52 Faces: 4/52 – Roy

The next person in my 52 Faces series is my dad. I’ve written about him before, which you can find here.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you: Roy.


Hometown: McDavid, FL

Education: B.S. in Forest Management from Auburn University

Occupation: Happily Retired…now pursuing all of his hobbies without the hinderance of a 9-5. He is a tender of chickens, lover of nature and animals, avid gardener, motorcycle tinkerer/rider, wonderful musician, nature guide to anyone who asks…and also a happy host to absolutely any friend of mine that should cross his path.

Personal: Married to my mom, Marina, for 39 years. He and my mom met in their early teens, and to hear him tell it, he’s been smitten with her since day one. If anyone wants a lesson on how to love someone with wreckless abandon, you should take notes from my dad. He is the dad to my brother (Jacob) and I. Poppa to Helen, Elizabeth, Maxwell and Adelaide.

Fun Facts:  The youngest of five children, he was the president of his high school senior class. After high school, he went to Jump School at Fort Benning with the US Army, 82nd Airborne Division…willingly jumping out of perfectly good airplanes. After his time in the Army, he married my mom and moved to Auburn to get a degree in Forestry. They eventually settled down in Century, FL, just a short drive north from where he grew up…and the next few decades were spent raising my brother and I. Once we had flown the nest, my parents bought some land in Brewton, AL…on a gorgeous creek, with an unfortunate name (Murder Creek). There they built an amazing house, and now spend much quality time on the various porches…listening to birds, sipping a cold drink, grilling delicious dinners, keeping company with their dog (Jenkins) cats and chickens…and welcoming any friends or family who should come their way.


What is your first, most vivid memory?- “Playing in the yard at Maw’s house..my mother’s mom…while she shelled pecans for us.”

What was your first job?- “When I was young, I delivered papers for the News Journal. I also worked in the ice house in Atmore, AL. We pulled ice and delivered it…to places like the vegetable markets that needed ice to cool their produce for shipment on the railroad.”

What made you want to become a forester?- “I always liked the natural world, so a career like that appealed to me. I had a high school science teacher and counselor named Ann C. Hall. She graduated with my daddy…she was valedictorian, and he settled for salutatorian (even though they had the same grade point average). Her husband, Mr. Key, was a forester who also served in the 82 Airborne Division in WWII. I was one of five kids, and there wasn’t a lot of extra money…but, I knew I wanted to go to school, even though I wasn’t ready. Mrs. Ann encouraged me to enlist in the Army, and that I could try to go into the Airborne (which I did). That enabled me to get a college education in Forestry.”

What’s the one thing you’ve always wanted, but still don’t have?- “I don’t wish for a whole lot of things, so I don’t really know of anything I’m longing for.”


You always have a great joke, saying or life lesson to share. Give me one.- “Well, I was telling your mom the other day to beware of the clowns and chameleons in life. The clown will want you to think that they are someone that they are not. The chameleon will change, depending on where he is. Clowns and chameleons: you gotta watch ’em.”

Who is someone you greatly admire, and why?- “That’s hard, I admire a lot of people..so, it’s hard to pick one above all of the rest. But, if you’re asking me to name one, I guess I’d say Mother Teresa. It didn’t matter how dangerous or unpopular something might be…she was going to go and do it, if it helped someone. And, unlike a lot of folks, who like to sing their hymns but are really trying to lay up wealth…well, I don’t think a piece of gold would have meant much at all to Mother Teresa.”

Do you have a favorite quote?- “Do what you can…with what you have…where you are…in the time that you have.”



How was your holiday?

We just got back from a few days at my parents’ house on Murder Creek. In total, there were 6 adults, 2 children, 1 baby, 4 dogs, 1 cat, 1 kitten, 7 chickens and 2 roosters. The one hogging the camera below is named John the Baptist.


John (my husband, not the rooster) and I drove down Wednesday night, and arrived around 10pm (as we do). Jacob and his family were a few hours behind us. As we waited on them to arrive, we wound up watching something on tv about sockeye salmon. This led to Dad requesting that Mom cook him some salmon…at that exact moment. He was determined he was going to have some salmon at 10:30pm, logistics be damned!

(He settled for scrambled eggs)

Lindsay, Jacob, Helen, Elizabeth, Maxwell and their dog (Sugar) arrived around midnight. The girls seemed completely unaware that it was well past their bedtime. Apparently the long car ride left them well rested and ready to PARTY.


I hugged them hello and then went upstairs to attempt to fall asleep.

