Thursday, October 08, 2015

Low-hanging fruit, anyone?


Thursday, September 03, 2015


When I had a brief talk with a friend, yesterday, he told me he was getting his priorities in order--God, family, music--and that they'd gotten out of whack some time ago. And while I may not share the same priorities in my life, I realized mine needed some reorganizing, too.

I joined a band back in April and was having a fair amount of fun playing live music again. But the music community here in Tallahassee is much different than the band of brothers I enjoyed in the Fort Myers area. And the venues here are not quite the same, either. It's hard to compare The Cottage, an old beach house on stilts overlooking the Gulf of Mexico, to the Moose Lodge. The pay was much different, as well. I kept telling myself, "You're doing the thing you love."

But before I joined the band, I started helping a very good friend of mine run his restaurant. Restaurants are busiest on the weekends. It was never a good fit for me to play in a band...on weekends, but I took Fridays off to do the thing I enjoy most, even if it meant a loss of income. For me, right now, that has to be priority number 2, behind my daughters. My income needs to get me to a place of financial freedom where I can afford a place of my own large enough to accommodate them--my daughters, the loves of my life.

In order to get to that place, I needed to make the band less of a priority and focus on making more money at work. And to be honest, I love being at the restaurant, too. My best friends all work there and it is a social outlet for me, much like the band was. I can make more money there on Fridays than I can in the band, so that was an easy decision to make. Well, sort was easy financially speaking but difficult because I'm giving up the thing I love. I'll miss my friends in the band, too.

But it all comes back to priorities. If my girls are number one, then making number two my job will surely help me to reach some important goals this year.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

10 Years a Blogger

Wow, how time flies.

I began this blog as an outlet...for my spirituality, creativity, love of music and football...back in a time in my life when I was very confused. Fighting to let the real me out of the box, I'd turn to my blog and write. That was 2005.

The very next year was what I call my "mid-life crisis" when that crazy, adventuresome boy finally escaped his shell. Things went a little haywire that year, for sure, but I wouldn't trade that rollercoaster ride for anything. No, that year brought a lot of things to light...and I let my passion get the better of me. But it was good to free all that raw energy, to stir that deep well inside of me and to be as expressive as I wanted to be.

It certainly took it's toll on my marriage. We tried running away to Indiana, where much of the time, I kept myself hemmed in, but that boy was already loosed on the world. Just like Pan and his shadow, there was really no way to keep us separate--the man I wanted the world to see and the boy inside. So after four years of trying to live in that duality, keeping myself in check, we moved to paradise.

On Fort Myers Beach, the boy ran wild up and down the 7-mile island, along some of the softest sand you've ever felt, making new friends, experiencing things he'd wanted since childhood and living fairly carefree. Except there was still a marriage to tend to. I didn't do so well at tending. My marriage finally dissolved, as I realized it wasn't what my heart wanted. My heart wanted to be free to love who it would.

I was playing in a band with a beautiful brunette who swept me off my feet. She became available about 6 months after my separation and we began dating. I hadn't intended to get hitched again, but my heart kind of ran away with me. Again, I was trying to be as carefree as that boy inside wanted to be. Unfortunately, the damaged little girl in her couldn't receive love from a carefree soul like me and both of us fell into some bad patterns. I think we were both a little crushed inside because, at first, it seemed like a perfect fit. It ended badly.

Still, like the rollercoaster I was on in 2006, I wouldn't trade that time with her for all the time in the world. I was still learning to express my feelings, to truly be in touch with myself, to allow myself to love freely and be loved and to experience new things, like getting half naked at a nudist bar in the Keys (a story for another time).

While I was on "my beach," I played in a rock-n-roll cover band...something I'd always dreamed of doing. I realized very quickly that I was meant to be a beach kid...a bum, if you will. I lived on very meager means, borrowing an RV from some dear friends, who I still miss terribly. But even through poverty, divorce and a rebound relationship, I wouldn't trade that time on the island for all the love and riches in the world.

All of these experiences made me the sensitive soul I am today. So here I am, ten years after I started blogging, back in Tallahassee to be nearer my kids. I'm still learning, experiencing growth and living one day at a time. It's been quite the adventure. Feel free to take some time and look around. I haven't blogged all that regularly in many years, but from time to time, when something strikes me or I just need to get it out, you'll find me here.

