Tag Archives: Quote of the Day

We Turn Skeletons Into Goddesses

“We turn skeletons into goddesses and look to them as if they might teach us how not to need.” ~ Marya Hornbacher, Wasted: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia ~

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The young girl in this grainy image from the past is me. It pains me to look at her/me because I know she is hiding a secret. She’s hiding more than one secret. She’s standing behind this bright red beach float to hide. To hide her secrets – (1) that she thinks she is grossly fat; and (2) she has an eating disorder. She has anorexia and this is not the thinnest she will ever be.

I was officially diagnosed about four years after this picture was taken. Back then I don’t think eating disorders were understood the way they are today. My weight dropped below 100 pounds. My therapist helped me to see that eating disorders can be about control.

I am the oldest child in a family of three girls. My baby sister is a special needs individual and has been all her life. It was sad to see the sorrow of two parents who love their girls the way my parents loved their girls. I know it had to be hard to realize their baby would not have the type of life their oldest two would. It was sad as a sister to see my baby sister have some of the struggles she’s had. They loved us all and taught us we were valuable.

I’m also a perfectionist and OCD. And, I married poorly the first time around. I won’t go into detail, but let’s just say he made Casper Milktoast look like the Man of Steel. So, a naive and somewhat innocent girl was forced into becoming a different person. Well, maybe and maybe it just made me stronger.

What it did do is make me never feel like I was enough.

I bet many of you understand what I’m saying…

So, of course, I became a person in which control had great meaning. I’m not talking the kind of control like mad-scientist-I’m-going-to-rule-the-world-control. I’m talking the kind of control I can have concerning my body and the world around me. Like I can count every calorie, every bite that goes into my mouth. I can choose not to eat for days and days. I can exercise all I want to – like 30 miles on my stationary bike and then go to the track and walk.

And, never, ever be out of control. Never. I have an aversion and fear of becoming addicted to anything. I’ve never been drunk and I am probably the last person on earth who has never – no, never, tried pot, weed, hashish or whatever you want to call it in any form. There, I said it.

Why am I telling you this now? Because I read a story today about a beautiful 18 year old girl named Brandy Vela who committed suicide in front of her parents and grandparents. Why? Because she was being mercilessly bullied by kids at her school who said she was fat.

God in heaven what kind of animals are we raising?

When we have kids driving an 18 year old child to suicide, we have more wrong in our society and more to worry about than BMI. It is that vapid, shallow mentality in our core societal beliefs that is turning us into gladiatorial animals as children.

And, what do you do with children who commit such vile acts? Right now, a Cersei-like  Game of Thrones Walk of Shame seems too good for these little creeps. Shame! Shame! Shame!

It has to stop.

We have to stop idolizing women who are size 0 as if this is some paragon of womanhood. We have to stop allowing momagers (mom/managers) from hawking their daughters like flesh and meat in the public market so they can become filthy rich off of our money. If we allow the selling of our daughters like that, how can we criticize other cultures who violate their daughters and women? We have to stop starving our children and sanctioning it via Federal government programs like lunch programs that leave our kids starving throughout the day.

Am I promoting poor health? Certainly not. Just common sense.

You see when I was struggling with my eating disorder, my best friend at the time weighed more than I did. Considerable more. But, she was far healthier. And, I never saw her as “less than”. She was a talented, wonderful, creative friend who became an oncologist nurse.

It is years later now. I am a terribly sick person – disabled. I’ve battled non-smoking lung cancer twice. I’d never lived with a smoker nor is there a history of it in my family. I have an aneurysm in my heart, autoimmune disorders, fibromyalgia, arthritis, hypothyroidism and other illnesses too many to number. Some of these cluster in my family – like the autoimmune disorders. But, I believe I did irreparable damage to my body and my health by starving myself with my eating disorder. I think I destroyed my metabolism. Just to try and be a skeletal goddess.

I recovered somewhat from my eating disorder and my weight “normalized”. I was always thin. But, as my health continued to fail I began to gain weight. My poor health, the medications and restrictions caused the weight gain – not the other way around. But, you see when people see me they don’t know that and they assume my poor health is due to my weight. Well, you know what they say about assuming. The one great thing about me? My blood sugar. That’s because I do know how to eat healthy.

