Today I had lunch with Hugh. As the menu demonstrates we chose to eat at Hooters (the Hwy 49 location). I really like Hooters' cobb salad but the salad I had today left much to be desired. However, we had a cute, blonde, perky waitress with adequate "hooters" or is it "hoots?" To his credit, Hugh behaved like a complete gentleman.

But, as this picture illustrates, Hugh enjoyed lunch much more than I did. One of the many reasons it's great to be back!

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Home for Christmas

Christmas for some, "is the most wonderful time of the year." Others equate Christmas as a time to spend with family and friends. Some celebrate the holiday in traditional ways, i.e. opening gifts, preparing and enjoying a large meal followed by movie viewing or game playing.
Others prefer to totally relax during the holiday, avoiding the stress of holiday shopping and gift giving like an unwelcome illness by booking trips to tropical climes to escape the commercialism that Christmas has become.
Christmas, for me, has become a time to endure. A day, I honestly, dread because I don't know how to celebrate the holiday anymore. Things are different now and I can't seem to recognize the holiday in a way I feel comfortable with. In a way that will leave me feeling warm inside, instead of empty and depressed.
Last year I tried to celebrate in a more traditional way with family, gifts and a large dinner. Instead of feeling happy and content the holiday ended in frustration and sadness.
This year, I am trying to approach the holiday through service.
As an alternative to laying around on Christmas day, which always bores the hell out of me, Dad and I are scheduled to play Bingo tomorrow at the Kenwood nursing home. We'll see how that goes.
In the days leading up to Christmas, Dad and I have occupied our time with errands and housework. One thing we accomplished was applying a veneer to my bedroom doors. Now all I need is an antique handle and a sturdy lock.
I have to admit when Dad described the doors to me, prior to my seeing them, I was a little nervous. But as you can see the doors are perfect. I absolutely love them! My Dad has excellent taste when it comes to certain things like women, jewelry and, as it turns out, doors.
Each time I come home, the house looks different, a living organism that continues to evolve in new and exciting ways. I am grateful to have a space of my own to help create and decorate. A room I hope will house many happy memories in future days.
I also hope 2010 will be the year I rescue my belongings from storage and find a place to "put down roots." No matter where that will be, or how I decide to celebrate future holidays, it's nice to know I have a place where I can always come home for Christmas.

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Field Photos 12.16.2009

Mandy and I noticed this bar while we were working on Wednesday in Kiln also known as "the Kill," Mississippi. After seeing "The Broke Spoke" I can't imagine how this backwoods Mississippi town got its nickname.
Ever wondered where the world's largest rocking chair is located? Lucky for us, Mandy and I discovered it on Wednesday while driving Harrison County. If you were looking for an excuse to visit Mississippi, search no further. Seeing the world's largest rocker is something you shouldn't miss.

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Field Photo 12.10.09

Photo courtesy M. Richardson
Meg and I spotted this today while surveying. It made us laugh. Hope you enjoy it too.

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Field Photo 12.04.09

This afternoon Meg, Hugh and I completed our survey of Joe Avenue, which is a small enclave of bungalows located behind the Wayne Lee supermarket in Pascagoula.
I have noticed bungalows, located on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, predominately have three roof types: hip, side-gable and front-gable. Jerkinhead roofs are rare on any house or building type along the Gulf Coast, it seems, so we were pleasantly surprised by this house which has an intersecting jerkinhead and side-gable roof with a smaller projecting jerkinhead roof on the main facade. Jerkinheads are also referred to as clipped gables because it looks like the point of the gable has been clipped creating an unfinished look.
Meg, a new member of our team, and I were having a discussion about architectural elements that "turn us on." I confided that houses with three or more dormers, "turn me on." I don't know why but I LOVE dormers. In fact, each time Mandy sees a house with dormers she says, "looks there's Amber's house."
I then asked Meg if there was an architectural element that particularly excited her. She responded, "jerkinhead roofs." It only took us a few seconds to identify the double entendre. Sharing our epiphany with Amanda all she could say was, "Amber you're always a little slow on the uptake." This time, however, I wasn't the only one. Just one of the many reasons why I am so happy Meg has joined our team.

