Jeanne Hewell-Chambers

& her barefoot heart

Category: writings (page 1 of 62)

May I Have The Envelope, Please

High School Sports Awards and  Letters: We’ll never know whether she would’ve lettered or not because her parents refused to let her play basketball because she would’ve had to wear shorts.

High School Clubs and After School Activities: “We didn’t have clubs back then,” she tells me when I asked what she did in high school, “but I was the first editor of The Hi Times, our high school newspaper, and the man who was Editor of the Atlanta Journal and Constitution was my advertising manager.”

Post High School Education: She didn’t go to college ’cause having only enough money to send one child to college, it was my mother’s little brother who has the college degree.

Jobs: Though her best friend, Harriett Dean, tried and tried and tried, my mother steadfastly refused to take a higher paying job in Atlanta, choosing instead to spend her career in her hometown of Fayetteville, Georgia. As secretary for the Baptist Church, Mother held all the power as it was she who selected the hymns we sang every Sunday.

When the county got big enough to hire a second person, my mother left the employ of the Baptist Church to become Clerk of the County Commissioners. She cleared out a little space for herself in the courthouse, and using the file cabinet that somebody gave her and the desk she brought from home, she set about helping Mr. Jimmy White (the county Ordinary) separate the files, dividing them into 2 piles: County Ordinary and County Commissioners. “It was a nasty job,” Mother told me, “some of those files were covered in tobacco juice.” After a few years, Mama Opal Howell lured Mother to work beside her at the Fayette County Board of Education where, with the exception of the few years she took off to build the business infrastructure while Daddy build the golf course, she worked till her retirement.

Service to the Community: Trustees from the jail – prisoners who’d proven themselves trustworthy enough to go out into the town and empty trashcans at the Fayette County Board of Education – were regularly “adopted” by my mother and the other women who worked at the Fayette County Board of Education, Mama Helen Voyles and Mama Opal Howell. After counseling the men on how to stay out of trouble, the women sent the Trustees out into the world in a new suit, fearing that prison stripes would be detrimental to their success. And though they’d sometimes look out the office window to see a Trustee being returned to his jail cell, these women never gave up hope that the next Trustee they took under their wings would be rehabilitated for good.

These days, if you fall ill, my mother will see that your family is fed in your absence, and if you’re in the hospital, not only will she drive your spouse to be by your side and back home again every day, she’ll see that your family is well-fed until your release from the hospital or till you’re back on your feet in the kitchen, whichever comes first.

As an Ambassador for The 70273 Project, Mother works tirelessly making blocks and delivering materials to others so they can make blocks.

Every year for the past I don’t know how many decades, mother plans, organizes, and hosts the Class of 1945 high school class reunion. They come together for a luncheon at Mother’s house, and though attendance was down to 6 last year, Mother is already looking forward to this year’s reunion.

