Carey Died Friday, April 8, 2011

This was hid in my to be publish file…

He looked like a common man Sam Elliott, all angled nose and Adam’s Apple. Very rough around the edges and so full of Southern colloquialisms that our conversations consisted of me saying, “What?” every other sentence.   He had lost the vision in one eye from a childhood encounter with a tip less rubber suction cup arrow.  He treated me with great respect.  He was my first relationship after a respectful-less marriage.  For that I am grateful and ashamed.  I hope he forgives me for not loving him enough.  I hope he knew how much I cared.

The Tornado, the Eagle, and Me

Saturday, April 16, 2011

 Open House at Ray Price Harley-Davidson

Just outside downtown Raleigh, NC

They were calling for severe thunderstorms that day, so we cancelled the Bike Show and the band scheduled for the parking lot.   The fashion show and the raffle drawing went on, but at an accelerated speed, pushed up an hour ahead of schedule.  Storms were coming…  I wasn’t concerned.  I was busy.  It was Open House,  people, people everywhere, yea!  Severe Spring thunderstorms were common and never affected downtown, besides they were always severe.  Everyone was watching their iPhones and talking on their cells, talking excitedly about the doppler.  That I noticed.  What I didn’t notice was how close it was and what it was up to in other parts of the state.  Besides, my boyfriend Earl always called to inform me of every movement of every storm, pin pointing it by weather radar to which street it is on.  He hadn’t called.  If he had, I wouldn’t have known.  My battery was low and I kept turning it on and off to save power. 

I was selling helmets and boots at the back of the store.  My youngest daughter  had left,  my other daughter I knew was out and about.  There was the SPCA Dog Walk she was going to that morning and Earth Day at the History museum in the afternoon.  She was to man the Solar Energy booth for the  company she worked for after she brought my dog back to my house from the charity walk.  The Q-Fest was scheduled as well.  All this activity going on in downtown Raleigh on a Spring day in April.  Typical.

That morning when I came in the girls were talking about the Eagle. 

“The Eagle?” I asked

“Yea, it’s over in Triumph.”

A real live Eagle in our showroom.  How cool.   Earl and I chase bald eagles on Jordan Lake every chance we can, always searching the sky for one of the 12 couples living  in the State Park.  You’d be surprise how many birds look like an eagle until you have one catch a fish in front of you, or soar up from behind a tree stand too fast for you to grab your camera.  After that it’s not hard to distinguish the tell tell wings and white finger feathers of the eagle.  So, I was anxious to get up close to this eagle.

I met Bianca, a golden eagle about 40 years old.  She was a rescue bird with a broken wing.  Despite the hanging shoulder,  she had that beautiful profile that all Americans can identify and feel pride when viewing.  I paid my respects keeping a distance as deference (deference, yea she scared the bejeus outta me) and returned to work.

The day went pass.  My daughter, Jayne came to work in the boot area with me against her husband’s advise.  The storms were eminent but he also had a soccer game he had to play in.  She decided to leave and later lamented that his game was cancel wanting to stay and earn much-needed money.  That was before 4 pm.  After 4pm she was glad she had left.

I was working with a customer who was definitely interest in one of our $200 helmets.  He was polite but quickly handed me the helmets looking at his phone and said, “I gotta go,”  and literally bolted in the direction of the door.  I looked around everyone had their phones out or talking glancing at the outside.  I overheard some one saying a tornado had hit Lowe’s.  My first thought was the Lowe’s 2 miles from us but was told it was in Sanford, 25 miles away. “Oh,’ I thought, “country, the place for tornadoes not here in Raleigh.”  Why I thought that after how many tornadoes I’ve experienced here in Raleigh!

