as young cousins who swapped letters as kids, shared a love of history – and one of my favorites – one summer when it was so darn hot, Jan and family visited us in Birmingham when we were kids. After we had been outside playing, we ran to the back bathroom, filled the sink full of ice cold water and took turns plunging our faces into that cold, icy water.

My memories of cousin Rick is of kindness he showed me as a young fellow when we visited his home.

And, of Mel, a soft spoken blue-eyed blond who grew up to be that hard working woman who takes such good care of her parents and honors them like the Good Book admonishes us.

But, my lasting life time memories was seeing two brothers visiting, probably for the last time on this side of eternity, knowing this and swapping stories of their youth. They each knew they were the last link to the first people they had loved the most of this earth – their mom and dad – my grandparents. The memories of Mawmaw are usually humorous, and the ones of Papaw so bittersweet they break your heart with longing, just wanting to see him one more time.

As Aunt Bobbi said, “He was a good man.” Everyone I know has always said the same thing about Papaw.

After we left the hospital that evening we drove up to the hotel, checked in, went to eat and then drove around a bit. Daddy was showing me his old “stomping grounds”. Places he and his brothers had grown up at and places some of the most infamous stories of his childhood had taken place.

They were memories that had lasted Daddy a lifetime…

Then, the next morning before we left we stopped by the Little River Railroad Museum in Townsend. My grandfather and great-grandfather both had worked at the Little River Lumber company. Papaw had been a clerk in the company store and my great-grandfather, Hughes had worked in the sawmill. The cousins had told us there were some pictures of Papaw in the museum. Unfortunately, the museum was closed. But, we did get a chance to look around outside at the train engine and log loader.

Daddy at the Little River Railroad Musuem

We head toward the hospital for our final visit with Uncle Lee. I watched as Daddy and Uncle Lee sang an old hymn they had sang together as boys – old Southern gospel harmony- and once again talked about their mom and dad.

Before we left we gathered around Uncle Lee and Daddy said a prayer and in that brief moment I was left with a memory that will last a lifetime – of two brothers just this side of eternity…

© 2014 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

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Filed under Brothers, East Tennessee, Family, Grief, Little River Railroad Museum, Photogrpahy, Picture of the Day, Quote of the Day, Tennessee, Townsend, Trains

The Blossoms of the Heart No Wind Can Touch

“Blossoms are scattered by the wind and the wind cares nothing, but the blossoms of the heart no wind can touch.” ~ Yoshida Kenko ~

Cherry Blossoms 2014 D

What do April 1st, a visit to my doctor, cherry blossoms and my Tall & Handsome have to do with one another? A day and week I won’t soon forget.

I was long overdue for a check up with my rheumatologist. I’d been scheduled to see him back in January, but I was actually too sick (imagine that!) to drive down to see him – the round trip is about a 75 to 83 mile trip depending on the route you take.

I had rescheduled but, that appointment just happened to coincide with one of the snow apocalypse that hit our area this winter. We had two, yes, count them, TWO here in the Deep South this winter. So, strike that appointment.

The next appointment was set up for April 1st. That’s when I should have said no way, uh huh, not in your lifetime sista. NOT ON APRIL FOOL’S DAY. But, fools tread where angel dare…

So, I went to said appointment. Going there I navigated one of the most treacherous and accident prone stretches of roadway in the great State of Alabama. That would be the boon daggle called US Hwy 280.

But, there was a pay-off going on April 1st. As I pulled around into the back parking lot of the doctor’s office, I noticed a glorious cherry tree in full bloom. A breath of fresh air – spring had sprung.

Could it get much better than that?

As I am prone to do at times, I’d tucked my camera into the Jeep when I left the house. I made a mental note to snap some shots of the cherry blossoms before I left.

When I finished taking those shots, I decided to take the “scenic route” home hoping for more photo ops – and that, my friends is where things went horribly wrong.

