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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

Like Stars that Cling to Fairies Wands, by Beverly Hicks Burch

“There is a Music of Immaculate love, That breathes within the virginal veins of Spring; And trillium blossoms, like stars that cling To Fairies wands…” ~ Madison Julius Cawein ~

backyard trillium april 2013

Immaculate love. You might be asking what is that exactly? Well, simply put it means love without stain or without blemish. You might go a step further and say it is unconditional love. Quite simply it is pure, perfect love.

In today’s world, it might be hard to imagine that kind of love. It’s so easy to be cynical and skeptical when we take a look around us and see what’s going on in the world. We see selfishness, cruelty, danger, bullies, arrogance and yes, even evil. For me pure evil is anyone that would harm an innocent child in any form or fashion. Over the last few years, here in the South it seems like even Mother Nature has turned her wrath upon us as we’ve been racked with one storm after another, one tornado after another, one hurricane after another. We’re not feeling much love coming our way when a F5 tornado is bearing down on us…

So, it would be easy to harden your heart…and erect walls around your heart for protection…

But, in doing so, what would you miss? Love, joy, wonder and those wonderful “ah ha” moments in life.

Tall & Handsome and I have gone through our fair share of trials over the years. It’s like my Aunt LaRue said to me on more than one occasion, “Honey, if you didn’t have bad luck, you wouldn’t have any luck at all.”

My health has declined as fast as a melting snowman on a hot day in July. T & H has seen his field of profession suffer through terrible downturns because of the economy and off-shoring of jobs. Personal finances have suffered like millions of others around the globe.

It is a tumultuous time for everyone in some form or fashion…

So, what sustains you? Gets you through?

Love…

And, yes, you can still find pure, simple love all around you.

There is nothing as sweet and pure and delightful as a child’s laugh. It delights me to hears my nieces’ laugh. A merry heart doeth good like medicine, but a broken spirit drieth the bones. Proverbs 17:22 Their laughter is like a big old dose of medicine for this smitten aunt. Any, laughter does my heart good…it is one of the things I love about T & H…we laugh…

I see love pure and simple when I look at my two Miniature Schnauzer, Watson and Baby Girl, and ask, “Do you want a biscuit?” If I ask, “Who wants a marshmallow?” well, the loving cup in overflowing. It is something we have discovered that delights our little rescued, damaged, and broken Baby Girl to the point of bravery and spastic delight. She would walk over hot coals for a marshmallow…

I’ve seen unconditional, pure, simple and lasting love between two people who have been married for over 60 years. They have been through tests and trials, seen history made and raised three daughters. Those three girls were raised during a time when most women were demanding equal rights yet, they were bewildered because they never had anything to be “delivered from”. They were raised to believe they could be anything that wanted to be. Those two people also raise the youngest special needs daughter for 50+ years at home with dedication and immaculate love. Why? Because, it is what you do. Those two people are my momma and daddy.

I see love in a man who chose to love a woman with so many health problems her medical history could be case study. Yet, he does not see her that way. He sees her as his “beautiful wife”. That is my T & H.

It is no secret I live to see the trillium bloom in the Spring. It is a privilege to see them in my own backyard. They usually grow in secluded forested areas, yet there they are in my own back yard. What a special gift! I can’t help but think: “Let the Heavens rejoice; let the earth be glad; let the sea resound, and all that is in it. Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them; let all the trees of the forest sing for joy.” Psalm 96:11-12 NIV

So when I look back and I examine all the little bright spot in life, I pretty soon begin to realize that they all come together and are like those wonderful trillium blossoms. Yes, they are all there like bright stars clinging to the end of a fairy’s wand sprinkling stardust of love, relief, calm and comfort in our lives…

I can hardly wait to find more trilliums and more stars at the end of the wand…

© 2013 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

 

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Filed under Alabama, Birmingham AL, Central Alabama, Horticulture, Life, Love, Photography, Picture of the Day, Quote of the Day, Tall & Handsome, Trilliums

Explore. Dream. Discover., by Beverly Hicks Burch

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” ~ Mark Twain ~

sailboat off coast of Maine 1990 B

In the days of sailing, when maritime merchants, explorers, treasure seekers and navies ruled the seas there was one place they wanted to avoid if at all possible. And, that was the dreaded “horse latitudes”.

The horse latitudes are located at 30 and 35 degrees North and South and are in warm, dry subtropical zones. That amounts to very little rain and wind…the fuel of the vehicles of transportation of the day.

So, many times ships would be caught languishing in the horse latitudes for days at a time. Concern and fear would begin to rise up amongst the crew as to whether there would be enough food and water to feed themselves and the horses. As the stories go, they were also concerned about dead weight and felt maybe lightening the load might help them survive the horse latitudes.

