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Ezra got scared at bedtime last night.  I am still not sure why. 

We have been going through some bedtime issues off and on over the past several months. I was leaving the hall light on for a while, but Ezra started getting up in the middle of the night and, finding I had turned the hall light off after he was asleep, would get up and turn it back on – at 3 a.m. That had to stop. 

So we got a night light for his room. 

Unfortunately, I found out night lights cast scary shadows and were unacceptable. There was wailing and gnashing of teeth. There were bargainings and other lights added to supplement the night light.  Eventually it was too much and I had to find another option.

So I spent $30 on a Dream Lite.

If you have a small kid who watches Sprout, you have heard the commercial whether you know it or not (“Pillow Pet Dream Lites are the amazing nightlight that turns your child’s room into a starry sky … “). I took Ezra to Toys R Us and let him pick it out. He responded so well that Ezra’s dad made sure he got one for Ezra at his house, too. It worked great.

For about 3 weeks. 

Last night after he’d been in bed about 30 minutes he “saw something move and it was scary.” I have no clue what he saw or thought he saw.  It really doesn’t matter. It was real and it was scary to him. So much so that he refused to go back into his room and cowered against my legs out in the hall trying to explain.  When I made him cross the threshold, his entire body tensed and he started to come a bit unglued, with big tears spilling out of his eyes.  The Dream Lite was on and Sawyer was sitting in his bed in the room as well, but neither had the talisman-like qualities they had last night.

I didn’t know what to do. 

I tried reasoning.  (See my hand making a shadow?  It is nothing scary.  There is nothing out there.  Shadows will still be in Mommy’s room, too.  There is nothing to be scared of.  Whatever it was that scared you is gone now.) No way.

I tried authority. (Ezra, that is enough.  Sawyer is in here with you.  Your Dream Lite is on.  There is nothing else I can do. Enough. Lay. Down. Now.) Not a chance in hell.

His panic started to escalate and I was in danger of him having a complete meltdown.

And then I said something without even thinking about it. 

“Jay is here.  I am here. You are safe.”

He immediately quit whining. The tears stopped instantly.  The tension drained from his little body.

His relief was palpable.

Encouraged by his obviously positive response, I continued along those lines, laying it on thick, “Nothing is going to happen to you.  Jay is bigger and stronger than any scary thing you see.  It is his job to take care of us and my job to help him.”  (I may have also volunteerd Jay for monster recon duty in the backyard, should it be necessary – I was just going with it at this point.)

Ezra smiled and hugged me.  “It is Jay’s job? He’s stronger than monsters??” he asked, impressed.

“Yes.  That’s what parents do.  They keep little kids and babies safe. He keeps me safe, too.”

Right in front of my eyes Ezra transformed from a tearful, scared child into a relieved and reassured little boy, confident in his safety and complete in his trust.

Apparently, my belief in Jay’s bravery was enough to make him brave as well and he began to put in his two cents.

“And it is my job to help him.  If the bad guys and monsters come, Jay will fight them like this,” he said, showing me a karate chop and punch (complete with sound effects), “and I will go get the net and I will catch them like this,” he demonstrated with a big swoop of his arms.  “I am a good helper.”

Just that quickly the crisis was over and without one bit of argument he let me tuck him back in.  A few hugs and kisses, some reassurance that he is “my guy,” and Ezra contentedly rolled over and went right to sleep. 

I went back into the living room and laughingly informed Jay of his now near superhero status.

But later, as I snuggled up against Jay in our bed, I realized that – even though I don’t have the simplistic pureness of childhood belief anymore, and although I can be jaded by the monotony of day to day life – what I told Ezra was a simple but powerful truth. 

And with that belief, I drifted off to sleep feeling protected, safe and content as well.

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Millie fumbled with the cap on her Xanax.  Tears streamed down her face and her hands shook.  She finally got the top off and poured a handful of the small pills into her hand.  She laid out one on the table and then, after thinking for just a moment, added another one.  She poured the others back into the bottle and gulped down the two pills.  Then she lay back on the bed and sobbed. 

Millie just could not understand how her daughter-in-law could be so mean and ungrateful.  Anna had no clue how much time Millie had spent making Poppy the dress that Anna obviously felt was not good enough for Poppy’s school pictures – and she obviously did not care, either.  Too fancy?? It was not too fancy for school! Millie had been a teacher for almost 30 years before she retired and she would have loved to see any one of her students dressed so nicely! Especially in something so beautiful that a loving grandmother had made by hand! Anna was just an ungrateful lout of a girl who did not deserve to be with Millie’s baby boy. Her feelings shattered, Millie curled up on the bed and cried.  She thought Roger or Bess would eventually come in to soothe her. 

