Travelogue–Tennessee/North Carolina Style

Keep an eye on florencefallon.com for updates and photos from my adventures in Tennessee and North Carolina.  Probably will consist of photos mostly–unless some really exciting/funny stuff happens.

Tonight we’re in Nashville. Made a stop at Loveless Cafe before heading to the Ryman.  The Loveless Cafe was amazing. It was completely full with an hour wait at 3:30 in the afternoon! I hate to think of how busy they are at dinner time!  The food was so good. If you like southern food, you must stop there next time you’re in Nashville.  The fried chicken is out of this world, as are the biscuits and fried green tomatoes.  I didn’t try one thing that wasn’t good.

nash1It was a fast and furious afternoon/evening, and it isn’t over yet! Unfortunately I don’t have a lot of time for picture-taking here in Nashville, but I’ll have time for that at the other destinations!  I was able to snap this lovely picture of the sunset before it got dark.  More tomorrow.

nash2

Things I Don’t Have Time For…

For those who don’t know me, I’m the Princess of Procrastination and I value any method or means for getting around having to put forth a lot of effort to do things.  What this basically means is…I’m lazy.

I’m not lazy when it comes to my work.  I love what I do and while it DOES seem like work (as opposed to the old saying “do what you love and you’ll never ‘work’ a day in your life), it’s work I enjoy doing. When it comes to everything else, however, there are a lot of things that fall into the category of “things I have no time for.”

1. Matching Socks
I don’t mean I have no time to wear matching socks.  I do wear socks that match…most of the time…but I rarely put forth the effort to put my socks into pairs after doing laundry.  More often than not, my socks end up in a messy heap in my sock drawer.  The matching is done at the time of dressing.  I’d rather spend 2 minutes digging through a mountain of mismatched socks than take the time to put them together sock by sock.

2. Answering My Phone
Don’t take this one the wrong way.  99% of the time, if you try to call me, I will answer it.  I am referring to that 1% of time where one will text me, and if I don’t respond to the text within 2 minutes they call me. If I had the time to answer the text, I would have done so immediately. If I didn’t have time to answer a text, what makes you think I’ll have time to talk on the phone?  Give me a little breathing room, buddy. 🙂

3. Physical Therapy
This one likely only applies to myself and a very small group of others, but if you’ve ever suffered an injury or had major surgery, you know what I mean. Doctors and Physical Therapists must think people have all the time in the world! Usually a person is prescribed physical therapy 6-8 weeks postoperatively–about the same time a person goes back to work. Do you think a person who works full time and has just returned to work after two months has time to leave for a couple of hours three days a week?  Probably not.

4.  Stupid Questions
I know there’s a saying “There’s no such thing as a stupid question.” Well, I beg to differ.  If a person is asking a question because they genuinely don’t know something, that’s perfectly fine. What I don’t have time for is answering questions I’ve already given the answer to. The asker would KNOW the answer had they been paying attention when I said it the first time. If I take the time to explain something to a person, I’m ok with clarifying things…but don’t ask me to re-explain something because you were too busy looking at your phone and nodding your head as if you heard everything I said.

5. Fake People
This is the final item on the list for today–something that was inspired by events that took place a short time ago.  Everyone encounters them–people so transparent you can see straight through them. People who play the game of being “friends” when, in all honesty, they could care less what really happens to you.  Don’t waste my time telling me we’re friends when you don’t actually care. If you don’t want to be my friend, that’s 100% your right and I won’t question your reasons. I’d much rather encounter people I KNOW aren’t my friends than those people who make nice and say they’re your friend, but when you hit a rough patch they’re nowhere to be found…or who are so sweet to your face, but you find out later they talk about you behind your back.  It may be a cliche, but…

I issue a word of caution to you. It may make me sound pessimistic, but I know this from personal experience.  You may think you have the best friends in the world and that they would be there for you no matter what.  That may be the case, and if so, you’re a lucky person…but in most circumstances, it isn’t the case.

You’ve heard the phrase “Hard times reveal who your true friends are.” I had heard it a thousand times and thought my friends are real. They’d be there for me no matter what. Unfortunately I did hit hard times and was issued a painful slap in the face of reality.

When I injured my spine nine months ago, my “friends” ended up falling into three categories:  real friends, apathetic acquaintances, and non-friends.

My real friends learned of my plight and called me or texted me immediately. They checked on me, were interested in what happened and the course of treatment, they continued to check on me throughout the first surgery, recovery, second surgery, recovery, third surgery, and are still very much a part of life during this third period of recovery.  They’ve sent cards, texts, flowers. Some haven’t done much at all other than let me know they’re still there. That they care. That they are available anytime I need them.  Those are the people for whom I am the most thankful.  If not for them and my family, I am not sure how, or even if I would have made it through this.

The apathetic friends were tricky.  When they learned I’d been hurt, they would text once in a long while. Kept up with me to some extent through the first surgery and recovery experience. Then the second surgery rolled around and slowly these friends started to disappear. I’d go a long time without hearing from them so I’d text or try to call them and be met with no response.  Some responded at first to my attempts at contact but they too eventually went off the radar. And no, I didn’t send them messages asking them why they hadn’t checked on me. I would simply text them asking how they were doing. I missed them.  Some asked me if I wanted to go out and do things at the very first–things I was physically unable to do.  I would respond with a decline, thanking them for trying to include me. Then I would offer to do something I was able to do–go out to eat, etc, but no. They didn’t want to.  Some just vanished because they had lost their “hanging out” buddy.  It hurt.  I didn’t know what I could do to fix it. To mend our friendship I cherished…

The non-friends learned I’d been injured and immediately decided I was a lost cause to them.  These are the ones that not once checked on me, and any attempts on my part to get in touch with them fell on deaf ears.  If I saw them in public, it was as if I didn’t exist.  These people are the type who make friends according to what you can do for them.  If you can’t do anything for them–even for only a short time–you are of no further use to them and you are cut off completely.