I am button-busting proud that my mother devoted much of her working life to making the school system she is proud to call her alma mater a better place for all of us to learn, and that she spent all of her adult life working to make Fayette County the best place on earth to call Home.

~~~

These are some of the things I told the Fayette County High School Distinguished Alumni tonight when I nominated my mother, and it is with great pleasure that I tell you that in October, mother will be inducted into the Fayette County High School Hall of Fame.

If


If the Hong Kong flu hadn’t taken hold in the US,
If I hadn’t already spent my week in sick bay, wrestling the virus into the ground,
If they hadn’t closed the college because there was no more room to quarantine,
If I hadn’t been bored enough to go to the high school basketball game,
if my high school friend hadn’t been bored enough to go to the basketball game,
If we hadn’t gotten bored at the basketball game and decided to take our leave and head to  Underground Atlanta,
If a would-be boyfriend hadn’t passed out gone to sleep early and rendering him unable to follow through on his promise to call my daddy if I wasn’t back by midnight,
If we’d had enough money between us for one drink and two straws,
If she hadn’t remembered this guy she met the weekend before who was wearing a brown, floppy-brimmed leather hat and worked in Muhlenbrink’s Saloon,
If I hadn’t been thirsty enough to shove aside my intense crowd anxiety and join her to push our way to the bar through the throngs of drunk people listening to Rosebud,
If the guy drawing beers hadn’t borrowed the brown, floppy-brimmed leather hat from the guy mixing drinks at the other end of the bar,
If she hadn’t argued with the cute-as-all-get-out beer-drawing guy when he said he’d never seen her before in his life,
If she had listened to me and we had left right then,
If he hadn’t asked us to go to a party at the bouncer’s apartment when the bar closed,
If she hadn’t said “Yes” so quickly and enthusiastically,
If we hadn’t taken her car, leaving me no choice but to go along,
If the Sweet Spirit of Surprise hadn’t put the roommate in the car with her and me in the car with the beer guy,
If he hadn’t been so cute and charming and caused all kinds of climate conditions to change with the kaleidoscope of butterfly wings he set to flapping wildly when he kissed me . . .
I never would’ve met the guy who has never – not even once – had to call on his engineer training to turn my life’s lights on.

44 year ago today, my life changed forever when I met and instantly fell head-over-heels in deep, unwavering love with The Engineer.  Look at my long list called The Best Day Ever, and you’ll find January 27, 1973 at the very top.

Monthly Mixer January 2017

The 70273 Project Monthly Mixer for January 2017

You’ve seen those challenges for instagram and blog posts, right, where there’s a prompt for every day of the month and you snap and post a photo or pen a post accordingly? Well, thanks to my 3 a.m. self, we now have one to call our own, and I’m calling it our Monthly Mixer, and here it is. Nobody’s taking roll, so play along as and if you will.

Feel free to share throughout social media land and post on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and your blogs using #The70273ProjectMonthlyMixer and #The70273Project. It’d be muchly appreciated if you’d tag me, too, so I don’t miss it. I’m @whollyjeanne on twitter and instagram, and Jeanne Hewell-Chambers on facebook. It’s a fun way to acquaint others with The 70273 Project, and to get acquainted with other folks ourselves. (Me, I can’t wait till 1/20 cause I’ve got a thing for pincushions.)

It’s the first time I’ve created something like this, so here’s the text in case the graphic is unreadable:

JANUARY 2017
1: Something imperfect
2: Something edible that’s red and white
3: Something small, white, and round
4: Something rectangular
5: The block you’re working on
6: Where you’re stitching today
7: A finished block
8: Something that makes you smile
9: A naturally occurring X
10: The tiniest x’s you can make
11: Your sewing kit and what’s inside it
12: A word to describe what you feel as you stitch blocks
13: Somewhere you’d like to sit and stitch blocks
14: Something you find in a s’more
15: The arm to the chair you sit in to stitch
16: Your favorite beverage
17: Photograph a block outside
18: Two fat X’s
19: Your ironing board
20: Your pincushion
21: The sky
22: A white button
23: A finished block
24: A surprise – something you didn’t expect to see
25: Favorite sewing notion, tool
26: Your hands
27: Your scissors
28: Something in the shape of a teardrop
29: What’s to your right
30: Your favorite mug
31: Two x’s made of something besides fabric

Playing in the Meadow on the Other Side of the Rainbow Bridge

kippandotto1

My boy, Kipp, rescued him from a Denver humane society.
It was between the border collie and a Corgi – he couldn’t decide.
Ultimately, Kipp chose well.

neuroticotto

Otto was a slightly neurotic dog
afraid of the most, um, unusual things.

otto2a

He was a mischievous dog,
though you usually only knew
he’d been mischievous
when he had this certain look about him.
Oh, he knew you were smart enough to figure it out eventually,
but he was always hopeful that once – just once –
he’d be wrong about you.

otto1
If you couldn’t find Otto,
you could bet your bottom dollar
that something resembling food
(cooked, raw, packaged, unpackaged – no matter)
had been left within, oh, 4′ from the edge of the kitchen counter.

prissyotto

Otto was a dog secure enough in his own manhood
to be prissy on occasion . . .
without apology.

marnieottokipp1

We’re still not quite sure which one
Marnie fell in love with first:
Kipp or Otto,
but no matter.
They were a package deal