I do get some bullying now because of my weight – societal bullying. I am not going to let that fall on me and accept it as my burden to carry.

There are some reasons. First, almost 13 years ago I remarried my Tall & Handsome who lets me know every day he loves me and I am beautiful. He lets me know I am enough – not only for him but also for the whole wide world. I am so glad I never gave up.

Take that bullies…

And, I refuse to let people who don’t know me define me. You do not walk in my shoes, you do not know my journey and God forbid you ever, ever have to know my battles.

To the young girls out there like the beautiful Brandy Vela, I say this to you. Prove your tormentors wrong. Sweet, beautiful child, you are so above them. This too will pass and one day you will realize your value and life will be worth your battles. I promise.

Your tormentors are skeletons – hallowed out shells. And, they try to turn other skeletons into goddess. Misery loves company.

But, guess what?  You my child are what we love, want, and need. You are our heart.

Stay with us.

Please.

© 2016 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

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Filed under Anorexia, Brandy Vela, Bullying, cancer, Child Welfare, Children, Disability, Eating Disorders, Family, Health, Life, Picture of the Day, Quote of the Day, Women's health

I Love the Landscape Because It Is So Sincere. It Never Cheats Me.

“I love nature, I love the landscape, because it is so sincere. It never cheats me. It never jests. ~ Henry David Thoreau ~

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Taken between Townsend, TN and Cades Cove, TN

Most of you know me as the BamaSteelMagnolia. And, there is a reason for that. For most of my life I’ve lived in Sweet Home Alabama, a state I love from the top of my head to the tip of my toes.

I’ve gone to school here, married one guy from here (big mistake, but not because he was from Alabama), birthed a child here, divorced here, remarried a Tall & Handsome southwestern cowboy here and battle twice non-smoking lung cancer here. I’ve lived more decades than I care to share here in this state I am passionate about.

In other words, I’ve done a lot of living, losing, loving and everything in between in this place I call home – Alabama.

What you may not know: on a cold January morning I was born to two young people in an East Tennessee hospital as the Great Smoky Mountains stood silently in the background, an ever present sentinel in my early life and childhood.

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I’m the little head peaking out in the crook of Momma’s arm. My gorgeous parents.

So, what does that mean and why am I telling you this?

Well, it’s been a rough week for me and my family as we’ve watched the Smokies and Gatlinburg burn.

I don’t care how long you’ve been gone, it’s not easy to watch the places of your childhood and childhood memories, and the places of your ancestry go up in smoke. It’s a helpless feeling. And, if you still have family living in those parts, the helpless feeling is compounded. I can’t even begin to tell you what I feel to know these fires were started by arsonists.

I spent about the first 12 years of my life in or around East Tennessee with the exception of a year or so when I was two. My daddy worked in the engineering department of an aircraft company in the Dallas area at that time. But, you just don’t take a mountain boy out of the mountains and put him on the flat plains of Texas, and, so, back to Tennessee we went.

We eventually ended up in the central Alabama area and I think it stuck for a couple of reasons. Daddy worked for an engineering company started by brothers who were University of Tennessee grads (where Daddy started his college career), the terrain is similar to East Tennessee – we all ended up living on this little mountain top in Alabama because it reminded us of our roots – and the people here in Alabama are 24K gold.

But, oh, the childhood memories I have of those times and places in East Tennessee.

Walks with my Papaw as he pointed out the name of each tree. Watching him have his faithful hunting dog do all kinds of tricks for cornbread. MaMaw and Papaw letting us dig up peanuts or pick some cotton from the garden. This gal from the burbs thought she was a real farm hand then.

Weekend trips to the mountains taking in the fall colors, wading in the cold mountain streams, picnics with the grandparents, and my Aunt Ruthie’s house in Kinzel Springs. You had to walk over a swinging foot bridge to get to her house. It sat backed up against the mountain and even in the summer time, that house never seemed hot. As a matter of fact, back then, those mountains always seemed like the coolest place on earth to be.