The fourth category–which I didn’t list originally–is the cruel non-friend. I didn’t list it initially because only one person–thank God–fell into this category.  This person checked on me a few times and I thought we were cool.  She found out about my second surgery and texted me while I was in the operating room. Since I was under anesthesia and subsequently on a dilaudid pain pump and completely oblivious to the world around me, my phone was off for 3 days.  On the third day I turned it back on, saw her message, and responded, apologizing for taking 3 days and explaining why it took so long. Thinking she’d understand–especially since she knew I was having to undergo a second emergency surgery–I sent the message (she didn’t answer the phone) and didn’t think about it again. A while later, I received a very long text in response. I was basically told I was worthless as a friend, I was rude and inconsiderate for not answering sooner, that she didn’t want to hear my stupid complaining (sorry I mentioned I had to have surgery again, and sorry I was unable to text while completely asleep) and that she was no longer interested in maintaining a “friendship” with me.

I had people in all of these group I loved very much and whose friendship I valued greatly. People I thought would be friends for life. People I never in a million years would think could be so cruel. Going through something like this injury has been the most painful–physically as well as emotionally–as I’ve ever experienced. This hard time truly has been a major eye-opener.

I can’t begin to describe how much I missed the people who vanished. Even the person who was so cruel and refused to understand the facts. I cried a lot. I worried and worried about why I had lost them and what to do to get my “friends” back. I felt responsible for ruining my friendships with these people I cared for.

Then it hit me.

I hadn’t done a thing wrong! Yes, I had lost some “friends,” but in the grand scheme of things, they weren’t friends at all! If you do all you are physically, mentally, and emotionally capable of doing to maintain a friendship and it makes no difference to a person, you never had a friendship in the first place. I realized that I was starting to spend so much time worrying about losing a few friendships that I was in danger of neglecting the friendships I still had! I was devoting more of my time and energy to these people who couldn’t have cared less about me than I was to the ones who did care! My priorities got mixed up, and I set about correcting it.

It took a little bit, but I was able to accept what had happened with those so-called friends. I began to take inventory of what these people did, didn’t do, and who they were. When I really considered it, I learned these people were not the kind of people I needed to associate myself with. When we were together, we never did anything good. It was always something I questioned whether or not I should do. Things morally I would never have done before meeting them. When I really examined the friendships I had, those who had vanished really fell short of what a friend really should be. I compared how they treated me to how they treated others I knew to be their friends. I discovered I was, in their minds, a pity-friend or a tolerable friend. When you get right down to it, they had no need for me in their life and I learned I had no need for them in mine.

I learned to cherish the people who really were my friends even more. I learned a lot about myself and what I should and shouldn’t tolerate when it comes to how I’m treated. I’ve always had such low self esteem that I took any abuse a person could heap on me just to call them a friend. I finally understood that I have value, too. No one deserves to be treated badly. Everyone is worth something to someone. Even me.

Since learning these things and coming to terms with them, my life has been enriched immeasurably! I finally have enough respect for myself to be a better friend to those I care about. I also have enough self respect to stand up for myself. No one has the right to put me down and I have no right to put anyone else down. My friendships mean more and my life is better. I’m happier. I’m stronger. Even though I’m still going through hell physically, emotionally I’m healthier than I’ve ever been, and it feels good.

Love and cherish the people who love and cherish you. Never, ever let anyone treat you like a second-class citizen. You deserve happiness as much as anyone else. Hold on to the people who want to be in your life. If there are people who don’t meet these requirements for life, ask yourself…are they worth it? Try to mend the relationship–if it can be mended. If you find out the relationship is toxic, however, you’re not doing anyone a favor by maintaining it. If someone is bringing you down, making you feel like you aren’t worthwhile, CUT ‘EM LOOSE. Everyone deserves happiness and healthy relationships.

Everyone.

I’m Single…Not Sick!

So I read a blog someone shared on Facebook today about being single that made me shout hallelujah!  The title was Being Single Isn’t a Disease, and I follow that title with an enthusiastic AMEN.

I live in the South.  Down here, people marry young.  Especially for women, if you aren’t married by the time you’re 24, people start to treat you like you’re afflicted with some unfortunate illness.  Showering you with pity about your lack of significant other, while maintaining a safe distance just in case that man repellent you’re wearing rubs off on them.

Whenever you are around a friend or relative you don’t see everyday, you can’t have a conversation without it beginning with “you married yet?”  Followed almost always with a “Oh, don’t you worry honey, you’ll find a man someday,” after which they pat you on the shoulder and scurry off to find someone else to talk to (because single people are incapable of discussing anything other than relationship status).