As a result, they did begin lightening the load. And, no, it wasn’t those bottles of “yo-ho-a-pirate’s-life-for-me-rum” going overboard…it was the horses. Hence the term horse latitudes. Personally I think those bottles of rum might have been clouding their judgment just a tad, because there certainly wasn’t going to be any Yellow Cabs waiting on them to ferry them around when they hit dry land…but, that’s a totally different story…

I saw an ad on TV the other day and it gave me pause. An older woman was speaking. She related how she retired on a Friday, was in school on Monday morning, has a new career and is doing voice over work. She had reinvented herself.

That certainly is the spirit of today’s quote!

I think we all have hopes, dream, goals and bucket lists if you will. We begin by dashing out of the starting gate with the enthusiasm of a young race horse. We start to hit some of those highlights, but then things begin to happen and before you know it you are in safe harbor or the horse latitudes and have been there for some time. You begin to wonder what went wrong. You become disillusioned.

I will have to say, though, I disagree with Mr. Twain on one small point. I do believe we do look back and regret some of those things we did, because they may be part of the reason we’re stuck…in a wrong relationship, wrong job or whatever.

This feeling of being stuck…loosing your goals…your dreams or wondering if you’ll finish that bucket list is something I certainly can identify with. Life does have a way of sailing in with little detours.

For me it was failing health and a wrong relationship.

Now, take today’s picture for instance. I took this picture in Camden, Maine in 1990 (using my old SRL Pentax).  Camden is a beautiful little sleepy hamlet on the coast of Maine, just east of Augusta, Maine. Some people may remember Camden as the location set for the movies Peyton Place and Carousel.

How did a Southern gal from Alabama every end up in a place like that? Well, I was sailing out of the horse latitudes!

My momma told me one time I was “adventurous”. I had never looked at myself that way and when I quizzed her, she said I was adventurous because I liked to travel. Well, guilty on that charge!

But, I have over the last few years begun to think I’ve lost my goals, dreams and sense of adventure. Being chronically ill will do that to you.

Then I decided…Whoa, wait a minute here! I’m not dead…at least not yet. There are other adventures out there. Maybe different kinds. It’s time to lighten the load of disappointments. And, with God’s grace I can still strike off some of those other “bucket list” items.

So, I have decided…even if I’m on a rubber raft, I’m going to throw off those bowlines, set sail and explore…dream…discover…

How about you?

© 2013 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

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Filed under Camden Maine, Life, Maine, Photography, Picture of the Day, Quote of the Day, Travel

The BamaSteelMagnolia™ Diaries: Chapter 6–“Till Death Do Us Part…Well, Maybe” or The Wedding Ring Block, by Beverly Hicks Burch

The BamaSteelMagnolia™ Diaries: Chapter 6 – “Till Death Do Us Part…Well, Maybe” or The Wedding Ring Block

And the two shall become one flesh; so they are no longer two, but one flesh. Mark 10:8 NASB

(*This post can also be seen at my quilt blog Around the Block with the BamaSteelMagnolia™ where I am blogging the whole project.)

Wedding Ring block

I started this chapter in February some time ago and it seemed a fitting month to start writing the latest chapter of The BamaSteelMagnolia™ Diaries. The block for this chapter is called Wedding Ring. It is a single wedding ring and not the double wedding ring we know so well. The block is a simple 6 inch pieced block and it represents the fact that I don’t know many in life who have not been affected by a marriage in some way or another…including me.

Being a genealogist I can see how all the “begats” or unions/marriages in our ancestry make us who we are. When you stop and think about the numbers in the equation of “you” it becomes pretty staggering.

For instance, for each generation you go back the number doubles to how many sets of ancestors, or marriages if you will, it took to trickle down to create the final individual you. Look at it this way…you are the starting point on the road backwards into time and your ancestry. Take those sets and multiply them by two and you have how many people it took to create the one special individual called you.

It works this way; you had two parents, four grandparents, eight great-grandparents, 16 great-great-grandparents, 32 great-great-great-grandparents, 64 great-great-great-great-grandparents and 128 great-great-great-great-great-grandparents and so on. As mind boggling as 128 may seem, your heritage and ancestry doesn’t stop there and it continues to double for each generation back. There are so many life lessons just in the formula of who you are and how you were made, but that is for another story. One missing link in that chain and you would not have been you…as a matter of fact you probably wouldn’t have been, well, here on Earth at all.

I would ask you to reflect on the marriages in your life, including your own that have affected you and what they mean to you. I’m sure everyone has different recollections and feelings and experiences.

The most immediate marriage that has affected me all of my life and is actually responsible for me even being here is of course the marriage of my parents. My parents have something that is rare to find in this day and age. That’s a long lasting marriage. For you see, on Feb. 28, 2012 they celebrated 59 years of marriage.