Reasons that sleep seemed impossible:

  1. My parents’ house is made entirely of wood, and the living room ceiling is shaped in such a way as to send all of the first-floor noise rolling up the wall and smacking the inhabitants of the second-floor right in the face.
  2. Greta was whining incessantly because she was convinced we had no idea that these new people had brought a dog with them…because surely if we had SEEN the other dog, SOMEONE would have let her out so that she could examine it.
  3. Elizabeth had misplaced her “inside voice”.
  4. The sound of my mom’s flip flops flopping as she walked (what seemed like laps) around the house to make sure everyone had everything they needed.
  5. John snoring, because he had taken two Benadryl…

Somehow, sleep found me, and the next morning we woke up to celebrate my Dad’s 60th Birthday! (oh..and, also Independence Day…)


Helen shucked fresh-picked corn with Poppa. And, when that turned out to be very short-lived, Jacob and John helped him finish.


Helen helped Poppa feed the chickens and both girls took turns gathering eggs.



DSC_0759Elizabeth was not a huge fan of the feeling of dirt in her shoes, but was mostly ok with it when she went barefoot. However, occasionally she would only be consoled if someone carried her when she was outside.

This is her “I’m upset that my feet are getting dirty…pick me up!” face.


Here’s Nonna obliging her, on a different day. Elizabeth looks pleased with the situation, don’t you think?
DSC_0791It was overcast and rainy the entire time we were there, so we didn’t kayak. Although we did spend some time (in-between downpours) wading in the creek. Helen was pretty fearless in the current, as long as she knew someone was close by in case she needed a hand to grab onto.


Elizabeth was less inclined to get in on her own, and for that I was thankful. She is so full of bravery in other things, that I can’t imagine how many times I’d have to fish her out of the creek if she ever became convinced she could conquer it.DCIM100SPORT

Even Greta took a swim or two in the cold water. Although I’m sure she’d have me let you know that she much prefers digging in the sand.DCIM100SPORT

This was Max’s first trip to Nonna and Poppa’s house, and I have a feeling he enjoyed it…even if his crazy Aunt Hannah kept putting crayons in his pocket and toy guitars in his lap for her own amusement.IMG_4795


Uncle John was always there to provide a cozy place to nap. And, I do mean ALWAYS. Every time I turned around, John was holding Max, and it usually looked something like this:


On the rare occasion that John ever put Max down, someone else was always there to scoop him up.
IMG_4830 And, as usual, Mom and Dad fed us well! Dad cooked ribs on the 4th, while Mom was in the kitchen frying okra and cooking peas, cornbread and squash. Yum!

The next night, Jacob and I “helped” Dad cook some chickens. We just followed his instructions on the seasoning, and then stepped back while he worked his magic. It was delicious.


And, we all enjoyed the veggies from Poppa’s garden.


No pictures to post of Lindsay or I, although I assure you we were present…either behind the camera or elsewhere.

Until next time, Murder Creek!

Happy Father’s Day, Dad!

IMG_20130616_0005I called my Dad yesterday to wish him a Happy (early) Father’s Day. I didn’t send a card…because I forgot to send a Mother’s Day card…and I’m all about fairness. But, my Dad isn’t the typical man who doesn’t appreciate cards. He’s got a drawer full of keepsakes from my brother and me throughout the years.
My Dad is the most amazing man. I got teary-eyed this morning when I thought about how grateful I am to be his daughter. He is simultaneously strong and tender…a wealth of knowledge with a steadfast love for others.
He has always loved spending time with my brother and I. For as long as I can remember, he was teaching me all manner of things. I grew up learning to build things, care for animals, enjoy the outdoors, cherish family and friends…the list goes on.
One of my favorite memories from my childhood is what we called “the trading game”.  My mom, dad, brother and I would round up personal possessions and take turns making trades with one another. Dad would always make a big deal of it…showing off his items and oooo’ing and ahhh’ing over the things we deemed trade-worthy.
I’ve sometimes heard Dad make comments about how he regrets working long hours during parts of our childhood…that he feels he wasn’t there as often as he would’ve liked to be. Regardless of how you may have felt during that time, Dad, I want you to know that I never felt like you weren’t there. Not even for a second.

Dad, I have so many pictures of us doing things together…camping, hunting, fishing, exploring…pictures of you at my track meets, basketball games, volleyball matches, softball games, cheering events, ballet recitals, piano recitals, theatre productions, award banquets, choir camp concerts…

You and Mom encouraged me to try anything, and then you supported me and cheered me on in everything.

You helped instill in me the value of hard work, and you showed me what a good work ethic looks like. Both you and mom taught me the importance of a good education and provided the opportunity and environment to learn all that I could. You were there from the first day of kindergarten to the day I graduated from your Alma Mater. (War Eagle!)

