red clay ponderings

Hmmm… what shall I ponder on today?



The Thief

He snuck in quietly, unseen. No one in the house was aware of his presence. He hid behind familiar things, in plain sight, and stole from us. He took art and music, stories. He stole a little everyday, yet we didn’t notice.
We were all so busy with our own lives, seldom taking time to stop by the familiar white house. So busy. When we managed to find time… Christmas, Thanksgiving…. we were in the holiday hustle, and didn’t notice what was missing. We didn’t see the thief, even while he sat down at the table, and ate Christmas cake. We didn’t see him.

But she…. she had become aware of the thief. She tried to hide him, cover his tracks. She hoped he would leave, without taking more, for his sake…for hers. Ours. She didn’t want us to know he was there. She wanted him to go away, the thief. But he refused to leave. He stayed. He has moved in.
And it’s heartbreaking.

My brain doesn’t work right anymore “, he told her.
It’s as close as he’s come to acknowledging the thief.

Alzheimer’s, dementia…. may be the cruelest of all diseases. The body can remain healthy, muscle memory still remembers how to mow the lawn and split firewood. Drive a car. The face looks the same, but the brain has changed, memories shifted. The person no longer fully there. He has been stolen. Both people in the house… robbed of their golden years.

My dad had not played his guitar for many years. But on Thanksgiving, this year, he agreed to play and sing for us. And in a short span of time, mere minutes, he began to resemble the music man I grew up with. I was amazed at the transformation made by music, and I want to share the video here for you to see. I want to preserve it, so I can watch again, and remember.

Cindy Harter Sims took this photo of my parents a few years ago, as The Thief was moving in. At the time, my dad told Cindy, speaking of my mom, “I just feel better when I’m with her”. She is his comfort zone.

Photo taken by Garrett Able, Thanksgiving 2017

Photo courtesy of Garrett Able, Thanksgiving 2017

ScarFace Undone

This past October 2014, I had surgery on my face. The surgery was to remove skin cancer from beneath the surface of my face.

September, the month of impending change, is when I learned I had cancer. Before surgery, I had a couple of weeks to think about the alien living below my eyes, beneath my skin. I hated the idea of something foreign living there. Knowing it was caused by too many unprotected days in the sun, I vowed to never again go outside without wearing a good quality sunscreen. I’ve honored the vow.

Below is a photo of the day I learned that the yellow fireball in the sky had not been my friend.


This is what the spot looked like… a pimple that wouldn’t go away. I didn’t think it was anything to be concerned about. Until it lingered and wouldn’t clear up.

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I had both dreaded and looked forward to surgery. I was not excited about having my face opened up, but I was anxious to get the show on the road. October, one of my favorite months, ushered in Surgery Day; my good friend Angie Alexandersen drove me to Marietta for the procedure. I went into surgery believing all cancer would be removed and knowing I would have a scar afterwards. I just didn’t know how wide, long or deep the scar would be. But my attitude was: Ok…you’ve had fifty plus years of a relatively unmarred face. So you may have a scar. Deal with it. You’ve fought tougher battles than a blemished face.”

But I also knew I would help the scar heal physically with the products I “peddle” (that’s how one of my son’s friends described my business skill-set). 🙂

I am a consultant with Rodan+Fields, the skincare company created by Drs. Katie Rodan and Dr. Kathy Fields. During the past year, I had seen my client’s wrinkles decrease, age spots disappear, rosacea, eczema and acne cleared up… leaving behind a flawless complexion. And while RF doesn’t make claims of healing scars, I knew I would give our products a chance before using the expensive creams my doctor suggested.

The doctors and nurses had instructed me to wait a few days before removing the surgical bandages. In the meantime, I tried to set my mind for whatever lay beneath the white netting covering one side of my face. Expect nothing, just pull the bandages back and accept what’s there.

