Snow Day

Yesterday, January 12, winter dipped her icy fingers into the South, and we saw our first snow of the season here in middle Tennessee. Franklin received barely an inch, but it was preceded by sleet, so roads and streets were slick and treacherous. Schools closed, and everyone who did not need to get out stayed hunkered down, warm and safe in their homes.

Back in the summer of 1960, Robin and I moved from Shreveport, Louisiana, to Denver, Colorado. We wanted to live outside the South for a while to experience a snowy winter season. And did we ever!

It was the middle of October when I looked out my second grade classroom’s windows and saw gentle white flakes floating down. I was calling out spelling words, while my little students took their weekly test.

I’d better not say anything about the snow, I thought, or they’ll get all excited and lose concentration. I remembered the year before how my students in Louisiana had reacted at first snowfall.

“It’s snowing, it’s snowing!” They ran to the windows, hugged each other, and jumped up and down. I felt like jumping up and down with them. Soon, we’d all get to go home.

Now, I tried to stay calm, averted my eyes from the windows, and called the next word.

Too late. One of the youngsters looked up. “Oh, no! It’s snowing!”

A collective groan spread across the room. “I rode my bike,” one said, shaking his head.

By the time June rolled around, I could understand their reaction much better. That winter we experienced many large snowfalls, and the schools never closed. We drove between huge banks of the stuff, piled on the sides of the streets, and life’s normal activities continued. Even on the last day of school, remnants of dirty snow lay along the curbs. The only “summer” we had was in July and August. By September, the air had turned chilly again.

Today, though, I will nestle happily here in my cozy nest and enjoy viewing our beautiful “powdered sugar” landscape while I can. Monday’s highs will be back above freezing.


Today, December 20, I’m celebrating my last birthday in my seventies. Younger adults may worry about getting older, but I have good news for them. For most of us, our seventies are great years, and I’ve met many folks here at the Fountains in their eighties and nineties who are still happily engaged in life. Some are physically hampered in one way or another, but their minds are as sharp as ever. Others have difficulty with memory, but they’re still getting along just fine with a little help.

Yesterday, I attended the weekly Sisterhood Fellowship, a small group of women who meet every Tuesday morning to drink coffee, eat apple fritters and donuts, and socialize. They think I’m the “youngster” in the group, but they’re all quite youthful in their demeanor and attitudes.

At yesterday’s gathering, each woman told about one Christmas they would never forget. Most grew up during the Depression, and their families were poor. Times were hard, but family reunions at Christmas were important and cherished.

One woman said her extended family numbered almost one hundred relatives who would travel from distant towns to attend the family’s Christmas dinner. Those who needed to spend the night often stayed in the empty fraternity houses at a nearby college

She was only about five years old when one Christmas, several young men in the family began to pass out and fall to the floor. Of course, that frightened her and many others too. The men had spent the night in a fraternity house where the water cistern had become tainted with some kind of bacteria that caused them to become ill. She said, thankfully, they all recovered, but that sight of young men dropping like flies all around her would be one she’d never forget!

I hope you will respond to this blog post and share one of your non-forgettable Christmas memories too. I’d love to hear from you.

Merry Christmas!

When Robin and I left Hot Springs Village, we knew we’d be moving to an urban setting, but we’d forgotten how city life has changed in the past twenty years. Now, thousands of young families scoot around in their big SUVs and mini-vans at all hours of the day and night, and the volume of traffic here in Franklin has been a bit overwhelming.

The “going to work” and “going to school” folks jam the broad, multi-laned avenues from dawn until mid-morning. Then the “going shopping” and “going to lunch” crowd is on the streets till noon. After that, the “lunch and after-lunch” traffic is buzzing around. Finally, from mid-afternoon until seven or eight, the “going home from work” and “going out to supper” cars fill the streets.

We’ve discovered that early afternoon is probably the least busy time of day, so that’s when we try to do most of our running around. However, the other day we came close to having an accident.

We were up in Cool Springs, a busy shopping area on the north side of Franklin, returning a mirror we had bought at Kirkland’s that was too small for over our mantel. As I approached a traffic light with cars lined up in all forward lanes and turn lanes, the green lights came on, and, I glanced into my rearview mirror. A pick-up truck was coming up behind me. I flipped on my left-turn blinker and began moving into the nearest turn lane.