Oakley Hicks and Juanita McGee Early 1950's

Daddy and Momma early 1950s

Momma and Daddy were high school sweethearts. They were 15 and 16 when they met at a church function being conducted by my Momma’s daddy. Yes, Mom was a PK…a Preacher’s Kid. She was the shy quite one with big brown “doe eyes” as Daddy calls them. Momma and Daddy were a couple all through high school, for four years, so for all practical purposes you could say they’ve been together for 63 years and that is the biggest portion of their life. When they laid eyes on each other, there was no one else as far as they were concerned…that was it.

Daddy started the University of Tennessee with intentions on becoming a mechanical engineer. But, Momma and Daddy also had secret plans…yes, in their own quiet non-conforming conforming way they were rebels with a cause. They had plans to get married and I don’t mean a big church wedding with the wedding party, flowers, music and weeping mother of the bride (and in this case weeping mother of the groom, too). Nope, no way, no how. Momma and Daddy were going to make Hicks history…or at least stuff that would go down in family history. For you see, the shy lovely quite preacher’s daughter and the tall good looking guy from the foothills of the Smokies eloped…all the way to Ringgold, GA!

Now, the plan was to get hitched and drive back home. Mom would go back and keep quiet and live at home and Daddy would go back home and live with his parents and continue going to college. The slight hiccup in their little plan happened when Mom told her next oldest sister, Korinne, what she had done and swore her to secrecy…which of course was the very last thing that actually happened. Before you knew it the cat was out of the bag, the cow was out of the barn and the camel’s nose was under the tent or in other words, it was like telling Western Union and everyone found out. As Ricky use to say to Lucy, “There was some `splaining to do.”

Well, of course everyone knows you can’t keep true love apart very long anyway and by the time the parents (my grandparents) had time to wrap their heads around the events Momma let it be known in no uncertain terms she was living where Daddy was. And that was that.

Everything went along pretty good in newlywed life until about three months later. At that time Mom came down with a raging case of flu. Made her sick as a dog. She just could not get well. That was the “Beverly” flu. Yep, eleven months after they married I was born…and Mom’s flu was cured.

Cominghome Day 1-7-1954

Daddy, Momma and Bev – Coming home day

I was an only child for about three and a half years. During that time we moved for a brief time to Texas where Daddy worked as an engineer in the aircraft industry for Chance-Vought Aircraft. I celebrated my second birthday in Fort Worth, Texas which has always left me with a soft spot for Texas and branded me Daddy’s “little Texas girl”. And, as I have always said, some of the most famous and infamous Texans were Tennesseans.

“Oh, really?!” I know you Texans are saying… yep. For instance: remember Davy Crockett…♪born on a mountain top in Tennessee…♪ and also famous for the Alamo. Then there’s Benjamin and Henry McCulloch who both fought in the Texas Revolution and became Texas Rangers; Mack Brown head coach at the University of Texas and oh, yeah some fellow named Sam Houston. I think you might have heard of him, too. Sam’s time in Tennessee included time as a governor of that great state and time spent teaching in the town of my birth…a long time before I was born or course Smile

Being the true East Tennessee mountain boy that Daddy is, the Plains of Texas didn’t do much to lift the Tennessee boy’s spirits and heart. In other words, he got sorely and mightily homesick, especially when those Nor’easters barreled into the Plains faster than a New York minute without any warning. It wasn’t too long before we were packed up and headed back to the lush green climes of Tennessee.

Over the next eight or nine years Momma had two more cases of “flu”. And, two more baby girls followed those cases of “flu”. Pamella was next in line, followed by Yvonne. For a little Hicks trivia here: Mom named her girls Faith, Hope and Charity…in that order. I always teased her and said if we had been born boys we would have been named Matthew, Mark, Luke and John…

Momma and Daddy’s marriage has mirrored life in general…a road with ups and downs and bumps in the road. Almost every young couple starts out with the bare necessities and grows from there. Daddy was smart and savvy and his engineer career grew. We also moved several times following that career. We landed in Birmingham, AL (for the second and final time I might add) when I was 12 years old and the rest of that is history. That is why I proudly say, ♪…my home is in Alabama…♪ and one of my ringtones on my cell is Sweet Home Alabama…

My baby sister Yvonne, really Charity Yvonne, was born in Greeneville, TN when I was in the third grade. Mom’s delivery with her was fast. Like greased lightening…about 20 minutes. She barely had time to step off the elevator at the hospital before Yvon was born. When Momma & Daddy brought the baby home, they brought home another beautiful baby girl (Momma and Daddy had the reputation of popping out beautiful baby girls with long dark eyelashes and heads of thick dark hair. The nurses in the baby nurseries used us as baby dolls and hated to send us home. Back in those days they had about seven days to get attached to a baby before it went home.)

It seems like from the recollection of my child’s mind that it wasn’t too long after she was born that Yvon seemed to get sick and stay sick. So sick in fact that Mom had to take her all the way to Chattanooga for medical care and stay with family that lived down there. Papaw and Mamaw came to Greeneville to help Daddy take care of Pam and me.