Then there’s the obligatory matchmaking attempts, because people–especially people you aren’t necessarily close to–feel it’s their duty to inform you about every single male they know or have ever heard of. “Oh, you’re single?  My friend’s brother’s cousin is single too!  He’s cross-eyed and has a missing tooth from the time he got kicked in the face by a mule, but he’s sweet. You two should meet!”  Thanks, but no thanks, noble matron.  I’ll take my chances with non-set-up dating.

I want to take this opportunity to shed some light on what I think about being single–because usually, the only people who view singleness as an ailment are married folks.  No, I’m not married and–contrary to popular belief–no, I’m not depressed about it!  Do I feel a little neglected when my married friends decide not to invite me to a get-together because they thought I might feel uncomfortable being the only single person? Yes, sometimes, because believe it or not I am capable of enjoying myself without being one-half of a couple.  Just because I’m not married doesn’t mean I sit at home every night living a hopeless, dateless existence.  I date, and, brace yourselves, even go out on occasion without a partner!

Do I want to marry someday?  Sure!  If I find the right person to spend the rest of my life with.  Am I going to be sad about it if I don’t?  Not really!  Earlier in life I would spend some time depressed, worried about whether or not I would ever marry…then I realized.  The only person I have to please is me!  The only pressure I feel comes from other people’s expectations.  Just because other people think I should marry, and there’s no possible way I can lead a fulfilled life unless I do, doesn’t mean it’s TRUE.  

So, married people.  Congrats on finding your one true love.  It is not, however, your concern to worry about my marriage status.  It is also not your responsibility to hook me up with someone.  I will marry when and if the time and the man are right.  Until that happens (and even if it doesn’t), don’t worry about me.  I’m an independent adult.  I’ll be fine–with or without a new last name.

Selfies–Vanity At Its Finest

Want to know how you look?  Try a mirror.  It’s the fastest, most up-to-date way to find out what you look like! If we’re Facebook friends, the odds are I already know what you look like and don’t really need a daily reminder.

I was scanning my Facebook newsfeed the other night, thanks to my ever-present insomnia, and was bombarded with the attack of the selfies.  Granted, everyone posts a selfie once in a while, but some people just take it to the extreme!  I have one Facebook friend in particular who is incredibly proud of how she looks.  We are just acquaintances, not friends, we met through a mutual friend at a party and she pops up from time to time when I’m with friends.  As I scrolled down my newsfeed, I saw selfie after selfie after selfie of this woman.  I started to think and realized not a single day goes by I don’t see at least one picture of this girl on my feed.  Curious, I clicked on her profile.  She had ten selfies for every one non-photo post.  She is constantly clogging up my feed with pictures of her face!  She isn’t an ugly person, don’t get me wrong, but she isn’t exactly model material.  She obviously thinks she is the most beautiful thing to ever grace planet Earth–she definitely doesn’t have a self-confidence problem!  It just bothers me because she is rather arrogant and treats everyone as inferior to herself.  She has enormous swollen-looking lips because she’s addicted to botox injections.  She wears about two inches of makeup, always has bright red lipstick and raccoon eyes thanks to the gobs of eyeliner she wears daily.  I just don’t want to look at that day after day!  So, I hid her from my feed. Ha.

Another bothersome thing about selfies is that ridiculous pouty-lip face all the kids (and some non-kids) are doing.  I guess they think it’s pretty to look like a friggin duck.  99% of selfies are duck-faced young people with a hand on the hip, butt sticking out.  News flash: you don’t look sexy, you look like an idiot.  If you want to post a picture of yourself, look LIKE YOURSELF!  You don’t walk around platypus-faced!  When you smile or laugh at something, you don’t do it with your lips stuck out!

Then there’s the classic photo taken in the bathroom mirror.  Again, the girls do the hand-on-hip, butt-stuck-out, duck-faced moron pose, and the guys like to do the shirtless photo, muscles (or lack thereof) flexed.  If you’re so desperate to show off your gorgeous self, try asking someone else to take the photo for you? Seeing a picture of a person standing in the same place people take a crap doesn’t exactly scream sexy.

SAG Awards, Vacation, and Other Useless Information

So, just coming off the emotional roller coaster that was the SAG Awards.  And by “emotional roller coaster,” I just mean the three times I got excited during the broadcast: Phyllis Logan and Michelle Dockery being interviewed by Giuliana Rancic and the “Glam Cam” pan of their dresses (and by “their dresses” I just mean Phyllis’. She looked GORGEOUS); The opening of the SAG Awards when Rob Lowe did his little spiel and Phyllis Logan was behind him being 500% adorable; and when Maggie Smith won the award for best actress in a drama series followed by the fictitious Dowager Countess twitter account tweeting “What is a #SAGAward?” That was pretty much the extent of my excitement for the evening.

(This also happened:

Thank you internet.)

I’m beginning to get excited about my vacation coming up in six days.  I’ve strategically made the preceding week extremely busy to make the time pass faster…because, let’s face it. Time moves slowest A) the week before a vacation and B) the last hour of a multi-hour car trip.  During my week, I have a couple of matters of business to attend to but overall it’s all VACA BABY.  I’ll be visiting the lovely cities of Nashville, Gatlinburg, and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee; Asheville, North Carolina; and possibly a stop in Virginia.  I will be spending most of the time gazing at sprawling mountain views from the 3 levels of decks at a rustic cabin.  The cabin does have wifi…and flat screen TVs in every bedroom…and satellite TV. That’s still rustic, right?  It’s in the woods, it’s rustic dang it!  Anyone with suggestions on places to visit or eat in those locations, shoot them my way! I’m already visiting the Biltmore estate, other than that, I need options!

