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The Day Before

Tomorrow is the day before everything changed 20 years ago…Do you remember what you were doing September 10, 2001? Unless you were giving birth or getting married or divorced probably not. It was just another day. The weather was probably starting to cool just a little and the days were getting shorter. Labor Day was over and everyone was back to school and work. People were flying and traveling in and out of planes, trains and buses without a second thought. It was a Monday…the next day was Tuesday. Where were you Monday? What were you doing? You’re like me I can’t remember most days what we had for dinner the night before unless I forget to do the dishes or the takeout containers are still on the counter. Did you know what the TSA was? Had you heard of the Taliban or Osama Bin Laden? Bet you never paid any attention to your surroundings. Checking into the airport was a breeze a ticket and a driver’s license then walk through the metal detector and onto the plane. The next morning several people did that exact thing, boarded 4 flights to different locations to change our world forever…2977 did not go home the next day. I don’t remember September 10, 2001 but I remember every detail of September 11, 2001. 20 years later I remember skipping exercise class for breakfast at Cracker Barrel and my brother in law calling to tell us a plane had crashed into the Pentagon. So I called Scott and he said no the plane hit the World Trade Center. We started to go to TJ Maxx for retail therapy but breaking news keep coming on the radio…change of plans head home to see what’s going on. Matt Lauer is giving an update of the plane in NYC when what looked like a replay another plane hits. The world changed that day…we’ll never forget.

Smalltown Christmas

You watch Hallmark Christmas movies and see these towns filled with charm but do you see that in your hometown…in our hometown and surrounding small towns we’re busting at the seams with Christmas. Christmas trees on the courthouse square, wagon rides around town, parades, businesses decorated even a Merry & Bright home decorating contest. Tonight was the kickoff to Christmas in the Upper Cumberland with Christmas in the Country around the Livingston square with store windows full of twinkling lights and trees, shopping, local banks handing out hot cider, roasted peanuts & caramel corn, wagon rides plus a visit from Santa. Maybe Christmas doesn’t come from a store, Maybe Christmas perhaps means a little more-The Grinch

Looking back

As a kid I remember my parents and grandparents talking about remembering exactly where they were when President Kennedy was shot or when Dr. King was killed…I always thought why they remembered those things but couldn’t remember telling me something or forgetting to get something at the store. As I get older I have come to realize what they meant. I can remember exactly how the sky looked as we were standing on our front porch watching the tornado of 1974, I remember the night Desert Storm started, I remember the day the Towers collapsed and I remember waking up to lightning and a storm about 1:45am on March 3, 2020.

I have never slept much during the night if it storms. I’m the one up watching the news, calling everyone with storm updates, following everything on Facebook and cleaning the house. Yes I clean when it storms. But this night was different I was sleeping so good but suddenly the lightning started and I was up and trying to get the tv on to see the weather report from Nashville. Then at 1:48 am the cell phone alarms sounded…My daughter came down stairs and I got my husband up and we sat in the kitchen trying to see where the storm was…within a minute or two the rain started blowing sideways, wind was awful then it was over. We were sitting in the dark wondering how many trees we would have down around our farm and definitely up our driveway. The stars started coming back out and it was so quiet then gradually we started hearing a faint siren from a patrol car. Powers out somebody has wrecked during the storm or lightning hit somewhere. Then we all started getting numerous repeating text from friends…”you all OK”, “you need anything” “you ok”…why all the concern then the sound of sirens got louder and more frequent.

Well lets get out and check the driveway and drive up the road then we realized about 2:15am that a tornado had hit but nobody knew at that time exactly how bad the damage was. The storm had hit Nashville earlier and damaged the Verizion cell towers and most everyone has Verizion services. So cell services was very spotty at best. We got up our road to our neighbors and one neighbor said the Flatts’ camper trailer had hit their house and another neighbor had some roof damage but nobody was hurt. So we turned around and headed back home. The texts continued throughout the night. Texts from everyone finally one from a friend asking if we were ok and telling me that all county cleanup equipment and employees had been called out to the next road over.

Fast forward to 4:30am or so I finally text a friend in law enforcement and ask what has happened because we can’t find anything out but keep getting text…his text was “you should be ok but Echo Valley is a war zone” . War zone that’s just a mile or so away. As the sun starting coming up the realization set in…19 had lost their lives over 500 homes destroyed or heavily damaged in a path less than 5 miles.