I was about three quarters of the way home and was once again in an area of traffic. Let’s call it rural/suburban traffic. Nothing like what I’d navigated  earlier in the day. I’d stopped and picked up something for dinner because it was getting late and was heading home.

I was approaching an intersection known as “The Crossroads” which has seen its fair share of accidents. On this day it was not destined for me to pass through that intersection unscathed.

I was cruising along well within the speed limit, not tail-gating the vehicle in front of me. I took a split second to glance to my side and when I looked forward again the vehicle in front had suddenly stopped.

Oh, snap!

I applied my brakes…and kept moving forward. I realized I wasn’t going to stop in one surreal moment.

And, I didn’t, until I rear-ended the vehicle in front of me.

I felt a teeth rattling jolt, mostly in my head, left shoulder and chest and heard a very unimpressive “thump”. I remember thinking, “That’s it? That’s what an accident sounds like?”

I was stunned and in shock – I’d had the breath knocked out of me. I began to take stock: air bag didn’t deploy, felt my head and didn’t feel any blood and the windshield wasn’t broken. Good.

But, oh, the pain…

I knew I needed to call 911. A bystander stopped and called. Next, I knew I would need a ride home. I’d seen smoke rising from the top of the hood and had a suspicion my Jeep wasn’t going anywhere but the back of a tow truck – and, I was right. I couldn’t reach Tall & Handsome at work, so I called the next best person every Southern gal would call – Daddy.

So, long story short, Daddy arrived on the scene to pick me up. On the way home my aching mind was racing. So many thoughts.

“We just paid that darn Jeep off in November.”

Thank God I didn’t receive a citation or ticket – that’s a good thing.”

“Thank God no one in the other vehicle was hurt.”

But, guilt flooded over me. I had reached this stage of my life, my age and had never been in an auto accident before. Well, there goes a pristine record. T & H and I have had enough to deal with – not with each other but, with the challenges life throws at us. I had just laid a big one on us.

I started thinking about the cherry blossoms I had taken pictures of just a couple of hours before. So beautiful and full of hope – much like life. I’d also noticed some individual petals had fluttered to the ground and were laying there fragile, bruised and unprotected – much like we feel we are sometimes with life’s challenges.

Cherry Blossoms 2014 F

But, when I got home, my Tall & Handsome was home and the first thing he did was to rush to my side, wrap his long, strong arms around me and comfort me – no incriminations, no chastising – just a safe harbor, because like those cherry blossoms the blossoms of the heart no wind can touch…

…He who loves his wife loves himself.” Ephesians 5:28 NIV

© 2014 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

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Filed under Alabama, Auto Accident, Birmingham, Cherry Blossoms, Photography, Picture of the Day, Quote of the Day, Spring, Tall & Handsome

Provide Them with Food, Water, Shelter and Affection and They Will Think You are god, by Beverly Hicks Burch

Owners of dogs will have noticed, that if you provide them with food and water and shelter and affection, they will think you are god.”  ~ Christopher Hitchens ~

Babygirl, Watson and the Snow

We’ve had Babygirl now for about a year and a half. And it has been 18 months on one big learning curve full of ups, downs, curly-cues and banana peels – as in Three Stooges slap stick – wooo, wooo, wooo banana peels.

Just to refresh your mind – Babygirl is the adorably cute and photogenic Miniature Schnauzer in the above picture. Her “brother” Watson, our first Schnauzer is standing behind her at the bottom of the steps on the driveway.

Let me tell you – these two little dogs are as different as they look – like night and day.

I laugh every time I look at this picture because Babygirl looks like a WWE wanna be wrestler. And that’s, so far from who she is. She is still so skittish even after 18 months we find it unbelievable. She’s almost afraid of her shadow.

In the picture she actually has snow caught all up in her beard making her look a little menacing, but she’s not. We’ve had two snow events here in Alabama within two weeks of each other in late January and February and during that time Babygirl discovered she was a snow gourmand.