It was just a “hop, skip and a jump” over twisting, hairpin two lane mountain roads to Cherokee, NC where we could see a Cherokee chief. My paternal grandmother was originally from Western North Carolina and it was said she was part Cherokee. She looked the part, but we’ve never confirmed the ancestry.

My PaPaw worked at the Little River Lumber Company back in the day. He was a clerk in the company store. My cousins tell me there’s a picture of him in the train museum in Townsend. He was also the fill-in mail carrier for Cades Cove and Daddy went on that route a time or two with PaPaw.

That’s my roots on the “quiet side of the Smokies”, my Daddy’s side. My little Momma is a different story.

Several years ago I started the journey into genealogy and it’s a journey I’ve loved and wished I had started sooner. Once I jokingly told Momma she was a half-breed. She was startled at first and then I laughed and explained.

Tennessee is divided into West Tennessee, Middle Tennessee and East Tennessee. Any good Tennessean knows that. Mom’s ancestry is Middle Tennessee/East Tennessee (on her mother’s side). Half and half.

And, it is that East Tennessee ancestry on Momma’s side that carries me back to Gatlinburg.

You see William Ogle and Martha Jane Huskey Ogle are my 5th great-grandparents. Martha Jane Huskey Ogle’s cabin was the first house built in what is now known as Gatlinburg. William and Martha had 7 children and I descend through two of their sons, William “Black Bill” Ogle and Isaac “Shucky” Ogle.

A few years back I went to Edgefield, SC to get a copy of William Ogle, the father’s will. That type of documentation is like the holy grail for a genealogist. The Ogle family was living in Edgefield and William went to Tennessee to prepare for the family to move. He laid up provisions and he cut and notched timbers to build a log cabin for his family. He went back to Edgefield to get his family for the move back to Tennessee, but before they could leave South Carolina, William fell ill and died.

Martha Jane didn’t go to Tennessee at first, but she eventually did and family members helped raise the cabin using the timbers William had prepared.

It was the first house built in White Oak Flats, a place that would become known as Gatlinburg. Over time other families moved in. You saw the formations of clans with names that pop up in my family tree. If you throw a rock into a crowd of locals there’s a good chance I’m distantly related to them – including a famous country songbird who shares a common ancestor with me named Henry Bohannon, my 5th great grand-father.

My family was founding fathers of an area I watched decimated by a historical fire this past week. I never thought I would live to see anything like this. I hope I never have to see anything like this again and I pray for more rain to come their way.

I listened and watched as I saw names like Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, Chimney Tops, Clingman’s Dome, Newfound Gap, Wear’s Valley and others threatened and burned. And, each time my heart broke.

For me, it’s not only pride in the pioneer spirit of my ancestors, but it’s also love of the location and area. It is one of the most beautiful places on earth. When I go into the mountains, my heart sings and my spirit is refreshed. I feel at home.

Just like the people, this area is resilient. They survived the Great Depression and floods after floods before TVA. It will come back and they will come back. There will be regrowth and rebirth. Mountain folk are good strong people, just like the land around them. They have learned from the land. They need our continued support and prayers.

Thoreau said it best, “I love nature, I love the landscape, because it is so sincere. It never cheats me. It never jests.”

My birthplace is sincerely hurting right now, but it will be a beautiful landscape once again – and the people will be there with it – rejoicing.

© 2016 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

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Filed under Alabama, Birth, Cades Cove, Central Alabama, Daddy, East Tennessee, East Tennessee Fire, East Tennessee Heritage, Family, Gatlinburg, Gatlinburg Fire, genealogy, Grief, Home, Memories, Momma, Mountains, Nature, Ogle, Photography, Picture of the Day, Quote of the Day

Memories Are the Key Not to the Past, but to the Future

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The Hicks Sisters ca 1983

“Memories are the key not to the past, but to the future.” ~ Corrie Ten Boom ~

It had been a glorious, beautiful, brisk autumn day. I stood and breathed in a stunning panoramic view as I watched the sun lower into a captivating sunset. Faster than I realized, dusk took over, and then twilight swiftly took hold as I watched evening begin to dance alive in the streets below in Manhattan.

It was a wonderful magic show – partly Divinely created and partly man made. It was etched into my memory for the rest of my life.

I was standing in the observation deck of the World Trade Center.