Alone and holding my breath, I carefully removed the gauze and tape. One look and my stomach knotted up slightly and I sort of wanted to cry; but then I talked myself back: It could be worse. It wasn’t in the bone. Others have dealt with so much more. Think of what Denise is going through. If this is the worst of it for you, consider yourself fortunate.


I developed my Rodan+Fields Game Plan. And when the stitches were removed a week or so later, I began applying RF Night Renewing Serum and RF Overnight Restorative Cream directly to the raw, invaded area.

RF Overnight Cream

A couple of weeks after sutures were removed, the scar area began to harden and raise up in a long rigid line down my cheek and alongside my nose. It reminded me of the Rocky Mountains, except it was an angry red mountain range rather than one of snow-capped beauty. My physician told me it was from the internal stitches healing and pulling the tissue and muscle from different directions. “The roots of the cancer were spread in different angles, you were stitched accordingly. We can talk about procedures to correct it after you’re completely healed”.

Searching the internet for restorative possibilities, I came across a surgeon using a ‘needlling’ process to break down scar tissue. Watching the video, I had an “aha moment”: “Hmmmm, RF has the AMP MD Roller. I wonder if that would work as well as what the doctor would use? The roller has surgical grade needles on it. I’ll give it a try”.
Six weeks after surgery, when most of the tenderness was gone, I began “needling” the scar with the AMP MD Roller. Immediately after “rolling”, I applied the serum and the PM Cream. I did this every night before going to bed; in the mornings, I reapplied the Overnight Cream. I still “roll, needle” the area every evening. Since then, I’ve added the full Redefine Regimen to my bedtime routine.
RF Serum Roller

I began to see a rapid improvement in the look of the scar once I added the RF AMP MD Roller to my scar-healing game plan. I’m still elated with the results I’ve received with Rodan+Fields products. Many times I had been impressed with the improvement in my my friend’s skin after using RF, but I was shocked with my outcome. And then one day the thought floated through my head…“Why are you shocked? Didn’t you believe you were worthy of the best? You tell your clients they deserve improved skin. So do you.”

I’ll never stop using Rodan+Fields products. Each and every thing I sell has a 100%, empty bottle, 60 day, money back guarantee. If I can help you, message me or one of your Rodan+Fields friends….we’ll talk about your own game plan. Whether it’s for wrinkles, age or hormone spots, acne, skin irritations…we have something to help you. You have nothing to lose.

Your skin will be with you until the end…treat it well.

I no longer wear foundation cosmetics, so each photo posted here is naked skin, no editing.

Photo in the bottom right corner of the collage was taken in January 2015.


March 2015

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April 11, 2015


Changing Skin, Changing Lives

Video: Scarface Undone

Danita Clark Able
Rodan+Fields Executive Consultant

The Bird Fighter


This morning, with a cup of Russian Tea in hand, I called my mom. It’s something I do daily. Most days, we chatter about the day before us, “what are you doing today?” Some mornings, the conversation is a lullaby of memories. Other times, she voices her concerns about the health and well-being of those she loves. Many mornings, she mentions her brothers and sisters….she misses them. The oldest of six, she has one surviving sibling.

Occasionally, our conversation takes a sharp turn. Unintentionally, I say something that whips up her Crawford temper, and she has to “bring me down a notch or two“. It’s ok.

Every now and then, regardless of conversation topic, I hear her with the ears of someone not from the south. Although I am from the south, I hear her with foreign ears and wonder what someone from New York or California would think of her Alabama vernacular. On those mornings I smile and silently shake my head. I learned a long time ago the pointlessness in correcting her. (When we visited the United Kingdom, an agent behind the ticket booth in a London train station asked her: “Where bouts in the states are ya from, M’Lady? Alabama or Tennessee?”