I remember it as a tumultuous time. Yvonnie was sick. We didn’t quite know what was wrong and in the world at large, the Cuban missile was going on.

Over time Yvonne was diagnosed with cerebral palsy and for the last 50 years has lived at home. Do you know what the statistics are for marriages surviving for couples who have disabled children? They’re not very good. The divorce rate is very high and it’s usually the husband who takes his walking papers and goes on to create another worry-free life for himself.

It is a testament to my Daddy’s character that he is right where is started out 59 years ago, disabled child and all, and that is with my Momma and our family. As a matter of fact Daddy is pretty much the rock of the family and the three of us girls are Daddy’s girls. It is also like having a Jewish momma having him around, which is our way of saying he worries over us like a Jewish mom would…he just never learned to cook that chicken soup. Daddy’s remedy is to always take it to prayer…

I heard some place one time that marriage is a marathon not a sprint. My parents’ marriage would certainly qualify for the marathon…

Unfortunately, the first time around, I married a sprinter…

There is a lot I could write about my first marriage. My child is the issue of that marriage. And, sometimes I feel really badly because I feel I provided a poor example…a sprinter if you will as a role model for my child. I do not adhere to the current feel-good philosophy that divorce does not affect children. It does…no matter what their age. I think our society today reflects the side effects and ravages of decades of divorce. On the other hand I also believe that some parents can be toxic and I do not adhere to the theory that having a toxic parent around is better than having no parent around.

But, with that said, there are just times when divorce is unavoidable. Marrying that “marriage sprinter” is certainly one instance. Infidelity usually ends a marriage fairly fast or ends the chance for that marriage marathon partner. Another unavoidable instance is when you marry the type of person who ends up creating the “tragic love” scenario or as I wrote about a few years ago, the type of guy (or gal) that causes love to hurt.

If that is the case, I would beseech you to go back and read a blog I wrote a few years ago that addresses just that subject. Called When Love Hurts I address the rash of tragic stories in which women have chosen to stay and in the end unfortunately paid dearly for that relationship…sometimes with their lives.

The most recent example would be Susan Powell and her precious boys. Susan disappeared one cold December day in 2009 while her husband supposedly had taken their two very young sons camping in a blizzard. On Feb. 5th of this year her

husband blew up himself and those two precious boys as the police drew closer to lowering the hammer on him and his pedophile father. The coward and those poor children died in a burning inferno that should have never happened.

My love hurt story wasn’t like that, but it was traumatic just the same. Had I just opened my eyes and looked at the warning signs early on I could have saved myself sorrow and devastation years later. After 27 years of marriage my ex walked out because he was unfaithful. The summer he left I read my diary from the summer we started dating and as I did it was a real eye opener…he was the same back then…had cheated then and had not changed in 27 years. Leopards as they say do not change their spots. I just could not love him enough for him to change.

Bev & Momma on the Regrettable Day Nov. 1974

Bev & Mom – me as a young bride not paying attention to warning signs

And, unfortunately staying in a bad relationship hoping to make it functional only teaches children dysfunction. What did Susan Powell’s children learn in the end by her hanging on to a bad marriage? It cost her kids their lives. What a tragic shame… There is a saying…”The sins of a father (parent) are visited upon the children…” In other word the kids will learn from the father…from the parents. And, if you close your eyes to alcoholism, addiction, incest, abuse, violence and plunge ahead into that and choose that as a family center for your children…it will trickle down to them and affect them in one way or the other

For me realizing I could not love the ex enough to change who the core of him was, it was, well, the beginning of a new future, hope and moving forward…

So, even though I was scared to death when Gomez the Underwhelming abandoned me I began to have hope. Yes, I was disabled. Yes, he had wiped out the bank accounts. Yes, I had not worked outside the home full time in over 21 year. Yes, at one point he left me without health insurance. Yes, he assaulted me before he left and injured my back. Yes, I had hoped with everything in me that that he would have a change of heart and come home and things would go back to normal.

But, to have normal and a marriage that’s going in the same direction, you have to have two people who want the same thing. Without that, it’s just not going to happen and the only resulting by-product is going to be pain, sorrow, poor health, a bad example for the kids and low self esteem.

In the end the veil was lifted from my eyes and I was able to see there just might be someone out there who not only would help heal my broken heart, but became my marathon runner.

As the Rascal Flats song goes…God blessed the broken road that lead me straight to you…and that you is my Tall & Handsome…my southwestern cowboy.

Our story is unconventional at best. A sign of the times and a sign of what happens when a geek (me) comes into her geekdom and starts to revel in her life and gain self esteem once again. And a lonely, broken hearted southwestern cowboy who had given up on the hope of a loving nurturing relationship begins to hope again. You see we met playing an online MMORPG game. We emailed, talked and instant messaged for almost a year before we met face to face.