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Field Photo 12.03.09

This baby girl rounded the corner just as Meg and I were surveying our second house of the morning. As soon as I saw her bounding toward me I knelt down, threw my arms open and welcomed the shower of licks this little one offered. I have no idea what her name is so I called her Hershey Kiss or sometimes just Kisses. Afraid she would wander into the street Meg and I tried to keep her occupied which was not easy. Surveying requires two hands and a good measure of concentration, neither of which were possible with this sweet thing biting our pant legs and pulling at our jacket sleeves. I have several small holes in my RL sweatpants as a reminder of our time together.
She stayed with us until it was time for us to break for lunch. Afraid she would follow my car into the street, I ran her to a nearby home and asked the resident to distract her while we drove away.
Thinking she would be gone by the time we returned we were pleasantly surprised to find her waiting for us. The fun ended when a neighbor who knows the owner spyed her near my car. We gladly turned her over to a warm, safe home, relieved she would be safe from street traffic but regretful we couldn't play with her longer. Perhaps we'll see her again tomorrow.

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Field Photo 12.02.09

This afternoon as we were surveying Pascagoula Street we were approached by Mr. Daviddson a native son of Mississippi. Mr. Daviddson will be 90 in January and has been married to the love of his life, Annie, for 64 years. Mr. Daviddson spoke to us twice while we were surveying, praising his wife each time for being an excellent manager, meaning she didn't "go on shopping sprees," a good cook and a skilled housekeeper.
In addition to being a charmer, he referred to Meg and I as "Suga", "Darling" and "Sweetheart" repeatedly, he had a Southern accent that I could listen to forever.
Best wishes to Mr. Daviddson and his lovely bride Annie. May they defy the odds and enjoy many more years of wedded bliss together.

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Dear Mom

Tonight, as I was flipping through the channels, I noticed the CNN Heroes ceremony was on. I'm not sure if you knew this, I'm sure I never told you, but, Mom, you are one of my heroes. Not my one and only but definitely a hero.

I watched you devote your time and energy to care for invalids and the terminally ill with compassion and tenderness. I will never forget how you approached your patients with love and concern. I often teased that you cared more for them than for us, especially when we were sick, but honestly, as I watched you work bringing comfort to others, I could not have been more proud.

I know you hoped I would pursue a career in the medical profession but I just couldn't. I'm not as strong or as compassionate as you were. I feel so honored to have witnessed those intimate moments. Through your example, you set a standard I try to emulate in my own field. I am only sorry more people will not have the opportunity to see you in action.
You are my Mother, my friend, and forever my hero.

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During my forty years of service to my fellow citizens, whether in the military or working in disaster response and recovery, I have been blessed with the opportunity of working with and becoming friends with so many wonderful human beings. After working and sharing time with these extra-ordinary individuals my personal conclusion is these people are far more than a product of a good childhood or having great mentors.
I believe these individuals are born with a spirit that creates a strong need for helping others that defies description. I have seen this time after time during my career, but none more than a group of individuals from FEMA Region on IV who always stood ready and answered the call regardless of the time, day or night. These individuals would drop whatever they were doing and immediately travel, by whatever means necessary, (often at night ), to be on site the following day and prepared to conduct Joint Damage Assessments with State and Local first responders. They never hesitated to respond to the call to serve. They also made significant contributions during FEMA recovery and temporary housing missions. Most of these individuals had a long career of service to helping others before coming to FEMA. Many had retired but the strong need to help others was still there.
Former and current members of the FEMA family have made many sacrifices in responding to the needs of our fellow citizens' call for help. However, we all can identify some unique co- workers that stand above the crowd. I like to think of them as thoroughbreds, always answering the call, regardless how tired they may have been. There are a large number of these thoroughbreds within our FEMA family.
Today, I would like to express my personal appreciation and gratitude to some dear friends and special individuals who have spent a lifetime of service to their fellow citizens. These individuals are Jack McLeod, Walter Davis and Gene Pope.
Walter Davis and Gene Pope were retired firefighters before joining the FEMA family.
Jack McLeod retired from serving his fellow citizens of the State of Alabama. Just as you can’t stop a thoroughbred's desire to run, you could not stop these individuals' desire to serve their fellow citizens. These gentlemen are three of my favorite Thoroughbreds.
May God bless all my FEMA family during this holiday season. May God bless and protect our troops and this wonderful country that we live in.
Love to All-
Don Kidd

