Monday, June 30, 2014

The Meanest Man in America

Have you ever heard of a man named Pee Wee Gaskins? He was a BAD man....a serial killer in the 70's and even earlier. He lived only 30-45 minutes from my home, when I was a teenager. I never knew him, but I remember being very afraid of him. There is a documentary on You Tube about him. If you would like to watch it, click this link: The Meanest Man in America. There have also been a few books written on the subject. Occasionally over the years, Pee Wee's name has come up in conversation taking me back to that time in the 70's, when I remember that feeling of fear from just hearing his name. I don't necessarily like to read things like this, but since it was so close to home, I wanted to know more. After all, it was local history. So, just a couple of years ago, I saw a book in the bookstore about him and decided to read it. How someone can be so callous and have no conscience is beyond me. It's enough to make chills run up your spine. And now I know why he was such a feared man.

So......You may be wondering why in the heck I would write about the meanest man in America. It's simple. I was talking with Joyce, my neighbor at the beach, and she was telling me about a gentleman that she offered to give his grandson a golf car ride, while he set up his camper across the street from us. The man was so appreciative that he gave Joyce a signed copy of a book he had written. She showed me the book and what do you was the same book I bought and read a couple of years ago. I got all excited and Joyce asked if I wanted to meet him. So, we walked across the street and she introduced us. I couldn't believe I was actually shaking hands with a full fledged author of a published book. He was a very nice man and offered to sign my copy. The only thing was that my copy is in Colorado with my son-in-law. I almost wanted to go buy another copy, just to get his autograph. We finally came to the conclusion that I would bring my copy home with me when I visit Whitney and Jason next month and when Mr. Collins comes back to Lakewood for vacation, he will come by my house and sign it then. See how nice he was........

The Book. The Author. And the reason for this post.
Happy Fourth, Y'all!
Oh wait, in case you were wondering......
I have been running like a mad woman. At least my legs think I've gone crazy. I'm trying a new style of training, for me anyway, called the Hansons Method. It operates on Hansons' philosophy of cumulative fatigue. I'll explain that one later. Anyway, I've already ran 74.51 miles this month. And July's mileage will be even higher. I have high hopes for the Revel Rockies Half-Marathon in August and I can't wait to see how this new training method will have worked for me.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Experiences of Running

Divas Half Marathon
N. Myrtle Beach ~ April 2014

I was so excited to be invited as a guest writer for the Grand Strand Running Club Newsletter this month. Scared, inadequate, insecure, but excited. My assignment.....running, of course.

I've had a couple of months to think about what I was going to write and honestly, I don't know that I can add anything to what you've already read about and what you, as runners, already know.

So, I thought I would tell you a little about my story and my experiences of running.

I began running two years ago this month. Initially, I started running for my health. And in no time, decided to enter some races. After all, that was what runners do, right? My first 5K was so powerful! I discovered things about myself that I would never have, otherwise. Of course, it has to be said.....I learned that 'the nerves' is a powerful cleanser. Ha!  But more importantly, I learned that my body will go farther than I ever thought possible. I learned that my mind can make or break me on a run. I learned that I can talk myself through some of the most painful runs or races and finish. And the sense of accomplishment I felt as I crossed the finish line was life changing.

There are certainly days when I don't feel like a runner....not that I'm sure I know what being a runner is supposed to feel like. First of all, I'm slow. I got a sense of that the day a lady security guard driving a golf cart and I nearly collided. She whipped around me just in time and proclaimed..."Don't worry, I brake for joggers".  I thought and nearly out loud, OMG!  Did she just call me a jogger?  Yes, she did! So, I guess it was confirmed....I am slow.

However, there is a bigger picture here. Being slow has nothing to do with being healthy. And being slow has nothing to do with the distance of a mile. A twelve to thirteen minute mile is just as long as a seven minute mile. So running slow......Ha! Who cares? I've decided there are worse things than being slow. I am able to run, some don't have that luxury.

And then there are those days that I proudly rack up the miles and think to myself....I may not be an elite runner, but I am in an elite group of people called..........'Runners'.