Just then, a blur on the left caught my eye, and it was that truck, zooming by me to make the turn before the arrow turned red.

I whipped our car back into the forward lane.

“Did he hit me?” I asked Robin. “I thought I heard a little bump.”

“I thought I did too,” he said. “Be careful as you turn left now, and we’ll stop over there and take a look.”

I eased into the left-turn lane, and when the light changed again, we pulled into the shopping area, parked, and stepped out of the car.

We could see no dents or scrapes, but my side view mirror was a little out of kilter. The truck must have brushed it as it whizzed by.

“That was a close call,” I said, and tears filled my eyes. “I hate this damn traffic!”

“Me, too, but you need to check the side mirrors before you change lanes. I’ll help you look.”

Robin hasn’t tried to drive much since we’ve moved here, but he watches for street signs and other cars as we’ve moved around town, and I’m finally becoming a little less nervous. Give me another month, and I’ll be negotiating “life in the fast lane” like a pro.

Not Just Temporary

Last night, Robin remarked that it’s still hard for him to realize that our being here in Franklin is not just “temporary.”  Today marks our third week of being here in our little villa, and it’s finally sinking in that this will be our home for a while. At least, we hope so! The Fountains assisted living facility across the street is beautiful, but the residents live in apartments, and that’s more like living in a large hotel. We’re happy to be here in our own little house for the next few years.

We’ve been running around town, finding items to make our “nest” comfortable, and it’s been fun to decorate a new place. A big drawback is the hassle we’ve experienced with all the heavy traffic in this busy city.  However, the main streets are becoming more familiar now, and although we still don’t have GPS, I’ve learned how to go to Google Maps online to get directions to a particular place.

Robin drove solo for the first time on Thursday. Our neighbor, three doors down in Villa 341, is a golfer, and Curt and Robin set up a tee time at Forrest Crossing Golf Course at 10:10 that morning. However, Curt planned to go early to hit a few practice balls, so Robin drove his old Buick by himself. We prepared for that by making a dry run to the golf course the day before so Robin could get the directions planted more firmly in his mind.

Thursday morning was beautiful, with temperatures expected to rise into the 60’s, and my happy husband felt confident he could find his way to the course and back without any problems. In fact, he did fine, driving to the place. On the way home, though, he hit a snag.

A bad car accident had blocked South Royal Oaks Blvd., and police were shuttling traffic off the only street Robin knew would take him back home!  He told me later he followed the car in front of him, and they wound their way through a maze of side streets. Then he realized he was right back at the golf course!

He went inside to ask how he might go another way to get out to Murphreesboro Road, and he spotted his golf partner who had stayed over to have a beer. Curt told him to just follow him—our neighbor has lived in the Franklin area for a while, although he’s new to the Fountains—so Robin trailed Curt away from the golf course. Then Curt turned off but waved for Robin to go on. Fortunately, he recognized where he was at that point and made it home safely—albeit almost six hours after leaving that morning! That worried me, of course, but Robin said he played more slowly than usual due to Curt’s physical limitations

Anyhow, these two old duffers will be heading back out to the course again on our next pretty day—another good sign this place is not just temporary.  We’re finally “at home.”

We’ve been in our new villa home in Franklin, Tennessee, for one full week now, and everyone we’ve met here at the Fountains has been friendly and welcoming. However, last Monday, I had a problem.

After being unable to wash clothes during our previous days of loading, moving, unloading and unpacking, I had several loads to take care of. Stepping into our new laundry room, I took a closer look at the washer. The control panel across the top appeared similar to my old Kenmore, so I turned the dials to the settings I wanted, dumped in a half scoop of washing powder, added a small load of underwear and other whites, then closed the lid and pressed Start. However, no water flowed into the tub!

First, my new machine sang a little computerized “tune.” Then it began pulsing and making a terrible groaning noise. Still, no water flowed into the tub. I could hear water squirting out in short little spurts as the washer continued its noisy gyrations.

I turned to Jim, the Fountains’ maintenance man who was there to give us a tutorial on our other appliances. “What’s going on? Is my machine on the blink?”

Jim shook his head. “I’m not sure,” he said. “This is one of those new water-senser models. It does sound a little strange. I may need to call the company.”