“What is the matter with Momma, Daddy?” Bess asked her father.

Roger barely looked up from his book.  “Poppy didn’t wear the dress she made for school pictures.  Anna just emailed the proofs and Poppy is wearing regular school clothes.  Your mom’s feelings are all crushed.  As usual.  She will get over it.”

Roger shrugged and went back to reading It Takes a Family. He thought Rick Santorum had some good points, though Roger knew he could have done a better job of writing it. But then what could he expect from a Catholic who just popped out kids and probably drank? At least he had the right ideas about the gays and women and all, though, even if he did follow the Pope.

“Anna is going to say it was too dressy for school pictures,” Bess said, as she got a bowl out of the cabinet.  

“Well, a grateful daughter-in-law would have let her wear it, anyway.  I keep trying to tell your mother that other kids just have not been raised with the manners you have and she is just going to have to deal with that for the rest of her life.”

“Well, Poppy could have changed clothes after the pictures. Anna knew how proud Momma was of that dress.  I guess you’re right, Daddy, other kids weren’t taught proper manners like us, but you would think some of ours would have rubbed off on Anna by now.  She’s been married to Daniel for 7 years.  Surely he would have taught her some.”

Bess took her bowl of ice cream and headed upstairs to watch the new Lifetime movie.  She paused at the door to her parents’ bedroom and listened. 

“She is still crying, Daddy.”

Roger shrugged and kept reading.  “She’ll stop.  Or she will fall asleep.”

Bess sighed and went upstairs.  She was going to miss the beginning if she didn’t hurry. It was one about a man who was having an affair he was going to be sorry for, according to the previews, and Bess was not missing the beginning. Daddy was right, Momma would stop – eventually.

Millie heard Bess’s footsteps pause outside the door and she let out a fresh string of sobs. She heard murmurs of conversation and waited for the doorknob to turn.  Bur that didn’t happen.  Instead she heard Bess going up to her room next to Trevor’s. Millie realized Bess was not coming in to check on her.  A fresh wave of sadness washed over her and Millie rolled into it and buried her face in the pillow.  After a second, though, she turned her head.  Roger might not be able to hear how upset she was if she cried into the pillow – and there was still a chance he may come.  Millie let out a little wail, but there was no responding movement from the next room.  Roger was not coming – and with that final realization, Millie began to cry in earnest.

We need wonder. 

This morning while most of us were sleeping (and some of us were hovering over our 10 month old who had spiked a fever of 103.2 out of the blue) Curiosity landed on Mars.

I had heard this was happening a few hours before on CNN.  But that was a 3 minute mention right before CNN turned back to covering the latest shooting for the next 3 hours and I changed the channel quickly to HBO to be entertained and irritated by the Newsroom for the 5th time in a row.

I came into work this morning and, after touching base with my boss whose vacation had been frustrated by me having to interrupt him several times last week, caught up on my Facebook and news. 

I read the story about Curiosity and thought how cool it was that we have an SUV tooling around Mars right this very second. 

Then I checked my Facebook and read status updates saying that, while cool and all, the $2.6 billion spent to get Curiosity to Mars was basically a waste of money.   

And once again I was frustrated with humanity.  But this has been true for the last week.

Really, folks?!  The money is spent.  Why can’t we just be amazed by it.?? I wanted to put in all caps on their statues. 

Someone said that “in better times I’d be all for it.”

Well, Mr. Killjoy, please tell me when would be a better time?

When we have stopped insane people from shooting up high schools and colleges and theaters and Sikh temples…not to mention politicians and 8 year olds outside a Walgreens in AZ?

When we have tracked down and killed all of Al Qaeda and their ilk?

When Syria is peaceful and the government isn’t torturing children so their parents won’t fight… because they are afraid that if the fundamentalist rebels win the country will roughly regress about two centuries in civil rights? (yes, you have to love the irony there)

When a woman caught in a tug of war between two men in Afghanistan isn’t publically shot to death because both of them want her and so they have her killed as if she was a toy they broke so neither one of them could have her?

When Israel, Palestine and the rest of the sandbox of the Middle East learn to coexist?

When Iraq gives up nuclear ambitions and Russia stops imprisoning journalists?

When, pray tell, is it a good time to travel to another planet?

Because if we wait until all the above is realized it will NEVER happen. If we waited until half that was realized, it would still never happen. 