I have been put on a medication that has a side effect of increased blood pressure.  To try to keep the BP down, I’m also taking a BP med and was told to avoid foods with high sodium content. Well, I can’t avoid sodium all the time!  A friend told me to eat copious amounts of ice cream to offset the sodium.

Sounds legit…

Oh, and before I go, here’s Phyllis Logan’s dress everyone is going gaga over:

Just keep looking at it like:

Oh, and Michelle Dockery’s there too…

(Gif credits:
Gif 1 x
Gif 2 x
Gif 3 x
Gif 4 is mine)

15 Signs You Attended a Fundamental Baptist School

I grew up in a Baptist church and my parents wanted me to attend a Baptist school when they made their decision on where to send me after kindergarten (they were unhappy with the public schools in our district). When they enrolled me in the christian school, they saw “Baptist” in the name and assumed the schools beliefs were the same as their own.  While many beliefs are similar, they didn’t know that the Fundamental Baptists were a slightly different breed. 

1.  You looked forward to Chapel day each week.  While chapel was never what one would call “fun,” it was still an hour you weren’t sitting in class.  It was much easier to pass notes in chapel, and there was always the “try not to laugh out loud when someone’s stomach growls” game.

2.  You know what a “sword drill” is.  It was your teacher’s favorite method for learning the Bible, and you probably considered yourself a master by the time you reached 6th grade.

3.  You learned at least 15 Bible verses as songs.  Someone, somewhere, decided the best way to learn Bible verses was to set the verse to music. If you ever hear these verses today, you probably still sing the tune in your head.

4.  You thought the people in the Bible actually spoke 1600s King James English.  Because KJV was the only translation allowed on the premises.

5. You were proud of yourself for buying a DC Talk CD only to be told at school that it was still the music of the devil.  While most churches accept and embrace christian music, fundamental baptists believe the beat is wicked.

6.  Free dress day. What’s that?  You probably got jealous of your other private school friends when you learned they had “free dress” days. Not you, oh no. You were in that plaid uniform every day, every week, every year.

7.  Culottes were the closest thing to pants girls could wear.  Not on a school day, mind you. Only for P.E. or at school-related functions held after school hours.

8.  You’ve been part of a nativity play more times than you can count.  When you finally get selected to be Mary or Joseph, depending on what sex you are, you’ve reached the pinnacle. The highest honor any christian school thespian can achieve.

9. If you happen to be female, you were jealous of the boys.  Because to a Fundamental Baptist, boys were better. Those rare field trips to a skating rink? Boys could wear jeans. Girls were still expected to skate in their uniform or an approved skirt or dress. Hem below the knee, of course!

10.  You’ve sold enough World’s Finest Chocolate to feed a small country.  Because it’s the universal fund-raising food.  None of those great fund raisers where you can choose what kind of food to order…the only options were plain, caramel, almond, or krispy. Don’t hurt yourself deciding from that expansive list of choices.

11.  Your first exposure to science was creationism.  Saying “evolution” was almost as bad as cursing.

12.  A Beka Book.  You never knew a different brand of textbook.

13.  You never watched a film in class.  Not even educational ones. Like, ever.

14. The school holidays were better.  Because, unlike public school, you probably got the Friday before Spring Break off as well, because it usually coincided with Easter.  And that 3 days off at Thanksgiving business? Ha! You got a WEEK.

15.  You lived in fear of being sent to the principal.  Because paddling was the answer to every bad behavior.

Yes, I realize not every fundamental baptist school is exactly like this, but odds are, this was pretty close!

Happy New Year, Depression, and Updates

I don’t know how I let so much time pass without writing anything! I’m sure the reason is simply lack of interest. It’s not that I’m not interested in writing for my blog. When I do write it makes me feel better. I love writing things down if for nothing else than to have something to come back to down the road and be able to see exactly what I was thinking at any given time. My blog I kept during my years in nursing school is one of my most cherished possessions. I go back and look at it from time to time and it always brings back memories I had long forgotten, while always providing me with a good laugh. Some of the things I wrote about…and some of the “hardships” I complained about while I was in nursing school are absolutely laughable! I’ve changed a lot since those days…

Anyway, since about 4 months into my spine injury journey, I’ve been struggling with depression. It’s pretty obvious why I’m depressed, I think. My whole world has been turned upside down and shaken until every ounce of familiarity, comfort, and happiness fell out and shattered into a thousand pieces. Life as I knew it before my injury is one hundred percent different. Not being able to work with patients and do what I love has literally sucked the life out of me. Once several months had passed and it became apparent that I would never again be able to live my life in the way I was accustomed to, I lost my will to go on. I’m not saying I was suicidal, but I certainly wasn’t interested in life anymore. They say that everything happens for a reason and that even our hardest times are just preparing us for bigger and better things…but here I am eight months later and literally NOTHING good has come out of it. It sounds terrible and I know it’s not the appropriate viewpoint, but I literally hate my life right now. And, yes, I know there are many, many people in this world far worse off than I am…and yes, I’m thankful my problems aren’t as bad as they COULD be. I’ve been lectured, scolded, and shouted at plenty of times so I don’t need anyone else telling me my point of view is screwed up. Believe me, I KNOW it is. Depression makes you view things differently, though. It alters your thinking and makes you feel like there is nothing good in your life and makes you feel like there’s no point in waiting and hoping for better things to come your way because, as far as you’re concerned, those better things aren’t coming. Is it the right way to think? No, but it’s how I feel.

