Guest Post: Jonquil. Oh Y’all, This One Has Pictures.

Jimmie and I met in college, and we shared a pretty unusual work-study job.  We were managers for the men’s basketball team.  (Editor’s Note: BEST. JOB. EVER.)  You know how Jimmie was all clueless about football, picking teams with cute players as criteria?  Well, we knew every cute basketball player in our division, his stats, and how he treated his manager.   (Editor’s Note:  Rawr!)  And we loved our boys, even crushing on a few here and there.   We attended practices (swept the floor), shared pre-game meals (spaghetti and green beans), traveled with the team (curfews and hotel rooms make for funny stories), maintained the bench (we can make a mean water bottle), and helped keep things organized (Coach always needed help with his keys).   

Remember how I told you I have no rear end? This here is proof. Ridiculous. Jimmie in mustard (what was I thinking?) and Jonquil in blue.

There were four of us girls—Jimmie, the Bookkeeper, the Stat, and me.  Only recently did I remember a nickname Jimmie and Bookkeeper called me:  MIT.  It stood for Mom-In-Training.  Apparently, I may have gone a little overboard in my managing.  (Editor’s Note:  A little?  Nosiree.  She LIVED for it.)  Now that I’m a mom of two, I think they were onto something.

Then:  I would find inspiring quotes to hang up at practice and make posters and signs for our team, especially for big games.  Jimmie even got me to go in the DEKE house to decorate a door once.  (Editor’s Note:  The DEKE house was G-R-O-S-S.  Gross.  The level of Jonquil’s dedication knew no bounds.) 

Now:  I am definitely a cheerleader for my family.  I will stuff notes in their backpacks, write notes on bananas in their lunches, and cheer them on in all their endeavors.

Then:  I would practically pack every guy’s bag, including being prepared for anything with the two team bags. Then I had to comb the locker room one last time to make sure nothing was left behind.  (Editor’s Note:  It wasn’t unheard of for Jonquil to help the guys with their laundry.  No way no how was I up for that.) 

Now:  I have to practically pack Esteban, Cookie and Essie (Jonquil’s adorable children), including all the other stuff we’ll need for a trip; and, I definitely make a final sweep of the house or hotel room before leaving.

Then:  I would nag people to remember this or that.  (Editor’s Note:  Oh, yes she did.)

Now:  Oh, yeah, I nag.

Then:  I would set my alarm early and I would cheerfully make sure everyone else was awake, especially on the road. (Editor’s Note:  This “cheerfully making sure everyone was awake” business included a before dawn telephone call in which Jonquil would trill merrily into the phone “Gooooood morning, have a happy!”  No.)

Now:  My good morning humor did not survive pregnancy.  I hit snooze as many times as possible and don’t want to muster more than a grunt as a morning greeting.

Then:  l learned things I never thought I’d need to know.  For instance, jock strap size is based on waist size, people. (Editor’s Note: Boys, get over yourselves.)

Now:  If Essie tells you she doesn’t want anything else to eat, the extra food you made her finish will come back to haunt you in a stomach flu nightmare.

Then and now:  Jimmie was a hoot!  (Editor’s Note:  <preen>)

When I graduated, Jimmie gave me a scrapbook of my senior year, and a basketball signed by all our boys.  I can look at that ball and recall all the highs and lows of each season, and the enormous amount of fun we had.  MIT was not such a bad nickname after all, and I am grateful for the extra training I received as a mom. 

(Editor’s Note:  She was and still is fantastic at all of that.  Centre College Men’s Basketball will never be the same.  Her family can attest to that.) 

Jonquil and Jimmie, age 12. So, so young.

Guest Post: Michelle. Oasis Center

I have known Jimmie for a while now and have been a big fan of her blog. I’m so excited for her and her challenge of writing 50,000 words this month. (Editor’s Note:  I am SO FAR behind.  I’m going to make it but no one is allowed to be mad at me if I don’t answer the phone when you call. I have to type my little fingers off to catch up.)  I have to say, I was honored to be included in the list of folks she asked to be guest bloggers. I have a baby blog (Oh, not a blog about babies, rather it’s only 2 months old). I write about my art (so if Jimmie wants to share the link, I’d love for you to check it out) (Editor’s Note:  Of course I do!  Studio B – she’s super talented.)  so it’s more visual than wordy. And I was humbled to find out that Jimmie likes my writing, which coming from her, someone who writes well and will have published books out there one day, means a lot! Yes, I said it, I believe Jimmie will be published in the near future and I already made her promise to sign copies of the books I purchase!  (Editor’s Note:  You see why I love her?)