I have a blog and write a lot about my runs. Some days my runs crack me up and I just have to tell someone. And some days, I'm pretty sure inquiring minds just want to know. Ha! By telling my stories, I hope to inspire people to get serious about their health while having some fun at the same time. (If I can do it, so can you. Just put one foot in front of the other and soon, you too, will be a runner and on the road to better health.) If you would like to read more about my experiences of being a runner or just life in general, you can visit me at Or, you can read about my latest 10K race here:

The experiences I encounter through running make it thrilling and keep me coming back for more. And although I've been running for two years this month, I still consider myself a new runner. Oh yes, in those two short years, I've experienced running highs and lows, an injury, some good races and some not so good races. But, I've grown to love it....all of it. And as I've contemplated my running as a whole, I've come to realize that running is a metaphor for life. You get out of it what you put into it. There will always be uphill battles and then there will be glorious accomplishments. Running can thrill you or make you feel defeated, but you learn from it and grow.

What more of an experience could one hope for?
Happy Running Y'all!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Reflections Of The Way Life Used To Be....

Summer of 1972.....I was twelve years old and as carefree as I could be. In those days we would roller skate, ride bikes, play with the water hose and climb trees. My sisters and brother and I would play outdoors nearly all day.....or until the heat drove us in during the middle of it.  But once the afternoon breezes began, we were back outside again.  I don't know if this delighted mama or drove her crazy trying to keep up with all five of us. (Baby number six wasn't born yet.)

Dusk was a magical time of day. The Martins began swooping in eating their fill of mosquitoes, the crickets began singing their songs and the fireflies began wooing potential mates while lighting the skies. OK, so there weren't that many fireflies, but wasn't it just the highlight of the day to grab a Mason jar and capture a couple of fireflies, sit them by your bed and watch them light the room with a faint glow until you fell asleep. Boy, those were the days.

I think that summer was my last carefree summer where all the problems of the world was cared for and solved by the adults in our lives. Nothing seemed too difficult for our mama. Without as much as a hint of a complaint, she would plant and harvest a garden, make all our clothes on her pedal foot Singer sewing machine and cook and clean. She was always busy and seemed like she was always in the kitchen. As busy as she was, though, she allowed us to be children....except for the times she made us shell butter beans. Gah, we hated that. She finally started paying us 10 cents a quart to shell them. That helped.

Back then, we may not have had all that we wanted, but we certainly had all that we needed. We had a roof over our head, clothes on our back and food on our table. And we had long summer days to play and expand our imaginations.

Times have certainly changed since that summer, long ago. I wonder if children today really know the joy of 'playing outside'. Sometimes, I wish we could go back to the days of no computers, no cell phones and no video games. I don't mind progress, but I sure mind it when it takes away such a neat part of growing up where memories are made in the yard, under the trees, on slip and slides, squirting the water hose and scratching on the screens at night to scare the bejeebies out of your sisters.

Ummm, yeah, I confess to doing that. We slept with the windows open and I caved to the temptation, multiple times.  Ha! Just hearing one of my sisters scurry out the room to mama sent me into a quivering heap of giggles on the dewy grass below. And then, mama would come to the door and call me in. Like I said before, those were the days.

So, this summer our grandchildren, Lidia and Sawyer, are spending a lot of time with us. Maybe we don't see fireflies much anymore, but there are trees to shimmy and fish to catch, there are rocks to climb and waves to ride, there are roads to bike and water hoses to squirt and we intend to let their imaginations run wild, all on their own.....until the heat drives them in or the dark beckons them to scratch the screens.

These will be the days!


Saturday, June 7, 2014

Sweet Sweet Summertime

Just a quickie.....It has been busy around here. Lidia and Sawyer finished school with a bang. They both received academic awards and I am so, so proud of them. It has been a big year for Lidia and Sawyer. Remember, they moved to the upstate last summer. It was a hard transition for them and me! The beginning of the school year was tough, especially for Lidia, as they tried to find their place in a new school. But, I am happy to say that they have done very well and have an extremely great support system in their new home and school. Emily has done an awesome job at finding ways for them to adjust. And I have to give a BIG, BIG thank you to our friend, Patti. If it were not for her, I would have figured out a way to bring my babies back home to stay. I can see Lidia and Sawyer flourishing now. I am so relieved. And I am so excited that they are spending a major portion of their summer vacation with Cliff and me at the beach.