Depression is a real medical condition and those who suffer from it may know the right way to feel, but they physically and mentally aren’t able to feel that way even if we desperately want to. When you’re depressed, you lose interest in things you once loved, you feel like your whole life is a mistake. You can point your finger in their face and scold them all day about their crappy outlook on life, but it won’t change the fact that they are depressed. It won’t help them, and if it does anything it only makes them feel worse. Something I’ve realized and had to tell several people is that if you’ve never suffered from true, honest-to-God depression (not just a temporary sense of “the blues”) then you have no idea what a depressed person feels and you should never claim that you do. The best thing anyone can do for someone who is depressed is be supportive. You can tell them you’re worried about them–they know they have a problem–and above all, tell them you’re there for them if they need you. Offer to do what you can to help if you’re truly interested and truly care whether or not they get better. The worst thing you can do is get angry at them and tell them how much they suck then proceed to tell them in no uncertain terms that you hate them and are not interested in whether or not they are depressed (as one of my friends did a while back). It’ll only make them more depressed, and possibly make you a reason they ended it all. I’m not that depressed, thank God, but it isn’t getting better. I hope to overcome this disgusting depression soon. I’m sick of it.

Anyway, since I’m depressed, I’m doing everything I can to beat it. I’m getting out more–as much as I’m physically able. I’m seeing  a doctor. There isn’t much else I’m able to do. Hopefully I’ll lick it soon. I also spent a week with my best friend and her family and it was so nice. I enjoyed seeing her and my godchildren. They did a lot to lift my spirits. So much so, I didn’t want to come home! My back wasn’t ready for all the kid-chasing and kid-lifting…I’m in the most pain I’ve been in since my last surgery. It’s bad. I’m definitely paying for it, but it was worth every bit of the pain. My friend has been so amazing through all of this. She is supportive and always there to talk when I need her. She was entirely too good to me while I was visiting. She paid for my meals, took me on a day trip and paid for everything, gave me gifts, and we had many long talks. It was the best medicine I could have received. We vowed to visit each other more, as she lives 150 miles away. She’s even asking around to help me possibly find a job where she lives so I can be closer to her. While I’m not overly excited about the prospect of moving to a small southern town (I’m a city girl through and through), part of me thinks it would be nice to live a good distance from my parents, while still close enough to visit whenever I want, and live really close to her. She moved almost four years ago and I still miss seeing her all the time.

While I still have a long way to go, I know the depression will eventually get better. I’ve always struggled with it as many of my relatives have, but this is the worst it’s been. I’ve never experienced such a major life change before, so it’s no wonder it got so bad. My hope is that I’ll finally beat this and begin finding joy in my writing again. Even as I write this blog entry I see how much I’ve changed. I used to spend hours writing every day, paying special attention to wording, grammar, and punctuation. I’d read and re-write things multiple times until they were just right. Now I’m just rambling on not giving anything a second look. I’m sure there are countless grammatical and punctuation errors. The fact that I honestly don’t care about those errors proves I have a problem. Wish me luck, I’m ready to be happy again.

Happy new year to all. May this be a year of success and happiness for everyone.

A Revolutionary War Story

The reason I decided to share this story on my blog is twofold. The first reason is so I have this story saved in my personal files, and the second reason is to share an interesting story with my readers.  This is the story of Amasa Mitchell, American Revolution patriot and my 5th great-grandfather. He is consequently my ticket into the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) should I choose to join it…which I don’t.  His story was written down (thankfully!) by his grandson Dr. Francis Mitchell, the brother of my 3rd great-grandfather.  Luckily Grandfather Amasa shared many stories of his time in the Continental Army with his friends and relations. It gives a real-life account of the American Revolutionary War through the eyes of someone who lived it.  It makes it more personal than reading it from a history text.  This story appeared in some newspapers in several states back in the 1970s when one of my relatives shared it with the press.  It’s a little long, but if you like history you’ll enjoy it.

FAMILY HISTORY RECALLS REVOLUTIONARY WAR INCIDENTS

(This story was written by Francis Mitchell, M.D. and tells what he remembers about his grandfather, Amasa Mitchell.  Dr. Mitchell died in 1915 and this story has been preserved by his family ever since.)

My grandfather, Amasa Mitchell, was born in the state of Connecticut May 29, 1761. His parents were Scottish and Irish and came to this country from the north of Ireland around 1720.  I know but little about them, except that I heard grandfather say that his father lived to the age of 112 years. He frequently spoke of his father’s skill and endurance as a frontiersman, but that he was too old to take any part in the Revolution.

My grandfather had six brothers, the names of whom I do not know.  Some of the older ones were in the British Army and present at the time of Braddock’s defeat.  They all entered the American Army around the same time, 1776.  Grandfather being the youngest of the seven, entered that division under the direct command of General Washington, his brothers entered different divisions.  He never saw or heard from them after his enlistment.  He believed some of them passed safely through the war as he had, but was unable to get any trace of them after the war.