and she won both their hearts.

ottowatchesover

And though they were as nervous
as any first-time parents in the history of the galaxy ever were,
Otto proved to be a good Big Brother
to Calder Ray,
watching over him when others
well
went to sleep on the job.

ottstands

Though they’ll surely adopt another furry baby
sometime down the road
when their hearts have had time to heal,
one thing is for sure:
the next Chambers canine will have awfully big paws to fill.

mygranddog

R.I.P. Otto.
You were the best Son Dog,
the best Big Brother Dog,
the best Granddog,
the best Great Granddog,
the best Nephew Dog,
the Best Friend
ever.

Living Gratitude

To all who brighten days with laughter, kindness, and thoughtfulness,

To all who spill goodness into the world at every turn and opportunity,

To all who keep a respectful, open heart to those with differences large and small,

To all who shine light into the darkness,

To all who dare to think for yourselves and allow others to do the same,

To all who help commemorate the 70273 precious souls,

Thank you and Happy Thanksgiving from The Engineer, Nancy, and me.

Going to The Dog

phoebe12202

Meet Phoebe, our Corgi, a Christmas gift from our children in 2002. Today is her birthday, and so you don’t have to do the math, I’ll tell you: she is 14 people years old today.

phoebeoncart1104c

Her preferred mode of transportation is a golf cart. Until about 6 months ago when her hearing began to decline, you could say “golf cart” and out she’d scoot. Now it’s the loud, shrill beep-beep-beep of reverse that gets her attention.

phoebechillin_1024

Her wants are few, and her needs are simple: breakfast and supper with sprinkled treats in between and at bedtime. She likes a squeaker toy (which the good ones do for about 5 minutes before she’s demolished the voice box) and a walk every day around 4. Phoebe doesn’t demand more than her fair share of our paycheck and what we get in return is priceless.

kippandphoebe4-copy

Phoebe gets along with everybody going into fierce protection mode only if somebody messes with her people with the intent to do them harm.

phoebesleeping

Not one to dictate how you should live in your own backyard, Phoebe doesn’t really care how big you dig holes or how many bones you bury there. She doesn’t care if you walk around the house in your underwear or put furniture and appliances on your front porch. She only asks that you don’t try to make her do things your way or tell her what she can and cannot do in her yard.  Tend to your own backyard and afford Phoebe the same consideration, and you’ll get along swell.

phoebehappydog_1024-copy

It’s a given: some folks like dogs more than they like cats while some folks like cats more than they like dogs. Phoebe is respectful of the fact that everybody’s different with different preferences and perspectives which is why you’ll never read a post on her Facebook timeline ordering people to unfriend you if they think differently from you. Phoebe values individuality and personal relationships far more than that.

phoebe2003-copy

You know, without cluttering the environment with a single yard sign, without enduring a single robocall, without losing an entire forest to unsolicited junk mail, I think I’ve just convinced myself to vote for Phoebe as a write-in candidate this November.

P.S. That last photo? It’s her head shot from a local performance of “Annie.” She played the role not of Daddy Warlocks but of Sandy. We’re not afraid to do things a little differently in this neck of the woods.

Of Turtles and Home

HughesHallSign
A house is not an end in itself, any more than “home” is just one geographic location where things feel safe and familiar. Home can be any place in which we create our own sense of rest and peace as we tend to the spaces in which we eat and sleep and play. It is a place that we create and re-create in every moment, at every stage of our lives, a place where the plain and common becomes cherished and the ordinary becomes sacred.”
― from “The Gift of an Ordinary Day: A Mother’s Memoir” by Katrina Kenison
Thank you to my lifelong friend Susan Bray Green for reminding me of this book last week. I’m enjoying it the second time around as much as I enjoyed it the first time.
IroningBoard
This is my home this week: the Wild Wing of Hughes Hall at Arrowmont. Camp, I call it, and it is the best kind of camp: a week long arts and crafts time . . . although what I learn this week is nothing like the lanyards I excelled in at Camp Inagahee, and my friend Dianna isn’t along. This week, I fly solo.
beginning1
Monday I spend the entire day feeling befuddled as I walk on unfamiliar ground, trying to grasp what it is we’re doing and what lies ahead of us so I can plan.  I sleep 13 hours Monday night.
JournalComputer
Tuesday is Photoshop day, and for this former freelance graphic designer, it is a homecoming. I feel a skoch better . . . but only a skoch because it’s been a l-o-n-g time since I used Photoshop, and what with all the upgrades through the years, about the only thing that is the same is the way it’s spelled.
CalmSpot1b
Wednesday my best laid plans go kaput, but I keep moving, even though I’m still not quire sure where I’m headed. I make good use of some of the sit-a-spell-and-rest spots.
BearCrossing
These signs aren’t posted (this one right behind my dorm room) just for the cuteness factor – a bear stops by at lunch time. A real skinny woman makes herself bigger and says authoritatively “Go away,” and the bear did. It’s funny how an animal that is so huge has no concept of size. And speaking of lunch, these camp meals are infinitely more delicious than what we were fed at my childhood summer camps. And nobody makes me clean my plate or drink milk.
ClothsPrepared
