Category Archives: Memories

Who Says You Can’t Go Home Again?

WHO SAYS YOU CAN’T GO HOME AGAIN?

I recently had the pleasure of visiting central (rural) Idaho, the setting for The Imperfect Series. We drove down through Montana to Salmon, Idaho, on to Challis, and past the fictional location of Hastings Bluff.

{Hastings Bluff is named not for a water feature, but for a savvy card shark😊)

Route 93 followed the Salmon River, sometimes a burbling brook, while other times it broached a Class III rapids river. Whatever form it took. The River was stunning as it wound through the wide valleys and canyons in sweeping “S” curves.

The pictures I took garnered tons of comments from my readers: “Wow, it looks exactly like I pictured it,” and “You nailed the description. I recognized the landscape right away!”

Words an author never tires of hearing.

As we drove through the Lost River Mountain Range, I relived scene after scene from each of my books. Even my honey got into the zone with questions and 

comments like, “Is this where Cassie hog tied Derek by the

side of the road?” and “This looks like it might be the entrance to the ranch, where Lucy had to make the crazy turn to escape the stalker shooting at her,” and “I can picture the little town square, the diner, and the sheriff’s office right there.”

Writers are the luckiest people in the world. We have extended families and can visit with them anytime, anywhere.

I thoroughly enjoyed my “family reunion.”

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The Last Bastion of Unity

The people of America have always been opinionated and divided on issues.

We have liberals, conservatives, and an unknown number of other political attitudes. We have  Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, Islamists, Wiccans, Satanists, and a wide variety of professed religions. There are Irish living in our land, English, French, Chinese, Japanese, Mexicans, Italians, Asian Indians, American Indians, Russians, Africans, South Americans, and every culture you can name.

We have entrepreneurs and minimum wage-earners, self-employed workers and government-funded jobs, employed and those on welfare, homeowners and the homeless. And let’s not forget the straights, gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transgenders, etc. But through all the years of disagreements, we’ve always had one unifying symbol – the American flag.

Now, for the first time in our history and thanks to a ridiculously tiny percentage of overindulged, self-entitled, arrogant athletes, our flag and the anthem that honors our heritage is under attack.

The flag did not fall in the heat of battle two centuries ago. Instead it provided a beacon of hope and courage to those who fought for freedom.

The flag did not fall in any of the wars that touched us, not even the World Wars when the whole world looked to the United States to save them. It provided a reminder of loved ones left behind and the reason men and women chose to stand in the way of death and danger.

The flag did not fail us in our time of shock and grief after September 11, 2001. On the contrary, it provided a rallying point for all Americans and America’s friends and neighbors. Flag sales rose more than 1,000% during that dark time, and people flew them on their homes, their cars, their bicycles. They carried them when walking, wore them on shirts, pins, scarves, and hats. We waved them proudly and with conviction.

Recently, volunteers from all over our great country hurried forth at their own expense to help the hurricane victims in Texas and Florida. The Cajun Navy, the Texas Armada, hunters from Arkansas, fishermen from the coastal states, business owners from New Mexico, churches in Georgia, communities in Alabama, firemen from Tennessee, policemen from Florida, EMTS, veterinarians, teachers, preachers – all pitched in to save lives, to help those in need. Interesting to note, a large majority of these volunteer rescue workers flew the American flag on their boats and vehicles. Because that’s who we are, Americans who help those in need.

So how did we get to today where a few spoiled athletes can stir up such a controversy? These ingrates contribute nothing of value to the country. They’re entertainers, for Pete’s sake. They perform for our pleasure, just like the actors and self-professed elites of Hollywood. Like the politicians who’ve made a career of serving themselves. And like the media whose news coverage has sunk to tabloid reporting.

Let me repeat – These are athletes (actors, politicians, media) performing for our pleasure.

If we don’t like what they do, we stop supporting them. And soon they don’t get paid! It’s as simple as the law of supply and demand.

The good news is that Americans have stepped up in mass. This past Sunday Night Football game (9/24) garnered the lowest television viewership since 2001! The proverbial line in the sand has been drawn.

Enough is enough.

A blast from the antebellum past!

Mobile’s Azalea Trail is more than just a dress …

… although it was the stunning, otherworldly dress in this article ( Meet The Maids ) that caught my eye … and sent me tumbling into a pool of memories. You see, this was me. A long, long time ago. In the world of 1969. When I was named to the court of Mobile’s Azalea Trail Maids. I’m humbled to this day by the honor bestowed upon me.

The whole concept of the Azalea Trail started way back in 1929 when a local horticulturist devised a plan to revitalize the city through a beatification project. Since the Mobile-Tensaw River Delta was (and still is) one of the largest intact wetland ecosystems in America, Mr. Lackland thought to take azalea bushes, which thrived in Mobile’s climate, and plant them along well-traveled roads throughout the city. The Jaycees (now the Mobile Junior Chamber of Commerce} liked his idea and the rest, as they say, is history. At one time, the city painted a pink stripe along the original 15-mile route, but this feature was later outlawed because of state laws. Today, the famous route (sans the pink ribbon marker) has expanded to 35-miles as it rambles through the city. In the spring when the flowers bloom in abundance, the sight is truly spectacular!

In the early days, debutantes would dress up in their finest, and act as ambassadors for the city. Between the flowers and the ladies, tourism soared and the Azalea Trail Court was introduced in 1935. Today, it is a continuing tradition that not only promotes the City of Mobile, but offers scholarships, a chance for travel, national exposure, and opportunities for fifty high school seniors to develop poise and confidence as they speak to large crowds on behalf of their community.

The colors of the dresses today are much more vivid than the delicate pastels my friends and I wore way back when, but the gowns are every bit as dramatic and still stunningly beautiful. My mother was a professional seamstress who was in great demand for her Mardi Gras costume designs, so I got to watch the magic happen in my own home. I saw my gorgeous pastel blue antebellum dress come to life day by day.

Mama made everything for me — the overdress, the hooped petticoat that gave the dress its bell-shape, a wide-brimmed garden hat, the prissy parasol, lacy gauntlets (fingerless gloves), satiny cummerbund, frilly pantaloons, a sweeping bow/sash, and even a faux fur-lined cape for those bitter winter days. She even dyed a corset (longline bra), several pairs of tights, and a pair of Mary Jane shoes to match the color of my dress!

I can still recall the excitement of donning that gown. It was like becoming a different person’ and going back hundreds of years in time. And the weight! After a few hours, the heaviness became a burden. Imagine, fully dressed, each girl wore 40-50 pounds of material—sixty yards of organza, fifteen yards of taffeta, ten yards of broadcloth, ten yards of fur, and who knows how much lace, ribbons, netting, and bows.
Back in my day, the Azalea Trail Maids performed at the Junior Miss Pageant, and appeared in the halftime show of the Senior Bowl Game. We made tons of PR appearances at Bellingrath Gardens, and rode in multiple parades along the pink-striped streets. We learned the art of a genteel curtsy, how to wave and smile with genuine feeling, but most of all we learned about the civility of a bygone time, one filled with poise and grace and generosity of spirit. And all this against a backdrop of azaleas, rhododendrons, gardenias, magnolias, tulips, hyacinths, daffodils, violets, and Spanish moss.

This is such an amazing, whimsical memory, one that still brings a smile.

Suggested Links:

Vintage photos show the rich history of Mobile’s Azalea Trail

Bellingrath Gardens

Mobile’s Azalea Trail Maids

25 Things To Know About Mobile