Hell, if we spent that $2.6B on the homeless or put it towards the national debt it would barely make a dent.  

We just spent the entirety of last week with the Christian and gay communities in this country getting prideful, nasty and judgmental over chicken sandwiches!

We needed this.  We needed a Moonwalk Moment. 

But there was no pride of achievement here.  This was a footnote to most of us.  CNN should have been hyping this for a week.  NASA should have had Curiosity land in primetime and we should be watching this with our kids and marveling over it.  My 4 year old should have seen it. 

Someone should have written something amazing to be the equivalent of “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

But as it is I did not even know it was happening until a couple of hours before and in the middle of the night. 

However, I do know that the Sikh temple shooter had a 9/11 tattoo and was “possibly” a white supremacist. 

I know Dan Cathy and a shitload of other Christians think we are “inviting God’s judgment” by even thinking about accepting gay marriage. And these people are so very proud of themselves for going and making him a shitload of money last Wednesday.  I know because my Facebook page was full of pictures of all the lines at all the Chick-Fil-As in my hometown. 

I know a whole lot about a whole lot of really bad things I wish never happened… like someone breaking into a woman’s house, carving “dyke” into her arms and stomach and setting her house on firelike underage kids posting pictures of themselves raping a passed out girl at a high school party and the rape victim almost went to jail when she tweeted their names… and, God help me, I know about Jerry Sandusky. 

I also know a whole lot about a whole lot of things so inconsequential and petty that I should never have heard of them… e.g. Kristen Stewart’s affair with her director, Steven Tyler has quit American Idol (a show I have never watched even once), that Elton John is dissing Madonna and that years after her death there are still picture books of Marilyn Monroe coming out, though most of us have never even seen Seven Year Itch

I know that there is a presidential election coming up and you have to pick a side: the Private Sector or the Government because apparently it is impossible to think that both are important to our way of life.  You have to demonize one and love the other.  You cannot be a reasonable person and think that Capitalism and Government are in an inextricably linked symbiotic relationship of equal importance.  And God help you if you are a moderate in today’s political climate.  You will just quit.  Ask Olympia Snow or Steve LaTourette

We have divided ourselves into groups.  And to a certain extent that is fine.  It is a part of the human condition to identify with a group.  We have always done it going back to the beginning of our history. 

The problem is that we are now living in the best time humans have ever experienced.  So now we have plenty of time to judge other groups.  We no longer have to band together to survive and mind our own group’s business.  We band together because we want to.  And what we really want to do in our group is judge other groups and list all the reasons why we would NEVER be a part of THAT group.  THAT group believes X and we believe Y and so we have to MAKE them stop believing X and FORCE them to believe Y.  It is, after all, what God would want us to do, right?

We ESPECIALLY like it if the other group is having some sort of sex our group forbids.  We LOVE to get our noses into other people’s beds and judge what they do there.  It is scandalous.  It is titillating. 

So, please, please, please, as a nation and a people, we need to be brought back together.  We need to be united in accomplishment and pride.  Not AGAINST something or someone but FOR something we can all believe in.

Landing an SUV on Mars could have been that thing.  But it wasn’t. 

And, really, how can we come up with something more amazing than that?

Going outside our solar system??  Yeah.  That would be awesome, right?  Everyone would think that was cool!  Wait.  We already did that.  I bet you didn’t even know it. 

So much for wonder.  We can all go back to bickering amgonst our little groups now.

Really?  Is there such a thing? I don’t think there is.  Words are not “good” or “bad” any more than any other tool available to mankind.  It is ridiculous to say that they are.  It would be like saying a hammer is bad.  Well, not if you are nailing floorboards, but maybe if you are hitting someone with it.

If you disagree that is fine with me, but I would recommend you unsubscribe and quit following this blog now for both our sakes.  We will both be happier people.  Because otherwise I am going to offend you and you are going to piss me off.  Stop reading here.

While I don’t believe that words can be categorized as good and bad, I am sure there is appropriateness.

And there are plenty of times it is perfectly appropriate to just say “Fuck.”

Like when I get off the phone with my cell phone company that, a mere six months ago, sold me a phone for $250 that is either defective or is incapable of performing the functions I need it to perform.  And the only thing they will do is wipe all of my information off of it (with no help for backing it up and saving it – I just lose it), reset it and give it back to see if that works.  No help and no new phone… I am just out six months of information or $250 or, most likely both.

Fuck!

See? Totally appropriate.

