A Life Lesson

There is one thing I’ve learned in life. Life itself is a process- a lifecycle. You have to let it unfold. Then define it and refine it. So trust in yourself…

Mamma’s Old Stories – No. 4: Cricket’s Unforgettable Trip to the Mill

Some stories are so far fetched they are unbelievable. To this day, my mother insists her stories are true. 
Set during the civil war, this story is her memory of a story of an earlier generation. As told by my mother, her great-grandmother Cricket experienced a frightening and unforgettable trip to the Mill – Falls Mill.

I hope you enjoy… W.F. Lovelady

During the civil war, my great grandmother (on my dad’s side) was a little girl ten years old. She lived with her sharecropper family. Farming everything from corn, potatoes and cotton, the family received one-third of the harvested crop as food and a source of income.

Crops were plentiful that year, and it was time to take the corn to the Grist Mill (Falls Mill) in Belvedere, TN so that the corn could be ground into meal. Cricket was elected to go as all other family members had the flu.

“Cricket,” Papa declared. “It’s up to you. For without meal to make bread, we will not make it through the winter.” Papa continued. “Follow the road to the Mill. Then after they grind the corn into meal, take the same road back to Hog Holler.”

Cricket did as she was told. She traveled the lonely dirt road to the Mill, had the corn ground into meal, and then returned to the horse and started back down the old dirt road toward Hog Holler. Cricket did not get very far until a troop of Union soldiers began to pass her and her horse. One soldier dressed in blue, approach Cricket and demanded her horse. Terrified, little Cricket began to cry hysterically. The soldier told her again to dismount the horse. Unsure what to do, a frightened Cricket held tight and remained in the saddle fearing she might fall to the ground.

You see, her journey required assistance. Because she was so small, Papa placed her on the horse to begin the journey, and later the workers of the mill assisted her in her dismount and then her remount.

Now impatient, the soldier lifted Cricket under her arms and sat her on a nearby rock soon leaving with both horse and meal. Even more scared and unsure what to do, Cricket sat on the rock with tears streaming down her cheeks. Cricket had heard so many stories of Yankee soldiers. She continued to sob. Through a veil of tears, Cricket watched as the rest of the troops passed. At the end of the line, a well-dressed soldier approached Cricket. Presumed to be an officer, he had many shiny buttons on his chest. The officer saw Cricket huddled on the rock trembling like a frightened mouse. He halted his great white horse, and asked, “What’s wrong little girl?”

Cricket, sniffling, nervously told the gentlemen about her family and her task to have the harvested corn ground into meal for the family’s winter food source. Cricket continued in a quivering voice and mentioned the soldier who took both her horse and meal. The officer leaned over, pat Cricket on the head, and told her not to worry. He then rode off on his white horse. Minutes later the officer returned with Cricket’s horse and grain. He then stepped off his horse, lifted Cricket back onto her horse, with grain behind, and declared, “I don’t make war with small children and sick persons.” Patting her on the head, the officer handed Cricket the reins and re-assured that she would be safe on her return home.

Cricket finally retuned home safely. She couldn’t wait to tell Papa about her scary experience, and the gentleman that had ensured her safe return. Cricket even mentioned the officer’s name, Mr. Grant.

The End…

Get Connected…

Having common values and trust enable people to connect.

Over the course of our finite lives, each one of us acquires not only common knowledge but also very unique ideas and perspectives, thus making us different.

Do not be afraid, but more so understand and respect our differences. For the sum of our combined knowledge is much greater than the individual.

Once we understand this, only then can we connect and leverage the full possibilities or our life’s’ purpose…

W. F. Lovelady

Ole Hog Holler – An almost forgotten southern township

(Memories from my seventy-four year old mother form the basis for this post.  I hope you enjoy… W. F. Lovelady)

In middle Tennessee, just west the Cumberland Plateau, once laid a small community called Hog Holler. To get there, simply turn left on highway 121 just outside of Hunt land – off old Fayetteville highway. Next travel past the old civil war era cemetery down the old dirt road just a few hundred yards. To the left and right rest hundreds of trees, all types (birch, pecan, maple, sycamore) that not only line the road’s entrance but also shade the lawns were the town folk once dwelled. That was many years ago. The clarity of my memory continues to fade.

Remembering back, however, rolling Tennessee hills, fertile stream valleys, and green pasturelands paint the small township while brown wooden cabins hosts a community of families and friends. Pasturelands are lined with wooden fences that both contain the local herd and occasionally act as a podium to host one’s declaration to their audience.

The cabin floors and roofs are made of old wooden boards, both with cracks so large outside elements reveal during the mildest and the harshest of times. The summer presents a beautiful starlight dark grey night sky; and the winters lay white snow on the colorful hand made bedroom blankets covering the residents. During the winters, smoke bellows both from the cabin chimneys and the smoke houses containing slaughtered hogs. The smell of cured meats often filled the air.

Everyone knows everyone – friends and relatives alike. The townsmen, mostly sharecroppers, work during the day farming corn, cotton and even whiskey.

Grandparents and parents often live under the same roof. The evening entertainment begins with porch-side relaxation. The elders usually enjoy smoking tobacco, sipping black coffee, picking at the old wooden guitar, and sharing ghost stories. Soft music echoes throughout the holler while Grandma or Grandpa share an old ghostly legend.

Weekends bring everyone together with town socials, picnics and Church. The ladies gather for quilting parties, while the children play horseshoes and stickball. It isn’t uncommon for a young couple in love to stop a passing preacher on his horse and request assistance to be married. The preacher steps down off his horse, stands on the lower portion of the wooden fence and carries out the ceremony.

