I hope you enjoy my blog...if you do, please "follow" me! XOXOXO...BettyShmetty

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Back home! SALE!...25% off at BettyShmetty on Etsy

Hey everyone!  I am back home and ready to get to work on all the new (old) stuff I will be adding to my store.  As an incentive to sell some of the things already there, I am offering 25% off of everything in my store.  Simply click here to go see the store and at checkout, enter the coupon code BETTYSHMETTY25OFF to receive your discount.  I'll be putting the new stuff on in the next few days or so.  I have some work to do on some of the items and will get them listed as soon as possible.

In the meantime, thanks for shopping at my store!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Road Trip Journal Day 11...Luke, I AM your father...

Remember that line from Star Wars?  Well, I like the one from Toy Story even better, so here's the link to the clip...pretty funny parody of the Star Wars version!   I can relate to that whole line/scene because I have never known who my biological father is.

From the time I was a little girl, my mom has told me several different versions of the "father story."  I have asked her repeatedly, as an adult, to enlighten me on the situation and she refuses.  She tells me she can't remember, but I don't believe her.  She has, over the years, told me who my father was several times...first, he was my sister's father (remember Popeye in this story?)  Later, she told me he was Dudley DoRight (not his real name, but the one I used for the story above) and finally, she told me he was a married man who owned a car dealership in Jacksonville and that she hadn't told me the truth the first two times because my real father was married and she had been afraid I would try to contact him.  She said that the reason she was telling me the truth this time was because he had died and it was safe to tell me.  But the twist to the last version is that she can't remember what his name was.  Yeah, the married man she had an affair with and produced me...she couldn't remember the guy's name.  Um, would you believe her at this point?  I'm having a hard time believing anything she says to me.

For a time, because she had been so illusive in the whole matter, I actually thought that I had been kidnapped as a baby.  There were no infant photos of me, my mother wouldn't tell me who I was and, well, if you knew my mother, you would understand why I would think that.  I mean, aside from the fact that she hated kids (her words) she had a record of committing crimes (click here), I was nothing like her.  I don't resemble her physically and our personalities are and were worlds apart.  I just didn't think I belonged to her.  I later found out this wasn't the case...that she didn't kidnap me.

So, you say, that's all very interesting and a little pathetic, but what does it have to do with your road trip, Diana?  Well, just this...

Yesterday, I went to visit Dudley DoRight and the rest of the family in Nashville, TN.  As I mentioned in the story I linked to earlier in this post, I have had an ongoing (albeit sporadic) relationship with Dudley over the years.  When I was 9 years old, my mom took me in her room and told me that my sister's father was not my real father.  Up until that point, I had believed that Anna and I were full sisters, that Popeye was my father too.  Aparently, when he and my mom had gotten married because she was pregnant with Anna, my mom had urged him (and he had agreed) to adopt me so we would all have the same last name.  So I had no reason to think anything other than we were all one big happy family (well, not really one big happy family, but you get the idea.)

So that day, I found out that my sister was a half-sister and that my dad actually lived in Memphis, TN and that (surprise!) we were going to pack up all our stuff and go to Tennessee just so I could meet him! (and also, well, it was time to move on from the place we were living cause the rent was due so it all worked out perfectly!)

I was excited at the thought of meeting my "real" father since Anna's dad had been gone for years (first in the Viet Nam war and then because my mom had divorced him.)  So off we went to Tennessee.  When we arrived, Dudley welcomed us with open arms and lots of love.  He told me stories of my birth and made it clear that he loved me regardless of the fact that he was remarried and had other children with his new wife.  They let us stay in their home (yes, even my mom) until mom decided she would live in her own apartment and let us live with Dudley.

Anna and I lived with Dudley for a while.  We attended school and felt really normal.  Their home was beautiful and large and full of friends and family.  It was great!  And then mom decided it was time to leave (probably because Anna and I were so happy) and we just disappeared.  She didn't say a word to Dudley.  They didn't know what had happened to us.  We went to visit my mom at her apartment and then we were just gone.

Dudley told me yesterday that he and family and friends searched for us for months with no luck.  He never knew what happened to us until one day when I was in my 30's I tracked him down again.  I had been trying, as an adult (who happened to be a police detective at the time) for years to find out who my father was.  I was also trying to figure out whether my kidnapping theory was valid or not.   I felt like Dudley might have answers for me and tried to track him down in Memphis for a long time.  Eventually, I spoke to a sympathetic phone information clerk who listened to my story (cause I was frustrated and couldn't figure out how to find him and they needed a city because there was no listing in Memphis) and she suggested that we start looking for listings in major Tennessee cities.  After a couple of minutes, she said she had a couple of listings for the name in Nashville and she gave me the numbers.