Anyhow, since I’m new to blogging and I want to do her proud, I had some questions about length of the post and topic. She suggested I write about another one of my passions. I volunteer for the Oasis Center here in Nashville and I just passed my 2 year anniversary in September. If you’re not familiar with Oasis, we are an agency that serves youth in need in the area.

I have to backtrack a bit to tell you about how I came to volunteering and even what it is that I do. I work for a local University and one of my programs focuses on moral and ethical leadership in the professions. Part of my job is managing a group of Fellows made up of students from the professional schools on campus. To participate in the fellowship, the students work on a year- long interdisciplinary project using their areas of expertise and leadership skills to help a non-profit agency with whatever their particular need might be. For example, a few years ago, a group of Fellows worked with the Oasis Center to build a community garden and program around cooking with and eating fresh vegetables. It was quite a success and to my knowledge, the garden is still there and being used. At the time, I had not heard of the Oasis Center so one afternoon when I was there to deliver some books (part of the program included resource books) for their library, I had a chance to chat with one of the resident counselors about the work they do. Long story short, I decided that I wanted to volunteer with them. So, I turned in my application, waited for the back ground check, and then was able to meet with their fantastic volunteer coordinator (who incidentally is now a student in the school where I work).

At the time, I thought I wanted to work with the young folks who live in the Loft. These are formerly homeless youth who have the opportunity to get back on their feet while living in the Loft for up to 20 months. However, there weren’t any positions available at the time so it was suggested that I join the Street Outreach team. So, in September 2010, I began volunteering as an outreach person. And then, at the end of October, my dad suddenly passed away. For those of you who have lost someone dear to you, you can imagine how crazy that period of time is. I took off all of November from Outreach. I was so lost, but returning to Outreach provided moments of time when I could concentrate on something other than the pain of this loss. So when I went back out with my outreach partner in December, I was thankful that the small interactions with people was all that was required with me because I didn’t think I had it in my heart to try to build relationships with the youth living in the Loft at the time. Little did I know that I would still be building relationships no matter what I was doing.

Ok, so you might be wondering what is Street Outreach. Good question, cause I didn’t know either. It’s described on the website as a dedicated staff person and volunteer who pair up to walk the streets of downtown Nashville so homeless youth know there is a place for them to turn to for help. I’m not sure that description really captures the experience. So, I will try to paint you a picture.

My volunteer nights are the 1st and 3rd Friday of the month. I meet my partner at the center at 7:00pm (year round and I’ve been out in the rain, the snow and the heat cause homeless folks don’t get a day off for weather) and we pack 2 shopping bags a piece with socks, snacks, shirts (hoodies and blankets in the winter, water bottles in the summer) and then grab a back pack each before signing out (safety is a big priority) and heading downtown.

We have certain areas of downtown that we cover each week. We (carefully) approach folks and ask if they want a pair of socks. I have a confession to make. I’m not a fan of socks. I hate having my feet covered. In fact, even though it’s chilly right now, I don’t have any socks on. But I never realized how important they are to folks who are on their feet all day, who don’t have the opportunity to bathe regularly, who wear the same pair of shoes day in and out. One of the first times I was out, we came across a young man sitting at a bus bench with a suitcase. He was accompanied by a friend. I offered him a pair of socks and he burst into tears. The pair had just gotten into town, the young man had gotten away from a bad situation and the act of kindness from a stranger overwhelmed him. We were able to direct him to our facility (during the week they run a drop in service where youth can get a meal, a shower, clean clothes and some services if needed). I don’t know what ever happened to him or if he’s ever thought about that moment again, but I still remember him. That my tiny act of kindness made a difference in his life for a moment.

We don’t only hand out items to young folks. We give to anyone who needs. And that’s where some of those relationships are being built. Folks look out for youth and they let us know when new young people are in town or they direct them to our facility. It’s quite a community out there. And I’m proud to be a very small part of it.

(Editor’s Note:  There are so many organizations in Nashville for lending a helping hand.  I’ve wanted to feature other things here but only know what I do so I’m happy to have this information for you.  I’m sure that Michelle would also be happy to answer any questions on her favorites – check out her blog for an email addy.)

Cheers, Michelle


Guest Post: Esteban. Books And Bars.