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Field Photos 11.18.09

Wednesday, November 18th we returned to Willow Street in Pascagoula to survey. Unlike many areas along the Mississippi Gulf Coast, Pascagoula continues to retain many of the large oak trees that were present prior to Hurricane Katrina. The Spanish Moss, characteristic of oak trees that grow in the South, hangs abundantly from the trees' branches, creating a sense of mystery and romance on this small suburban street.
Amanda explained that the roots of this oak created a "fairy seat." Thinking this was a great photo opportunity we decided to document the moment.
This sign was posted on the exterior of a home individually listed in The National Register of Historic Places (NRHP). Allow me to identify, just in case it isn't clear, the discrepancies between my description and the sign. First, it's the National REGISTER not Registry. Second, it's HISTORIC, meaning the "AL" is unnecessary. Third, multiple building types are listed in the National Register. The Register is not limited to homes. For that reason, it is referred to as the National Register of Historic PLACES.
As Amanda points out, the locals often substitute locally devised lingo for actual terminology. This is an excellent example of such behavior.

Prior to breaking for lunch we surveyed a beautiful historic residence. Although we analyze and document structures everyday it is rare we are able to see the structures' interiors. Whenever we are invited inside we eagerly accept. Seeing the interior of a structure enables us to understand the building plan and the possible evolution of alterations over time. Entering the antique store, one of the first things I noticed was this bed. Custom designed for a woman in New Orleans, the bed remained in her family until she passed away. Her son sold the bed to the antique store and they are willing to part with it for a mere 10K.
The bed of my dreams, a dear, sweet, loving friend of mine pointed out, will continue to remain so, at that price. If only...
The owner assured me they had a great lay-away program. The only problem is by the time I pay for the bed I will be so old I will only be able to sleep in it a few times before...well... you know. A girl can always dream. Looks like this girl will be dreaming in any bed but the one pictured here.

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A Non-Vocal Serenade..

but sincere just the same.

"Yes, it's true (yes, it's true) I am happy to be stuck with you,
Yes, it's true (yes, it's true) I'm so happy to be stuck with you,
'Cause I can see, (I can see) that you're happy to be stuck with me."

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Field Photo of the Day

As an architectural historian I have the privilege of working outdoors a lot! Not only is it a nice break from the office but it provides many opportunities to explore areas and communities I would not become familiar with otherwise. In an effort to document my time in Biloxi I have decided to post a photo of something interesting we see during our survey each day. After discussing my idea with Amanda and Hugh they agreed to help me identify interesting images to share on this blog.
Our current survey area is located in Pascagoula, Mississippi. Since we work outdoors our work schedule is often determined by the weather. We have been fortunate to have a pretty dry and mild Fall, enabling us to work in the field a lot lately. Today while surveying a home on Lake Avenue Amanda pointed out the banana tree pictured above. It is located on Grove Street, which I failed to notice the previous Friday when we surveyed the area. The tree's fruit I am accustomed to seeing but I have never, until today, noticed the flowers a banana tree produces. Not only are they lovely but a welcome surprise to someone, like me, who is unfamiliar with the foliage common to the Coast.

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Typically I'm anit-Oprah. Not for any real reason, I just don't dig her style. However, last week at work I was really bored one night and I cam across this article...

in this magazine...

I'm on this 'budget' kick still, having not worked for the last year, and the last time I got my hair colored the total tab (cut and color) was $230. I will admit that when I paid that much I got color I loved, worked for my face and a great cut. It was just too painful to pay on a regular basis. The trade off (discount service providers) has never proven to be a good idea for me. The time I last used a cheap colorist I left with big, white chunks in my dark brown hair. Not good. Not good at all.