You know with that one word the feelings of anger, frustration and powerlessness I felt.  And believe you me, it was most certainly necessary (Although I will say that I did not use any harsh language with the customer service rep.  I didn’t need to.  I am pretty sure she knew.  And it was not her fault.  Just a fucked up policy that left me hanging out to dry).

In the spirit of appropriateness, though, when I posted a little vent of a post on Facebook, I did not use the word Fuck, because it is so incendiary.  I said suck and DAMMIT.  Much better.  Obviously, not everyone agreed with me.  But that is fine.  There is an unsubscribe button that works just fine.  I tested it.

When I was a kid I was taught not to cuss (you see how well that worked).  And in my parents’ house, “gosh” was considered a cuss word as it was just a substitute word for taking the Lord’s name in vain (which, by the way is the only forbidden word I know of in the Bible.  That “idle words” passage does not count as cuss words are certainly not idle, but very active and hardworking words).  But I am pretty sure that God (or at least the God my parents believe in) was not fooled by “shoot” or “dog-on-it” or “dag nabbit” or anything else.  So you might as well have the balls to just say “shit” or “god dammit” and not try to pull the wool over God’s eyes by using euphemisms.  I’m pretty sure he already knew what you wanted to say, anyway, right?

I love words.  English is ripe with stolen words from other times and languages.  As far as I am concerned, there is a reason for all of them.  There is a word or series of words for any emotion or idea you would like to express.  And some of those ideas and emotions are decidedly negative and may require harsher words to fully express them.

That doesn’t mean I believe harsh language should be used against a person.  Calling someone a name is never appropriate (Rush Limbaugh, I am talking to you – and a lot of people would not consider “slut” a cuss word – I think they are missing the point). It is wrong to demean others whether the words you use are cuss words are not.  And, trust me, I am from the South.  You can be dressed down mightily without so much as a “dammit” crossing someone’s lips down here.  And that crap about sticks and stones and words will never hurt you is bullshit (see, perfectly appropriate use of that word because it is just that – bullshit). Words can hurt more than anything and the scars from them can last a lifetime.

Intent.  That is the key. Using harsh words to express your own harsh feelings and circumstances is fine.  Using words to hurt others, whether they are cuss words or not, is never ok.

I have been told in polite surroundings, that cussing is the refuge of a low mind lacking the ability to express itself.  But I don’t buy that for a second.  Having less of a vocabulary to choose from because certain words are off the table does not make you a more expressive person.  It makes you a person who has decided to limit your vocabulary.

If that is your choice, that is fine with me, but don’t expect me to do the same. I like to have the full repertoire to choose from, thank you.

Now there may be those who simply have a shitty, worthless vocabulary consisting of mostly cuss words and who are inarticulate in any other way so they over use cuss words to get their point across.  But that kind of person has a communication problem and maybe a literacy problem, not a cussing problem.

As far as kids go, well, that is a decision that each parent has to make.  I try not to say damn, shit or fuck around my four year old.  I don’t like hearing them from my 20 year old, either. But even my four year old knows that shit is a “grown up word,” so I am pretty sure someone’s ten year old has heard it before as well. And I didn’t friend your kids on Facebook.  But I went to middle school and high school.  There is not a ten year old living outside a compound that hasn’t heard – or used – a cuss word. If you think that there is, you are living under a rock. Or maybe in a compound.

And just like sex or anything else you have to teach your kids about, you had better be ready to teach appropriateness of words and actions.  Because they are going to do things that you would rather they not – cuss, drink, have sex.  And, of the three, I’d much rather hear my kids say shit.

On Alabama/US Highway 231, you can traverse the entire state north to south.  But when you hit a stretch of road in the southeast corner of the state between the small college town on Troy (home of the Troy Trojans) and the town of Ozark, you are near a very special place.

Aunt Maug and Uncle Hubbert’s farm. 

The farm is located just outside of Brundidge, Alabama, which bills itself as “Alabama’s Own Antique City.” And that, I suppose, is one way of putting it.  

Once you get south of Brundidge on 231, you have to start looking for the turn.  It is practically hidden.  And the road you are looking for is not paved with asphalt, but concrete slabs.  About halfway down that concrete slab paved road is a sign that says Tennille with an arrow pointing down Shiver Road.

Shiver, as in Hubbert and Maug Shiver, my mother’s sister and her husband.

It is fitting that the road is now named after them, but when I was growing up it was simply Route 2, Brundidge.  And my Uncle Hubbert was the mailman for the area. 