My heart sank as I opened the lid and stared at my dirty clothes, now damp and all twisted together in a wad on one side of the tub. “Well, maybe one of the other women in the villas could tell us if it’s acting normal or not,” I said.

Jim’s face brightened. “Good idea. I know just the person to ask. I’ll see if she can come down, and you can tell her what it’s doing. After that, I’ll know if I need to call the company or not.”

After lunch, the doorbell rang, and I met our friendly neighbor, Nettie Craig, who lives in Villa 339. I thanked her for coming and explained my predicament.

“Honey, I know just how you feel! I felt the same way the first time I ever used these crazy machines. But I’ve learned not to worry. They do clean your clothes.”

She explained how the washer first senses the amount of clothing in the tub and determines how much water to use. “I’ve learned just to set my washer, press Start, then go out and shut the door. It can make all the racket it wants to, and even if the load gets off kilter, I don’t care. It can bounce all around the room if it wants to!” She laughed, and I did too.

We had a great visit, learning a little more about each other, and that was fun.

Since then, I’ve washed a number of other loads, and I’ve heeded Nettie’s advice. I simply set the controls, throw in my powder and clothes, press Start, and leave the room. My new wacky washer does its thing, and I’m happy as a clam.

One of our biggest chores as we prepare to move has been going through all the “stuff” we’ve stored for the past 14 years. We brought lots of memorabilia with us from Mississippi to Arkansas, and most of it has stayed packed in boxes in the attic the whole time we’ve been here. Now, it’s time to pitch it!

This morning, my agile 84-year-old husband climbed the pull-down ladder in our garage and began handing me down various items. Fortunately, some were only empty moving boxes, stored for a future move. But one heavy box had to be unpacked before we could examine it.

Inside, were dirty, moldy high school yearbooks from my teenage years back during the fifties. I do still have the annual from my senior year that I’d kept on one of our bookshelves inside the house, and I’m glad I have it. But these others will have to go!

Another box upstairs contained multiple plaques and framed family photos. The plaques were wonderful to receive at the times they were presented to us—some for achievements in our careers, some for our years of service on various nonprofit boards and in church-related activities. But those, too, will need to go. There’s no room in our new place for these old plaques, and there’s no need to tote them to Tennessee just to sit in another box in our new attic.

However, we will give the framed family photos to our kids. They are fun to look at and to remember how we lived back in the sixties and seventies. My large bouffant hairdo and Robin’s dark, horn-rimmed glasses reveal the styles we once thought so elegant. And even our children’s thick, heavy bangs look dated.

I guess it’s good for all of us to realize that sooner or later even today’s more flattering hairstyles and comfortable clothing will someday get big laughs as well.

Transition Time

Last month, Robin and I decided the time had finally come for us to move from our “paradise home” here in Hot Springs Village, Arkansas, to a new home in Franklin, Tennessee. We’ve been here 14 years, and they have been great retirement years, full of fun and service activities with many friends who have settled here from all over the country. But now we need to begin a new chapter in our lives.

Robin’s heart issues are resolved now—he’s no longer having the spasms with fluttery stomach sensations and light-headedness. His recent stents and pace maker, along with a daily medication, seem to have alleviated those problems.

However, he continues to experience memory loss. So far, it’s mostly vacations and activities from the past that he cannot remember. He still functions fairly well in his daily tasks, so while we are both healthy and able to make decisions and work together, we have embarked on the monumental tasks of sorting through, cleaning out, donating, and selling items we don’t need to take with us to our new place.

At the end of August, we made a commitment to rent a “villa” (townhome) on a transitional senior living campus called The Fountains of Franklin. We plan to live independently in our villa for a number of years, but we’ll have access to assisted living and memory care when we need it. Here is a photo of our new home at 347 Celebration Circle, Franklin, TN 37067

Two of our children, Steve and Sharon, live in Franklin, and our other son, Marty, lives only about three hours away in Maryville, TN, just south of Knoxville. It’ll be great to be closer to all of them and their families.

Moving is always traumatic, and the future is always uncertain. However, we have already sold our home here in the Village, and if all goes well, we’ll be closing on the sale and moving on October 20.  That’s exciting!

Stay tuned, my dear readers. This “Southern Story Lady” will soon be sending you her tales from the great state of Tennessee! Much love to all of you!