The first was a small unconfirmed twister that went over my house in 1984.  Ronald Regan was giving a speech (State of the Union?) and the weather warning bar along the bottom had concluded it  tornado watch.  I put 2-year-old Julia to bed at 730.  I was home alone and when I came back down to the living room I heard that sound.  That sound everyone says they hear.  A train in my living room.  I run back up the stairs,  grab my daughter out of her crib, and run back downstairs to stand I see in retrospect, in the worse place in the house.  We lived in a split level and I stood in the corner facing the chimney with the sliding door to my left and the water heater closet behind me.   Lucky that night all that happened was the sound.  My neighbor said she came out and saw a tornado jump over my house.  We could see where it landed twisting a tree next to the water tower on Leesville Rd like a licorice stick.  Unconfirmed,  my a**.

The second was confirmed.  November, 1988.   My husband again not home was working at IBM and was supposed to be home around midnight.  I was watching for him out the front window and the rain came down heavy sideways.  The street light picked up the glitter of the water moving through a greenish night.  I don’t remember the trees moving but they must have I just remember the sideways rain.  I thought it was just coming down hard.  It got later and later and he didn’t show.  When he finally shows he walks in to a chorus of me saying

“Where the hell have you been You were suppose to be home hours ago. “

“The K-Marts gone, man.”

“What? What? Have you been drinking?”

“No, man, the K Marts gone.  I looked to turn at the Starflight but I couldn’t find it.”

By this time I know he’s drunk.

“No, man.  There were telephone wires down and hitting the roof of the car and everything was black.  And when I went to turn where the K Mart is, its gone man.  I could hear people screaming and crying from the apartment behind it but it wasn’t there.” 

He finally drove his car to where Ray Rd intersects with Leesville where he had to stop.  A tree was across the road.  He told me he parked the car and climbed over flagging a car coming the other way.  All this at 1-2 am in the morning.  They drove him home doubting as I did the validity

Map is not actual because there are several roads that didn't exist in 1988 ie Lynn rd to GLenwood.

Path on new map of Raleigh

 of his story.  We call the radio station to find out what was going on cuz the news channels weren’t reporting at that hour and the weather channel was non-existent.  Mark repeated his story to a dubious announcer who reported it with skepticism.  Later reports reveal it formed in Umstead Park right over the brand new Doppler radar designed to predict these things.  Because of  its closeness to the radar it wasnt seen.  4 people lost their lives, 2 children in Raleigh.  When I called into work the next day to say I would be late because of the tornado they didn’t believe me either.  All roads to my side of the tornado heading to downtown were blocked and congested.  The Kmart was not gone but the front half was.  And a house we had looked at and not purchased was destroyed.  The baby in its crib lifted and tossed, but not hurt, into a tree.

So I should have been concerned.

To be continued….

Debbie Girl Designs

Doing what the adults do!As a child, probably as soon as I could express myself, I favored dresses.  I refused to wear pants under any condition unless there was a dress over it, petticoats included. I ventured through childhood, climbing fences and riding 2 wheelers at three, to flipping backwards off the merry-go-round in elementary school, skirts flying, underwear flashing, because I was a girl.

At the age of 2 I refused to answer to Debbie. I was Girl, not to be confused with my brother, the Boy.  “Me, Dirl,” I would stomp and run out to play. My mother, after a few tries and consideration of what-will-the-neighbors-think, took to calling me, “DebbieGirl.”  She  slipped that one by me at the time.  In the replay of family stories, she would re-enact herself standing at the backdoor, cupped hand to mouth, calling me for supper, “Girl…Girl.”  She would laugh, confessing her fear of neighborhood shame, “Surely the Major and his wife have named their child by now.”

My mother was the original upcycler.  As a military family we learned quickly the value of reuse.  Not only did it saved money, it brought a sense of home to each new duty station, each new house or apartment or temporary housing we moved in and out of.  We would only change posts every 3-4 years, but often we would change houses as the promotions came or higher ranking officers moved on, or moved back!   My mother made me a pair of psychedelic curtains when we moved to Germany.  I was starting Junior High and needed a grown up room.  I couldn’t bring my canopy bed, so we made do with Army issue furniture and those wild curtains.  When we moved Stateside, I got my old bed back and the psychedelic drapes became cafe curtains.  I went off to college and returned to a new bedroom and curtains that were now valances.  No matter how many times they moved afterwards there was always a room for me and the drapery fabric would be somewhere, a pillow, a seat cover, even the rag-bag with the curtain hardware attached.  Reusing or recycling beloved fabric gives them purpose and yourself, a sense of belonging.

