Category Archives: Family

The Wolf Inside

This was written by my 13-year son. Out of the blue, he decides to write a poem.

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When the moon rises
You feel the heat
You taste the anger
You smell the meat
When the flower blooms
Deep in your heart
You feel the change coming
And it begins to start
When the blood is consumed
Get ready for a ride
Fur grows
Forming a mongrel hide
You lose control
A blood lust created
They razed the village
Which is why they’re hated
You can’t run
and you can’t hide
From the beast within
And the wolf inside

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Filed under Family, poetry, Uncategorized, writing

Large Wrecking Ball Required

May 20th, 2013. 5:15am.

I walked out of the house on time, really 5 minutes ahead of schedule, to catch a flight to a trade show for work in Atlantic City. Standing at the back of the car, just as I lift a piece of luggage into the back, my phone rang in my hand. A simple glance told me it was not my boss or co-worker also going on the trip with me. It was my mom. “No, Mom, no.” came out of my mouth and my husband moved from where he was standing at the garage door.

For .3 seconds I thought of not answering, but I needed to let my mom give me her message. I told my husband as he helped me with another bag but I could not pause for a hug, for his sympathy. I needed to get to the airport for this trip.

The days were busy and long. I stayed focused on work, and at the end of 3 days was utterly exhausted beyond my physical and emotional bounds. The flight from Philadelphia to Raleigh, and then the drive from RDU down to my hometown found me walking into the door of my childhood home and waking my mom slumbering in her recliner at 2am.

My grandmother’s funeral and subsequent time with my family are still a blur. My eyes teared up at the sight of my sister going through her emotions at the funeral and I grabbed her, staving off my own grieving to console her.  My family was already so weary from their own ordeals from the days before my grandmother’s passing.  We consoled ourselves with family memories and too many pieces of the obligatory cake or pie. A couple of days later when I stood up from my grandfather’s table to leave for my flight home, the weight of the week felt almost unbearable and I recognized my reluctance to depart as my denial of my own grief.

I drove the backroads to I-40, through the lands of my ancestors, full of emotional loss, physical exhaustion and sweet memories.  Arrival to my current home brought my nuclear family needs back in focus along with lots of work to be done at a new job. More time has passed but I have spent none grieving as I should.

The wall I built around the emotions of grief the last few weeks is tall, thick, well-constructed. I am an expert at building such walls.  I don’t know where to begin to grieve. I try to will the tears but the fear of pain, the fear of the tears never stopping, keep them from coming at all.  Someone told me that I am a strong woman. I see my inability to grieve properly as a weakness, a fault.

No one knows my inability to own my emotions is deeply seated in childhood pain and loss. I let a little bit of sorrow in and my world crashes in on me for months.  The wall around my current grief is part of a superstructure I have been building all of my life.  Whenever I mourn and tear down just one wall, the whole structure becomes unstable. I become unstable. I hate that feeling. I begin to lament every bad decision, every loss, every hurt, every pain my mind will not forget. I hate the overwhelmingness of it.

Just below the lump in my throat, sitting on top of my heart, is a massive structure of walls, hidden rooms, towers of secrets. One chink in the mortar, one removed stone threatens it. I do not have the strength to start the grieving. This is an advertisement for demolition needed. Large wrecking ball required.

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Filed under Family, Uncategorized

Pass the Hushpuppies

Among the reasons I love Fall, the number one is oysters. Cooler weather means oyster season. The oyster is the ugly, stinking of mud bivalve. I love them. They are by far my favorite thing to eat and have been since I was 6-years old. The only thing that comes even close is my grandmother’s collard greens. But that’s another culinary story.

Coastal North Carolina is fortunate to have what are called barrier islands. They protect the main coastline and provide inlets, waterways and protected waters from the harsh wave action of the ocean. Along these waterways, in the muddy shallows, my favorite delectable bivalves reside in the luxury of mud and seawater, living and multiplying as the tide dictates.

My earliest recollection of eating oysters was at our house at Lake Waccamaw circa 1975. We ate them inside the house! Something we never did again once we moved from the lake to where my parents live now. I still love their taste, but I first fell in love with how hard I had to work to get the tasty little morsels out of their shells. Mainly, because I was good at it.

I see people shuck oysters with gloves and rags, but from the beginning I held them in my bare hand and, at first, had only a butter knife to use to open them. My stepdad encouraged me as often as possible to slow down, eat a hushpuppy, take a break, but I loved just shucking and chucking.

Photo Credit: Oyster Cluster & Oyster Knife by Doug DuCap

News of possibly having a couple of bushels while we’re in NC for the holidays has me reminiscing about cold evenings standing around a table in my great grandmother’s smokehouse, now a garden shed, and shucking with aunts and uncles. Even before that, we ate them in a more modern shed my stepdad had elevated on railroad ties to protect from the tidal Thally’s Branch, the creek that runs behind their house.

Our family eats oysters on a wet roast, meaning they are steamed over a pot of water over an outside fire until their shells pop open just a bit. Well, most of them do any way until they start getting cold again and close up. My favorites ones are 4″ long and juicy. No sauce, lemon or fancy fixings are needed. I love them warm enough for their salt juice to sweeten with the meat. Their color ranges from beige when swollen from their hot juices to mud gray well, because there’s still mud inside the shell. Somehow the grit never bothers me.

Holding an oyster to shuck it isn’t for anyone not wanting to get their fingers dirty or cut. When they close up, a simple twist of a good oyster knife or even a sturdy butter knife opens up the most stubborn oyster like turning a key. The edges of the shell are sharp as cut glass at times.

Waiting between pots once you’ve eat the previous pot is the time to socialize, pass the hushpuppies and empty the full buckets of empty oyster shells. If it is cold, it’s a good time to warm up wet, cut hands by the fire but also down a good bit of Southern sweet tea to cut the salt puckering the soft tissue of your mouth. The last pot is always something to savor and it is customary to slow down to let the cook catch up on a few.

No, there’s nothing quite like shucking wet, muddy, sharp oysters in 35-40 degrees standing at a table covered in newspaper and saltwater. Many Fall and Winter weekends of my youth have left me with what feels like a thousand papercuts on my hands and a belly full of muddy, salty, slimy, chewy scrumptious oysters.

I can’t wait!!

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Filed under Beautiful, Family, Life, Past


Merriam-Webster defines hate as intense hostility and aversion usually deriving from fear, anger, or sense of injury.

There are very few things I hate for one primary reason. It takes too much energy to work up all that fear, loathing or anger. I see it as a total waste. But, I do severely hate something that made this past week more difficult than most others: birthdays.

I don’t fear growing old though I have difficulty embracing it at times. My anger about birthdays has subsided with time, 30 years to be exact but the deep scars of hurt linger. Each year with the arrival of my birthday, the wounds reopen. Each year I struggle to find a way to erase the memories that I hold onto as if they were all that I have. Well, they nearly are.

My 10th birthday party my Dad threw for me was the most awesome birthday party I ever had, ever attended or dreamed about. I saw him the following year but my 12th birthday came and went without any acknowledgement. Lost, confused and dejected, I turned the anger and disappointment on myself.

I’ve hated birthdays ever since.

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Filed under Birthdays, Failure, Family, Happiness, Life