I know the words in the title don’t seem to go together, but they do for me as I am both a Librarian and a bartender. My name is Esteban, and I know Jimmie through my wife who is called Jonquil on this blog. (Editor’s Note:  This was Esteban.)  I know Jimmie certainly likes books, but she has less of an appreciation of alcoholic beverages, although I do recall seeing a bottle of wine in her fridge when we visited last. (Editor’s Note: He recalls seeing it because I made him open it so that I could cook something with it.  Oh, that cork was a bear.  But he got it open and I used precisely one quarter cup of it and then it sat in my fridge until it went bad.  Rowdy is what I am.)

In an effort to give this blog some class, I was ordered volunteered to try to help Jimmie with her need for guest bloggers. Hopefully, it will be entertaining enough to be selected by the lady with the big, sexy hair. (Editor’s Note:  Congratulations, Esteban!  You made the cut.)

Working in a large, public library in an urban area, I have seen the rise of people like Jimmie who enjoy reading their books on their various electronic devices. It’s not the death-knell for libraries as some thought it would be, since libraries are the best places to get your free, downloadable books. My library is alive and well and helping more and more people, especially during the last few years with the recession and people turning to the library for free entertainment and job searching information.

I’ve often thought Jimmie would be a perfect library employee – so outgoing and helpful. I know what you’re thinking: How can somebody so loud and with such big, sexy hair work in a library? Don’t believe the stereotype of librarians as being old ladies with their gray hair in a bun shushing everybody. My library is fairly loud and full of young people working there, some with a fair amount of tattoos. Jimmie’s personality would fit right in. She would have to deal with the large number of mentally-unstable people that come through the doors. (Editor’s Note:  Was this a compliment?  I’m not sure it was a compliment.)  There are many homeless and other disadvantaged people who seek shelter in the library. Some people I’ve dealt with over the years are the woman who always checked out books on alien abductions who claimed she was frequently abducted herself; a man who complained about somebody continuing to “zap” his chair; and my wife’s favorite is the guy who rubbed the magazine all over his body because he enjoyed the cologne insert that was in the magazine.  (Editor’s Note:  Men, do not do this.  It’s weird.)

I could also picture Jimmie working as a bartender where her “assets” would be very helpful. (Editor’s Note:  He means my hair.  Doesn’t he?)  While I work at a private club now, I have worked other places where the regulars were colorful characters. Again, Jimmie would fit right in. Her knowledge of wine might have to improve if she wants to work in a finer establishment, though.  (Editor’s Note:  What?  I could totally work in a finer establishment.) 

You know, more people are learning to appreciate wine, and it is losing its once-snobby reputation. However, the people who write descriptions of wine apparently have not gotten the memo. Here’s an excerpt of one description I read recently: “demure aromas of black fruits with a note of cigar box and tarry oak.” A note of cigar box? Do I want to drink that? Here’s another excerpt: “enticing scents of dark Queen Anne cherries, sawdust and sandalwood” which is apparently “a delight to drink.” Maybe it’s for shop class.  (Editor’s Note:  Pft.  I can do better than that!  “This wine, it tastes like barf.  You don’t want that.  And this one?  It tastes vaguely of how cat urine smells.  It ought to go great with your sushi and side of onions.” Finer establishment, here I come!) I don’t know that much about wine, but the wine writers must be drinking quite a lot of what they’re reviewing. 

Raise your glasses to Jimmie! Best of luck to you in your literary efforts!

Guest Post: Madre. Shopping, “Jimmie-isms” And Things I Have Learned From My Daughter

Let me begin by saying that I am the lucky Mom…..Jimmie has been an absolute delight since the day she was born and she is also one of my very best friends.  As such, I have plenty of stories about her.

As friends will do, we love to go SHOPPING.  I call Jimmie my “personal shopper.”  When she is with me she will grab a shirt out of someone’s hands if she thinks it is just right for me.  I was witness to this in TJ Maxx one day; thankfully the shirt she grabbed was in the hands of a sales clerk and not another shopper that we had to bloody well beat unconscious to have it for our own.  We can spend hours in dressing rooms trying on things we will never buy, but have fun looking at ourselves in the mirrors and deciding how many pounds to lose before something would be totally flattering.  She has taught me to be a patient shopper and to ALWAYS take time to try something on before just thinking it will be a perfect fit and look like something out of a fashion magazine.