Babygirl and her smorgsborgd

Babygirl at her smordgasbord

Yes, you are seeing exactly what you think you are – Babygirl is “brunching” off the snow that covered our outdoor firepit. How convenient for her it was at the perfect level – mouth level.

She has come far in the 18 months she’s been part of the Burch family. Her little tail spends most of its happy little time up and not plastered to her backside in fear or displeasure. She happily avails herself to the food and water bowls – and Watson’s, too. As a result she has filled out and when she trots around the house she has a little diva sway in her walk. She is quite fond of treats, too. Marshmallow is a very special word in our house – it causes spasms of excitement – who would have “thunk it”?

But, as far as Tall & Handsome goes – well, the jury is still out on that one. We can all be up on the bed in the evening before our fur babies have to go to their “condos” (crates) for bedtime. T & H and I will be watching a little TV, reading or spending some time on the computer. Watson has no problem whatsoever establishing his rightful place, which is usually between T & H and myself. Babygirl usually lays at the foot of the bed down by my feet.

Should T & H get up and walk around to her side of the bed or room, Babygirl gets up and moves to the head of the bed next to me. When T & H nears her “personal space” it’s like a giant asteroid is hurtling towards Earth – a major red-code-get-out-of-the-way-emergency.

We still would like to meet the guy or guys in a dark alley who abused this little dog and made her so fearful of men. There isn’t anyone one Earth who has a softer heart for animals than my T & H.

Babygirl still has a few other issues that discombobulate us from time to time. Take for instance her ability to jump up on the bed. She learned in no time flat – like a high speed race car going from zero to 60 in three seconds.

Then one day a switch went off in that little mind of hers and ZAP, she no longer could do it anymore. A few days later the switched tripped again and ZAP she was hopping up on the bed again. About two weeks later ZAP – yep, you got it she started riding the short bus on how to get up on Momma’s bed. I am now her enabler and the ONLY way she will get on the bed.

And, then there’s that digestion thing. For such a dainty, girly looking little thing, this little dog could blow the walls down burping.

You have not lived until a dog jumps up, looks deeply and adoringly into your eyes and then burps. You can hear her across the house. It rocks your world – not… We won’t talk about those methane emission either or the fact that if T & H needs to pick her up for some emergency reason she emits some funky fear pheromone that rivals the best bloodhound or skunk. It is so odoriferous it strikes fear in the heart of a grown man…my grown man in particular.

She still gets rattled suddenly and will do that “running in place, getting traction, trying to get away thing” when startled. After 18 months of peaceful living you would think that would have stopped. Nope, not so far, but, there is less of it.

And, there is progress. T & H says quite often, “Honey you saved that little dog and she knows it. She is your dog. She adores you. She is a one person dog.”

I don’t really know what to say because T & H is such an animal person. Babygirl doesn’t know what she’s missing out on by being a “daddy’s girl”.

But, he is right. She is my dog. She follows me everywhere and I do mean EVERYWHERE. Let me tell you, life is not complete until you sit down on a toilet – even to just rub foot cream on your feet, and a little brown eyed dog pops up beside you and stares lovingly and adoringly into your eyes. Sometimes I’m like, “Really, Babygirl, you want to do this NOW?!”

She has gain courage in her quest to go where I am. Therefore she learned to trek up and down the stairs so she could go to the quilt room with me.

Courage, one step at a time. That’s all it will take and who knows where she will be 18 more months from now. But, I do know one thing. What Christopher Hitchens said is true. I have fed her, watered her, sheltered her and given her love and affection and when she looks at me I can see I am her everything – for lack of a better word – her god, her provider. (T & H does the same thing and hopefully one day she will see this in him, too, and not continue to unjustly reject him – hummm – what a word picture we have here.)

It made me think – about the word pictures. Where do we look for our needs, concerns and worries? Do we look up? Or are we on a hamster wheel spinning, spinning, spinning wearing ourselves out? We do have Someone to look up to, also.