So, in homage to my mother, the up cycle pioneer, I name my venture on Etsy, Debbie Girl Designs.

I write poetry

My children laugh at me when I say that, that I write poetry.  They found one of my way back  notebooks from High School.  In particular they cackle, (yes young girls can cackle) over one specific poem.  Sitting in the low ceiling room under the stage at Ayer High School in Massachusetts, I penned a play on words that I thought was clever at the time.  Oh, play on words-under the stage , hmm.  I guess I am still doing it.   This is the poem.


lost my hand

just found my hand

somewhere it got lost

couldn’t find it anywhere

i cried a nite away

you came back in the morning

holding tight to it

and saying ___

just found your heart

somewhere it got lost

i cried a nite away

thinking blue about you

living here with out it

i came back in the morning

with you saying

man, lost my head

somewhere it fell off

couldn’t find it anywhere

hey, i know

look under the bed, sweets

maybe it’s there

you stopped me saying

to hell with your hand

to hell with your head

i’ve got your heart

that’s all that matters

he took my found hand

kissing my lost head

and saying…

~written 2/11/71



I think they may have been right…

I wrote a song I guess, too.  Who knows what it sounded like.  I have several in the little book without its cover.  There are also folk songs with meticulous guitar charting for mournful standards of the day, like, “In the Early Morning Rain”, “Don’t Think Twice it’s Alright”, even “Kumba Ya”.  My two signature songs as well, “Suzanne” and “Streets of London” reside in the Book.  I carried it throughout high school and college, singing from it in places like Marblehead, Mass and Rutland, Vt.  Sitting in a house overlooking the Atlantic Ocean,  I sang, “Suzanne” to friends of a boy I had just met.  We had stopped in briefly, we talked,  I sang, we left.  It stays with me, the peace of the ocean and the song.  “City of New Orleans” is the last song in the Book.  I sang it at a rest stop when I worked on the Vermont Bicentennial Steam Train out of Bellows Falls.  Sitting in the dining car stopped at the train station in the middle of downtown Rutland, I sang during my lunch break, mostly for myself, and the few co-workers scattered about.  The conductor stopped, and listened, and praised me, then went on.

“I love this little book,” I wrote on the last two lines at the very bottom of the last page, the handwriting small as if to hide its secret.  “It went to Europe. I kept it with me always.  It has a blue cover. 2010”

Nuns to God

I did carry it with me wherever I went  just in case someone asked me to sing.  I was ready.  I doodled in it as well.  Talking on the phone, I penned a few lines as I talked to my very intense high school boyfriend.  He was a Scorpio, a poet, and later a musician.  I was so in love and so afraid.  We would talk for hours on the phone.  I would pull the standard issue Ma Bell black desk phone from the hall table into my room, closing the door with the cord running underneath.  Seeking further privacy, I would stretch the cord its farthest into my closet and shut that door as well.  Holed up in the warmth of the closet we would talk about profound ideas and poetry.  I know from this doodle I was talking to him.  His love of Bela Lugosi and his childhood of  Catholicism are present on this page as is my attraction to him.  It starts out well but disintegrates into one line ideas at the end: waterfalls, bioflick and Roots.  He encouraged my writing and I received from him pages and pages of  outrage poems.  Both of us children of military families in 1971,  he wrote about war, me, I wrote about love. 

I like to think I write better now, but in retrospect I kinda like my small musings.  A writing teacher once said my prose read like poetry.  Except for the fact I was in a prose class, I thought it an interesting criticism.  But, my children still laugh when I say I write poetry…but I do, I do.  They just haven’t come across the notebook with the good ones in it yet.