I called the numbers and eventually, found the right one.  In fact, Dudley's wife had answered the phone that night and I quickly told her who I was and who I was looking for.  I got chills when she said, "Diana, we've been looking for you for so long!  Wait, here's Dudley, he'll be so glad!" and that's how we reconnected.  In the ensuing conversations, it seemed like Dudley wasn't my actual father, but he felt and acted like a real father.  He cleared up the kidnapping issue and gave me information about my birth.  He loved me.  So I decided to adopt him as my dad anyway.  I have operated as if he was my father and called him Daddy and my kids have called him Grandpa.  All from a distance because he still lives in Tennessee.

It has been many years since he drove down to Florida and visited us and saw the kids.  Yesterday, we had a mini reunion and got reacquainted.  During our time there, I was able to talk with him about the blog and read him some of my stories.  When I read him the story I linked above, he was adamant that Clyde is not my father and there is no chance of it at all.  In asking him how he was so sure, we worked on the timeline for conception and what was happening with regards to his relationship with my mom.  Long story shortened (cause I know this isn't short!) he thinks there is a chance he is my real father. 

Aside from the fact that I am 48 years old and have never KNOWN who my father is (and it would be huge to know!)  Well, actually, there IS no aside.  I want to know.  If there is a chance of finding out, I want to take the chance and find out.  So I suggested that we do a paternity test so we can KNOW.  He was concerned that if a test comes back negative, I won't want to have anything to do with him because then I will know for a fact and will move on in my search.  That is just not the case.  I am operating NOW on the assumption that he's NOT my real father and yet I call him Daddy and I love him as if he were my father.

So that's the news.  Dudley and I are doing a paternity test.  We followed instructions for a mail away test and I have the swabs in my car and am getting the package ready to mail off.  In less than 2 weeks, I may have an answer to the mystery.  I am being cautiously optimistic at this point.  There are so many similarities between me and Dudley that I think I'll be really surprised if he isn't my father, but I guess we'll see.  In the next week or two, I may acquire a father and two brothers and a sister in law I didn't know were mine.  MINE, not borrowed from someone else.  People who belong to me.  History.  Stories.  Family.  I can't help but be excited at the prospect.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Roadtrip Journal Day 10...Well, if you DO go home again, you might be a little disappointed...My trip to Turtletown,TN

You know the old saying, "You can't go home again?"  I don't really think it's true.  I think that lots of people go home again all the time.  They leave home to go to college, they take a job, they live, they love, they experience, and sometimes after all that, they go home again.  They may go home because they finished college and couldn't find a job or they loved and married and then divorced.  Whatever the reason, people DO go home all the time.  I guess the big thing about going home again is that things have usually changed by the time people get back.

I don't believe that "home" is necessarily the house you grew up in, to me, it's more the community that grew you or the people and surroundings that shaped you into the person you are.  Whatever you think home is, you can go there after you leave, you just might be disappointed when you get back.  I often feel as though I never really had a home growing up.  We moved around so much, no place ever had that feeling for me, except maybe for Turtletown, TN where we lived for one perfect summer with Mama Hickey in an old, leaky shack with an outhouse.

Today, I drove  to Turtletown with my oldest boy Lee.  Jack didn't want to go because he was afraid he would be bored.  I didn't try all that hard to convince him since I really didn't know what to expect.  Afterall, it has been 40 years since I left there.  It has been 40 years since I listened to the rain beating down on the tin roof of that shack we lived in.  40 years since I attended (for a short time) second grade at Turtletown School.  40 years since my mom bought me that plastic cowboys and indians set from Nicholson's General Store.  Yes, it's been 40 years since I panned for gold in the little creek on Blalock Mountain and 40 years since I had a little Pinto pony named Sonny for a whole summer.

I found the town easily enough with my directions from mapquest and we arrived in the vicinity in the pouring rain and lightening.  Funny how the perspective of size and location can change between the time you were a kid and an adult.  As I approached Turtletown, I was surprised to find myself driving through Copperhill and actually recognizing locations and streets.  I started having flashbacks to a friend of the family who lived in Copperhill and lived right in front of a cemetary on a hill directly above a street.  As a kid, when my mom or Mama Hickey visited that friend, my sister and I would be out the back door in a flash and into the cemetary to collect the soft little rocks that were everywhere and shined like sparkly coppery diamonds.  I don't know what the little stones were, but I suspect they contained copper.  As the name implies, Copperhill is a mining town where they mine copper.  I recognized the rugged, dirty hill surrounding the mine...it looked exactly the same.