As Mother and Daughter we are very much alike, including height (almost) and size so we often end up with matching items because it looked soooo good on one of us.  I take full credit for Jimmie’s love of shopping.  It all started when she was five years old.  I had picked up Jimmie and her sister from daycare on my way home from work and we decided to have sandwiches for supper.  This required a stop at the local Thrifty Bread Store close to our apartment.  We had been there several times so I knew Jimmie knew her way around. I sent her in by her little, young, five year old self to get a loaf of bread.  I gave her a dollar and asked her to get a loaf like we always purchased and take it to the clerk and give her the dollar, but be sure to wait for the change.  Jimmie proudly came back to the car with bread and change and a confident sense of accomplishment.  I beamed with pride!!  The following day as we were on our way home Jimmie asked:  “Do we need to stop by the Used Bread Store again?”  She was ready for more independent shopping!!

The Used Bread Store brings me to “Jimmie-isms.”  As a child (and sometimes rolling into adulthood) Jimmie has tagged some unusual “isms” in which she makes up a new phrase or word to describe something: 

A Pair of Clothes – Why not?  It’s a top and a bottom like shorts and t-shirt, like a pair of socks or a pair of shoes…stuff that comes in twos.

A Tree of Grapes – Don’t pull the grapes off the stem for her. Break off a branch and let her do the work.

Makercial – The interruption of a television program that tries to sell you something.  But also, the perfect time to run to the fridge for ice cream before the program comes back on.

Navy Green – Best I can figure is this a dark green color, perhaps something like navy blue.

There are more, but I leave them to your imagination and continue with things I have learned from Jimmie.  I’ll tell you next about WALKING.  After Jimmie moved to Nashville, I joined her one weekend for a walk on The Greenway (the whole 6 miles).  I consider myself an active and reasonably athletic person.  I live on a farm, work daily with horses, put up hay, etc.  But…she walked my legs off.  I decided then and there to map out some mileage on our rural country roads and do some dedicated walking.  My goal is 15 miles a week and I usually meet that goal and sometimes go over. 

Next, Jimmie introduced me to organized 5Ks.  I’ve always been a competitive person (horse shows, racing SCCA, target shooting, hunting, both fox {Tally Ho} and big game), so 5Ks fit right in. I’m proud to say at the age of 69, I was the fastest in the 60+ age group in my second ever competition.  Recently this required another shopping trip with Jimmie for new shoes; I’d worn the tread off my first pair.

Along with exercise, Jimmie has encouraged DIET.  After years of feeding a family of six through childhood and teenage years (ever wonder how many times a teenager can open and close a refrigerator door in one day?), it was a challenge to prepare meals for just two.  It was also a challenge not to eat all the leftovers (oh, those extra pounds) as I was cleaning up after a meal.  Just a spoonful here and a little bit there, not enough to save and too good to throw away.  After all, I was raised by parents who grew up in Depression years….waste not, want not….clean your plate, etc.  Jimmie is very conscientious about diet and food preparation, and again I love to grocery shop with her.  She has not only given me great recipes, she somehow let me know that it was okay to throw away the “extras.”  I’m not really wasting anything if it can be fed to the dog, cat or chickens and we do have a rural garbage pick-up once a week.  Thanks to my wonderful daughter I’m 37 pounds lighter and can’t wait for the next 5K.

In closing this guest post I’ll add a few things that make me proud to say I am Jimmie’s Madre.  She has so much compassion, a tender heart and the desire to keep those around her happy.  Her intelligence and work ethics are amazing and she will face the most difficult tasks with a sense of humor.  (I’d love to know her “come-back” when Boss called her a Low Functioning Retard — I think they had a great time working together).  And lastly, have you ever met anyone else who really loved the research and creating of Term Papers while in college?

GOD bless you, Jimmie.

(Editor’s Note:  I did not pay Madre a dime to say those nice things about me.  Also, my only comeback for Boss was “I hate your guts” and “I know I’m your favorite”.  I could possibly use some suggestions.  Anyone got any?) 

(Another Editor’s Note:  I’ve written over 10,000 words so far.  Y’all, this is work.)


Guest Post: Boss

Hello folks, its Boss. I have known and worked with Jimmie for a long time and she has graciously offered to let me expound a few thoughts. (Editor’s Note:  Oh, goodie!)

As you may or may not know, I have made a career out of being a handyman. Not the kind that Jimmie constantly needs to fix the niggling stuff around her house. No, my job is to basically fly around the country (sometimes the world) and fix things. Sometimes it is a project, sometimes it is a client relationship, sometimes it is an employee and sometimes it is the whole company culture (particularly when run by a CEO with no experience, no maturity, no eggs, and, inexplicably, an ego the size of Tennessee). (Editor’s Note:  Perhaps Boss is talking about the last company we worked for, the one that let me go.  Or, perhaps not.)  The fixes vary from item to item, and it is my job to figure out a fix that is most advantageous to all parties. It’s a job that requires a lot of independence, a lot of flexibility and a little luck (or as Jimmie would have you believe, a charmed life).