Since I have four days off and lots of laundry to do, I decided to give this a shot. Turns out, I think I've found my forever solution!

Here are pictures of the results:

I'm thinking my roots are still a little darker than I'd like compared to the rest of my hair. Next time I'll give them a bit more processing time on their own.

What did I use? 2 L'Oreal kits: (1) lightest auburn and (1) intense red. I did choose to follow the instructions in the article for adding my own highlights (which is the point of the thrid picture) and for that I used Clairol HairPainting Kit for blond/med brown.

The highlights were kind of a pain (you color the rest, rinse, dry and then do those) but I don't think I'd go w/o them. The color would be too flat.

I will say I wasted a TON of product. I used maybe a 16th of the highlighting product and about 1/4 of the dye. That was disturbing to me. But overall, I'm happy with the results. It's kind of worth buying the magazine for, though I hate to admit it. The tips are great!

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'Nana Oat Bread

In an effort to loose weight I joined Weight Watchers on Thursday, October 8th. My meetings are every Thursday evening. It seems many people are familiar with the Weight Watcher system. Although this is my first time attending as an adult, I remember attending meetings with my Mother as a little girl.
Before each meeting begins, the members are encouraged to "weigh-in." My first weigh-in was last Thursday, the 15th. Losing between .5 to 2 pounds a week is considered healthy weight loss. I am happy/disappointed to report my first week I lost .6 pounds. My leader suggested I eat more lean protein.
It's my understanding there are several programs within Weight Watchers. I opted for the point system. Based on my current weight and height I am allowed 21 points a day. Initially, I thought this would be impossible but I've found it is more challenging to eat "green/filling" foods that will fulfill my point requirements daily than it is to limit myself to 21 points. Believe me, 21 points may not seem like a lot of food but it is.
I love to bake and recently made a goal to try a new recipe each weekend. When I joined Weight Watchers I wasn't sure how I was going to reach my domestic goal while trying to meet my weight loss goal. Imagine my surprise when I discovered the Internet is inundated with many Weight Watcher friendly recipes that include the number of points each serving equals.
So, in an effort to make healthier food choices I have been researching these Weight Watcher recipes online. I found a 4 point Banana Oat Bread recipe at
I took a photo for those interested in seeing the finished product. I rarely will try a recipe if a photo is not included.
Weight Watchers Oatmeal Banana Bread Recipe
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unpacked brown sugar
1/2 tsp table salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp allspice
3 tsp canola oil
1 large egg, beaten
2 medium egg whites, beaten
3 large bananas, ripe
1 cup uncooked old fashioned oats
Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large bowl, stir together dry ingredients. Add oil and eggs; mix thoroughly.In a smaller bowl, mash bananas with a potato masher or fork. Add bananas and oatmeal to batter.Spray a loaf pan with cooking spray. Pour batter into pan and bake until top of loaf is firm to touch, 45 to 55 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool in pan for 5 minutes. Flip out and cool on a wire rack for another 10 minutes. Slice loaf into 10 equally sized slices.
Serving size= 1 slice
Each serving = 4 Weight Watchers Points

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All I Want for Christmas is...

Dad, I know you want one too!

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Chippendales & Chipmunks

Dad: "I'm going tease your Aunt Linda and Aunt Lois about spending all their money in Beckley."
Me: "It's OK if they want to spend their money."
Dad: "I gonna tell them I know why they went over spend all their money on the Chipmunks."
Me: "Dad, why would they spend their money on seeing the Chipmunks?"
Dad: "You know...that group of guys that have bow ties and no shirts?"
Me: "Yes...Dad, those are the Chippendales."
Dad: "Chippendales...Chipmunks...Same difference."

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Happy Birthday Daddy!

Happy 61st Birthday Daddy! I hope you have an excellent day and a fantastic year. I love you and hope we will be together to celebrate many more of your birthdays.

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An ode to my BFF's hair.