Look at the birds of the air, they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?’ ~ Matt. 6:26 ~ NIV

© 2014 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.


 

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Filed under Babygirl, dogs, Matt 6:26, Miniature Schnauzer, Pets, Photography, Picture of the Day, Quote of the Day, Snow, Snow in AL, Watson

Men Can No Longer Live as Strangers, by Beverly Hicks Burch

On this shrunken globe, men can no longer live as strangers.” ~ Adlai E. Stevens ~

Backyard view 1-28-2014

So, what does the “Great Snowing Dusting of 2014”, today’s quote of the day, the pictures of the day, my 81 year old Daddy and a love affair with my Sweet Home Alabama and my little local community have to do with each other?

Well, allow me to explain…

I’ve made no secret how much this East Tennessee born gal loves her Sweet Home Alabama and the spot where she lives in particular. In part, because the natural beauty reminds me of my ancestral roots. But, mostly you just can’t find better people anywhere – no, really.

For the past few days we had been warned of an impending winter storm headed our way. Yes, Virginia, not only does it get down right cold in the Deep South, but we do see single digit weather and even see the big “S” word. That unique white, frozen, multi-sided wonder called snow.

And, when we do, we are thrown into chaos. Not because we are bumpkin, Dilberts who think the sky is falling, but because it’s a fairly infrequent occurrence and therefore we’re not equipped to handled major events like our Northern cousins.

Now, the forecast was a strangely odd one. The most severe and heavy snow was going to be south of the Birmingham area to the coast – yes, the warm coast, the Gulf of Mexico where they were expecting two inches or more of snow. The Birmingham area was to expect a dusting of snow. Temps were going to be frigid everywhere – and this was our third or fourth blast of frigid, Arctic air.

Having been through this before, I had a sneaking suspicion the dusting could turn into something else if Mother Nature decided to turn just the slightest fickled – and she did.

Here’s what she graced us with at our house (that foggy look is actually snow still falling):

Front Porch C 1-28-2014

Front Steps 1-28-2014

Jeeps in the Back Driveway 1-28-2014

Sundeck 1-28-2014

Return of the Cold Schnauzer 1-28-2014

And, this was at the very beginning of the “Great Snow Dusting of 2014”. It “dusted snow” – heavily – from about 10:30 AM until 3:30 PM. Sooooo, it got pretty “dusty” around here – and icy. We were socked in with two Miniature Schnauzers, our electronics devices and no where to go. In other words, life was pretty good, until…

My little 80 year old Momma calls and after “momma” chit chat drops into the conversation my 81 year old Daddy went down the mountain at 10:30 yesterday morning to go to Walmart to pick up some groceries. This is a man with a pacemaker and meds he keeps on an Excel spreadsheet. (That’s the mechanical Project Manager in him.)

I wanted to say, “Oh, no, he didn’t.” But, as the first born daughter always trying to be the good daughter, I said, “He did WHAT?!”

She confirmed what I thought I heard, and then went back into to chit chat mode – while my brain starts doing wheelies – NO KIDDING.

Daddy was stranded at Walmart. He was planning on spending the night in his Durango and alternating time between there and inside Walmart. He was concerned the soda he had bought would freeze and explode in the back of his SUV so he was going to go out and warm it up periodically. Seriously, Daddy?! I’m sure there are endangered baby condors who aren’t worried about as much as Daddy was worrying about those groceries.

I am also the family tech support agent and certified techno geek. And, it just so happened a week or so ago I had joined a group on Facebook geared toward what’s happening in our community of Springville.

So, I hopped onto the Springville community page and before I knew it, a whole community was mobilizing to move my Daddy either home if possible or to a warming station. Mayor Isley and his wife, Lynda got involved and before I knew it Daddy was tucked warm and safe into the Methodist Church in Springville. He was provided with warm food and a cot and a hot breakfast this morning.

