Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Didn't Need "Sadie" this time!

A couple of days ago, I got up with pain all though my chest and shoulder areas. When I had my coffee, I could feel a burning sensation going across my chest. As the day went along, I decided that maybe I should get it checked out at the emergency room. I have had two heart attacks in the past...but this pain felt different. After a series of tests, everything was found to be normal. It was decided that I had strained some muscles in my chest. But when did I do it? Could it have been when I lifted a heavy battery out of the car? When I started taking down all the posts and wire cages in the garden and pulling up all the dead plants with deep roots and starting a burn pile? Could it have been moving dirt to fill in holes left in the yard from recent construction? Or, maybe it was the riding the tractor mower for three hours cutting the grass? Regardless, it wasn't a heart attack, which brings me to my story.

First, let my explain, I am a dog person....always have been....always will be and didn't like cats. I had never liked cats, even though my youngest daughter seem to always have them. To me, they were sneaky and not to be trusted. That was when a cat named "Sadie" came into my life.

Gay Nell and I were married in 2000, the same year that we both retired. I was a recent widower and she had been single for about seven years. She was a cat lover and when we started dating, she had three cats. When we decided to wed, we decided that one cat was enough.....that being Sadie, her favorite. I guess we were both spoiled to having our way and she was like a jealous child when it came to sharing her "mom" with me. I could not sat down without her attacking me and trying to claw me. Me, not being a cat person, didn't know that cats like to look outside.....she was always tearing up the blinds and hanging from the drapes. At this point, I declared that "this cat has got to go!" Gay Nell took her to the vets to board her until she could be adopted out. This put such a strain on our relationship, that I finally decided that I could adapt.

So, Sadie came home! The blinds were raised, the garage door was cracked, and the back door left ajar so she could come and go as she pleased. She was a hunter and one day she brought a large black bird into the house with a wing span that reached almost across the hall going into the bedroom. So we decided that we would monitor the back door and let her in and out. Since I got up early to smoke and have coffee, I would let her out in the early morning to hunt and I would smoke and have my coffee in the garage with the door up. Gay Nell was a late sleeper and never got up until around Nine O'clock.

On 9-11-2001, yes, the day of the Air attacks, I had gotten up around 5:00 a.m. to let Sadie out, have my cigarettes and coffee and set in the garage with the door open. While the coffee was brewing, I went out to have a smoke in the gargage. After the smoke, I went back to pour myself some coffee. I took one sip and started "Blacking out" and holding on to the bar. As I slid to the floor, Sadie came in the back door, ran past me down the hall to the bedroom where Gay Nell was sleeping. She jumped up into her face making a loud noise...Gay Nell was annoyed and got up to take her outside and followed her down the hall. When she got to the kitchen, she found me collapsed in the floor; 911 was called.

When the paramedics arrived, I was stablized and wheeled to the ambulance down the driveway. I remember looking to the left and seeing "Sadie" standing beside the drive looking at me with a concern look on her face. When I arrived at the emergency room I was diagnosed with major blockage and when the planes hit the "Twin Towers" in New York, I was having a heart attack. I was again stablized and later shipped to St Lukes Hospital in Houston. There, I was sent into surgery and a stent was inplanted.

That day changed a lot in my life, first and foremost, I became a cat lover and Sadie and I became best friends, Also, that was the last time I have ever smoked a cigarette.....we move to Arkansas the next year and Sadie, being a hunter, enjoyed digging up moles and trapping other small animals. She was ran over on "Mother Day" in 2003. My Friend ......."Rest in peace!"

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Gatlinburg, Tennessee! "Heart of the Smokey Mountains!"

The next morning we loaded up and headed to the smokies. We went through Knoxville, turned south toward Seymour and down to Maryville, then back to Pigeon Forge. There was a high mountain across to Gatlinburg and we wanted to experience the coolness of the mountain air. It was in the high Nineties when we start over and the cool air felt like walking into a "Air conditioned room." There were several pull-overs to give you a chance see the valleys below. You understand why it's called the smokies....the valley looked like it was filled with smoke.

When we got into Gatlinburg, since we had no reservations, we pulled into the first r.v. park we saw. They had a few vacancies, so the management took me on a tour in a golf cart to check them out. The whole park was in a real "hilly" area and the spots were hard to get into. We decided to try elsewhere and drove around. We saw this place that looked like an "Ole timey motor lodge", it had a drive down the side "R.V. Sites", so we turned in. In the rear of the main building was your dream sites of about 20 spots, easy in and out, shade, all hook-ups and a large swimming pool and a new bathhouse. Talk about Luck! We were about a mile from downtown and several stores and business' along the way.

We checked in, the prices were very reasonable, with plans to stay about three days. After our "Junk Food Fix" and a quick tour of downtown, the kids were really to get into the pool. That night, it was so cool and the air so fresh, that sleep was a pleasure after our trip. The next morning after breakfast, we headed into town to see the sights. The main attractions are along the main street with your usual shops. There were several craft shops, eating places, but the main attraction was the "ski lift" that provided rides up the mountain to the top. There was a lodge at the top with a restaurant and sovenir shop for the tourist. You could get to the top of the mountain by car, but the lift was an experience.

The next day, we decided to make the drive across Mt LeConte (elevation 6593 feet) through the Newfound Gap into North Carolina. We went over to the Cherokee Indian reservation and toured their village. The tours were very informative that explained their crafts and cultures. As usual, there are people in the tour that tried to be cute and asked a lot of insulting questions. Our tour guide was a young girl of college age that knew how to put them in their place. After a few more insults, the culprits were asked to leave. While we were there, it started to rain and the tour was cut short.

On the way back across the mountain to Gatlinburg, we came upon a large gathering of cars and people. We thought it was a accident of some kind and pulled over off the road and then discovered it was a Bear sighting. People were running up a hill to a cave, where a "mama bear" was with her cubs. Instead of keeping their distance, people were crowding close to get pictures. After a while, the Mama had enough of this and starting charging toward the crowd, which sent everyone running to their cars. After getting back on the road, we starting smelling something and discovered that someone had stepped in some bear poop.

We left the next morning for the drive back home, going through Knoxville and Nashville before stopping at my brother's home in Jackson for a break before making the final two hour trip home.