Dear blond locks,

You're so sad now, laying there in that bag. I remember seeing you blow in the wind as we walked along The Mall. I've seen you twisted around a curling iron during more conversations than I can count. Sometimes, at the end of the night, I would find a straggler or two of you in my car. Yes, I remember these good times. But, all good things must come to an end. And, in the end, brunettes rule. So, darling tresses, I'm sad to see you go but I'm sorry to say that I'm stoked for the new era. Perchance we'll meet again, perchance not. Either way, remember I loved you.

Until the next time,


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One Small Victory

I have decided by the end of 2009 I will not only eat, but enjoy, cucumbers and red tomatoes. I have already accomplished the former and I am determined to achieve the latter.
Earlier this month, I tried a cucumber Dad and I picked from our garden and guess what?!
I didn't gag. I didn't foam at the mouth. Instead I really liked it.
Who knew this green, watery thing shaped like a hot dog could be so refreshing? I know it's silly but I am really excited about my progress. One small victory in a battle to develop a more mature pallet.
Gone are the days of gawking at platters of cucumber sandwiches, thinking hopelessly, "I wish I liked cucumbers. Those look really good."
No more passing cucumber slices to friends or relatives at dinner or picking through salads to remove tiny cucumber slices, once abhorred.
It's official! I like cucumbers!

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Cash for Clunkers

My Dad, at this very moment, is enjoying the benefits of the Cash for Clunkers program. My entire life, I can not remember my Father ever owning a brand new car. For the past thirty-one years, at least, he has driven used automobiles. That all ends today when he drives a 2009 Sandy Beach Metallic Toyota Camry, similar to the one pictured here, off the lot.
Congratulations Daddy! I can't wait to see you in it.

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One More Reason...

I love Maya Angelou. I discovered this in Barnes and Noble two weeks ago. It made my heart sigh.


Your hands easy
weight, teasing the bees
hived in my hair, your smile at the
slope of my cheek. On the occasion,
you press
above me, glowing, spouting
readiness, mystery rapes
my reason
When you have withdrawn
your self and the magic, when
only the smell of your
love lingers between
my breasts, then, only
then, can I greedily consume
your presence.

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Dear Mom

I'm honestly not sure where to begin. I know it's been some time since my last letter. Under normal circumstances I would express something trite like, "I apologize for the delayed response," but in my situation apologizing for failing to write seems ludicrous, at best, and I am not responding to anything because you are not here to send or say anything to me.
This afternoon I boarded a plane and returned to Biloxi. Until this morning, I had been staying with Dad. It wasn't a long visit, only a little over a week, but not matter how long I decide to stay it's never easy coming home to an empty condo. Phone calls from friends and family help cushion the blow but after all the conversations have concluded the aloneness comes. There's no avoiding the inevitable.
Tonight I decided to treat myself to a steak burrito at El Satillo's, a local Mexican joint that is usually excellent. To feel better about eating alone, I brought along Barbara Kingslover's Animal Dreams. I am trying to finish it so I can read The Time Traveler's Wife before the movie release next Friday. I have been meaning to read it for some time, but life got in the way, I guess.
I'm not sure if you read Animal Dreams, something tells me you did. It's amazing how details like this have escaped me. Even after seventeen months they continue to elude me and it's not limited to your interests or personality traits. When I close my eyes and try to focus on imagining you I can't. I can't see your face; your eyes, nose, mouth, smile. All I can see is your hair even when you're facing me. It's like trying to piece together a jigsaw puzzle in my brain but the pieces are missing; they've been stolen and there's nothing I can do about it.
You always joked that people only liked your hair anyway, but that's not true. People loved you. I loved you and still do. I can't understand why you never believed that. No matter how many times I tried to show you or tell you, it was never enough. And yet, that's all I can see, your hair.
Animal Dreams, as you may remember, is about a woman named Codi, who lost her mother as a child, a baby at fifteen and her only sister and sibling in her thirties. Although her relationship with her sister, Hallie, is touching, I was most affected by Codi's reaction to her sister's kidnapping and subsequent murder.
On her way to Tuscon to retrieve a letter, Codi confides to Loyd that she doesn't believe her sister, kidnapped by Contras, would allow herself to be bound, blindfolded and shot in the head. "Hallie isn't dead. This is a dream," Codi proclaims, as if denying the truth had the power to actually alter reality.
Looking back at the seconds...minutes...hours...days...months following your passing I was tempted to do the same. We live with someone our entire them...confide in them and they in us, but after they're gone we realize we really didn't know them at all.
And for the past seventeen months this realization has even affected my relationship with God. For years I've tried to learn of Him, follow the promptings of the Holy Ghost, trust in Him. I even thought I had a sound understanding of who God was and how He felt about me...but since losing you, that's changed. I realize now that I really don't know much of anything. God doesn't need to explain Himself to me. He doesn't have to bless me or answer my prayers. He doesn't HAVE to DO ANYTHING. He's already done Everything. I just need to accept and move on. This, I assure you, is not easy. However, I know what you would say to me if you were here, "Sissy, you are going to have to get over this. You can't live like this," but the reality is you aren't here to chide me and nothing I can do, good or bad, can bring you back. NOTHING.
So tonight I'm doing exactly what I shouldn't be doing; wallowing in my own sorrow. Wearing my grief like a designer label or a badge of some sort. It wouldn't be honor, shame perhaps? Shame I didn't do more. Shame that I failed you in so many ways.
Despite this, God continues to introduce people in my life for me to love, knowing I will probably take them for granted, and possibly hurt them too; two things I never want to be guilty of again.
Sometimes I feel like my life is held together by clothes pins. That any moment whatever is left will disappear, leaving me with absolutely nothing; nothing to give and nothing to receive it with. The world's only living heart donor, except mine wasn't given to another, it was broken and nothing can fix it. I will never be the same, ever.
The rain has finally come. I was hoping when I left Kentucky I would leave the rain behind. Guess I was wrong. No matter. I'm used to it. I'm often wrong about a lot of things.
I'm so sorry if I was ever wrong about you.
Love you forever-