After the war ended, Grandfather made his home in Schoharie, New York, where he married Mary Freymeyer, March 25, 1788.  She was of German parentage and was born in that country November 10, 1770.  After his marriage, Grandfather moved to Charleston, Virginia, where he remained until 1832.  He then moved to Cincinnati and again to Scott County, Indiana, where he remained until his death on January 22, 1851 at the age of 90 years.  His funeral was the largest I have ever seen, there being 500 horsemen in line besides one company of state militia under the command of Major Joseph Keepens at New Frankfort, and a very large following of citizens on foot, in wagons, and other vehicles.  Major Keepens had a great deal of trouble drilling his men so that there would be no mistake at the grave.  He formed his men in father’s barnyard and put them through the drill for two or three hours until they understood every move he made with his sword.  When they came to the grave, everything moved like clockwork.  Major Keepens was a large, fine-looking man with the pride and lofty bearing of the old Southern Gentleman now passing away, and I think now after seeing many great military movements, that the funeral could not have been entrusted to more capable hands.

My grandfather was between 15 and 16 years of age when he entered the army, and though he was of tall frame, he was of slight build. The enlisting officer believing him not yet sufficiently developed to carry a gun, appointed him fifer, he being a fair musician for his age and time.  At the time I knew my grandfather, he was a large man being about six feet tall and weighing 18o or 190 pounds.  He walked erect with a military step and carriage.  His features were large, eyes grey, hair iron grey, mouth large and clean cut with kindly, firm lips.  He used neither tobacco nor whiskey, was a member of the local church, a Freemason, and an uncompromising abolitionist.

He was always proud to tell of the grand deeds and heroism of Washington.  He described Washington as a man of large frame, very active and the kindest man in the world, but of inflexible firmness–as being quick to decide and prompt to act, but never making a mistake.  When speaking of his General, his whole countenance seemed to light up and glow with a patriotic fire that to my young mind was divine.

VALLEY FORGE

His story of Valley Forge was, to me, the most interesting and pathetic of all the stories he told of the Revolution.  He said that the soldiers were almost naked and most of them were barefooted and that it was easy to track them by the blood from their feet on the frozen ground.  He said suffering from the insufficiency of clothing and lack of shoes, however, was nothing to that due to the lack of food.  He said that he himself was three days without the taste of food of any kind, and that during those nights of hunger and cold he frequently dreamed of the fireside of home and mother preparing good things to eat.  He said of all his sufferings, nothing compared to those three days and nights of cold and hunger.  During the darkest hours of that memorable winter, he said that Martha Washington visited the camp and passed through leaning on the arm of the General.  As she passed along, the half-frozen and emaciated soldiers would stagger to their feet and salute her with all the enthusiasm and lofty bearing of well fed and happy men.  She would bow to the men, encouraging them with kind words and smiling lips, when it was plain to be seen that it was only by the most painful effort on her part to restrain the tears from gushing from her eyes.

One morning Grandfather and some of his comrades were out in the woods gathering timber when they came upon Washington kneeling at the root of a tree engaged in prayer.  He did not seem to see or know of the presence of the wood hunters who stopped, took off their old caps and stood with bowed heads until the General had risen and started back to camp.  When relating this incident, my Grandfather frequently said that after that morning, he had no doubt as to the result of the War of Independence because he knew Washington had appealed to the Infinite Father for assistance.  Grandfather said there was one remarkable fact concerning the camp at Valley Forge and that was as to desertion.  He said that while some of the new recruits did desert, that with the old soldiers who had been with Washington from the start, such a thing was never thought of, or at least never mentioned.  It is hard for the present generation to understand the power of those underlying principles that held that little army together under such distressing circumstances.

While the army was dying of cold and hunger at Valley Forge, Congress seemed to be unable to agree upon a plan of relief until compelled to do so by Washington himself.  Thomas Paine at that time was Clerk of the Committee on Foreign Affairs.  It was reported and believed by the army that he had saved out of his salary five hundred dollars which he took to Benjamin Franklin and proposed to donated it to by food and clothing for the soldiers.  Franklin at once agreed to donate a like amount, and they began immediately to solicit donations for that purpose and by that night had collected $38,000 with which they procured supplies  and immediately started them to the army.

One incident which occurred during the winter the army was at Valley Forge my grandfather always delighted to relate.  He said that Washington was very solicitous about the health of his army and wished the soldiers to have exercise sufficient to keep them in good physical condition, as well as to keep their minds occupied.  Near the camp there was a very large rock or boulder on the top of a very high mountain and Washington proposed to the soldiers that they roll it from its resting place down the side of the mountain.  Nearly all the army set to work for that purpose expecting to accomplish the task in a few days, but three weeks of the hardest work was required before the boulder began to move.  They cut small trees for levers and and had to remove the broken stone and earth from the lower part of the boulder before they could fairly begin the task of moving it.  Everyone now became interested and the excitement ran high and the officers were as much interested as the men.  The great boulder finally began to move and with a crash started down the mountainside mowing trees to the ground and crushing everything that happened to be in its path of descent until it reached the valley below.  It was a clear, cold day and Washington and his officers were out to see the fun which they seemed to enjoy greatly.  If Valley Forge should be made a National Park and a large boulder be found at the foot of either of the mountains close by, he who looks upon it after reading this story will know how, when, and why it got there.