Rainy Kiss

There was a kiss in the rain.
Two umbrellas overlapping
At different heights.
A canopy of color
In the grey and moist daylight.
Ankles wet, I slide into your kiss
I fit under your arm
In the sideways kiss of good bye,
Leave taking, see ya later.
One foot going the other wishing to stay.
Warm and flush from your presence
In the stillness of the moment.
A heart stopping
A heart filling
A heart opening
Where the world disappeared,
Two umbrellas overlapped
There was a kiss

My Mother, the Tornado, and the Bedspread

My mother would tell a story of the tornado when we lived in Killeen, TX.   We were stationed on the post, Ft Hood, where I can be seen running in Super 8 in short bursts of 18 month old speed.  I’d stop and start several times to shake my head, flipping the tiny pony tail my mother tied in my hair that day.  I was a girl and proud of it, wearing only dresses and proclaiming, “Me, Dirl.”  I would only answer to Girl, so as not to be confused with my brother.  My parents would have to stand in the doorway of the military row house and shout, “Girl! Girl!” when it was time to be called.  The mortification my mother must have felt.  To think the neighbors would believe she had not named her child compelled her to slowly add Debbie to the Girl.  I was “Debbie Girl” for many years.   The precious Super 8 my father painstakingly converted to VHS shows me running away from the camera across a playground stopping a few times and shaking my head.  I can still feel the joy of  it. 

In this same scene the backyards of the apartments can be seen amid the playground equipment and the clothes lines that were in constant use.  It’s on this clothesline that my mother hung her bedspread to dry.  It’s a different day from when my father filmed me at play.  In fact, I may have been less than a twinkle in my father’s eye when I research dates,  but a typical day in my parent’s life.  My father, an Army dentist was probably at work.  My mother, seeing a hot, breezy day, probably decided to wash her bedclothes.  It was an expensive spread of embroidered chenille.  The kind with fringe and the tiny knots that make divots in you face when you lie down for a quick nap.  A heavy piece of fabric that generally takes ages to dry was hanging this fateful day in the ’50 outside Killeen, Texas in the relative safety of an army post housing area. 

My mother told the tale through out my life every time this self-same bedspread saw the light of day, for it was entombed in a chest through no fault of its own save its oldfashionedness.  She was out at the wash line.  As the wind begins to churn, she looks up to see a tornado bearing down on her and her bedspread.  Frozen in her spot she watches as it picked up speed.  She had seen cyclones in the Pacific create tsunamis and heard tales of lost lives from those ignorant enough  to stand and watch as the waves pounded the harbor of Yokohama, Japan.  Still she stood and stared but only long enough to see it take a hard right turn and head straight into the town of Killeen, Texas.  She headed for cover without the bedspread, but with her children under her arm. 

When the storm had passed, she and her neighbors emerge to find no damage to their homes, but plenty to the bedspread.  My mother described it as wound so tightly on the clothes line that there is nothing to do but cut it off.  Not only is the body of the spread tangled in clothes line but each length of fringe is wrapped in a clove hitch around the coated wire.  Clothes pins embedded in fabric perturd and she goes for the scissors as the only solution.

“Oh, no,” her neighbor cries. 

 A spread of this caliber can not be cut, she has decided.  She convinces my mother that they can untangle this treasure.  And untangle they do, for hours.  My mother said her fingers were sore by the time it was freed.   For this reason, I can not let go of my mother’s bedspread.  Is it the same one that survived the Texas tornado?  I don’t know, but I remember one on my parent’s bed for decades that had the fringe she describes and the knots that make divots on your face when you lay on it in the darkness of your parents bedroom seeking comfort.  How do you part with something like that.  They say you will always have the memory, you don’t always have to keep the clutter, but still…the smell of the cotton, the weight of the fabric…So I share this memory with you…

Searching historical records because my mother has passed on, I find a long list of about 26 tornado to hit the Killeen, Texas area between 1952 and 1957.   I find only one that hits direct,  May 11 of 1953.  A F5 hits Waco, TX and kills 114 people.  Waco is to the right if you would look north from Ft.  Hood.  My mother always seemed to have felt like she had dodged a bullet when it turned.