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In Our Garden...

there are bright, red peppers dangling from their vines...
green tomatoes ripening in the sun...
green beans ready for picking and breaking...
butterflies dancing from flower...
to flower...
lady bugs crawling from one leaf to another...
corn growing big and tall...
and a Scarecrow who watches over it all.

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the weather permits, I plan to spend the next week, minus the time I spend at Grandma's, romping around on the Cat Farm.
Prior to my arrival, Dad stocked up on catfish food. Since my last visit, Dad has "trained" the catfish to swim to the banks of the pond for their food. Since he told me about it, weeks ago, I have been dying to witness it.
In the evenings I often visit my favorite spots, usually on the hilltops, where I can sit and think, plucking and shredding blades of grass as thoughts enter and exit my consciousness. When I was in high school this hilltop was my favorite.
There's a small fish pond surrounded by a stand of trees. An oak tree stands at the head of the pond, it's branches providing the perfect canopy of shade on a sunny afternoon. I like this spot so much we buried Jordan, our Golden Retriever, there . I also like the view it provides of the farmhouse.
During my last stay, I ventured to the opposite side of the farm. Dad prefers the view from this hilltop which is located behind the farmhouse. In May, I discovered two wild turkeys roaming around on this hillside. When I tried to approach them they "flew" or soared out of reach. Afterward, I likened the turkeys to my goals; whenever I get close they seem to move just beyond my reach and yet, I still find myself running, sometimes blindly with arms flailing, to reach them. I'm sure I'm not the only one who feels this way.
For now, I'm happy to be back on the Cat Farm with nothing to do but adore the cats, work in the garden, roam the hills and feed the catfish.

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If Only It Could Fly...