I was so excited as I could point out locations that I recognized or had been to.  It made me feel a little grounded...as if I finally might have a real past to share with my son and not just a story.  It made me long for more.  As we approached Ducktown, I pointed to several other landmarks that were familiar and again, my excitement grew.  This was sort of like going home!  Maybe I have a history to show Lee!  We soon arrived in Turtletown and I spotted the school I once attended.  I couldn't believe it was still there.  It had clearly been abandonded for a long time, but it was there nonetheless. 

Moving on, I looked for the road to Mama Hickey's old house on Blalock Mountain.  I found it.  Turning down that road, I knew instantly I was in the right place...the terrain hadn't changed a bit.  There was a house with someone who was related to the family on the right exactly where I remembered it had been.  I had taken baths at that house from time to time because the shack where we lived that summer Mama Hickey was building her house had only one source of water and that was a hand pump in the kitchen sink.  To take baths there, we had to fill up a metal tub in the kitchen and boil water on the stove to add to the tub in order to have a warm bath.  Since that was a lot of work, we only did it a couple times a week.  The other days we went to this person's house and took a bath to wash our long hair.  I wish I remembered who those people were, but since it had been so long ago, I didn't stop to ask questions.

Driving past that house, I saw a couple of new roads had been added and I also noticed that the road we were on was now paved.  It used to be just rock and dirt.  At the second street, I decided to turn.  The street wasn't marked, but it seemed like the right place to turn.  As I drove down the road, I saw what I had hoped was there, the sign that said "Blalock Mountain," Mama Hickey's property!  I drove past the sign and there was the house, just like I knew it should be...well, almost.

Mama Hickey died maybe 10 years ago.  I guess in her absence, no one took care of the house and it looks it.  Peeking in the windows, I could see that some of her old furniture was still there, but most everything was gone.  I took a couple of quick photos in the rain and then we left.  Lee wanted to check a little further to see if anyone who knew me was around, but I guess I didn't want to intrude and really, didn't want more disappointment.  I'm not sure what I really expected.  I knew Mama Hickey was gone, I was just hoping something  or someone I knew was there to prove that I had once existed there.  Something to ground me, to say I was home.

When we were driving down the road, I hadn't been able to see the little stream where my sister and I had once panned for gold, so Lee and I really looked on our way out.  I eventually spotted it.  It had been paved over and now passed under the road through a tube.  We got out to investigate.  Because of the rain, the stream was running very fast and was very muddy...so much for panning for gold.  I could see Lee was disappointed, but he didn't complain.  I couldn't tell if he felt sorry for me or if he was just going with the flow but he smiled at me and we got back in the car.

We drove back to the main road and continued on into Turtletown to see if I could find the shack.  Just a little further down from Blalock Mountain, I pulled off to the side of the road because I saw a little driveway that looked familiar.  There was now a house on the property, but I am certain that I found the location of where the shack used to be.  Of course, the outhouse was gone too, but the lay of the property was still the same and I recognized it.  I took some photos and we drove on and soon I saw Nicholson's General Store.  It looked exactly the same from the outside! 

He asked me if I wanted to go into the store and see if anyone knew where any of the Hickeys were.  I told him that was a good idea and, so we parked and went inside.  When we walked in the door, I saw that it is now more of a hardware/feed store now.  There used to be every kind of merchandise inside the store...groceries, hardware, toys.  You name it, they had it.  I used to love going in there just to look.  That summer we lived in the shack, I had coveted a cowboy and indians set that came in a big plastic case that had a fort printed all around it.  After many weeks of wishing for it, my mom bought it for me.  One of the many things that made that summer so magical!

Anyway, Lee and I spoke to the guys in the store and I told them what we were doing there.  Of course, they all knew who Mama Hickey was and, in fact, one of the guys we were speaking to said he was related to the family in some way that I didn't really catch, however, none of them could tell me what had happened to the shack nor where anyone from the family is now.  We thanked them and left.

After all of that, we decided to go ahead and drive back to Georgia.  We realized that this trip wasn't quite as successful as we had hoped, but it had been interesting.  At least I had been able to find the locations.  It was unfortunate it was raining so hard and we weren't really able to explore like we would have liked.