All of those things are threaded together with literally millions of frequent flier miles and hours of time spent on airplanes and in airports.  One thing that I have noticed is that the vast majority of the American travelling public is completely ignorant of the basics of air travel. As a PSA, I would like to take a little time to offer some helpful tips that, when used, will make the flying experience better for all of us.

1.  Thanks to the advent of terrorism, you will be going through a metal detector prior to boarding your plane.  The metal detector’s sole purpose is to make a loud annoying noise when a metallic object is passed through it. When this happens, the line comes to a screeching halt, the security agent (typically taking a semester off from Harvard rocket scientist school to recharge) asks you to devoid yourself of metal, then pass through again.  This is repeated until no metal is detected.  Knowing this should help you when you get dressed in the morning.  Believe it or not, it is not necessary to travel with metal snuff can lids, belt buckles the size of dinner plates, pocket knives, railroad spikes or other miscellaneous metals.  Yes, your cell phone will set off the alarm; put it on the belt prior to walking through the device.  No, your newspaper, book, and money that folds will not set it off; walk on through confidently.  No, once you get to your destination, you will not be driving your car; therefore there is no reason to carry a wad of keys bigger than a Toyota.  Hey, here’s an idea, put them in your briefcase.  Yes, if you are wearing as much jewelry as Mr. T, the alarm will go off. No, you don’t need to stop immediately on the other side of the detector if it doesn’t go off. Keep moving and get the hell out of the way. Yes, I realize that there is a chance a loaded pallet will fall out of the overhead bin and onto your foot, but the odds are low, so you probably won’t need those steel toed boots. Speaking of shoes, you will have to take them off so don’t come to the airport wearing elaborately buttoned boots that take 45 minutes to take off. And guess what – if you go outside the secure area, you have to go through the process all over again.

2.  If you have a boarding pass, you don’t have to check in at the gate.  Get out of line, sit down and shut up.  Yes there is a size limitation on what you can carry on, so no you can’t carry on that body bag.  Yes, your purse counts as one of your two allowable carry-ons.  Now, believe it or not, it does you no good to huddle up at the front of the hold room as you are waiting to board.  All you are doing is clogging up the entry and forcing a physical confrontation with the people who board before you.  (Editor’s Note:  Boss only wants a physical confrontation with you if you are a hottie female. All others, move out of the way.)  Yes, they are going to board by zone and, if you ask nicely, some friendly person can likely read your zone to you from your boarding pass so you can figure out what zone you are in.  Wait for that zone to be called.  Don’t get up until then.

3.  Look at your seat number prior to getting on the aircraft.  If your seat is in row 34, don’t stop three steps into the aircraft and start squinting at the row numbers.  Move quickly to your seat, sit down and shut up.  Hey, if your damn carry-on is too heavy for you to lift it into the overhead bin by yourself, check it.  (Editor’s Note:  I once heard Boss say this to a lady on a plane.  He wasn’t kidding.)  And guess what – if you board the plane 30 seconds prior to the door closing looking like the Beverly Hillbillies moving west, don’t get pissy when you can’t find overhead bin space.  Give your bags to the flight attendant so they can be checked, then (yes, you guessed it) sit down, and shut up. When you get to your row, don’t park your big butt in the aisle and spend a half hour rummaging through your luggage looking for books, games, cough drops, money, a clue, or any other nonsense.  Stow your carry ons and sit down.

4.  Believe it or not, I am not interested in your life story.  (Editor’s Note:  He really isn’t.)  I really don’t care that the last time you flew the airplane had two sets of wings and the highlight of the trip was “buzzing sheep”.  Nor do I care that you are on the way to visit Aunt Millie, a woman who would make Lil Abner look like Charles Boyer.  The airplane gets plenty of lift from the airflow over the wings and doesn’t need the help of all your hot air.  Let’s take the chance and see if it will fly without your constant inane droning.  When I pull out my laptop, that is your clue that I have better things to do.  Shut up and go to sleep. 

With these few simple concepts in mind, all of our flying experiences can be so much more enjoyable.   You will be able to fly with the confidence that you know what you are doing, and I will get to my meeting without working up a sweat caused by my clubbing you like a baby seal.

(Editor’s Note:  See why it made me sad to leave him?  I got all that, every day.)