Over virgin strawberry daiquiris Amanda invited me to attend her family's cookout in St. Rose, Louisiana in celebration of the Fourth. At first I wasn't sure if I should accept or reject her generous invitation. I worked Friday, one of two souls in the entire office, and I am still trying to catch-up on much needed sleep.
My sleep deprivation began three-weeks ago with Scrapin' the Coast and has continued for various reasons since. Allow me to explain Scrapin' the Coast.
The Gulf Coast is often referred to as "The Redneck Riveria," and Scrapin' the Coast is one of the many reasons behind the name. Imagine, if you can, because believe me it's not pleasant, thousands of young men descending on one strip of highway, parking cars along the street, playing loud music, bass booming, lyrics unintelligible...Next imagine other men dragging the highway, stopping at traffic lights to squeal their tires so spectators, resembling contemporary cavemen, can hollar and blare fog horns.
Now imagine young women, who should find this behaviour repulsive, dressed scantily, swingin' around stripper poles, said cavemen have mounted in their truck beds. Sound like fun to you?
Now imagine, sweet Amber lying in her princess bed trying to sleep. What kind of thoughts do you think were running through sweet Amber's head? If you were thinking unkind, naughty thoughts involving rocket launchers and bull horns you would be correct.
This event had such an impression on me, I currently equate it with sleep deprivation, which is surprisingly a popular topic of conversation.
Imagine my surprise when Amanda's family members bragged about her cousin Adam's fortune of placing 1st at Scrapin' the Coast. Imagine the difficulty Amber experienced trying to express her congratulations to Adam who also owns a truck with E.T. painted on the hood and the truck bed.
Imagine how difficult it was for Amber to suppress her laughter and colorful commentary regarding "Grandpaw's Heartbeat E.T. II" displayed on the tail-gate of the truck.
If there's an E.T. II that implies there's an E.T. I, right? How can this be? How is it possible there are two E.T. trucks on this planet? Maybe the other exists on a planet far outside earth's orbit? I don't know.
If this is "Grandpaw's Heartbeat" does that mean E.T. I is "Grandmaw's?" Adam is not the original owner of E.T. II. Did the previous owner relinquish their ownership because something happened to Grandpaw? I don't know if these questions will ever be answered.
After "admiring" the truck's impressive paint job, the only thing I could manage to offer in all seriousness was, "if only it could fly."

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Thirty-One is Tons of Fun!

Wednesday I turned thirty-one. Hooray! I walked into work and found this surprise waiting for me on my desk. It's a yellow cake with chocolate-chip frosting. The Diamondhead symbol is the red design in the top-left corner.

Diamondhead is a planned community that began in the Eighties attracting NASA scientists working at Stennis Space Center. It's located in Hancock County, Mississippi and was the first area Amanda, Hugh and I surveyed.

Amanda and I LOVE DIAMONDHEAD; from the Polynesian-inspired architecture to the cool font on the water tower to the Playboy bunny stained glass window. Diamondhead is truly amazing!

In addition to my beautiful cake, Lisa, decorated my cubicle with streamers, confetti and tinsel. It was beautiful! I included this photo so my friends can see what my office area looks like. I am not permitted to bring visitors into the office and Stephanie has mentioned she would like to see where I work. Not impressive but I like it!
I asked Amanda to take a photo with the cake because everyone should know the genius behind this masterpiece. Thanks Amanda!

The workday kept getting better with lunch at Fergenes Pizza and flowers from Stephanie and Dad.

I will post more photos later. Just wanted to say thanks to all my friends and family for making my thirty-first birthday so wonderful!

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A Man I Love and Will Miss Dearly...

Tonight my Daddy called to tell me that my Uncle Flavous had passed away. My great-Aunt June, who is mentioned below, called with the news while my Dad was visiting my Grandma Kidd. I had hoped I would be able to visit Flavous one more time before he left us.

I HATE death. I HATE it so much! Why is everyone in my family, especially on my Mother's side, dying? The only people I have left who were connected to my Mother, by blood, are departing this life and there is absolutely nothing I can do about. Do you know how frustrating that is? Do you know how terrifying that is? Do you know how angry, sad and helpless that make me feel? I just wish I had more time but it seems like there is never enough. I wish my Mom would have taken us to more family reunions while we were kids. I wish we had lived closer to family and spent more time with our loved ones. I HATE that I never had/took the opportunity to tell Flavous how much I loved him and how grateful I am for his example of personal sacrifice, love of family and love of country. There is nothing he wouldn't do for his family or his country and everyone who knew Flavous understood that.