When I first laid eyes on my Tall & Handsome he was walking out of the Birmingham Airport. He had on tight blue jeans, a Western cut jacket and a Stetson. I got out of the Lead Sled (what I “affectionately” called my Park Avenue) and walked towards him. He walked toward me, smiled and said, “Hello, darling” and then kissed me under that cowboy hat in front of the Birmingham airport.

I felt 18 again! Wow! It was like living in a movie…a real chick flick. He really had me at “Hello, darling” and that kiss.

The kiss 12-30-03

The Kiss – my favorite of our wedding pictures

I have also learned words are cheap, but actions speak volumes and they do so loudly! Some of Gomez’ parting words were (referring to my illnesses and disabilities), “I didn’t want to take care of you, I hated taking care of you, but I did. So, there!”God help him when his karma comes rolling around.

I have never wanted to be a burden…to anyone. So, I was very up front from the beginning with T & H about the status of my health. The man did not tuck tail and run. He called me his wounded dove…

He knew I saw in him a heart that was larger than large…and he appreciated that.

I never felt secured and truly loved with a man I was married to for 27 years. I never felt “good enough”. I poured myself into him, body and soul. But my self confidence and self esteem was non-existent. There were episodes of suspect cheating from the beginning. He had developed hepatitis before we were married five years and I was so naïve back then I didn’t realize how hepatitis is contracted. Deep down inside though I knew something wasn’t right…

By the time T & H and I married, I felt loved, appreciated, confident and secure. I had found my muse. I wanted to create again. That is a huge gift any man can give to the woman he loves. My T & H does it effortlessly…

It has been the little things that some people would never notice. The time I lay dying in the back of an ambulance in Knoxville, TN my feet were bare. T & H dashed quickly into the house and grabbed a pair of sock and gently put them on my feet before the ambulance doors were closed. At the hospital ER, he refused to be separated from me and was by my side until I stabilized and was released.

When we moved from Alabama to Tennessee I was so sick I had to go through the ER first. When we got to Knoxville I was exhausted and slept quite a bit. I woke up one weekend afternoon to discover T & H had set up the deck furniture like a side walk café, bought flowers and grilled a luscious dinner. All I had to do was eat and enjoy him and the outdoors.

Another time when I was deathly sick and my stomach would hold absolutely nothing down, he cut up corn tortillas and made home-made lime-pepper tortillas chips and they were the only thing I could eat and not get sick.

Life may try to batter us, but we fight back together as a team.

We’ve taken care of a couple of bucket list items together. But, our greatest strength is being there for each other, understanding each other and appreciating each other. I love to see life through my T & H’s eyes. It is seeing life anew sometimes.

In the end, my greatest regret…our greatest regret? That we won’t have more years together and didn’t meet years earlier. If only fate had intervened when we were young…how many times have we had that conversation?

But, in the end, it is what it is…as much as we both hate that saying. We are thankful for what we have and for finding each other. It would have been awful to have never found each other. Neither of us can imagine a life without the other. I cannot imagine a day without his voice and his blue eyes and his sense of humor.

My Tall & Handsome and me at the Survivors Dinner in Savannah, GA (2011) celebrating 29 years cancer free non-smoking lung cancer (right lung) and 16 years cancer free non-smoking lung cancer (left lung)

And, in the end we resolve…`til death do us part…with the wedding ring block…

© 2012 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

**The BamaSteelMagnolia™ Diaries is a writing and textile art project I started a few years ago. It’s based on a concept started by Mimi Dietrich and a book she wrote about diary quilts. I was so inspired by the book I started my own and decided to accompany each block with a chapter. Everyone has always said, “Bev, you need to write a book!” Well, here it is…at least part of it!”

If you’re interested in catching up, here are the beginning installments:

The BamaSteelMagnolia™ Diaries Begin

The BamaSteelMagnolia™ Diaries: Chapter 1 – Cupcake Block or Happy Birthday to Me

The BamaSteelMagnolia™ Diaries: Chapter 2: Southern Belle and Yankee Puzzle or A House Divide Will Fall…

The BamaSteelMagnolia™ Diaries: Chapter 3 – Compass or Where in the World is Bev?

The BamaSteelMagnolia™ Diaries: Chapter 4 – Paw Print or To All the Dogs I’ve Loved Before

The BamaSteelMagnolia™ Diaries: Chapter 5 – How Green is My Thumb? or Grandmother’s Flower Garden Block

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Filed under Around the Block with The BamaSteelMagnolia(TM), Daddy, Divorce, East Tennessee Heritage, Family, genealogy, Gomez, Life, Marriage, Photography, Quilt Block, Quilts, Susan Powell, Tall & Handsome, The BamaSteelmagnolia(TM) Diaries, Wedding Ring Quilt block

Lonesome Dove, by Beverly Hicks Burch

Lonesome Dove

By Beverly Hicks Burch

Spring is around the corner and daylight savings time has “sprung forward”. (I hate loosing that hour!) That’s a clear sign things will soon be turning warmer and we’ll see changes all around us. Days are becoming longer and I’ve detected the return of certain little friends.

