It's the day after Thanksgiving, and all through the house, not a creature was stirring - especially Judy and Len. On this day, the house is a little cabin tucked away in the North Georgia mountains, with only a vague view of neighboring structures and a few vehicles in sight. And by creatures, we mean animals and the occasional blast of the house phone which we never answer yet still rings incessantly.
No creatures equals quiet, which is a very good thing.
As you can tell, we have discovered - or should I say re-discovered - the Polaroid camera and the art of shaking (like a Polariod picture!) Everything instantaneous. Who knew that would be such a thing thirty years down the road. It's the little things which make us grateful.
But that's only the beginning . . . teeth. Again, not so significant for those which have but for those of us gummers out there, it's a chance to live again. It's kind of cool not to second-guess a smile.
We're relatively healthy. We're not the Chrissy Tiegen-John Legend look-a likes, but we'll give them a run for daily joy!
Len and I get to travel together and see the world arm-in-arm, crutch-in-crutch, boot-in-boot, to tell stories and capture images. I get to see Len's face as he experiences the Acropolis for the first time. And, experiencing it together, reaching out for his hand and holding on, tells me all I need to know about this moment and the many more to come.
Our children are moving forward with their lives, and we are thankful. Although, for the most part, we have faded in the background, we give thanks that they are living the life they choose.
Possum Hollow is in full swing. My dream. Uncle Ivet's dream. Soon, in these very mountains where we are now, our little cabin will sit with a welcome placard reading, "Welcome to Judy + Len's Dream."
We are thankful for Bailey + Cody, Kelly + Joe, Renee + Michael, Mandy + Jason, Leah + Rich, Dani + Andrew, Joanne + Tommy, Claudia + Casey, Emily + Jay, Meagen + Ricky and Chelsea + Austin. We are honored and thankful that you are part of our 2018 story.
There are more things of which we are grateful, but these are the biggies. I hope that the changes that will happen in 2019 will be moments of gratitude when I write this a year from now. I pray that each day I will voice my gratitude for even the most insignificant things in my life so that I will realize how truly lucky I am. I yearn for more courage and a louder voice in my life.
So as we watch our fire and count our blessings, we're making our third pot of coffee and reaching for our vanishing pack of Oreos (okay, the healthy thing is being thrown out the window this morning). We're also dabbling in a little portrait photography before the rains begins and then heading toward the Old Sautee Store. Why? Because it's there - and that's the only reason you need!
You climb and climb, but do you ever get anywhere.
Meet Bob. He's a climber. He's also one of a multitude of cats that confuses Jack, the beast. That's Jack in the background, eating dinner. Everyday when I take my late afternoon walk to feed our multitude of animals, the cats walk with me. They tease the horses, running along the ground, zig-zagging underneath the feet of the 2,000 pound monsters. Would they really do that if they knew the possibilities? But, everyday, they move in the same fashion, hoping for what, I'm not sure. But, I would be willing to bet, it's fun.
I make my rounds, always in the same order. First the horses, mainly because I don't want to be chided by Lolly (Jack's companion) for being late. And yes, she stomps her right foot and screams at me for making her wait. She starts screaming when she hears the back door open. Being scolded by a horse doesn't quite sit well with me. Feed, water and hay, as the routine goes.
Then, the dogs. My twelve-year-old man Silas is turning gray these days, and like me, old age is bringing arthritis, achy joints and deaf ears. Still, he manages to secure the one bright sunny grassy spot in the yard, plops down and rolls with joy. That's my boy. Cody, the younger, is full of energy and runs at Silas when he sees the food coming, almost saying, "You can't have any." They play for about a second and retreat to their own corners to munch on kibble. Both rescues, the boys are always excited to see me, and for that, they deserve gold for dinner.
Cats are last because, well, they just are. "I feel the earth move under my feet" is more than just a song lyric by Carly Simon. They eat, we sit, and then we fellowship. Every night.
Routine is good. Expectations are good. These guys count on me to be there every day at the same time, and they know I'll be there. They climb, bark, snort, stomp, zig-zag and they do it over and over, day after day. And do they get anywhere different? Not really. But it's the showing up, the doing and the contentment from doing their perfect little thing that keeps them moving forward until the next time they climb, bark, snort, and zig-zag.
So although Bob never gets anywhere in his climb, he still climbs, simply for the joy. I write for the joy of recording my life in words. I photograph, not because you pay me, but because I find joy in capturing moments and doing something I thought I could never do. I make dinner, wash clothes and run errands, not for the joy it brings me (newsflash) but for the joy it brings you.
So keep climbing. Keep showing up. Even though it might be a drab routine day after day, try to find the joy and then think on it. Be grateful that there are horses, cats, dogs to feed. Be inspired to see dogs do cartwheels simply because you show up!
Whether it is exploring this amazing world or being content on my own piece of real estate near Athens, Georgia, I'm spinning stories and fashioning tales from a Southern perspective. As an editor and writer, I get to meet incredible people and share their stories. As a photographer, I get to cement these moments in time. As a wife and mother, I'm always excited to see what's around the next corner, For it's anything but ordinary.