Leaving Hog Holler isn’t something folks take lightly as danger seems to lurk in the distance. To leave Hog Holler, one would pass the old cemetery and continue along the old dirt road. You could take the fork to the left and head to Falls Mills – a lonely trail that might reveal union soldiers, shady mountain men, or even Indians. There, crop could be ground into meal as well as sold to buy eggs, flour, beans, and other necessities.

The road’s fork right leads up the hill. At the top of the hill lies the home of an old witch who townsmen beg a safe distance to avoid unwanted spells toward their families and crops. At the base of the hill, an old wooden bridge borders the dark trail through a forest of lifeless trees leading to the old hag’s home. Under the bridge lives a troll name Tolak. In the event evil falls upon a Hog Holler home, the family leader may seek the witch’s help only with the permission of Tolak and a sacrade offering – a rare White Rose. Only with this gift of purity and Tolok’s safe escort, the family leader could then beg pardon from the old witch – hopefully restoring peace to his family and livelihood.

W. F. Lovelady

Your Time

Each lifetime offers an opportunity to shine – also known as your time. Do not panic but enjoy each precious moment. For soon enough it will become someone else’s time…

Now think twice before you begin a new project…

I recently shared a excerpt from my second book “The Adventures of Johnny Saturday: Back to the Drawing Board”.

To my daughter Sarah, who is making her final commitment to an up coming race later this year…

“This may not be true for you, but for me, starting a new project is very difficult. The hardest part is actually starting the project itself. For me, it’s all about commitment. I know that if I start a project, I must finish it, so I must be absolutely certain before I begin. Johnny Saturday is very similar. Johnny fells a sense of commitment to his adventures, just as he has a sense that the magic journal is real. Johnny knows that the hardest part of starting an adventure is just that, starting it. He knows that once he sets off on a adventure , he must complete it. Otherwise, he might be trapped inside the adventure forever!”

Good Luck Sarah!

Parents. Do you have any “Helpers” around your house?

Parents: Did you know that the word “helper” can be powerful in (recruiting) / including your children in daily activities.

After the work is done, have them try my first children’s book titled ” The Helper”- an exciting adventure that they will not be able to put down!

Authors and Parents: Having a hard day with the kids?

Just pull out your laptop, and write a children’s short story.  After all, your characters always take note to your words and never talk back!

Official Review “The Helper” – Kirkus Indie


The Helper

In the first book of Lovelady’s children’s series, 11-year-old Johnny Saturday’s weekends get a lot more interesting when he discovers a magic journal that takes him on adventures into folklore.

As the middle school bell rings on a Friday afternoon a few weeks before Christmas, Johnny and his neighborhood friend Lola can’t wait to begin the weekend. The recent kidnapping of a child on the other side of town casts a shadow over Lola’s plans, but Johnny looks forward to playing sports with his friends and sketching action figures in his room—his favorite activities. At Johnny’s home, readers meet his housewife mom, his somewhat eccentric inventor father, and his little sister, Sarah Boo. There, he discovers a black leather journal in the attic inscribed with the letters “J” and “S.” Although Johnny’s father seems to be aware the journal is more than it appears, he allows Johnny to use it for his drawings. That night, as Johnny sketches action figures in the book, one of his drawings stands up on the page to talk to him. “Johnny, you must come with me!” the figure pleads—Sarah Boo has just been kidnapped! Johnny takes the figure’s hand and enters a world of folklore inside the journal, which offers him clues whenever he gets stuck during his journey. Young readers will learn little-known stories about Santa Claus as the characters journey to northern Germany to meet a fairy named Kabladine, learn about a Spanish elf named Zwarte Piet and travel to Antarctica to find out what’s happening to the missing children.

The book cleverly capture kids’ imaginations while bringing old folk stories to life, and the prose is solid and accessible throughout, with charming illustrations.

A solid start to a promising, folklore-and-fairies series for young readers.

Daily Brain Teasers – How Hard Can They Be ?

Being a parent is one of life’s activities where each day assuredly presents a new problem just waiting for a “mom and/or dad” solution.  Think of these as our “daily brain teasers”.
Keep in mind that my background is in Engineering.  So for me, problem solving is my life.  Even more importantly myself and my collegues have re-named them as opportunities awaiting a solution.
Becoming a parent is easy, but what we do after that has tremendous implications – not only on ourself and our children, but also our neighbors (both near and far).  Many books on the subject are available.  However, for the most part they merely good “common sense” advisors, holding neither solutions nor recipes for success.  So, as a parent we muddle through each year doing what we think is right, and more importantly hoping our parental decisions are indeed right.  As the years go on, there are certain times when we will receive true validation that our parenting decision are making a positive difference.

For example:
1) Maybe its that sighing infant as it is held close.
2) Maybe its that toddler that races for a secure hug after a long day apart.
3) Maybe its the “Your my hero” comment unexpectedly.
4). Maybe its that innocent reach to hold hands, silently saying your cool mom and dad.
5) Maybe it’s that thank you for having faith when we “little children” didn’t.
The list can go on and on….
A patent’s validation can be difficult to recognize. However, today was different.  For me, it was one such validation.
Today my 23 year son, recently engaged, called from college and presented me with an unexpected question.  He mentioned he and his finance had been planning their wedding party.  He went on to ask, “Dad would you be my best-man in our wedding?”
With sincerity he commented,  “The decision is a no brainer, Dad.”

After a few seconds of collecting myself from the over-whelming pleasant surprise, I thought to myself, here is one of those parental validations.
My son’s calm and simple perspective on his decisions made me wonder, why can’t parenting be this easy!
So, when you get one of the validations, most assuredly you will recognize it.  Pause for a few moments to reflect and be proud of your accomplishments.  Then pat yourself on the back, and get back to work!
After all, a parents job is never finished!