I didn't really find what I was looking for.  What was that you ask?  Well, I guess I was looking for home, really.  That little mountain town was one of the very few places in my childhood where I felt like I belonged.  I guess since Mama Hickey was there and her family had owned that property for generations, just by association, I felt more grounded.  I did not have much of that feeling when I was little.  My mom was a drifter.  She also had been adopted into the family that raised her.  She has never come out and told me who my real father was.  She was married and divorced 8 times and we moved around a lot, often leaving in the middle of the night without being able to say goodbye to friends.  My sister and I never had a chance to belong within a family or community.  We never got to be part of something.  I never felt like I had roots.  All of those things are terribly important for me to give to my children because of that.  I just wanted to show them proof that I was here, wherever that was.  I had hoped that "here" was in Turtletown...actually, maybe it still is, but, as I said, it has all changed.

I don't think I am so much disappointed as I am sad.  I am sad that there weren't any roots for me to dig up with my son.  I'm sad that we didn't strike gold...the potential was there, we just didn't get lucky today.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Today's your birthday...

This is one of those birthdays, Babe.  The kind that makes you question everything you've done in your life so far...It's the kind of birthday that triggers new workout routines and stricter diets and promises of spending more quality time doing (fill in the blank here.)  I know this birthday is making you think. 

You are wondering if you have done enough, been enough, loved enough.  You are wondering if you have made the best of the life you were given, the life that so easily could not have happened if your dad hadn't tricked your mom...you know what I am talking about!

I want to tell you today that you have had a life that has value, you have left a mark.  The person I have known and loved for over 20 years has given and been enough.  Though there were things we both wish we could take back or do over, we, together, have created and built a life for our family that has meaning. 

You treat me with respect, kindness and love.   You are not perfect, but you have changed yourself or your thinking many times along the way when it has been needed to make your life better.  Your willingness to change is one of your most remarkable qualities...the one I have been most surprised about over the years. 

Today, I want you to know, you are a good man and you are enough...just the way you are.  Happy Birthday My Love.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Garden Blooms...Karin's Garden

Oh! Lady bloom!
You nearly make me swoon!

You're a saucy beauty that arrests
In various stages of dress.

Fresh and bright with color,
Or worn and tattered all over...

Plump with grains of pollen,
Or bent and nearly fallen...

Dripping nectar like a tart,
Or gone to seed and falling apart...

Lady bloom, you hypnotize me
Like you do the moth and bee.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Road Trip Journal Day 7...Fresh caught crawdads over an open fire...

Today was a lazy country day...I actually read a book...and took a nap.  That was a treat. 
Meanwhile, the kids decided to camp out in the woods.  They took their tent and some necessary tools; gigs, shovel, knives (of course!), fishing poles, bait, etc.  They set up their tent and found crawdads, which they plan on cooking over their fire later and eating (gross!)  Remember that old song "Let's go fishin in the crawdad hole?"  They were very busy...

It's 5 pm right now and they haven't come in for anything to eat since breakfast this morning.  I don't know how they do that and I don't know how they can stand the heat.  It's over 100* out there today...but maybe it's a little cooler in the shade of the trees. 

I'm a little concerned that they'll be awake all night.  They have no pads or mattresses to sleep on.  Kylee says she gives them till midnight and they'll come back to the house.  I don't know, they look pretty serious about this...

Friday, July 22, 2011

Road Trip Journal Day 6...Go jump off a cliff!

You know, you have to be careful sometimes what you say to your kids...

Yeah.  Today, we took our little act back on the road and went to Alabama!  We drove to a place called Little River Canyon which is carved through Lookout Mountain and jeez! that place is unbelieveably beautiful!  The first area we went to had a waterfall and was in, well, a canyon.  I know, right?  I'm a genius!  The river is pretty low right now, so we were able to walk over a bunch of the rocks and boulders to get to some shallow pools.  Here's a picture...

More boulders and rocks later, we reached this area which is actually behind the waterfall...the area where the water is flowing towards the fall.

Of course, the boys wasted no time getting into the fast-flowing water.  We moms got in too, but were a little more cautious on the slick rocks.   We spent some time sitting in the cool water and then decided to make our way down to the bottom of the canyon into the river bed below (it's mostly dry) in order to find some river glass.   Little did I know just how far down we had to go to get to the river bed...about 300 feet down.  Down a cliff.  With rock walls.  Not a path.  Look, here's what we climbed down..

Wait, this is only the beginning...there's more...

Did I mention that I was wearing flip flops?  No?  Well, I was.  Hey, I know it sounds stupid.  Of course, had I known I would be scaling walls and rocks and boulders, I would probably have worn my sneakers, but I didn't know that, so I wore my flip flops.  I am from Florida you know.  We don't have mountains and cliff walls there.