THE BATTLE OF BRANDYWINE

Grandfather regarded the Battle of Brandywine as the hardest fought battle of the War.  He said the day was intensely hot and both armies suffered greatly from the heat and thirst.  The Americans were driving the British back at many points of the line and success seemed to be assured when it became known that one of the divisions of the American Army was retreating, and soon order changed into confusion and a decisive victory became a disastrous defeat.  He said Washington rode about like an enraged lion trying to rally the men, but it was too late and he was compelled to order a retreat of the entire army.  He said a mad scene followed this defeat.  Different commands were thrown together in the greatest confusion.  Some laughed, some prayed, and some swore.  Confusion and dread of impending doom appeared to pervade the entire army.  He said that he felt that the Americans had been betrayed and that the cause of the Colonies was hopeless.  He said that it was believed by many of the common soldiers that men high in confidence of the people were desirous of the downfall of Washington and believed that the loss of the battle was brought about for that purpose, and he believed that if he had not been in the infinite hands of destiny, their object would have been accomplished.

CROSSING OF THE DELAWARE

My grandfather said the crossing of the Delaware River on such boats as they could find and on rafts of logs by night was one of the most daring and dangerous movements performed by Washington during the entire seven years of their struggle.  He said that the river was full of floating ice, some of which looked to him to be four feet thick.  The weather was bitter cold and the entire army suffered greatly from the exposure of that night.  The Americans had been driven to the river by the British who greatly outnumbered them and could have captured the entire American army had they made the attack that night.  Washington saw that flight across the river was the only hope of escape.  The British believed the Americans were safely captured and they could postpone the attack until morning and then, as they expressed it, “make a breakfast spell of it.”  But at dawn the next morning, Washington attacked the British at Trenton, and most of them being asleep and not apprehending any danger, the Americans gained a great victory capturing 1,000 or 1,200 of the hired Hessians and Hussars of the British Army.  (Right here I may be permitted to interject the probable solution of the origin of the word “Hoosier,” as applied to the citizens of Indiana.)  Grandfather always held to that the term was applied to them by Revolutionary soldiers who came to the territory a few years after the close of the war on account of the appearance of the settlers of the territory reminding them of the Hussars (which they pronounced “Hushies”) of the British Army.

The prisoners were marched across the country and great numbers of people came out to see what kind of animals the were.  They discovered that they were ordinary men and had no further fear of them as the invincible warriors they had been accustomed to regard them. The army then went into winter quarters at Morristown, where the suffering was almost as great as that of Valley Forge.

GRANDFATHER NEARLY CAPTURED

My grandfather said that he was never sick, wounded, or captured during the war.  He came near being captured, however, at one time.  He was in a scouting party Washington sent out to locate the British Army, and when eight or ten miles they met a British scouting party much larger than their own and the only safe course open to them was to get back to camp with all possible speed.  The British had fresher and better horses and gained steadily on the Americans when Grandfather’s horse broke down and was scarcely able to go outside of a walk.

The others saw the condition of his horse and realizing that if they clung to him they would all be captured or killed, then only they reluctantly left him to his face.  However he urged his horse along as fast as possible, and had gotten only about halfway up the hill with the British close upon him when he saw coming over the summit of the hill with a whoop, a party of American cavalry which greatly outnumbered the British party.  The tables were at once turned, the pursuers became the pursued, and the entire British party was soon captured by the Americans.  He said he thought that body of American cavalry men was the greatest body of men he had ever seen and believed that with their assistance he could whip the entire British army.

THE TREASON OF ARNOLD, THE EXECUTION OF ANDRE

Grandfather never liked to talk of the treason of Benedict Arnold, nor of the capture and execution of Major Andre.  He regarded General Arnold as one of the greatest Generals of the American army, and a true American, and of course his treason was a great shock to Washington and the entire army.  He said that the night after Arnold’s treason had become known, he saw a rocket ascend outside the American camp, but he never knew from whence nor for what purpose, but he believed it was a signal from Arnold to the British to inform them that Major Andre had been captured and that his (Arnold’s) treason had become known.  He said that the trial and execution of Andre was the saddest event of the war.  Washington, he said, did all he could to save Andre, and used every means possible to exchange him for Arnold with that end in view.  But the British refused to give Arnold up and the only possible thing left him was the execution of Andre.  He said that Major Andre was kept in a prison built of logs and a strong guard was kept around it to prevent the possibility of his escape or rescue.  The morning of the execution, Washington came to the prison after the troops were drawn up, and taking Andre by the hand said to him: “My friend, I cannot save you.  Goodbye.”  Washington then walked away crying like a child.  That feeling that Washington had for Andre under the distressing circumstances which Andre was placed can be better understood that they were both freemasons, and the ties that bound them together were as strong as those of natural brothers.

As soon as Washington had disappeared from view, the commanding officer ordered Andre be brought out and be placed on his coffin which was in a cart, and to proceed to the place of execution which was about 100 yards from the prison.  Grandfather played the death march as the procession moved from the prison to the place of execution, a necessity of which he never ceased to regret.  When the cart stopped under the tree on which Andre was to be hanged, his hands and feet were quickly bound, a rope was made fast to a limb and a noose placed around his neck while he was standing on his coffin.  The driver was made to drive the cart from under him.  Andre held to his coffin with his feet as long as he could and then fell to his death, and thus the most deplorable tragedy of the American Revolution had been enacted.  Grandfather said there were but few dry eyes.