As kids we were taught that “robin red breast” was a sure harbinger of spring. I personally look for other sign such as the “chirp” of one of my favorites, the red cardinal. But, the past few mornings I couldn’t ignore the symphony that greeted my ears…all the chairs seemed full with different voices from different species. A sure sign spring IS around the corner…and their way of celebrating the fact that temperatures have climbed into the lower 80’s the past few days.

For years I’ve loved watching our little feathered friends. Along the way, I’ve discovered and uncovered some interesting and sometimes startling facts I hadn’t known beforehand.

For instance, I love to put out feeders for hummingbirds and enjoy watching their antics. Their tiny bodies belie their ferociousness and how territorial they are. Watching them at the feeder is like watching a military dogfight in action. I have had some little fellows buzz so close to my face and just hover there…inspecting me and determining my right to be so near their food source…that I could hear the frantic flutter of their tiny wings.

I’ve also learned birds are also creatures of habit. They return to feeders year after year if you continue to put them there…move them and they just might have a hard time finding them…move away and they’ll return even if the new person puts out feeder or not…those birds will be expecting those feeders though.

All this reminded me of a couple of incidents I had years earlier. The first time was when I lived in my first house. I’d had a hanging basket on my front porch. One day I went outside to water the plant in the basket and was quite startled to discover a creature in the basket!

Upon further inspection, I discovered my interloper was a momma dove sitting on her nest. Well, I melted and left her alone and watched out for her the next several weeks. Before I knew it there were a couple of downy heads popping out over the top of the basket. I had the privilege of watching the family grow until the babies spread their tiny wings and flew.

Seeing this once would have been special, but I was soon to discover that when it came to nesting doves seem to be creatures of habit. This momma dove returned to my front porch for the next several years, and I made a habit of leaving that basket there for her.

You still may be doubting and thinking, “Well, that was just one dove and it could have been a really messed up bird.”

Fast forward about 15 years or so. By then I was living in my third house up on a little mountain northeast of Birmingham, AL. I hadn’t been in the house long and we were in the process of landscaping. I had purchased some forsythia to plant on the lot and I still had one gallon sized pot left on the deck waiting to be planted.

One day I happened out onto the deck and my eyes couldn’t believe what they saw…yep, sitting there quietly trying hard not to be seen was another momma dove sitting on her nest. I was gobsmacked.

So, for the season there were strict orders to let the family grow in peace…and they did. Before I knew it, she was gone as silently as she had landed and taken up residence.

The next year was tumultuous for me. Gomez walked out and abandoned me after 27 years of marriage. I was very sick, 9/11 happened…let’s just say it was the year from Hades and a year I wish I had a delete button for.

But, one morning when I was on the deck I happened to look at the forsythia and to my surprise and delight, there she was…my little, lonesome momma dove. I felt like she looked. She had return as was her nature and habit. She looked so peaceful and calm. Watching her that year reminded me life can be normal even when it seems like the world is falling apart. It also reminded me of a Bible verse I had heard all of my life…since I was a small child.

“Are not five sparrows sold for two cents? Yet not one of them is forgotten before God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear: you are more valuable than many sparrows.” Luke 12 6-7 NASB.

In these uncertain times maybe we can find the miracles in the small, hidden places…like a forsythia pot…

Dove (1)Dove (2)

Little Lonesome Momma Dove

Dove (3)

© 2009 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

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Filed under Alabama, Bible Verse, Birds, Birmingham AL, Dove, Gomez, Life, Luke 12: 6-7, Photography, Spring

Rebirth – Birds of a Feather

Just up this evening and ready is the latest at Around the Block – with the Bamasteelmagnolia: Rebirth – Birds of a Feather. This is a story about part of my life…and quilting.

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Filed under Family, Life, Photography, quilting, Quilts

Spring Sprung…and Summer Has Come, by Beverly Hicks Burch

Spring Sprung…and Summer Has Come…

By Beverly Hicks Burch

Well, it happened…spring sprung and left us. The unrelenting heat of summer is bearing down upon us. This is my least favorite time of the year. I know there are those of you who thrive on the heat…God bless your souls…but, I am not one.

We’ve already had 100+° days here before spring ended…a little early in my opinion. It makes me wonder what is ahead for the summer. We are a little dry, but my folks in Alabama have had rain.

May was an unusually hard and busy time for me…and June has turned out to be that way also. It’s been full of doctors and lawyers and research and trying to stay well…or at least not hurt beyond the insanity point. That means new meds.

I learned at my last doctor’s visit I can add bursitis to my library of aliments…this one’s in my hip. It has been chronically there for about a year to 18 months. The exam and the two horse injections I received in that joint almost resulted in my doc getting his sheetrock removed from the wall…gratis…with my fingernails.