So we got to the bottom with only one injury, I scraped my knee on the wall coming down.  I was just glad I didn't break my neck!  The river bed was really cool and we found a lot of glass.  About 3 or 4 pounds for me with Jack scoring the coolest piece, the mouth of an old bottle with a TINY little opening...clearly old old old!  And after walking (make that scrambling over many giant and smaller boulders) for maybe a half hour, we arrived at the area at the bottom of the waterfall I showed you in the beginning of the post.  The kids jumped in the water and made their way over to this really neat and HUGE boulder sticking up at an angle in the water and started jumping off into the water.

After getting warmed up on this 12 foot drop, the boys were ready for bigger action and asked Cindy to take us to the Hippie Hole, which is where the big cliffs for jumping are.  Why is it called the Hippie Hole?  I have no idea.  Wait, let me go google it and I'll see if I can find out...I'm back, but I still don't know why.  There are hundreds of sites mentioning it as an awesome swimming hole with great jumping off places, but no explanation for the name.  On the way back through the dry river bed at the base of the canyon, we came across this little guy...

Actually, he wasn't that little, maybe 4 feet long.  Please take note of his position.  That's called a striking position.  He was originally crawling away from us and when the boys saw him, of course they wanted to catch him and play with him...and yes, I did say play. with a snake.  The snake didn't think it was a good idea either and after Jack grabbed him by the tail, he proceeded to get ready to bite him!  Now, the boys said, "Oh, he's only a King Snake and isn't poisonous."  Oh, well, in that case, I thought, by all means, please, go ahead and play with him!  NOT!  Boys!

And just to get the image of my children dying at the bottom of the canyon from poisonous snake bites or falling over the edge of the waterfall out of my mind, I took these happy flower photos...

And deep cleansing breath....ommmmm...yes, all better now...back in my happy place.  Where was I?  Oh yeah, we made our way back over to the wall we climbed down and then climbed back up.  I have to say, climbing back up was a little easier than climbing down and then it was back in the car for the 20 mile-twisty-turny-up-and-downy trip to Hippie Hole.  Did I mention I get really car sick when I am not the driver on said twisty-turny roads?  Well, I do and by the time we got to our destination, I was feeling a little queasy (as was Jack, what can I say, he's my boy) so the cure for that was more climbing of course!  And then we arrived here...

And the kids did this...

And this...

And this.

And then they did this...

And this too.

And amidst all this fun and adventure, I looked down and saw this...

And this...

Holy Mountain Goat, Batman!  I need a pedicure!  Stat!  What the hell am I doing out here climbing mountains in flip flops for cripes sakes...sheesh!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Road Trip Journal Day 5...Homemade frog gigs, dead snakes and filthy boys...

Today is day 5 of our road trip.  It's not exactly a road trip at this point, it's more of a rest stop.  Over the last couple of days, the kids and I have been easing into a slower pace.  If you were looking at this by most vacation standards, it probably wouldn't measure up.  I mean, there is no theme park, no fancy restaurants, no night clubs or theaters...there is only this...

The boys have primarily been out haunting the woods behind the house.  They have gathered essential tools that are needed to build fires (afterall, even though it is boiling hot, boys need to build fires in order to have a base camp) and knives to cut limbs and make gigs to kill snakes and frogs (which will then be cooked on said fire and eaten by said boys.)

Please take note of the filthy hands...and yes, the boys DID kill this snake, which they claim is a Copperhead (because all enemies are surely dangerous and poisonous) using their gigs and knives.  Since they cut the head of the snake off, and the dogs carried it away prior to my arriving with the camera, I cannot confirm whether or not the snake was a poisonous Copperhead snake, but I was glad it was dead anyway.

See?  I wasn't exaggerating about the filthy feet either.  Note the artfully staged dead snake.  Lee's idea (those are his feet.)

This is a boy haven for sure.  The only thing that could make it absolutely perfect for them at this point would be for me to leave and check myself into a spa for two days.  They could tap into their caveman/wildboy side more deeply without me reminding them to brush their teeth and at least bathe in the pool for crying out loud!  Why is it that boys LOVE to be dirty??? 

Oh, and let's not forget about this part of the vacation...the gut-busting laughter that goes with being 11 and 12 years old and being a boy hanging out with your silly cousin (who does a great impression of Larry the Cable Guy) and not being able to take anything seriously...

This is it people...this is the good stuff.

Garden Spells...Cindy's Garden

I walk through ragged perfection
Mesmerized by fragrant smells
An earthy bounty beckons
Oh sweet garden spells!