My running has taken a slight back seat, but I must, must, must get back on track this week.

Cliff is volunteering at the Hell Hole Hundred trail run this weekend. He is following the runners on his mountain bike, circling them to make sure everyone is OK, taking videos and loving it. He sent me a text that he wants to run it really BAD. The trail is the Jericho Trail that I've written about before. You can read about that experience in my post called Wild Hogs and My First DNS.

So the following are some photos of life on LaLa Lane for the past few weeks. I'm certainly looking forward to some major adventures this summer. And I can't wait to tell you about them.

Sawyer - End of First Grade....Received the Math, Spelling and Writing Awards.
And he was one of the best readers in his class.
Lidia - End of Fourth Grade....Received the Honor Roll Award for the year and the Reading Award.
So, so proud of our little smarty pants.

Celebrating the end of school with breakfast at Cracker Barrel.

Same celebratory breakfast.
Lidia and Sawyer's Tae Kwon Do test for their orange belt.
The shorty is Sawyer immediately after breaking his board into 3 pieces. Look at his instructor's expression after watching him break it. Lidia is to his right. Both Lidia and Sawyer earned their orange belt that day.

Lidia trying to sneak up on some baby ducks at Lakewood.

Sawyer is climbing trees.
Beach time. It's a little bright for Sawyer. He can barely hold his eyes open.

Hammock Time.

And finally, the video Cliff took today as he followed the runners of the Hell Hole Hundred.
Hope everyone is having a sweet, sweet beginning to their summertime.
Talk soon,


Friday, May 23, 2014


Private 1st Class H. M. Creel, Sr.

Soldiers! I am in awe of their commitment and dedication. I am so grateful that they put their lives on the line for us everyday. They have my utmost respect and admiration.

It seems that I've always been drawn to the military. I even wanted to work (as a civilian) on a military base, but I've never lived close enough. And then there's the time that Whitney and I tried to get on base at Ft. Jackson, but that's a story for another day. Maybe I'm drawn to it because my two times great grandfather was a Confederate Soldier in the Civil War. Maybe it's because my very own daddy served in the Army during the Korean War and Vietnam. Just maybe! I have several uncles and cousins who have served during wars and rumors of wars. And thank God, they all returned safe. Which brings me to.....Memorial Day.

Now, I know Memorial Day is the holiday we observe to remember those men and women who died while serving our country.

Oh wait, did you know that Memorial Day used to be called Decoration Day and originated after the American Civil War to commemorate the Union and Confederate soldiers who died in the Civil War?

And then we have Veteran's Day which is a great day of honor for our Veterans.

But, back to Memorial Day......even though we remember those who died while serving in the military, I just think it's fitting to also remember those who lived and are still serving and putting their lives on the line this very day. So many men in my family have served in the military. Some have served in wars and conflicts and some are still active today. I would like to honor those men for their patriotism, love of country and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good. It is with much pleasure that I give them a special place of honor in my heart. And the one that holds the highest place of honor in my heart.....My Daddy.

Yep, you know me and Miss Nostalgia. We've been at it again. We've been walking down memory lane. This weekend is a big weekend for my family. Not only is it Memorial Day weekend, but it is also my daddy's birthday and his 'going home to heaven' day. That's him in the picture. Wasn't he handsome? And those ears....well, they're a family trait. Several of those ears are walking this earth, as we speak. I had a friend tell me this week that she thought he looks like Michael Phelps, the Olympic swimmer. Ha! I had never seen that before she brought it to my attention, but she's right...he does.