You go almost exactly a mile down Route 2/Shiver Road and as you come around at curve you can look down a hill and see the farm.  The gray house had changed a bit since I was a child, but it is certainly recognizable – as is the small house across the street where Uncle Hubbert was born in 1928. During the 1980s it was Aunt Maug’s shop where she designed flower arrangements and had a wedding planning business. 

Uncle Hubbert worked full time delivering mail, but he also ran a fully functioning farm. At one time or another he raised horses, chickens and pigs.  He also had fields of soy beans, corn and no telling what else I don’t know about during my childhood. Uncle Hubbert is one of the two hardest working and most respectable men I know.

I could not begin to count the nights I have spent there.  As a matter of fact, up until my brother was born when I was 4, Santa Claus only came to the farm.  I don’t even think he knew where our house on East Collins Street in Dothan was.

At one point or another, my mother and all of her sisters called the farm home.  Before I was born my grandmother’s house was moved from Tennille (a now dead town my mother’s family moved out of – with the exception of my grandfather who is buried there in a lost graveyard behind the kudzu covered ruin of a church) to the farm and still stands on an acre of land next to my aunt and uncle’s house, even though my grandmother – who would have been 101 on April 2nd – has been dead over a decade now.

I barely remember the pigs or my older cousin’s horses.

But I can remember reaching under chickens for eggs and bringing them back to the house for breakfast.

I wish I could tell you all about it. 

About Suzi the Suzuki motorcycle Daddy and Uncle Hubbert used to ride us cousins on – along with the smaller less impressive, but still fun to ride, Yamaha.  We used to go down the dirt road and stop and pick blackberries still warm from the sun for a snack. 

About the tractor that was built sometime in the 1940s, but Uncle Hubbert assures me still runs like a champ.  I cannot imagine how many miles Uncle Hubbert has logged on her – I have a few miles under my belt as well.

About the stars you can see from the yard on a clear night. 

About my grandmother’s flower beds (when she was alive), sassy as ever and could grow anything – with a dip of snuff in her lip. 

About Roadey the donkey that once literally kicked Uncle Hubbert in the ass – and then got a kick back. 

Jumping hay bales with my cousins. 

Skipper and Gigi – the untamable horses.

Fire ants!

Fishing with a cane pole with my grandmother an cousins. 

Simon the Siamese cat who we thought would live forever.  And, for a cat, he just about did.

Fish frys on Saturdays.

Cutting down Christmas trees. 

Sleepovers at my grandmother’s with my cousins.

Stickers in the yard.  (I learned to always wear shoes.  Grown ups did not like it when you got stuck and they had to come rescue you when you ran out of bald patches of ground to walk on between the houses.)

Climbing trees. 

Fighting and playing and running like mad with the closest things to sisters I have ever had – my cousins.

No matter how far any of us have roamed we have all come back to Aunt Maug and Uncle Hubbert’s at one time or another and basked in the memories of our childhood. 

I think it is getting time for a trip home.

My brother is getting married this weekend!  (Congrats!!! Love!!)

Tonight I am packing to go to Dothan for the weekend.  It is a 3.5 hour trip.  A 210 mile drive. 

At least, if you don’t have kids. 

The last trip we were up to about 4 hours of actual “on the road” time.  Which doesn’t seem too bad, uh?  It really isn’t.  However, I consider it to be 4 hours of semi-rest after all the running required to pack to get in the car to leave.  (Jay drives.  Forever and ever, amen.)

You know I have a 6 month old and a 4 year old, right? 

Well, then try and begin to imagine the packing.  Bottles, diapers, dvd player (don’t forget the dvds!!), snacks, toys…

And then you get to the changes of clothes, toiletries and sundry items all women have come to require in almost (less than one week left! Eeek!) 41 years (sunscreen!).  At least I am the only girl.

And we are going to a wedding!  I have small cute kids who need to look their most adorable.  And yet be comfortable. This means I have to be comfortable enough (in wedding-appropriate clothes) to be able to run after Ezra should he decide to test us in public – which is totally possible considering his little attitude lately.

Tonight I am going to attempt to put Ezra to work packing his own back pack of traveling items.  He has been a handful over the last few weeks; getting into trouble at school and such – the general complaint is that he does not follow directions.  (Yeah.  We know.  You think he is any better at home with us?  We’re working on it, I swear).  This way he is occupied with a task that will, if not now then sometime in the near future (fingers crossed) be helpful to me. 