I still have the warning text on my phone. As we approach the one year remembrance I’m still amazed at the damage that I drive through daily, the lives lost, how a community came together and help came from everywhere. We are #CookevilleStrong


As the song asks “Where were you”… I know exactly where leaving Cracker Barrel after ditching Pilates class for an Uncle Herschel breakfast with my sister. As we walked out the door debating housework or TJMaxx, my phone rang it was Scott asking if I had seen the news…NO (remember we’re suppose to be at Pilates) why? A plane has crashed into the World Trade Center…how did that happen? Kim calls her husband to tell him and he says no the plane crashed into the Pentagon. We try to figure out which husband had the facts and who was confused because it’s hard to confuse NYC and DC. Well we can figure it out later there might be something new at TJMaxx… there’s no music on the radio it’s all special reports maybe we should go home instead. At home the confusion gets greater both Towers have been hit, the Pentagon, there’s a plane headed towards the White House and now all planes are immediately landing …this is not a Will Smith movie what’s going on. Everyone is watching the tv suddenly everyone stops to watch in horror. Who did this? Why? The reports are sketchy, where else are they attacking, gas prices are rising and you must fill up, American flags along with red, white & blue is every where. Churches open the doors for prayers as everyone looks for answers. We unite, we stick together, we help each other, we slow down and listen, we ask “Where were you?”

Can we start over…

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Can we start over…

crosses18March 2nd we went to bed ready for another Tuesday of work, sales meetings and workouts…but at 1:49am all plans were changed and our community was turned upside down, tossed around and dropped. I don’t sleep when it storms…I clean…I’m talking laundry done, dishes washed, everything picked up and put away…if it’s in a closet, cabinet or drawer when a storm hits my big girl panties won’t be hanging in a tree. Crazy I know. Well this morning it started lightning and I got up to check the weather, just got the tv on when the phones started going off…woke my husband and my daughter and her dog were headed down the stairs when the hale started immediately followed by horrible winds. Within 5-6 minutes back to light rain, we never went to the basement. My husband was complaining that we would have trees down and my daughter was eating a bowl of cereal. Then we started getting text messages “you ok?”, “any damage?” “you guys ok?”…sure we’re in the kitchen fixing to go back to bed. Powers out and no internet and spotty cell service…back to bed. Then we start hearing sirens, they are getting louder…go outside it’s dark and quiet except for the sirens are getting louder and the faint wane of the tornado siren in Baxter. We get in the car and drive 3/4 mile down our road to DEVASTATION.

We are now 10 days out…the volunteers, community and complete strangers have stocked, re-stocked and overflowed donation centers. Blood banks had lines to give blood…people waiting over 4 hours to donate with no complaints. Strangers have dug through piles of debris for an injured 2 yr old’s “lovie”. Pictures and mementoes have been found everywhere more than 50miles away. Facebook has helped connect these items with their owners or the family left. Volunteer groups have come from everywhere to help, working all day and sleeping in church buildings at night. Food trucks and cooking groups are everywhere just wanting to help. Bottled water is everywhere.

The hardest part has begun now…the community has buried a family of 3 including a 2yr old, a 13 yr old awaiting her adoption, a 4yr old who passed in your daddy’s arms, friends and neighbors are daily being laid to rest…this night took 19 lives in our community.

10 days later everything is shutting down, ball tournaments cancelled, the Masters delayed, stock market tanking, the Great Toilet Paper shortage…Coronavirus! Please COVID19 ain’t got nothing we can’t overcome…We are #COOKEVILLESTRONG #PUTNAMPROUD.



Time on 2 wheels

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Usually I’m in the driver’s seat running from one appointment to the next…spring is always busy for a Realtor but this year is busier than normal. The first weekend in June had snuck up on me and we were headed out of town even debating should I stay and work with out of state clients coming to town. But after a few phone calls and a great co-worker, I was throwing a few things in a bag and ready to go. If I had forgot something I would just make due. I exchanged my driver’s seat for the passenger seat of a Harley Davidson. That passenger seat enabled me to see the beauty of the Great Smoky Mountains, Blue Ridge Parkway and Natahallan National Forest. Three beautiful days with 70degree temperature and sunshine at 5000+ft elevation…along with great food and wonderful friends. We rode, talked and enjoyed time away from cell service. We saw parts of the country we’ve never seen before. Evenings with dinner on the patio overlooking the mountains with large fire pits to shake the chill. Sunday morning worship was riding back seeing the beauty and awe of the God’s handywork…these views make the pages of God’s word come alive. Giving up control of my four wheels for a long weekend on two wheels was just what I needed to make me realize the beauty of our area…we’ve returned home tired but recharged.

50 is not old?

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Another birthday has came and now past this week and as everyone has asked…yes it was a big one…50. I’ve heard so many people talk about turning 40 was the worse or 50 nearly killed me. Looking back on my birthdays, I don’t recall being upset about the new year. Am I crazy? I am 50 now and when I was growing up that was one step away from the grave but not anymore. What is 50…it’s a number, it’s how much a Diet Coke used to cost, it’s 25 times 2, it’s still younger than my husband, it’s 5 decades I have lived and 5 decades of memories made. It’s being old enough to know better and wise enough to know when to stop. It’s being old enough to have watched the Facts of Life, Top Gun and Dallas the first time. It’s old enough to remember skating rinks, hall passes in school, Cavalier football at TTU, cruising Jefferson Avenue on Friday and Saturday nights, hanging out at the Cookeville Mall, buying cookies and lemonade at the Cookie Jar, home economics class in school, the water slide and pool on Jefferson, the talking Christmas tree at Harveys. It’s also being old enough to remember concerts at TTU, Murphy Center and Starwood and paying less than $10 for a ticket. It’s remembering how Cookeville has changed but still stayed the same. It’s being able to now enjoy concerts with my daughter and listen to her sing along to Rod Stewart and Cyndi Lauper…Girls just wanna have fun at 50 too! Enjoy everyday and remember you only get old when you want to…bring on the next decade!