Like Adlai Stevens said – our globe has shrunken – even more so in this day of instant news, Skype, tablets, smartphones, texts, emails and social networking. We can let that consume our lives and let it isolate it from our families or, we can use it as a valuable tool and use it to do what Mr. Stevens said – to no longer live like strangers. I prefer to do the latter.

I also like the advice another Man gave us in the Good Book. He said, “Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no greater commandment than these.” Mark 12:31 NIV

Neighbors, here’s a really big thank you and a really big God Bless my neighbors.

Front Porch B snow 1-28-2014

© 2014 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

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Filed under Alabama, Daddy, Neighbors, Photography, Picture of the Day, Quote of the Day, Snow in AL, Springville AL, The Great Snow Dusting of 2014

Over at Around the Block with The BamaSteelMagnolia – The Spool Block

It’s a new year and the perfect time to move forward on my diary quilt and the chapters I’m writing with each block.

So, today over at Around the Block with The BamaSteelMagnolia I’ve posted Chapter 7: My Sew – Sew Life, or The Spool Block. So, click on over for the latest chapter.

If you’re a quilter, I’ve also included the piecing diagram and rotary cutting instructions.

Spool Block

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Filed under Diary Quilt, Quilt Blocks, quilting, Quilts, The BamaSteelmagnolia(TM) Diaries

To a Cup O’ Kindness, My Friend, by Beverly Hicks Burch

And we’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet…” ~ Robert Burns, Auld Lang Syne ~

Horton Mill Bridge K2

Some years are just better than other years. I think we can all agree on that. Some years are a mixed bag, and then some years are what I call a mountain top year – those years where everything is golden.

The last few years Tall & Handsome and I have almost decided to call ourselves Mr. and Mrs. Job. As in the tornado has hit, the livestock are dead and we’re waiting on the boils and what’s next – literally.

You know you’re having plum years when your Miniature Schnauzer develops prostrate problems one Christmas and the next Christmas he develops life threatening bladder stones. In the interim you’ve rescued a female mini Schnauzer who turns out to be Rain Main in a dog suit.

And, that’s just the canine “issues”…

We won’t talk about health, jobs, crazy people, insurance, thieves, hardness in people, the economy and…

BANK OF AMERICA – DRACULA OF THE MODERN WORLD…

The world at large lost some irreplaceable people. Many of us lost good people this year. People we loved very much, people who left gaping holes in our lives. I lost my aunt in June 2012 and I still haven’t recovered. If anything, this holiday season was worse than last year. She was that important to me.

Back in the spring Tall & Handsome and I drove up to Blount County, Alabama to visit the Horton Mill Covered Bridge. He’d not had the opportunity for a visit. It was a lovely spring day and I took advantage to grab some shots while there.

I was going through those photos and today’s photo of the day caught my attention.

A bridge. For those who have passed on from us to better things. To time we can’t get back – and may not want back.

A bridge. To better days. To the future. To the ones we love.

A bridge. To a cup o’ kindness, my friend…

Happy New Year and a golden 2014!

© 2013 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

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Filed under Alabama, Bank of America, Blount County Alabama, Covered Bridges, Holidays, Horton Mill Covered Bridge, New Year, Photography, Picture of the Day, Quote of the Day, Robert Burns, Tall & Handsome

The Rest was Left Up to Nature, by Beverly Hicks Burch

“The best way to travel…is in a balloon. In a balloon, you can decide only when to start, and usually when to stop. The rest is left entirely up to nature.” ~ William Pene de Bois, The Twenty One Balloons ~

The Glow G

The Glow I

I love the month of October – for many reasons. The weather turns cooler, the leaves begin to take on their autumn color, you can stoke up the fireplace on a crisp evening and the food for fall and winter is just so hearty and comforting.

But, October also brings back a fond memory. Back several years ago when Tall & Handsome and I met, he was living in New Mexico and I was in Alabama. Yes, we met in an unconventional and nerdy way – playing an online game. So, that meant we “courted”  in an almost old fashion way – long distance. We actually didn’t meet face to face until after we had been courting for almost a year.

