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You had to be there…

You had to be there…

True story…Once when my mother was hospitalized, my three sisters and I all showed up at her home to give our help, support, and love.

Of course we didn’t mind, but we lived in different states and it had been a while since we had all been together. We took advantage of the situation as a time of bonding between us again.

One night, after a long day at the hospital, we found ourselves home at the same time for a meal. Over dinner we decided to exterminate for bugs while we were there. A few unwanted insects had gotten our attention and after all, we were there to help, weren’t we? We didn’t want Mother to come home from her stay in the hospital to a bug infested home.

One sister – I won’t name names – always read directions and ingredients, and expiration dates before using any items. She wanted to make sure we were using the right product for the right bugs, and that the can was in date.

Among other various insects, this product in hand was also “good for confused beetle bugs.” Yes, I guess that’s a thing, but it set us off into a fit of laughter. We questioned why these beetles were confused and what did they look like? This was also BG (before google). We were on our own with this.

Now that we have google I know what to look for when spraying for confused beetle bugs!

After laughing hysterically for a few minutes, we finally calmed down. Poor Mother was in the hospital and it looked as if were having a party!  What would she think of us? 

No we had not been drinking, but anyone who would have come to the door would have thought so.

After spraying for the bugs – hopefully all confused beetle bugs saw the red flag and headed in another direction – preferably out of the house. We decided to call it a night. Tomorrow was another long day and we needed to be at the hospital early.

I remember waking about midnight and smelling something like fire, but not quite fire. Following voices and the smell, I ended up in the kitchen along with my sisters. We didn’t see fire or smell fire. It was more of an electrical smell, but we could not locate the source.

My youngest sister said we should call the fire department. We all knew the fire chief so she made the call. Now this was a small town and everyone knew everyone. I don’t believe she even gave him the address.

“Thomas? This is Tish Knowles. We are staying at Mothers while she is in the hospital and we smell fire. It’s more like an electrical smell. Could you send someone over here to check it out? Give us about fifteen minutes so we can get dressed.”

I kid you not. Those were her words! We were in various states of undress and all scrambled to throw on clothes. In only a few minutes, we heard sirens and saw flashing lights coming toward the house down Mothers driveway. They were not taking their time as Tish had suggested and the entire fire department with ladder trucks and hoses had shown up. They were not going to let Mrs. Knowles house go up in flames while she was in the hospital.

While firemen were searching through the house in every nook and corner for the “fire” we had called in, one of us had the thought to call my brother who lived right down the road. We didn’t want him to be alarmed and think we had set the house on fire.

He calmly asked if we had the florescent light over the kitchen sink on because that is probably what we had smelled. He had not had time to fix it and no one told us not to use it. It took him just a few minutes to show up and apologize to the fire department for an unneeded trip.

After the confused beetle bug dilemma and an almost fire, I think we all overslept and were late getting to the hospital the next morning.

I thought about this story today when I was brainstorming about the sequel to Avoiding The Tilt. I think Evie and Leo need to have an almost fire. It’s right up their alley.

Sometimes when we all get together it doesn’t take much to set us off into fits of hysteria! How about you? 

Stay tuned for the shopping basket incident and the need for a hair appointment. 


The Best Christmas Present Was Made Of Memories

Dear Mother,

We have encouraged you for years to sit down at the computer and write a book about your and Daddy’s adventures in Alaska. The following pages include letters from 1961-1963. The letters are from you to Aunt Ticia and PaPa and Aunt Letaine. It is hard to believe that you and Daddy pulled a two bedroom house trailer behind a truck for 4040 miles with four children in tow – children ranging in years from two to six. The trip began on June 17, 1959 at 6:00 am with $1000 and a credit card. The Knowles family arrived in the state of Alaska on July 1, 1959 at 8:50 am. The journey begins…


Naomi, Debbie, Lindy, Chip, and Tish


In the year 2000 I decided to compile all the letters my mother had written to family while we were homesteading in Alaska. You have to understand my mother wrote with great detail and these letters were sometimes eight to ten pages long describing the scenery, her feelings, our feelings, and much more. I am so thankful that part of my life was documented as it was.

With the encouragement of my younger sister, Tish, we kept it a secret from all the family. Yes, they knew I was typing the letters up so everyone could have a copy, but they didn’t know that I intended to bind them in book form. I had to keep in constant touch with my mother so that she could decipher some of the handwriting for me. (She wrote like a doctor. I guess that was the nurse in her!) I would call her and read a snippet of the line that was giving me a problem and she would instantly remember what she had written. It all made sense then.

Tish and I decided Christmas 2000 would be a good time to present everyone with a copy. Pressed for time, every free minute I had was put into the transcribing. I solicited writings from my brother and sisters about what they remembered about the trip to add at the end of the letters. We were all very young at the time, but it made a big impact in our lives and you will be amazed at what we remembered! Tish was born in Alaska and didn’t remember a thing. These letters were special to her because it gave her some memories.

Just in the nick of time I finished and the bound copies were ready to mail. The plan was to mail  three copies to my mother in Louisiana for her, Naomi, and Chip with orders not to open until Christmas Eve. They all lived close and would be spending Christmas Eve together as  our family always did. Two copies were mailed to Arkansas where Debbie and Tish lived. They always spent Christmas Eve together opening gifts with their families. (This time together was their Louisiana Christmas!) Harry and Andrew and I had just moved to Florida and sadly, another trip was not in the cards for us.

Tish helped to coordinate the times so that everyone opened their letters at the same time. I wish I could have been there to see the look on my mothers face when she opened that book. I also wished that I had done it sooner so that Daddy could have been with her at the time. She grumbled a lot about that crazy trip and adventure, but we all know she loved it as much as he did.

I still have the letters and am glad I did it when Mother was around to help untangle them all. I also have a roll of cash register tape she wrote on as we traveled. This I am going to transcribe too. My next project after I finish with ‘What Line’ will be to write about ‘The Alaska Years’ and self-publish as a book. I want to talk to everyone that knew us at the time and hear what they have to say about our adventure so that I can add it to the book. It should be very interesting.

I also plan on posting some of the letters on this blog. What do you think? Did you have a special Christmas?



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