Little did I know 18 years later the very spot I was standing on would topple to the ground in rubble and dust and become part of Ground Zero. My magical space would be destroyed by Islamic terrorists filled with hate, determined to destroy my country and thousands of innocent people.

I was a young lass on that magical day in 1983, the mother of a toddler, full of hope for a bright future. I look at pictures of my sister and me taken during that visit and I get chill bumps because I see us and I want to shout, “Look long and hard. Burn these memories into your mind because you will lose so much in the future!”

How could I ever imagine the terror that lay ahead for me personally and the terror that laid ahead for my country? How could I have ever imagined something like 9/11 happening in my country?

But, it did. And, it happened in a year that was one of personal turmoil for me. There were things that happened to me I never thought I would experience in my world – vows broken, trusts broken, violence committed. And, then in the midst of all that – September 11, 2001 happened.

I had just returned home the day before from a trip to Florida with a friend who had gone down to see her parents. On the trip I’d had a health crisis and spent time in the ER.

So, I was still feeling frail and in recovery mode on that September morning when I got a call that said, “Turn on your TV!”

As we speculated – was this an accident or an attack – the second plane plowed into the second Trade Tower. That pretty much settled it – we were under attack.

From that point on, I was glued in place in front of the TV just to watch the unfolding events. Since I had lived in New York for about a year, I knew how many people lived and worked in that area of the city and the numbers were massive. Small city-size massive. We could be looking at unbelievably high death tolls. I began to cry and pray.

Then, one of the most horrific things I’d ever seen in my life happened – one of the Towers began to crumble, to accordion down on itself. It was falling like a stick of hot butter in a microwave.

How could this be happening?!

I desperately wanted the other Tower to be saved – but in my heart I knew it more or less faced the same fate. And, it did. It fell, too, leaving a trail of cascading destruction and death.

And, then the aftermath began…mountains size heaps of debris, personal locators of first responders trilling constantly indicating a man down here…and here…and there…and over there…and here… It was a new level of hell.

It took this country a while to recover from 9/11 just like it took me a while to recover from the personal cataclysm going on in my life at the time.

But, recover I did. I did by beginning to move on. I married the man who should have always been my heart mate. I grew stronger inside and stronger mentally regardless of what my disabled body tried to tell me.

Every year when 9/11 comes around I remember. Some years are worse than others. This year was bad. My PTSD kicks in many years. Every year I have a man that stands by me with unyielding compassion and understanding.

I have a very growing concern that Americans are growing away from 9/11. They are forgetting 9/11 – the cause, effect and aftermath and how we were one Family after the attack.

Unlike the generation before who “Remembered Pearl Harbor!”, it’s deemed not very politically correct to “Remember 9/11” any more. Patriotism is almost view as “deplorable”. Some of our leaders like to play political footsies with the very people who financed the terrorism against us and are getting wealthy themselves from these relationships.

This is very unfortunate because history and the past are our teachers. If we forget our past, many times we are destined to repeat the past.

Corrie Ten Boom and her family were Gentile Dutch living in Nazi occupied Holland during WWII. The Ten Boom family saw what the Nazis were doing to the Jews in Holland and they made a decision to make a difference. They began hiding Jews in their home. Eventually the Ten Boom family was discovered and the Nazis rounded them up and sent them to concentration camps. Corrie lost family members in these camps.

After the war, Corrie understood the importance of putting the past into perspective. No, we don’t live in the past, but as Corrie said, “Memories are the key not to the past, but to the future.”

We must take the lessons of 9/11 and learn from them – for the sake of the future and so the death of the thousands lost that September day are not in vain.

© 2016 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under 9/11, Anniversaries, History, Islamic Terrorist, Life, Memories, New York, New York City, Photography, Picture of the Day, Quote of the Day, September 11, USA, World Trade Towers

Their Only Fault, Really…

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He’s Got that Loving Feeling…

“Dogs lives are too short. Their only fault, really.” ~ Agnes Sligh Turnbull ~

It’s turning out that grooming day, or spa day, as we like to high handily call it in the Burch house, it becoming eventful. Eventful in ways I would rather avoid.