There is a definite advantage to getting to know someone in that manner. You really get to know them as a person, putting aside all that heady rush of close proximity and infatuation stage. Like strong drink, that rush can be intoxicating, and sometimes can blind you…almost like the proverbial “beer goggles”.

But, we took the time to get to know the person. We emailed, talked on the phone, instant messaged and soon T & H discovered we could talk to each other over the internet. All that was needed was an internet connection and a headset.

After we decided to meet, we determined he would visit Alabama first and meet my family. Some of the gals I worked with at the time were concerned I was allowing an axe murderer to visit me and take my head as a trophy. I tried to explain to them that if he was indeed an axe murderer, he was the most patient one in history because he waited almost a year to wreck mayhem.

Our next appointed meeting was a visit I paid him in New Mexico. He planned well and with the aim to knock my socks off.

One adventure was VIP passes to the Albuquerque International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta. It had been a bucket list item for me and doing it up on VIP passes, well, let’s just say he scored big points.

An event he made sure we attended was the Glow one evening. At this event the balloons are tethered and inflated. As you walk among these glowing, gentle giants, you would swear you were in an enchanted wonderland.

It was a memory of a lifetime for this Southern gal…

This past May we discovered Alabama had its own hot air balloon event. So, last Memorial Day weekend we headed up to Decatur, AL to attend the Alabama Jubilee Hot Air Balloon Classic. While not as large as its counterpart in New Mexico, it was still a fun event and brought back lots of wonderful memories for us.

Today’s pictures of the day were taken in May at the Alabama event. Yes, this event has its own version of the Glow and we made certain we stayed and caught the event.

I look back over the course of my life and think about events that have changed my life. Some changes it took wild horses to drag me into – yes, it was like leading a horse to water, or more appropriately a stubborn old mule.

But, I have learned – there is a purpose for everything – whether we see it at the time or not.

Take hot air balloons…20 years ago, who would have thought hot air balloon would have been a beloved part of my heart and history?

So, two visits and one special balloon event and history was made, my life was changed…I guess you could say, it had been left up to nature…and Divine intervention…

© 2013 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

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Filed under Alabama, Alabama Jubilee Hot Air Balloon Classic, Hot Air Balloons, Life, Love, Photography, Picture of the Day, Psalm 1:3, Quote of the Day, Tall & Handsome

You Can Sit on a Mountain More Comfortably than on a Tack, by Beverly Hicks Burch

“Sometimes the littlest things in life are the hardest to take.  You can sit on a mountain more comfortably than on a tack.” ~ Unknown ~

Horton Mill Bridge flower

There is an old adage about “thriving where you’re planted”. I think that pearl of wisdom is based on Psalm 1:3 that says: “He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper.” (NKJV)

Last April Tall & Handsome and I took a drive up to Horton Mill Bridge near Oneonta, Alabama. It was a glorious spring day and there was new life sprouting every where.

Once there, I happened to sit on a stone wall that looked like it had been standing there for a while keeping watch over the old covered bridge.  As T & H wandered down the embankment and explored a little I had planted myself on the old stone wall.

By happenstance I looked down along the wall and I saw a remarkable thing – call it a weed, call it a wildflower, but whatever you call it, there was new life thriving where it had been planted – in the mortar and crevice between the stones of that old wall.

Not only was this green wonder surviving in the most unlikely of places, but it seemed to be thriving, blooming forth tiny delicate purple flowers.

That unlikely little plant gave me a lesson in life. So many times we are planted in places we dread and even hate. We beg and bargain to be moved from these areas we consider wastelands.

We may be surviving, but are we thriving? There is a big difference.

We can survive like this little plant, which granted may not have deep roots and a long life span, but we can also thrive, blooming if you will, even if it’s the tiniest, most delicate of blossom.