This morning, this is what I heard on the other end of the line:

Mama: Hello
Me: Are you busy?
Mama: Just fightin’ these old birds.
Me: (silent chuckle) What birds?
Mama: Aw, you know. Them ol’ birds that builds nests where they’re not supposed to. (The birds know this Rule of Helen? I wonder…)
Me: (She likes birds, usually, so now I’m curious). What kind of bird is it?
Mama: You know. Them old Mud Birds (Barn Swallows). I put the plant from Jake’s funeral out on the porch yesterday, and they’ve already started buildin’ a nest in it. They orta (ought to) know better than that. That’s a live plant, not no autoficial (artificial) one! Your daddy’s already knocked a nest out of the barn’s porch rafters, now they’re tryin’ to build one on this porch. They’ll mess all over the place! Nobody wants to clean up birds%$t all the time! Well, I need to go so I can get back out here to them birds. Before they build another nest.

So…if you need a good Mud Bird buster….you know who to call.

Flip Flops & Cut-Off Jeans

Seventeen Mag2

Discount shades, store bought baby oil tan, flip-flops and cut-off jeans…..

It’s a lyric from a song, but it nearly describes the summer of my seventeenth year. I just have to change up a few words, to make it fit. I heard that song yesterday and it took me back to the green, shaded hills of Cherokee County, Georgia and my seventeenth summer…..when everything in the world seemed possible. When time seemed abundant and long. When I believed the sweet fragrance of honeysuckle and jasmine was a pleasure the whole world was privileged to enjoy.

That summer, I stood beside my cousin Sherry in New Hope Baptist Church and heard her say “I Do”; and bittersweet tears spooled from my eyes, because I knew a paragraph in a chapter of my life was being written by someone else. That season, I worked behind the soda fountain counter at Fincher’s Pharmacy, sipping copious amounts of Coca-Cola and reading a lot of Seventeen Magazine, contemplating cutting my hair in one of those cute, shorter styles….and knowing I wouldn’t. Here and there, my friends and my beau would drop by Fincher’s throughout the day…

because if we wanted to communicate it had to be done face to face

… and plans for the afternoon and evening were concocted; Jack Fincher didn’t seem to care as long as my company/customer purchased a Coke or a milkshake. When my soda-jerk shift ended, I did a quick Superman (change of clothes) in the drugstore bathroom and walked out into the bright afternoon sunshine feeling free as a bird in flip-flops and cut-offs. The only part of the day I dreaded was inserting my key into the ignition switch of my Ford Pinto, because I never knew if I would hear the rumble of my engine or the sounds of silence. Holding my breath and saying a prayer, I was always happily surprised when it turned over and connected….prayers answered (most of the time). It was then, with windows rolled down and the radio knob turned and set to Z93, my summer day took off. As Foreigner, the Commodores, the Bee Gees, and Fleetwood Mac serenaded me from a crackling speaker, I would meet up with a friend or two…sometimes we did nothing more than sit on a porch and talk. Sometimes we took in one of our brother’s baseball games at Harmon Field. Every now and then, someone’s parents (Chrys Eichelberger) would take us out in their boat and drag us around Lake Allatoona….simply “The Lake” to us. Some days, pitiful/hilarious golf lessons were on the docket. We went to Six Flags and one time, we ventured into the dark underbelly of Atlanta…the original Underground Atlanta…a group of little country-bumpkins from a town that couldn’t even boast of a McDonald’s…and thanks to our fearless leader who claimed to be familiar with the city…we made it out alive. Barely. We ice-skated at the Omni Hotel ice rink and bowled at the old bowling lanes in Marietta because it was the closest “bowling alley” to Canton. And one Saturday night, the Callahan’s had a party as big as an Atlanta concert, in their cow pasture (now a golf course). In my recollection of that night, my flip-flopped feet are grass-damp from the humidity and I remember wishing I had worn long jeans instead of cut-offs, because chigger bites are no fun. That was the night, at seventeen, I realized I preferred songs around a campfire or back porch jam sessions over big, rowdy parties.

Those days seemed like they would never end, but they did. And in their departure, they left behind sweet memories.

What about you? What was your seventeenth summer like?

“When I think about you, I think about seventeen….the stars in the sky…funny how a melody sounds like a memory, like a soundtrack to a July Saturday night….” Eric Church

I hope you’re enjoying your summer.