As coincidence would have it, the last two times “spa day” has fallen on each pet’s yearly physical. As I recounted in an earlier post, when we picked them up last time, we were told it was critical BabyGirl, our little Rain Man in a dog suit, have her teeth cleaned.

Boy was it ever critical. Tall & Handsome called me on the way home after he picked her up from her dental visit and broke the news, “They pulled 17 teeth.”

Now, those of you who know me really well will know the next sentence was the occurrence of a minor miracle – I was totally and utterly speechless. For about 45 seconds as images of a puckered face BabyGirl flashed through my head. You can read that post to see how BabyGirl and mom survived the outcome.

So, when we sent Watson and BabyGirl off for their grooming a couple of weeks ago we knew it was time for Watson’s yearly. No problem, just a formality to get out of the way.

Oh, wait – did you hear that shoe anvil drop? Yep, there was yet another surprise waiting when T & H picked our pups up after their “spa day”.

Now, for a little background let me preface with this – we rescued BabyGirl in 2012. She was about two years old at the time. As hard as it is to believe she will be with us four years this coming September. This makes her about six years old.

Watson, our Wonderkin, came to us two weeks shy of his first birthday in 2006. On August 30th he will turn 11 years old. As I type those words not only can I not believe it, but I have an overwhelming urge to go into denial mode because there’s a day in our future I can’t even begin to think about. I’ve even told T & H we need to start a Schnauzer Slush Fund to prepare for that day, because I just don’t know if I can survive without another Wonderkin.

So, T & H walks in the door with two transformed pups – all groomed and looking dog show quality. He on the other hand looked like a man searching for something, and he was.

The right words to tell me what he had to tell me. Oh, snap.

He said, “The vet wanted to talk to me about Watson before we left. Watson has a heart murmur.”

What I felt was indescribable. No, that’s not true. I wanted to rend my clothes, sit in sackcloth and ashes, weep and gnash my teeth and then sit Shiva – and I’m not even Jewish (well, maybe a tiny bit somewhere in my ancestry).

You see this little dog has been more to me than a dog. I know everyone says that, but he really has been. He’s been my friend, my buddy, my pal, my entertainer, my protector, my encourager, my confidant, my child and my angel unaware.

I had that once before in my Ladybug – my little English Cocker Spaniel. I never thought I’d have something like that again.

But, Watson has been that and in some ways has “gone where no dog has gone before”. He’s one of the smartest dogs I’ve ever known in my life.

T & H and I thought we were smart when we started spelling words to keep him from knowing what we were saying. Watson was smarter when he learned what we were spelling.

If I’m sitting on the bed with my laptop working on something and the timer goes off in the kitchen, he jumps down off the bed and heads to the kitchen ahead of me.

He’s crazy about Granddad, my Daddy and will greet him at the door with such excitement – screaming and carrying on like a teenage girl at a rock concert. And, then, they scuffle.

Like any “child” Watson has had his adventures and misadventures – many I’ve recounted here in this blog.

For instance, Watson is a chocolate bandit. Yes, I know! Chocolate is bad for dogs! Try telling that to the Jack Sparrow of the Schnauzer world. He’s managed to eat my one and only remaining Godiva milk chocolate and coconut truffle – and look punch drunk satisfied, sated, happy and not one iota guilty. He’d do it again in a New York minute. And, I’ve caught him mid-bite with a brownie bite in his mouth. He did have the good common German sense to let it drop out of his mouth. It was a pitiful sight.

But, like anyone with charm and charisma – you just can’t stay upset with him very long.

He’s the perfect companion for me, a person who battles chronic illness and disability. He helps me do it with humor, style and cuddles. He senses when I’m having a really hard time and then, like I tell T & H with humor, Watson becomes like a big hairy tick attached to my side.

How do you face the absence of that in your life? Roughly.

Right now Watson’s heart is compensating for the murmur and the vet said he should be fine unless he becomes listless or starts coughing a lot. For now, he seems as right as rain. We are choosing to enjoy each day as a good day, and so far it has been.

It is because of the men in my life I have a love for dogs. My Papaw had dogs and my Daddy made sure we had dogs when we were girls. T & H brought Watson home to me when Watson was two weeks shy of his first birthday.