Flavous took our entire family to see Dionne Warwick in concert when I was five. He organized and executed every family reunion we had and he bought me Pammy Panda, which I still have and love. We often stayed with Flavous during family reunions and attended Labor Day parades where he was often recognized as a pillar of the community.

I am so sorry I did not know and could not be there to pay my respects to a man I truly honored. Wherever his soul resides I hope he is surrounded by loved ones who preceded him in death, my Mom especially, and his body has been restored to a perfect state.

His obituary from Northwest Tennessee Today

"Flavous P. “Paul” Elliott, 72, of Paducah, Ky., died June 24, 2009, (because everything significant in my life occurs on the 4th and 24th of the month) at Lourdes Hospital in Paducah.

His sister-in-law is June Elliott of South Fulton, TN. Graveside services will be 1 p.m. Saturday at Clark Cemetery (our family cemetery and where we will eventually inter my Mom) near Fulton, TN. Friends may call at Hornbeak Funeral Home in Fulton from 11 a.m. until time to go to the cemetery.

He was born February 20, 1937, in Hickman County, KY, son of the late Marvin H. and Alta Mae (Clark) Elliott. He was a decorated U.S. Army veteran of the Korean War and Vietnam Conflict and was a Disabled American Veterans service officer for many years. He was a member of American Legion Post 31 and Veterans of Foreign Wars and of Lone Oak (KY) First Baptist Church.

Survivors also include his daughter and son-in-law, Julie and Tony Peck of Paducah; two grandchildren, Tiffany Peck and Lezley Peck (who, sadly, I have never met), both of Paducah; and his sister, Doris Owens of Stone Mountain, GA.He was also preceded in death by four brothers, M.G. Elliott, Freeman Elliott, Reed Elliott (my Grandpa) and Norman Elliott."

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Cat Farm-Cat Farm! Life on the Cat Farm!

Unless you are a cat lover, life on the Cat Farm may not seem all that appealing, but, let me assure you, with Mary, Zu, Bart and Arnie around, there is never a dull moment.
The girls are great company. They are avid listeners and love to help.
A few days ago, Zu heard Dad mention he forgot to buy fertilizer for the garden. So what did she do? She strolled right over and personally fertilized the tomato plant. Unfortunately, she didn't get the response, I'm sure she was looking for, from Dad. I tried to persuade Dad Zu was just trying to help but when she pissed on the seed packets two days later, I believe Dad felt vindicated. That Zu!
Bart and Arnie are like feline Wonders of the World. I have never seen two cats more devoted to one another. They consistently weave their bodies around each other in this beautiful, fluid motion. Their behavior reminds me of Paolo and Francesca in Dante's Divine Comedy. Instead of lovers, Bart and Arnie are sisters, trapped in this completely dependent relationship that's totally reciprocal. Dad thinks their behavior is a defense mechanism against predators like coyotes or dogs but I'm not certain I buy that. The coyotes have migrated to another area, for now, and there aren't really any dogs around either. I prefer to believe they are just special cats and we are lucky to have them with us. Dad does not appreciate cats the way I do and believes Bart and Arnie would be better off living elsewhere. If I get my way, Bart and Arnie will be a permanent fixture on the Cat Farm.
Life on the Cat Farm is not all work and no play. Zu and Mary love to join me for a nice afternoon on the deck where we stretch out and lie in the sun.
Zu loves to play hide and seek. She does this by sneaking under my beach towel whenever I'm not around. When I return and see a lump under my towel I call out, "Where's Zu?" Zu always waits a few seconds before peaking her head out from under the towel. I am going to miss that.
Mary Bear is still the model cat; skinny and elegant. She quietly struts around the place imposing her will subtly on anyone in her path. This month Mary and ZuZu celebrated their tenth (in human years) birthday. I can't believe they have been with us a decade. It seems like yesterday we were cuddling them in our hands, waiting for them to open their eyes. I hope they are with us for ten more. The Cat Farm would not be the same without them.

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