Sherry Wedding3

Little Refuge

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Every now and then, we all need a little refuge from the hectic pace of life. We need a quiet place we can go to, a place where our busy minds can take a little rest.

Several months ago, a friend took me to his special place, a place he goes when, he said, he needs to think things through, or pray. Fittingly, the place is called Little Refuge. It is a little country church, nestled in the Georgia foothills, and it really is not very far from my parents Waleska home; the place where I spent the last years of my youth. I had never been to Little Refuge. But it was there all along, this simple and beautiful place of sanctuary. My friend had been there many times. It was the place of worship for his former wife’s family…his family in another life; yet the place still called to him when his mind needed a rest. So he shares it with a few others. I was thankful he shared it with me. And I wondered if I would ever be ready to leave.

The old wooden pews, time-worn floors, old windows and plank walls. Tattered Hymnals, a well read Bible. Soft light filtering in through ancient glass. Everything about the space was simple and beautiful and peaceful. And spiritual. We were the only souls in the building, but I felt the need to show reverence, to whisper; I didn't want to do anything to disrupt the peacefulness of the sanctuary. And when we left, although reluctantly, I felt renewed.

When my busy brain needs a quick respite, I let it go there, to Little Refuge. I wander around that little building, even if only in my mind. I remember the peace I felt there. I don't have to go there physically to talk with God, He is everyplace I am. I go there to pour a balm of peace over my harried mind.

There are other places I go, even when my body is sitting in Cartersville, to rest my mind: I sit on the beaches of Hawaii; I roam the wood-paneled halls of the old Ponce de Leon Hotel in St. Augustine, I sit cross-legged on the cool,tiled floors of the Alhambra in Granada, Spain; I wade along the shores of Lake Allatoona. While I'm there, I reflect on the people I love, the goodness in my life, the mercy and grace I've been given.

So, I encourage you to find time each day to take a little vacation, intentionally seek out a little refuge from the crazy pace of life. It’ll do you some good.

Rest easy.

Much love,

Hey Baby!


I blame SnowJam2014, boredom and a mullett, for my brief foray into the mystifying world of online dating.

I’ve just never been curious or brave/interested enough to give dating sites a try. I mean, looking at a stranger’s photo, reading a (most likely fake) profile, and then meeting the person behind the photo/fakeprofile in a public setting…where both parties will be scrutinizing the other, doesn’t sound like fun to me. Yet, it works out for some. For instance, I have a sweet friend married to the man of her dreams; a debonair Englishman whom she met on a dating site. But she is young and beautiful, and I’m thinking her case is probably rare.

A while back, and as a matter of Research, a friend allowed me to enter her online dating page. I crossed that threshold once….once was enough. A quick perusing of the site convinced me online dating wasn’t for me. Weeding through all those cheesy photos and goofy usernames…made my tummy feel yucky.

Two days ago, yet another ‘fifty-something, divorced friend’ and I were commiserating over the good, bad and sometimes hilarious aspects of dating at our age. She had me in stitches with her stories. “I look at photos of these men, see their grey hair or no hair and think….’Heavens! Not that one! He’s much too old for me!’ Never mind that I may be five years older and have more grey hair than he does,” she said. And there was the scrutiny. My old friend confirmed my fear.

Then today, the third day of SnowJam2014, I received a message with a photo attached. I admit to having gone on a few dates with old friends I’ve become re-acquainted with on Facebook. Sometimes I even joke about Facebook being a dating site in disguise. But it feels safe and generally, mutual interest is shown and a fair amount of dialogue takes place before a date is scheduled. Generally. Nothing quite like the following encounter has happened before…

Have you ever crossed paths with someone you (vaguely) knew in high school and, although you are now over fifty, you realize he is still sixteen years old? No? Probably just my good fortune, so please bear with me while I describe such an (facebook) encounter. The Message: “Hey baby! Whats up! Hit me up! Lets go out!!! Lets get together soon!”
Baby? I barely knew the man over thirty years ago. I think Baby is a wonderful name of endearment, but I didn’t like hearing it from this guy. Perhaps my displeasure had something to do with the photo. A man wouldn’t send a photo of himself to the opposite sex unless he felt it was an impressive likeness, would he? The Photo: His hair was still mullettish. His belly hung over his belt and a wife-beater stretched across the belly. Dark sunglasses covered his eyes; no smile. I guessed it was his ‘I’m Cool’ expression. He held a Pabst Blue Ribbon in one hand and a cigarette in the other.