You’ve always allowed me to make my own choices and be my own person, and I do not take that for granted. Through tattoos, piercings and all my crazy hairstyle choices, to the friendships I’ve formed, decisions I’ve made, and all the ups and downs of my life so far…you’ve  been accepting, loving and always believing in me.

For all the reasons I’ve already listed, and oh so many more that I may not have adequate words for, you’ve painted a picture of the kind of man I’ve always wanted to marry. I’m so happy to say that I found him, and so thrilled that when you walked me down the aisle (8 years ago!) you already loved him too.


John and I have such a great marriage, and I believe that has a lot to do with how both sets of our parents modeled marriage for us. Thank you for loving my mom with such a boundless, unconditional, and (almost nauseatingly) romantic love. The two of you are such a great picture of partnership, and have been an incredible example to me.IMG_4317

One of the things on my “30 by 30” list was to “learn something from my dad”. I’m going to go ahead and cross that off, because I feel like I’m constantly learning things from you. Here are just a few that I can think of:

You’ve always made it clear that you expected no less from me than my brother, when it comes to physical strength. It’s not like you ever asked me to lift a car or anything crazy….but, you didn’t keep me from chores like mowing grass, stacking firewood, moving lumber, etc. Although you were tender with me, you never treated me like a fragile flower. I think it’s taught me to not sell myself short…to know that I can push myself harder than I think I can. I’m no damsel in distress.
IMG_20130606_0102On a similar note, you taught me how to swing a hammer and use a drill. I watched you build our playhouse when I was little, and together we’ve built bookshelves and various other things. Thanks to you I have a love for making things, am capable of fixing things… I appreciate the smell of sawdust and the feeling of satisfaction after a job well done.

Our house was always filled with music, whether it was Mom playing the piano or flute, you on the guitar or dobro, or Jacob and I as we tried our hand at various instruments. Thank you for calling me out if my timing was off when I practiced piano. Thank you for showing me how to play my first chords on the guitar, and for putting up with those few years that I played saxophone.

With your love of bluegrass also came your love of friends. There were many nights spent playing together around a campfire or a coffee table. I love that your old college friends feel more like aunts and uncles to me, and every time I hear a song that all of you play together….it feels like home to me.


Your love and generosity for others is evident to me. I’ve seen you host the beehives of others on your land for months…deliver homegrown vegetables from your garden to relatives, friends and the elderly…accept any friend of mine as a welcomed guest in your house for the weekend…the list goes on.

It seems cliche, because everyone says it about their own dad…but, you are the absolute best father I could have ever asked for.

I hope that I have been the kind of daughter who has made you proud.

I love you, Daddy.


June, thus far

Tomorrow is my birthday…which means I’ve reached the end of my 20 by 29 challenge. I’ve only lost 5 of the 20 lbs I wanted to lose, but it’s not like I’m giving up when the sun rises tomorrow. I’m continuing on, and not letting myself get discouraged.

Now, for a slew of pictures from the past couple of weeks:

Lindsay flew in with the girls to visit my parents the first week of June. I drove down to see them for two days.

Helen & Poppa in the garden…probably the cutest pictures I’ve ever seen…

Lindsay & I slipped away and went kayaking, just the two of us.  SO. MUCH. FUN.

Some of our extended family came over for a day in the creek.

I loved seeing my nieces and my cousin’s kids get to play together.

(Her little legs kill me)

All of the ladies went out to dinner…Helen & Elizabeth had to bring their purses.

I was sad to leave, but I’ll see them again at the end of July.  This is apparently the year when we see each other more than ever…and I am definitely NOT complaining!

Last weekend I got to spend my Saturday with John’s parents and my sis-in-law, Mary.

Mary & I went to Jones Valley Farms FreshFest. We ate some delicious food from local food trucks…

I got to see the produce stands and wash station that Mary’s rural studio group built for Jones Valley!

We met up with friends, watched a goat milking demonstration, had some popsicles from Steel City Pops…

Our trip ended with the purchasing of produce, and me carrying a watermelon for a block or two back to the car.

Then it was back to Mom & Dad P’s house for dinner…and a game of fetch with Oscar.

Thanks for spending your Saturday with me, Mary!  I love days spent with you!

Playing catch-up

I’ve been keeping up with my 52 Projects resolution, but seem to have failed at blogging as much as I would like to. Whoopsies…

Instead of boring you with a wordy, detailed report of everything I’ve been up to, here’s a visual update of life lately…according to my phone.






……I love my life….and the people in it………..

Sunday morning with Dad



Roy Gene


My dad taught me to climb trees…bait a hook…start a fire…string a guitar…throw a punch…hammer a nail…

Most importantly, he showed me what love looks like. And he set such a high standard for what I looked for in a husband.

I’m so glad that I am his daughter.