Daddy was a private in the Army, drafted in 1959. He was stationed at one time or another in Ft. Jackson, Ft. Ord, Ft. Benning, Ft. Bragg, Ft. Carson, Korea, Germany and volunteered for Vietnam, but they wouldn't take him because by this time he was married with four children. Ft. Carson in Colorado was his last assignment. After serving for seven years, he chose not to re-enlist. After leaving Colorado, we moved back home to SC, where he lived out the remainder of his life.

Today is daddy's birthday. He would have been 76 years old. And tomorrow is daddy's 6th anniversary of his 'going home to heaven' day. He had a good life...not always easy, but he was close to his family and managed to do many things he loved. Daddy was an adventurous soul. He had a heart for those less fortunate than himself, especially children. He loved his Church. He was always pulling pranks....his sister's and brother's, mostly, fell prey to those. Daddy had a great sense of humor and loved to kid around. He loved to travel and he loved to camp. I know I got my sense of adventure and love of travel from him. It didn't matter what he was doing, if I called him up and said, "Daddy, let's go on an adventure", he would be halfway out the door before hanging up the phone.

It goes without saying that I miss my daddy very much. I think about him often. I miss the mornings he dropped by for a cup of coffee. I miss our family get togethers where daddy was, no doubt, the center of attention. I miss how he used to take his hand and brush it down your face in a playful gesture. I miss his laugh and his gimpy walk. I miss his hands, which by the way is the last thing I touched right after his soul left this earth. I just plain miss him! Some people may wish that their loved ones could come back for a day or for one more hug or just one more I love you, but I wouldn't wish for daddy to come back here for anything. He's in Glory! He's not sick anymore and he's spending his birthday, today, with our Lord.

To My Daddy.....a soldier, a husband, a father, a papa, a brother, an uncle, a child of God:
I am so proud of who you were. I am so proud of your service to our country. I am so proud to call you my daddy. I wish you a Happy Birthday, a Happy 'Going Home To Heaven Day' and Happy Memorial Day.

Til we meet again,

Monday, May 19, 2014

Adventures of a Mother's Day in the Upstate

The Hydrangea that Lidia and Sawyer gave their mama for Mother's Day
I know, I know, this is a little late coming. Time can slip through your fingers like water sometimes. So, before it gets away with me....I want to chronicle Mother's Day weekend with my grandchildren.
Emily had to work the weekend shift at the hospital, so I went up to keep Lidia and Sawyer for her. I like to plan activities for us and I've found that the upstate has a treasure trove of things to do. Untapped adventures, for sure!
A little recap.......
Saturday: We had planned to ride bikes on the Swamp Rabbit Trail. A rails-to-trails system that runs from Greenville, SC to Travelers Rest, SC.
We didn't know it at the time, but Greenville was hosting an Artist Festival and streets were closed to traffic in the area where we needed to get on the trail. So, we just drove to the Traveler's Rest end and got on the trail there. This is the neatest trail, which runs in part along the Reedy river and is about 17 miles in length. It's a paved path wide enough for multiple bikes or runners and walkers to pass each other. And, very scenic. Although, with two little ones in tow, I didn't get to see the most scenic parts. Their little legs can only go so far. But we had a great ride anyway. And after, we had lunch at a restaurant right beside the trail in Traveler's Rest called The Whistle Stop. I'm pretty sure it's an old train station.
The Swamp Rabbit Trail
The Whistle Stop Café...right beside the Swamp Rabbit Trail
Lidia and Sawyer outside the Whistle Stop Café
Sunday: We drove over to a very small town called Cross Anchor to visit an old Revolutionary War Battle site. Musgrove Mill Plantation was where this battle took place. Of course, the signs of the battle are no longer visible, but the history behind it was very interesting. And the grounds of the plantation itself is beautiful. I was concerned that the children might be bored, but they actually enjoyed it. That is until Sawyer's energy bottomed out. In the pictures you can see how his face looks like doom. When his energy goes!
Lidia and Sawyer.......

Exploring the Musgrove Mill Plantation.
The site of a Revolutionary War Battle.

