A Mountain Trip, Or How I Crashed a Funeral

We have been enjoying a couple of nice sunny days recently. Yesterday, I took advantage of that to pry the kids away from their electronics and take a trip into nature. We headed north toward the Great Smoky Mountains and Cades Cove. moutian

Cades Cove was settled by Europeans in the 1800’s but had long been roamed by Native Americans before then. Now it is a national park with a scenic drive, white tail deer, and restored rural dwellings and churches. The views are breathtaking and inspirational. Walking the trails, it is easy to see why settlers came to the area and decided to go no further.

deerMy kids complained a little about the lack of their usual entertainments, but my son soon forgot about mine craft when he handled actual quartz found in a cold mountain stream. We marveled at the height of the trees and stood just a few feet away from deer grazing in a field. Then we found a little twisting dirt road with a sign that announced a rural Baptist Church so we decided to follow it.

The road was a narrow bumpy ride through the trees and ended in a gravel parking lot with a little white wooden box of a church. My son remarked that: “It looks just like that Church in that show Nanny always watches.” (That show is The Waltons, and Nanny being what he calls my mom.) I agreed the two did look similar.

The gravel lot was crowded with cars. Other visitors were snapping pictures of the church set among the trees and some wandered the old fenced-in graveyard. I thought the graveyard would be a good way to encourage my daughter out of her no wifi/phone signal funk. (She is a teenager.) She likes slightly creepy things.

That was when I noticed several people exiting the church dressed in black. I was a little confused at first because, while it was Sunday, it was a bit late in the day for a church service. We were near to the little gate that lead to the graveyard when I heard one of the women who had come down the steps say, “I wish they would stay away at least until we close the casket…” It all suddenly clicked into place. The freshly dug grave and the huge pile of dirt next to it helped to tip me off.

There was something the little white hand-painted sign hadn’t told us. Not only was the Baptist Church still in current use but the graveyard behind it was as well. Realizing that we were trespassers at an emotional time, I quickly herded the kids back to the car. The other tourists snapping pictures; were still oblivious to the intrusion we all represented.

As we made our retreat as discreetly as possible, I heard the lady address two teenagers also dressed in black. She asked them if they were visitors to which they replied yes with wide-eyed confusion. I don’t know if they were visitors to the park, or for the deceased. I left before finding out.

We passed two more churches on our scenic drive. They didn’t appear to be in session. The parking lots held only a few cars and there were no fresh graves that I could see, but we didn’t take any chances. stream

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Manuscripts and Funerals

My Uncle died and I recently finished the second draft of my fantasy novel. (Then sent it out to my beta readers.)  These two things seem to have nothing in common but that is not true.   Both left me in the ditch of depression. treat-cat-depression-200X200

I should be elated that I finished my second draft and I was…for about 15minutes.  Then the realization set in that now I have to wait an unknown number of weeks for my readers to get around to reading my book and give me feed back.  Then I have to write the same story all over again for the third time and maybe a fourth.Mooch-in-the-Morning

My Uncle died.  I should be sad because I will never get to see him again on this side of the pearly gates.  I cried. I hurt. I loved my uncle and I will miss him.  He was diagnosed with lung cancer in January and passed away on Valentine’s Day.  But the first thing I thought when I got the news was, what a perfect day it was for him to die.

705222_10200181674694881_1743337557_oYou see my Aunt and Uncle were married for many, many years.  They had three children together.  The oldest two provided them with grandchildren and great grandchildren.  Their youngest, my cousin Samantha, was my best friend growing up.  She died in 2000 from Cystic Fibrosis.   Then a year few years after Sam died their house burned down and they lost everything.  Pictures, clothes, pets. Everything but each other.   Neighbors, family, and their community helped them out and they rebuilt their lives.  Then they found out my Aunt was dieing from lung cancer.  She lived a couple of years before she finally passed away.  (Her sister died a month late from the same thing.)      So my Uncle lost his youngest daughter, his home, and his wife and still continued on.

Do to a learning disability, he never learned to read.  If anyone sent him a letter or a card nic and dannyhe had to take it to a neighbor to get them to read it to him. His eldest daughter made him his own phone book with pictures of the people he knew next to their telephone numbers.  He lived alone with a little dog for company.  So when he passed away on Valentine’s Day, I thought it was fitting, kind of like he was going to be with my Aunt.

Anyway the depression ditch is not a fun place to be.  I haven’t wanted to do anything and I really haven’t felt like writing.   I finally sat down and started working on stuff today, after over a week of inactivity.  (It wasn’t only this blog I’ve ignored but all writing.)

Pirate_Captain_by_AdoCThe reason I started working today is because I got tired of dreaming about pirates.  Yeah you read that right, pirates.  Before I hit my downward slump I was beginning to piece together the second book in my fantasy series. (There will eventually be three books….or one really long book with three parts…)  The first quarter of the second book is supposed to take place on a pirate ship.

The first two or three days I had no problems….well the depression, but no problems that make me think of writing as a sort of mental illness.  After about day three pirates started 1upsshowing up in my dreams and nightmares.  After I dreamed of fighting off pirates from the back of a UPS truck, and then last night in a movie theater, I decided my brain was trying to tell me to get back to work.   So I did.

I am really tired right now. It is surprising how worn out you can get from sitting in one place and putting words on a page.  It has been slow going.  Trudging down one word after the other.  I feel a little out of shape.  I did manage a fair amount of work though.  Tomorrow I will get up and do it again. And again the next day, and the next.  Because even though sometimes in life you end up in the ditch, it doesn’t mean you have to stay there.267710_515834385094643_1564799925_n