“Why, would you send this photo to me,” I wondered? And at that moment, an absurd but true thought struck me and I laughed out loud, literally. I laughed not at my ‘friend’, but at myself. This man obviously has much more self-confidence than I do, I realized. I dislike photos of myself and would never send one, unsolicited or otherwise, to someone I might wish to go out with. But this guy put himself…in all his glory…out there and took a chance; something I would never have the courage to do. So, I developed something of an admiration for his pluckiness and deleted the connection.

Later in the day, boredom settled in and my mind wandered to the conversation with my girlfriend and, for some reason, I decided to subscribe to a free dating site. Once again, I was in uncomfortable territory, but I lingered a little longer this time and had a few laughs. Oh, and I saw some old familiar faces too. 😉 (An old friend had his senior photo locked in as his profile picture, burgundy tuxedo and all. He graduated in 1978).

In the event you’ve deprived yourself of the amusing experiencing of logging onto a dating site, consider yourself no longer deprived. The following profile information was copied and pasted straight from the site. Usernames have been slightly altered to protect the innocent, but the posts remain the same. Enjoy.

hungry69: (Nonsmoker) Looking for ladies in my area for fun and companionship. I try to stay in decent shape and physical attractiveness is important to me. I do not require a beauty queen, however ,if you describe your body type as average, it means that you are not overweight. Pretty but pleasingly plump could be an exception! Also, I don’t have the time to educate bleeding heart liberals .I only smoke some if I’m enjoying an adult beverage in evening(never during the day).

kingofducktown Hello, Howdy, Hey, and Hi,How are you doing? What’s Up?What’s Cooking? Now don’t be shy, come a bit closer, closer, come on closer I won’t bite…hard,I promise you that I wont.
First off, let me tell you that I was Georgian born and raised, I hope you won’t hold that against me.
I am a somewhat shy person but don’t worry, I’ll open up soon as I get to know somebody, and watch out! My humor could come out of left field and hit you like a ton of bricks and you won’t even know it!
Let me see, hmmm, “scratching his head”, I have been depressed somewhat for the past year, I have been lonely. While being burnt by other online dating services, I think I should try it once more. I hope that I can meet some nice lady here. As for money, You Can’t Take It With You When You Go!

iamdoctor: With muliple college degrees and a passion for life learning and passing along great values to others…I am a caring and passionate Man , driven and focused with lots of love inside to give to the right woman, I have a very young and able body, was recently tested scientifically to be biologically 39, will tell you more , open minded to try new things, positive and a all around very nice guy, drop me a line, as I work two careers and am away from the PC during the days, I will respond to all your messages, flirts are fun too, to begin with, to break the ice, if you do want to really get to know me please write to me,,, thank you for viewing my profile

blinky: Im here to just look around and see if any ladies may be interested. And I know we all have been around the track at least once. Theres no 50 yr old virgins-we all have our past. Get over it. Lets do this!

drgoodman: Fit, good looking. First, combine Doctor Huckstable with Al Yankovick into a Vin Diesel body. Next add a passion for children and good food. Looking for someone to be passionate about me.

Friends….I shook my head and laughed a little today…whittled away another snow day and confirmed I would rather watch reruns of My Favorite Martian and Land of the Giants than try to find love on a dating site. I’m not criticizing those courageous souls who do, but they’re just too funny (and a tad bit intimidating) for me to seriously consider.


Author, Letters From A Whoremonger’s Wife

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