This story has led me to be able to tell my own tale of the tornado,  The Tornado, the Eagle and I…to be contiuned

I Saw an Amish Man Driving a Caravan

I saw an Amish man driving a Caravan.  Yes, I know it couldn’t possibly be an Amish man.  So maybe it was a Mennonite.  We have those in here in NC.

But, it sure looked like an Amish man!  Or was he on his way to reinact another period in Time?


The Story I Told Today: Savannah Beach

Rosie and the Driftwood 1977

After I graduated from college in 1977, I took a trip to Savannah Beach, GA with my best friend from high school, Roseanne.  We went with her boyfriend, his sister, and some assorted people.  In true fashion,  I was along for

Roseanne at Savannah 1977

 the ride.  I ‘d wake up and they’d say, lets go do this, I’d say okay.   On this particular day we went out on a boat.   We moored it on the beach and when low tide came, there we stayed.  I think it was planned because there was a tent and food and…toliet paper next to a hole.  And there was also the beach and sand, driftwood and shrimp boats passing.  No one to be seen but our small party of cast aways.  The three of us girls, Roseanne, her boyfriend’s sister, and I decided to sun bath.  We walked for quite a distance until we found an exceptional stretch of sand.  Since no one was around we got brave and took our tops off.   Didn’t last long.  No sooner had we got settled we heard a sound getting louder and louder.  We sat up, all three, to the thunderous noise of a helicopter.  It flew pass quickly, purposeful then appeared to hesitate.  Hovering, it swung around for another look.  This time we could see into the belly of the copter and the smiling soliders as they waved!  So much for solitude.  We were in the direct flight path to some military institution!


Watching the shrimp boats return

Days I remember

                                           Today is my wedding anniversaryand my former mother-in-law’s birthday.   Are these days still to be celebrated even though there is no marriage and there is,  through my divorce and her passing, no mother-in-law?  I guess celebration, no, but why am I not allowed to acknowledge the days of importance in my life.   I get a strange look when I mention today I would have been married 32 years.  Granted I am thankful that I was not married 32 years.  My divorced years far exceed my married years, something my mother would have been proud of. 

I remember dates as they affect me. My father passed away on the 3rd of April, 1995 so close to Easter that my mother lamented the proximity to a holiday.  She in turn died the 10th of December, the morning after my work Christmas party, which I had reluctantly attended.  Having one glass of wine, I chose not to go to the hospital that evening afterwards.  I, in kind, lament not being there when she died…

So do we recognize dates of past celebrations, birthdays of deceased people we are no longer related to by law, and hurting memories of lamented promises?  She didn’t want to die alone.  I don’t think I ever promised her she wouldn’t, because I probably knew I would fail, as I did, to keep that bargain.  I’m so sorry, Mommy.  And I miss you Joan.  And, well I’m sure glad I’m not married…

I use to live there

A lot of my conversations start with, “Where are you from? Oh, I use to live there”

1955  San Antonio, Texas, Ft Sam Houston, Texas 

1956  Killeen, Ft Hood, Texas

1957  San Antonio again

1958  Edgewood, Chemical Center, MD

1960  Berlin, Germany  Wall goes up in 1961

1963  Redstone Arsenal, Huntsville, AL NASA space program

1967  Frankfurt, Germany attended FAJHS

1970  Ft Devens, MA  attended Ayer HS and Lawrence Academy

1973  Burlington, VT University of Vermont (groovy UV)

            Summers and holidays were spent in Concord, Lynn, and Marblehead, MA and Campton, NH

1978  Kingston, NY

1983  Raleigh, NC       

Granted I moved a lot less than most Army brats, but we tended to change housing at least once during each tour duty.  Housing wasn’t always available right away or nicer quarters would open up.  Lot of pratice moving.

Ewww, Mommy!

“I got a tick! On my neck!  Awkkk!  Mommy!”

She comes over. We try to smother it. We try to burn it. Then we read…none of these work. Just grab it and pull hard and yep, there it comes.  Slippery and burned bum,  it lets go. 

She looks at the engorged body, “Awwkkk, Mommy, that’s gross!  Ewwww…”

I love my 27-year-old daughter.

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