I promise, it is sure to touch someone…

I have been planted many places that weren’t exactly “prime real estate”. I was dropped into non-smoking lung cancer twice, autoimmune disorders, a stalker and the end of a long time marriage brought on when the ex decided he wanted to marry his co-worker girlfriend.

During many of those times, I didn’t even feel like my roots were as deep as the little life on the stone wall. Surely, they were too shallow and would not tether me to this earth. Forget about having roots planted like the mighty oak. Sometimes my roots felt like they were buried in quicksand and I was sinking fast.

But, one day I came to a decision. Wallowing in my misery was not thriving – it wasn’t even a life. I made the decision to move on and plant my roots where they could latch on to something worthwhile – starting with a decision to thrive as best I could and not just survive.

I decided it was definitely more comfortable to sit on the mountain than sit on a tack.

And, when  I did I began to blossom again, with things I had long put away out of “duty” or because I thought they didn’t really matter in the grander scheme of things. But, they did, my muse told me it mattered.

My mused, by the way is my Tall & Handsome…

© 2013 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

 

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Filed under Alabama, Life, Photography, Picture of the Day, Plants, Quote of the Day, Tall & Handsome

The Bonds of Family Can Be Severed in an Instant, by Beverly Hicks Burch

“9/11 was a reminder that the bonds of family can be severed in an instant. They are essential, crucial, valuable, fragile.” ~ Peter Jennings ~

Bev & Pam in NY ca 1983

I don’t know who came up with the saying “time heals all wounds”. There must be a committee of pencil heads sitting in a room somewhere whose specific job is to do nothing but come up with dumb platitudes. This one is probably one of the lamest.

I personally don’t believe time heals all wounds. I think it may scab over the wound and then scar over it, but totally heal it? No. In the long run, time may help us deal with a wound or a hurt or teach us how to survive.

Take for example my two bouts of non-smoking lung cancer. I have two long scars that run from under my breasts, around my sides and across my rib cage and onto my back to within a few inches of my spine. There’s a scar on each side because I’ve had cancer in both lungs. So, for all practical purposes I was cut almost in half – twice. I have scars where those wounds were. I will always have them. They are a reminder I have survived cancer twice. But, time will not erase the scars, the memories of what I went through or the fact I am minus major portions of both lungs.

For the past 12 years our country has marked a wound on our nation. One that left a terrible scar. A void where almost 3,000 hearts use to beat. They went silent on September 11, 2001.

For the past few years I have marked that day here, usually with pictures I took on trips to New York City – all with views of the World Trade Towers. This year is no different. For you see I had very fond memories of New York and the day the Towers went down left a deep scar on my heart.

The picture this year is of me (on the left) and my sister. We are standing on Liberty Island with the Trade Towers over my shoulder. It was a spectacular sight and I still get choked up when I see pictures like this.

But, looking back on us 30 years ago, I realize how fleeting time can be. Has it really been 30 years? There are children in school now who were born after the Towers fell – they have lived in a world that never knew the Towers. There were people born after that picture was taken that didn’t survive that September morning.

If only those two young lasses could have spoken from the picture and warned of things to come…

My parents are in their 80s now. They have seen history and world changes that 70 years ago would have seemed like science fiction. A man walking on the moon? Pictures from Mars? Organ transplants? Smart bombs? Smart phones and tablets?

But, one thing does run constant through the history of mankind – the bonds of family. My precious aunt passed away June 23, 2012. I have missed her every day since then. Time has not healed that wound. It was a personal 9/11. I continue to try and move forward, much like our nation did in those first scary days after terror and hate took down two famous buildings and stopped the beating of 3,000 hearts.

We continue forward because we have to – those bonds of family are essential, crucial, valuable and fragile. Savor them while you can, tend them, enjoy them, nurture them and protect them because we never know when the next cruelest moment might strike.

© 2013 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

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Filed under 9/11, Family, New York, New York City, Photography, Picture of the Day, Quote of the Day, September 11, Sisters, World Trade Towers