I could extol the many wonderful qualities of dogs. I’ve always said there’s no mistake that dog is god spelled backwards – they are His ministering angels here on Earth. But, I am finding…”Dogs lives are too short. Their only fault, really…”

© 2016 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

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Filed under Animals, Babygirl, Daddy, dogs, Grief, Miniature Schnauzer, Pets, Photography, Picture of the Day, Quote of the Day, Tall & Handsome, Watson

Out Damn’d Spot!

“Out, damn’d spot! Out, I say!”  ~ Lady Macbeth, Act 5, Shakespeare ~

Feb 10 2014 copy ae edit

Look at this face! Could there be many things more adorable than this?! Innocence and sweetness oozing from those little dark windows into her soul.

Well, let me tell you something, to paraphrase Bette Davis, “Fasten your seatbelt, it’s going to be a bumpy ride!”

I have written about the journey Tall & Handsome and I began when we rescued this little pup back in September 2012.

I am totally enamored with Miniature Schnauzers and one day we had dropped by Pet Smart to pick up some pet supplies. A local pet shelter was at Pet Smart facilitating an adoption day. I saw a forlorn and quiet BabyGirl (the name she took to and adapted as her own after she moved in with us) pushed to the side.

She was pitifully laying in a cage. The only thing that would have made it more heart wrenching would have been a Sara McLaughlin song playing in the background.

I told T & H, “Honey, that’s a little Schnauzer.”

In a really loving and sweet way he told me I was crazy and she was a Benji dog.

She came home with us that afternoon and the bumpy ride began.

We discovered right away she had been so grossly mistreated it would be a while before we would gain her trust.

And, it was a while – a REALLY long while…

We discovered she had these little switches that turn on and off earning her the title “RainGirl zipped up in a dog suit.” Yes, a little canine Dustin Hoffman.

I was slightly vindicated after her first grooming, because, abracadabra, there was a Miniature Schnauzer!

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She began to really take to me and “mark” on me. I was becoming her person. You have not lived until your adoring dog follows you to the bathroom EVERY time and sits and looks at you adoringly while you take care of business.

It can be slightly unnerving…

BabyGirl made it obvious she was not overly fond of men. But, she had just began to warm up to Tall & Handsome when one day he was walking her in the back yard and he bent down to pet her on the head.

Saying she spazzed out would be an understatement. It was back to square one for those two, and it’s still tenuous to this day.

She is getting better and we see many improvements.

But, sometime back we began to notice she was emitting this odor. When I say odor, I mean ODOR. Like in Shakespearean portions.

The kind that would drop a herd of cattle dead in their tracks.

We knew she emitted this funky odor when she was frightened – we called it skunk juice and wondered if she was part skunk – I know, I know – I told you it was a bumpy ride.

But, this was different. It NEVER went away. We could have her groomed, we could bathe her ourselves and the pall of that stench hovered over her.

We felt like Lady Macbeth, but instead of “Out d*mn spot” it was “Out d*mn stench”!

Then in late February she went in for a routine grooming and when we picked her up they told us they were running a special on dental cleaning and BabyGirl REALLY needed her teeth cleaned. So we scheduled it for March 10th.

Well, fasten that seatbelt! When T & H picked up BabyGirl they told him they had to pull seventeen (17) teeth! Yes, that’s correct 17 teeth were pulled.

Just like in humans, bad teeth can cause dogs a lot of problems. In BabyGirl’s case they said it could be genetics, lack of proper nutrition when she was young or any number of things that could have happened to set things in motion before we adopted her.

Unlike humans, the missing 17 teeth will not and has not affected her desired to eat. She still revels in the “room of food” also know as the pantry where their food bowls and water bowls await them (her and Watson the Wonderkin) daily and they each get treats and biscuits designed to promoted dental health.

So, FYI, if your furbaby ever starts smelling like one of the Walking Dead, and you feel yourself going Shakespearean – get the vet to check their teeth out. There may be something rotten in, well, doggie land.

© 2016 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved.

 

 

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Filed under Animals, Babygirl, Dental Care for Dogs, dogs, Life, Pets, Photography, Picture of the Day, Quote of the Day, Tall & Handsome

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

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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