Today (Thursday) I’ll print, (and tomorrow I’ll no doubt print do-overs for the ones that don’t quite turn out the way I’d like. It’s a given.)
DormRoom2
The dorm room is comfortable in its simplicity, and the studio is magnificent. I have asked The Engineer to bring a tape measure when he comes to fetch me on Friday so I can at least dream about recreating one atop the mountain. The work table is sturdy and gives the sense it can withstand anything. This table is a partner, an accomplice, a studio assistant. It is constant, ready, and able. The top is covered with a layer of padding and topped off with white vinyl. Underneath the table is a built-in shelf, perfect for storing bags and whatnot. A strip of electrical outlets runs down the side of each wall so there’s never a need to search for a place to plug something in or a need for a multi-outlet gizmo. Several other outlets hang from the ceiling, making them perfect for irons. There is a place for and room for everything.
The design wall is massive – I need a step ladder to fully avail myself of it, and for one who hasn’t room for a design wall in The Dissenter’s Chapel & Snug, this is like working in a dream. There really is a tremendous difference when you can see things from a distance.
JeanaKleinPiece
Done by Jeana Eve Kelin
JeaneKleinCloseup1
This week renews my desire to print on fabric, and I’ve learned things that will take me further on that adventure.
I’m not sure I’ll ever recreate this technique, though, (even if I could!) because (a) Jeana’s technique requires painting, and I do not paint and have sub-zero interest in learning; (b) I like my quilts to warm you up when you get cold and to make you feel better when you’re feeling puny; and (c) this process is rather tedious and technical while I prefer intuitive and take-it-as-it-comes. But then I’m certainly old enough to know to never say never . . .

(Please excuse any formatting ick. WordPress is being difficult.)

The Stanzas of Fatherhood

83OctTrainKippCarCar140 copy

From my daddy
(his granddaddy),
my son learned
that making space in his life to
pursue what captivates him
doesn’t make him selfish,
but instead makes him a better person
in every area of his life.
He learned resourcefulness, and
that it’s quite possible to make a good living
doing what you love.
He learned to honor the past.
contribute to your community,
the importance of family.
He learned roots.

AndyJimDec1998

From my father-in-law
(his paternal granddaddy)
my son learned perseverance, tenacity,
a can-do/will-do/just-you-watch-me attitude.
He learned that nothing – and I mean nothing –
can take you down unless you let it.

AJAK111978

From my husband
(his daddy),
my son learned loyalty,
fiscal responsibility,
logical thinking.
He learned to work hard enough
to have an impressive career,
but never so hard as to
miss out on family time and happenings.
He learned how to fix things,
how to plan for the future
how to treat women
– as well as other men – with respect.
He learned self-reliance and confidence.
He learned consideration for self and  others
and where to draw the line
to avoid abdication of self
which does nobody any good.
From his daddy,
my son learned humility, patience,
generosity and kindness.
He learned how to be a good husband
and a good dad.

KippCalderRay

My son, Kipp, is now a daddy himself,
and through him,
his son (my grandson),
will learn all the things
passed down through his
daddy’s male ancestors.
He will learn self reliance and kindness
confidence and loyalty
dependability and patience.
He will learn to tell the truth
even when it hurts,
(and, for purposes of entertaining,
how to lie convincingly).
(Wait – that might come from the maternal side of the table.)
He will learn love and curiosity
humor and responsibility
accountability and gratitude.
He will learn to
delight in the success of others
as much as he delights in his own.
He will learn how to make his family proud,
how to be a contributing member of society,
how to take good care of himself and others.
He will learn how to be A Good Man
and a Good Father.

AndyDCarCarKippThanksgiving1978 copy

This is what good fathers do, you know:
they take the best of their forefathers
and pass it on,
setting aside the inevitable not-so-good stuff
to leave it on the side of the road.
And in doing that, good fathers raise good men
who raise good men,
who raise good men,
making the world better
for men and women, boys and girls
for all of us.

ThreeGenerationsOfChambersGuys

Happy Father’s Day, y’all.

Hearting Orlando

Landscape4

On the lake,

Skiing

some folks ski

Tubing
some go tubing.

Beach

and some stay on the beach.

MotorboatSpeeding

Some like to go fast,
while others like to putter along the edge of the lake,
looking at docks and houses.

CigarBoat

Some folks have cigar boats

kayak

some prefer kayaks

Pontoon
some like pontoon boats,
booze barges, my mother-in-law called them.

Biscuit2

Some folks leave their pets at home,
while others bring their Corgis.

Waves2

On the lake,
we float over each other’s waves
and say not Dammit
but Wheee!

SparklingWater1
On the water,
we show consideration for each other
and obey certain rules of etiquette
to keep us all safe
while allowing us to enjoy the water
as we will,
each in our own way.

HeartCloud

For the life of me,
I don’t see why we can’t
live together on land
as we do on water.

Walking Diary

09June16RainbowTrout

The Engineer: Do you see the Rainbow Trout?

The Artist: Not yet, but would you just look at that heart and
that exclamation point sunning themselves right beside each other!

Then whoosh – in that snap of a moment,
I have my way into the piece I’m writing.
And I have my segue.

I declare: walking is as necessary to writing
as inhaling is to breathing.

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