I also have some kind of funky inflammation in the cartilage between my breastbone and ribs. I could get injections in that area, but Doc doesn’t recommend that because it’s so close to the heart and lungs. Oh, joy…ok, pain vs…punctured heart or lung…humm, let me do the math for a minute…

I’m still involved in the disability debacle. Needless to say I do not have a high opinion of disability insurance carriers at the moment. In the waiting room at the doctors office most of “us” patients entered into a very interesting exchange about the very subject. It’s a terrible injustice these companies perpetrate upon people they make promises to after taking their money in the form of premiums for years.

One gal in the waiting room was in a car accident that nearly took her life; she has MS, fibromyalgia and many other chronic and disabling health problems. She had worked for the phone company for 20 years and made over $60,000 a year. When she became sick, she was on disability for a short time, then her benefits were terminated because she was told as long as she had a voice and could speak she could work! When she said ok, give me a job, she was told, we have nothing for you.

You should know one thing…if you are an employee and you are purchasing LTD…long term disability insurance…you are purchasing thin ice…air almost. The way the law (known as ERISA) is written now it written more for the benefit of big insurance companies and not for the people who need it the most…the disabled…you…the person who purchased the policy on the first place. The public is very uneducated concerning this topic…until the ugly veil of reality hits them in the face.

Congress wrote the ERISA laws…and they are the ones that can changes the laws, but it will only happen if and when the public becomes concerned enough. Right now, all lawmakers and legislators are concerned about are how many handicapped parking spaces are in front of Wal-Mart…or wherever…because it makes them look concerned. In reality, it’s just a good sound bite and PR for them. They need to do more to protect the rights of the truly disabled to protect them from big nefarious insurances carriers. The public needs to start holding lawmakers accountable on the subject.

More on this subject later…

Good news…the house is beginning to look “normal”. The office looks like an office…that’s “wife” speak meaning T & H’s desk is umm, organized in his way…kinda like my dad’s way…like Daddy’s admin called Mom and told her one time…his desk looks like a garage sell. Around here that means the “planets” are lining up right again *grin*. The quilt room is a work in progress, and the living room…well, there are still two big ol’ desk in there that have to be addressed, but, hey, people, there is progress!

So, onward summer…

© 2008 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

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Filed under "Alexis de Tocqueville", Bursitis, ERISA, Humor, Life, LTD - Long Term Disabilty, Tall & Handsome

So, What’s New…and What’s Old, by Beverly Hicks Burch

So What’s New…and What’s Old

By Beverly Hicks Burch

It came and went…the very last day of the year. For some reason, I have always found New Year’s Eve to be the gloomiest holiday there is. Don’t ask me why. I can’t quite put my finger on it. Maybe it’s the passing of something you will never have back…time…a year of your life…chances…opportunities…who knows. But, when I see those last few seconds count down and the big ball drop in Time Square I get a little feeling of melancholy as I watch the confetti fall and the party-goers go wild…it’s like “Who won the lottery?” I wonder what big secret I’m missing.

I’ve never been one to go out and party-hardy on New Year’s Eve. I tend to reflect more and spend that time in quiet intimate gatherings. Yes, of course, fun is allowed.

One big thing I NEVER do…make resolutions. Why set yourself up for failure on the very first day of the year. The only quasi-resolution I have is this: “I make no New Year’s resolutions.” Without fail, I keep that one…I’ve never let myself down once…

So, what is new and what is old? I think we find that no matter what day the calendar says, some things are the same year round. The state and condition of the world, mankind and those around you…those you hold near and dear. Basically December 31st is just like January 1st.

Each passing day can bring something…whether it is the death of a “great one”, or a family member or an event as large and overwhelming a 9/11. Those days can come in March or August…it doesn’t have to be December 31st or January 1st. It tends to be those quiet days that pass unnoticed that make up the bulk of our lives and for the most part add the sweetness to our lives. The kind words, the hugs, the tenderness, the thoughtfulness and just the pure humanity of daily living that are the mark and sum of a life.

I have seen days and things in the past seven or eight years I thought I’d never see in my life…betrayals…some I call the “deepest cut” from people I love the most. That kind of betrayal takes you beating heart and plunges a dagger right into the middle and slowly watches you heart beat slower and slower, beat by beat as you feel like it will surely bleed to death. But, I have also seen unspeakable joy and kindness and bravery. That, my friends makes me want to soar high above the bounds of the problems and pain of this ol’ human flesh.

The year 2007 brought both…things I wish I could lobotomize out of my brain and things I cherish and will till the day I take my last breath. The year saw me enter the blogosphere and as a result I’ve met some fantastic people, brushed up on long underused skills and found a new world. It added a new autoimmune disorder, which I needed like I needed a third eye in the center of my forehead.