Sawyer has just started solids.  We are grinding what is in the frige and pantry up with a Baby Bullet and he is doing two meals a day. This week he had bananas, squash and brown rice. The faces he makes and the cuteness and hilarity of the process makes cleaning up after him (pretty much) worth it.  (So now I get to pack baby food. And bibs.  And spoons.) 

Of course, I really feel for Jay. He is going to have to help me, who is scatterbrained and a bit panicky when I am feeling pressured and rushed (to put it nicely), get all this done and out the door at a reasonable time on Saturday morning to make a 2p wedding. Yes, you shoudl pray for him)

In case anyone wants to be helpful and suggest a glass of wine to take the edge off, I have to be clear about something – my parents do not drink alcohol.  Ever.  How serious are they about the evils of alcohol?  My mother once made someone take a 6 pack of IBC Root Beer out of her shopping cart because she worried another shopper may glance in her cart and mistakenly think it was real beer since it was a 6 pack of brown bottles.  (True story.  My parents do not drink. They don’t much like people who do, either.  Reason #13 why my mother does not read this blog.)

So… I can only think of two things to do in preparation for the whirlwind that will be this weekend.  They will be added to the packing list and checked off accordingly.  I am going to need them to keep a grip on my sanity.

There is a bottle of pinot grigio chilling in my frige, just lying in wait for me to get home.  I may not be allowed to drink at my mother’s house, but I am at my house tonight, now aren’t I? 

I’d better text Jay let him know about the other…

A 14 year old girl lay on a bed in a pale yellow room.  Yellow was not her favorite color.  Right now it was blue.  In later years it would be green. You can tell from her wardrobe. 

She was reading Gone with the Wind for the first time.  It was spring and the pale yellow bedroom was in the deep south of Alabama.  Her mind, however, was roughly 200 miles north, in Atlanta, Georgia.

Now, you have to keep in mind that this was 1985 and she was 14.  Whatever racist reputation the book has to the broader world outside the South was totally lost on her – as it mostly is even to this day.  She had read Twain with the same obliviousness: that of a white southern teenager who understood the South from that perspective alone.  She was neither privileged nor disadvantaged, walking that treacherous line between the two. She was also only slightly aware of the events that had played themselves out a mere twenty years before in Selma and Birmingham… and Montgomery.  The only thing she cared about that had to do with Montgomery was that she would get to go ice skating on the next trip they took there – Daddy had promised she could. 

For her Gone with the Wind was all about the story she’d been drawn into. 

The beauty and romanticism of it thrilled her.  The story pulled her through it.

She could feel the breeze and smell the barbeque at Twelve Oaks.

She was wrapped up in characters who fascinated her as much as the language Mitchell had masterfully crafted into beautiful images in her mind. 

There were azaleas and dogwoods in bloom outside her very window.  Her father had taken to digging dogwood sapplings up when he got the chance and bringing them home to plant in the yard for her mother to enjoy the first few splendid weeks of Spring. Daddy’s own unique way of bringing her mother flowers, she supposed.

But, for the girl, the dogwoods she could see with her own eyes paled in comparison with the lovely north Georgia woods Mitchell described so skillfully. 

She learned to flirt from Scarlett.  And, she had to admit, she’d learned a few other things from her as well. 

Melanie taught her about turning the other cheek. Although Melanie generally annoyed her and made her feel guilty for liking Scarlett as much as she did. 

It could be argued that she had, sometimes cautiously and other times recklessly, pulled from the good and the bad of these two fictional characters and implemented their tactics her own life.  Subconsciously – most of the time.

She desperately wished now that there were more of Atticus Finch in her than Scarlett.  But Harper Lee’s hero was an embodiment of virtue that even Gone with the Wind could not handle. And, besides, it would be several years until To Kill A Mockingbird would make it to her bedside table.  When it did, however, it would never really leave again.  She would re-read it periodically for the rest of her life.

This weekend, however – and more than a few years past 1985 – that same girl looked out the picture window in her living room at the dogwoods she could see with her own eyes.

And for the very first time it dawned on her.  She had done it unconsciously, but she had done it . 

Reluctantly, the knowledge of the dark side of her beloved South raised itself in her mind.  She acknowledged the unflattering and embarrassing truth about that South of 150 years ago.  It was not something you could ignore. 

But in true Scarlett fashion, she would not think about that right now; she would think about that another day. 

Right now the azaleas and dogwoods outside her window were too beautiful to ignore. 

Margaret Mitchell had been right about the beauty of the north Georgia woods.

She knew it for a fact.  Because she now lived in them herself.