THE STORY OF THE BATTLE OF YORKTOWN

The story of the Battle of Yorktown and the surrender of Cornwallis was the most pleasing and exciting of all of Grandfather’s stories about the Revolution.  He said the Americans were expecting a decisive battle a long time before the meeting with Cornwallis, but had no idea when or where it would take place.  But with the help of Lafayette and his men, they had no doubt of a victory for the Americans.  When they came up with the British he said it appeared to him that Washington used more precaution in bringing on that battle than he had ever known Washington to use before.  He personally inspected every point and directed every move.  His face was aglow with expectant success, and his whole bearing was active and enthusiastic, imparting a feeling to the entire army they had never known before, and when the clash of arms finally came, every American was anxious to be in the front rank and the thickest of the battle.  The British, he said, fought like enraged lions, for they too felt that this was the final struggle of the war, but the Americans were invincible and the British seeing further resistance useless displayed their insignia of defeat.

Then came the surrender of the British Army and all felt that the war was at an end.  The American Army was drawn up and witnessed the stacking of the British arms, and when Cornwallis delivered up his sword, Grandfather said he felt that the war was over and the object for which he had fought so long and suffered so much had been attained, and his heart was so full of gratitude that his eyes were blinded for a time by tears.  He said after drying his eyes he looked as far as he could over the landscape and said aloud “My country! My home! I thank God for permitting me to be here this day and see the dawn of American Liberty!”

1 Week Down

I’m officially over a week out from my surgery.  It feels nice to reach this milestone considering how long I had to wait for it.  I’m still in a lot of pain, but it is gradually improving.  The leg pain from compressed nerves I was experiencing before surgery is still gone.  The majority of the pain I’m experiencing now is bone pain (the surgeon shaves some of the bone off the vertebrae near the affected disc to help take pressure off the nerve being compressed) and muscle spasms.  The pain is forcing me to use muscles I usually don’t use to support my upper body.  These muscles are screaming and spasming in protest!  That will eventually go away, muscle spasms are a very normal part of recovery from spine surgery.  Doctors regularly prescribe muscle relaxers in combination with narcotics for pain control.

I was talking to my dad earlier about my pain and we discussed the differences between my last two spine surgeries compared to this one.  While the operative pain is a bit worse this time due to working on more than one disk, my legs are much stronger this time than they were after the other surgeries.  They feel stronger now than they have in months!  The surgery was definitely successful in that respect.  While there’s a chance I won’t ever be pain free, I have high hopes that I’ll be pretty close to pain free after 6 weeks or so.

My last spine surgery resulted in an allergic reaction to SOMETHING used in incision closure.  Whether it was the dissolving sutures or the topical glue I don’t know, but I’m having a similar reaction this time.  The wound and surrounding area itch something terrible and are red.  It isn’t infection, though…I’m just concerned that the reaction will hinder healing.  Last time my incision didn’t heal properly and remained open on the top layers.  That combined with a hematoma developing resulted in a second surgery.   The surgeon closed the wound with non-dissolving nylon sutures and it healed beautifully.  I wish she had done that this time, but she didn’t.  We’re watching it like a hawk and first sign that the wound is opening up we’re going straight back to the surgeon.  I refuse to go under the knife again!

In other life news, I’m getting excited about the holiday season.  The Christmas commercials have begun and I have my fall scents all over the house.  I love the warm, spicy scents of fall.  One of my favorites this year is Yankee Candle’s Apple Pumpkin.  It’s fabulous.  I’m beginning to search Pinterest and my new cookbooks for a different recipe or two to make for Thanksgiving.  I’d love a link if anyone has a suggestion for me. I’m also looking forward to a trip to Branson, Missouri sometime before Christmas. My mom wants to take me up there for a little shopping and enjoying their Christmas decorations and activities.  I hated Branson as a kid.  It was a place everyone went to shop and I thought it was a haven for old people and extremely cliche and I hated going.  I even boycotted it and refused to go for years.  Now that I’m older I appreciate it more.  It’s a lovely place with good shopping not too far from home but far enough to seem like vacation.  I still don’t enjoy the shows or any of that aspect of it, but Branson actually has a lot to offer besides their kind of cheesy stage shows.

An Interview with Victoria Wilson, Author of A LIFE OF BARBARA STANWYCK: STEEL-TRUE (1907-1940)

I am very excited about this upcoming biography of my favorite actress. I’m glad someone finally took the time to write a more factual biography of Stanwyck’s life than has been written previously. The extreme fondness the author has for Tony Fay has me a bit concerned, though. I hope her fondness doesn’t cloud her judgement and her portrayal of the facts.

Backlots

By Lara Gabrielle Fowler

The life of Barbara Stanwyck has fascinated film lovers for decades. Her particular combination of sex appeal, toughness, and grit makes for an intriguing character and was doubtless informed by a private life about which she was extremely reticent. This, along with innate intelligence and a seemingly natural instinct for acting, has made her one of the most enigmatic personalities of classic Hollywood.

Though it seems impossible to fathom, there has never been a major biography of Barbara Stanwyck.

Until now.

On November 12, Simon & Schuster will publish A Life of Barbara Stanwyck: Steel-True (1907-1940), volume 1 of the long-awaited first complete biography of Barbara Stanwyck. 15 years in the making and running a whopping 1,056 pages in length, author Victoria Wilson has created a colossal piece of literature covering the first 33 years of Barbara Stanwyck’s life. Comprised of tireless research and…

View original post 2,240 more words

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