Exploring the trails....
....and making new discoveries. Lidia was intrigued by these flowers
that had fallen from trees along the trails. Can anyone tell me what it is?

Here's the face...his energy is starting to falter.

Almost gone.....

Even though his energy is gone and he is completely miserable,
sometimes I can still get a picture that makes me go......WOW!!!!!
After wandering around the plantation grounds for a bit and Sawyer's energy going south, we stopped for some nutrition. Good thing I brought PowerBars and water with us. Came in handy, big time. Energy restored.....and we were off to see the waterfalls that was on the property. We had to drive to that area.....good news for Sawyer.
We arrived to the waterfalls and met a few folks on their way back that warned us of snakes. It was pretty warm that day and I'm guessing the snakes wanted to cool off in the Enoree river just about as much as we did. But, I'm deathly afraid of them so we let the snakes have it. I did manage to get a few pictures of Lidia and Sawyer before my fears paralyzed me. By the way, we didn't see any snakes and the waterfalls wasn't much of a waterfall. But it was very pretty and the kids loved the thought of coming back when the snakes hibernate and exploring the rocks and waterfalls.
The Enoree River. So incredibly beautiful!

Having fun....

.....and really anxious to get in the water, but you know that thing about the snakes....yeah!
I was a fuddy dud LaLa, not willing to face her fears as Sawyer told me to do years ago.
We had a great weekend and I wouldn't have wanted to spend Mother's Day any other way. Adventures and exploring with my little Grandloves......AWESOME!
Now, in case you were wondering:
I took a little break from running after the Divas Half Marathon and the Hell Hole Swamp 10K.
I had planned to get back to the gym more and get back on the bike this summer, but Whitney sent me a link to a half marathon in her neck of the woods (Denver).
And I was like, OMG!!! I have to do this race!!!
It is a 13.1 mile run from Evergreen, CO to Morrison, CO. It is all downhill with some of the most beautiful sights in all of North America. How could I not run this race?
So, as of next week.....I'll be back in half marathon training mode.
But, I'm thinking that since I am still somewhat conditioned from my last half
that I can still get a day in the gym and a day on the bike
and still have time and energy left to train for this downhill-half marathon
 in the Colorado Rockies.
And...and....Whitney is running it with me! Holler!
So, sometime after August 17th....I'll post about this one. I hope I can capture the beauty of the Colorado Rockies along the way.

Friday, May 9, 2014

I Never Did Give Her A Name

No, I never did give her a name. Should I be ashamed? I mean, people name their cars, they name their boats and they name their property. And I would guess that people name their sewing machines. HaHa!

Did you?

Me? Nope, I never did.

She was just a simple girl.

Yes, simple and unassuming. She only had 8 different stitches.

But the old girl served me well for the last 30 years. She has been instrumental in the making of my girls clothes when they were little. She has helped me make their play clothes, appliqued tops to match their shorts and skirts, dresses for church, Easter dresses, curtains, quilts, daddy blankets, pillows and baby gifts of all kinds and we even started the second generation as she helped me start making clothes for Lidia. She was so important in my life that when Hurricane Hugo hit in 1989, she was evacuated with me.

I kid you not!

Lidia is wearing a dress that I made her mama for Easter, one year.

Daddy Blankets.
I made seven of these the year after daddy died, with a cast on my right hand. 
I cut up his old shirts to make quilts for mama and my siblings that Christmas.  


And for the next generation...a sweet pillow case dress for Lidia.

                                    However, today, I'm sad to say she has sewn her last stitch.

Broken tension knob....

Holding on by a thread.

Her tension knob has broken and would have fallen off if not for the thread running through it.

How did it happen? I can only imagine. Most likely from transporting her back and forth to the beach. Once again, we were headed for the beach to make new curtains, when I noticed her demise. Poor thing! She will now spend Glory in a special spot of my sewing room.

So now, I am on the hunt for a new girl to replace her. So far, my first choice is a Bernina. I've heard they are a dream to sew on and with their rock solid parts, last a lifetime.

When I find The One, you'll be one of the first to know. 

Love, Peace and Stitching,