Snow Day

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snow in cookeville

Well the weatherman has said that dreaded 4 letter word, the grocery stores have been besieged, the gas stations have lines and children  are flushing ice cubes and doing dances…It’s time for a snow day!

For the first of my school years, we lived in Louisville, Kentucky. We lived there during the winter of 78-79 when the Ohio river froze and there was feet of snow. Long before cell phones, robo calls and email messages…you watched the late news and hope to hear Paul Simon’s “Slip slidin’ away” because that meant a snow day…Many hopes were crushed reading over those cancellations…Jefferson County schools closed …YES! Catholic schools snow routes…still have hope! Portland open but girls may wear pants…Crap!!! While my neighbors got to sleep late and sled the big hill all day, I got to meet the bus at 6am with no heat and head to school in pants rather than my uniform skirt…the joys of private school!!!

Move ahead to 1981, we move to Cookeville. Our first winter here, we had snow days…what snow days what snow…a dusty to an inch but then there were bigger snows meaning no school for days. That’s all well and everyone is happy until you’re a senior counting the days to graduation…all the built in snow days are used up and the snow is still coming…graduation is moved from May to the first week of June…Ugh!!! I’m ready to graduate! Another drawback was I was working at a local bank and the bank did not close for snow so to work I went on my snow days…again no sleeping late or sledding.

Forward to TTU, early morning classes during winter quarter…word was get certain professors because they cancelled classes when it snows…Wrong! So you drive to campus or Dad drops you off for the day…you work your way across campus get in the class and wait and wait and wait…no professor no call no nothing…head back to the UC or sorority room to wait for that next class… four classes maybe 2 professors show up…remember we walked 6 miles up hill in the snow to get to class!

Fast forward to present day…school is cancelled the night before, TTU closes and most businesses close for the snow day…total accumulation 1-2 inches high by the weekend of 59degrees…got to love Tennessee weather. Enjoy your snow day…I am…answering emails, blogging and posting pictures of new listings while dinner to cooks in the crockpot and the wood stove is keeping the house warm and cozy.


Tis the season…

Tis the season…

Tis the season for my favorite food group…dressing. In the south, dressing is prepared outside the turkey and always with cornbread. As the weather starts getting cooler, I start saving the leftover cornbread from dinners of chili, soups and beans. My freezer is stocked with Ziploc bags of leftovers just waiting to become that sage filled treat that I so love. Tonight as I’m typing this blog…the aroma of sage, seasonings and chicken are rising from my oven as I prepare dressing for our company Thanksgiving lunch. The aroma brings back so many memories of family holidays with my grandmothers, my mom and numerous aunts. All wonderful cooks individually but put them together and it is nearly culinary overload in the very best way. From one grandmother’s homemade rolls made dozens and dozens at a time along with chicken&dumplings to my other grandmother’s fresh coconut cake and numerous items brought to grandmother’s small but always welcoming home on Chief Creek…enough food to feed a small town  would be enjoyed by all the family and friends that made their way to Thanksgiving or Christmas in Lawrence county.


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Growing up Easter was always a big holiday for my family. My sister and I always had new dresses and white patent shoes. Until we were school age, those cute dresses were hand made by one or both grandmothers. Most of the time we were in Lawrenceburg at our grandparents. There we would have sunrise service with my mom’s parents at the Baptist church followed by breakfast and then to church with my dad’s mom at the Church of Christ. That would be followed by a huge potluck with my grandmother and all her sisters families then the egg hunting was on. One of my favorite things about those Easters was an Easter basket my grandmother, Ma Wideman, had purchased the year I was born from McKelvey’s Florist in Lawrenceburg. Every year she brought that basket out with the blue bunny and filled it with wonderful candy and little gifts for me and my sister. As we got older she would hide lip gloss, makeup and money in that basket. For several years mom would make our Easter chocolate candy from molds that I still have. Once I got older, Easter meant church then working as sponsor of the county wide egg hunt. Broadcast over the local radio station, we would serve free cokes and hot dogs for hours while thousands searched the county for prize eggs. I still get excited about Easter even though my daughter is grown and getting ready to graduate college. One year when she was younger, she announced that she knew who the Easter bunny was and I could just give her the gifts and candy without setting her basket out. I told her “No basket no gifts”. When I went to bed that night, her basket was sitting on the kitchen table awaiting the Easter bunny’s arrival. Now here it is Saturday night before Easter Sunday, the ham is baking, dessert is made and I have Easter baskets ready for my grown daughter and her boyfriend along with a new spring dress for her. Creating memories is one of the greatest things you can do for your children…never miss the opportunity. Happy Easter!!!

This is my younger sister and I Easter 1972 with our cute handmade Easter dresses.easter72

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