Tall and Handsome and I were finally able to leave behind what I “lovingly” called the “swill hole” in Knoxville…the toxic, rental that was full of black mold and mildew. Boy was that ever a “learning” experience. Yes, Virginia, you can teach old dogs new tricks and we have learned not to trust landlady/slumlords who say, “Oh, no, I don’t have a water problem. I had that fixed a long time ago.” Just remember the song “Smiling Faces Tell Lies”…

I spent a good part of the year saying, “Watson, what do you have in your mouth?” He is so much like a baby or a small child…he will put anything and I do mean anything in his mouth. Just the other day T & H looked over at me to see me frantically pushing Watson’s head up and down. Alarmed he asked, “What are you doing?!” It really did look like I had either gone mad or was practicing some kind of evil medieval torture on Watson.

After I rammed my fingers down Watson’s throat and pulled out a piece of plastic he was chewing on, T & H fully understood what I had been doing…an impromptu, quasi-Heimlich maneuver for dogs. T & H doesn’t understand how I can tell when Watson has something in his mouth. Easy…training as a mom… Did I mention the dog will put anything in his mouth?

We closed 2007 by finally closing on the house…yes, it is done! We can now unpack as if we will be here a while. We began 2008 by doing just that and made great progress in the quilt room…but we still have a long way to go. We are discovering things we haven’t seen in almost three years and we are still discovering that “professional packers and movers” could possibly be an oxymoron. Why? Well, consider this one example of many like it: While unpacking a box marked “Quilt Room – Fabric” we discovered there was very little of my fabric stash in the box. Seriously, just a few folded pieces. Over half of the box was filled with dishes…my Christmas dishes and a very large and heavy punch bowl. Those are the maddening things that make the unpacking slow-go, hectic, unorganized and just plain aggravating.

The year 2008 opens with its own set of issues. We still have to decide how to deal with the psycho realtor and the torture she perpetuated. To paraphrase Shakespeare, “To report or not report…that is the question.” Then of course there is still the house in Alabama. Hang on to it as investment property or sell?

I am amazed that it has been eight years since the big Y2K scare and the beginning of the new millennium. Remember the doomsayers? Our whole world would crash because computers wouldn’t know how to read the year 2000. It seems so silly now in the post-9/11 world. It is even more unbelievable that almost a whole decade has passed…we are only two short years away from the changing of a new decade now.

But, there is an old saying that goes something like this, “As much as things change, they stay the same.” In other words, change is an expected and inevitable part of life. We will see that in 2008. We have a national election this year and who knows what other issues and events we’ll see. I can guarantee ups and downs but, it surely has to be better than 2007!

So, as I unpack and settle in and wonder how I will evacuate the growing mountain of empty boxes in the house I have a wish for all of us…for a healthy, prosperous, sane, mold-free, happy New Year!

© 2008 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

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Filed under 9/11, dogs, Life, Miniature Schnauzer, Moving, New Year, Seasonal, Stress, Tall & Handsome, Watson

Safari Time, by Beverly Hicks Burch

Safari Time

By Beverly Hicks Burch

Grab your khakis and let’s go on a safari. Don’t worry…no animals will be hurt in the process…except maybe the two that are fighting at the foot of my bed…and that darn rooster next door that was crowing way too early this morning…(which begs the question once again, who keeps a rooster within the city limits of a city?!)… Anyway, back to the safari…

If you haven’t already noticed, this is one Southern gal that absolutely detests hot weather. Hot weather is right up there with that waxing thing I talked about the other day. So, I was giddy when I got up this morning, let Scoot out for his morning constitution and discovered that, Hallelujah, it was gloriously cool…cool enough to have a cup of hot tea.

Partaking of a cup of hot tea is a habit I picked up from my little Momma. She collects teas like some people collect wines. As a result, I have my own little collection of teas.

One of my favorites and also the one I enjoyed this morning was The Republic of Tea’s Safari Sunset. This tea is caffeine-free African Rooibos, also known as an African red tea. Most teas, even the blacks, are appreciated for their health benefits, but the Rooibos is considered right up there among the best for health benefits. It’s low in tannins and high in antioxidants. As a two time non-smoking lung cancer survivor, and some one with chronic health problems…I appreciate the chance to let something healthy and good tasting pass the ol’ taste buds. It beats cod liver oil…

Safari Sunset is seasoned with cinnamon, cloves and citrus…it reminds me of Russian Tea. As with all teas, you’ll want to sweeten it with honey…that is unless you’re allergic to honey. This morning I used a Florida Tupelo honey. Tupelo honey is one of those honeys that don’t crystallize the longer it sits on the shelf and it has a wonderful different taste from the traditional honeys. Tea is always better sweetened with honey instead of sugar and if you lighten it, use milk not cream.

I think I’ll continue my safari…maybe even take along a gunpowder mint tea…now, there’s a tea that packs a punch…

© 2007 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

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Filed under Animals, Chickens, food, Life, Tea