Life is good.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

200+ Years in Indiana

My ancestral roots in Gibson County go back to pioneer times back when Indiana was still a territory. I've spent countless hours researching my pioneer heritage and those branches of my Mills family who spread out from Gibson County, Indiana to Oklahoma and points beyond. Here's a little about the first generation of my Hoosier-born ancestry on mother's side.

Berilla Louisa Mills-Greek (1829-1908) provided the launching pad for my research. My third great-grandmother provided the family story published by Gil R. Stormont in his 1914 "History of Gibson County." She recounts how her Grandfather Mills' family emigrated from lower Maine to what would become Gibson County in southwest Indiana. Berilla weighed only one pound at birth 14 Mar 1829 in Princeton, IN; her twin brother, Zyasa, weighed seven pounds and yet died the following day. They were the first of three pairs of twins born to Duston and Louisa (Stapleton) Mills. Their's was the first full generation of Mills to be born on Indiana soil. After her marriage to Joseph Greek in 1848, the couple moved from Vanderburgh County (Evansville, IN) to a farm five miles east of Princeton. Joseph was a bricklayer at the time of their marriage, but he eventually took up farming in the rolling hills between Princeton and Francisco, IN, in a rural community known to locals as Fairview. She bore Joseph twelve children in all. Such was the case with Indiana farming families. The more children meant more hands for the hard labor required by that occupation.

Besides a twin brother who died a newborn, Berilla had a sister Adelia (1831-1853) who married Charles King in Gibson County, 1849. She bore him two children who went to live with grandparents, Duston and Louisa Mills, in Princeton after her death in 1853. A third sister, Cecilia Ann (1832-1875), born just 19 months after Adelia, married twice--Henry Bucklin in 1853 and George W Smith in 1871.

Berilla's fourth sister, Zelissa (1833-1886), followed suit in marrying a member of the Greek family--Samuel, Joseph Greek's younger brother by five years. Coincidentally, Samuel had been married previously to a daughter of Bracket Mills of Evansville, who was a first cousin to the Mills of Gibson County. Cousin Emily died at the age of 24, just two years after her marriage to Samuel and before she bore him any children. Zelissa married the widower in Gibson County just two days before Christmas 1852. They had one daughter, Lulu, and Zelissa died of liver and bowel disease in 1886, age 53. Samuel built the Garden City Mill in downtown Princeton in 1871.It sat along Chestnut Street near North Main St., just east of the Louisville, Evansville & St. Louis RR Depot. Adjacent to him, another Mills, Byron (1835-1908) brother to Zelissa Mills-Greek, ran the Peoples Planing Mill.

Byron took up the family business, carpentry, at an early age. He married Mary Jane Curry in 1855. He was a lifelong resident of Princeton, IN, with a home at 514 N. Race St., about four blocks east of his mill. His wife was near term with their fourth child when Byron enlisted 21 Oct 1861 in Company B of the Indiana Volunteer Infantry (Union Army). Besides running the planing mill, "a dealer and manufacturer of rough and dressed lumber, flooring and ceiling manufactured to order, in hard or soft lumber," (published on a county map by DJ Lake & Co, 1881), Byron was a charter member of the Grand Army of the Republic Post 28 in Princeton. Mary Jane bore him eight children before her death in 1882. He, then, married Ellen Spencer of Evansville. He died in 1908 of cirrhosis of the liver.

That brings us to the seventh child of Duston and Louisa Mills, a son, Horace Ames (1838-1856), who died at the age of 17, cause unknown, and is buried in the old Page Cemetery just east of Princeton, IN. Of the three sons born to that family by 1840, only one, Byron, had survived to adulthood. Firstborn Zyasa died an infant and Horace a teen.

Born in 1840, daughter Elvira (1840-1913) never lived on her own nor did she ever marry. She was not of sound mind, or as one census taker noted in 1880, "idiotic." At the time of her death, she was living with her nephew Guy Olds, near Francisco, IN.

Albert and Polly Mills Family, early 1900's

The second pair of Mills twins born on Indiana soil were Almena (1843-1878) and Albert (1843-1920). The latter became a local Civil War hero while his twin sister married a first cousin, Edgar Mills of Evansville, and died in her mid-thirties after bearing one daughter. Albert enlisted in Co. B. about three weeks after his brother Byron. Nearly three months to the day after mustering out of the Union Army, he married Polly Ann Yeager of Princeton. Up until the Civil War, Albert had lived on his father's farm and then obtained 80 acres known as the Weidenbach farm, where he lived until moving to Princeton in 1870. His sister, Berilla, wrote, " He was elected constable of Patoka Township, in which position he served four years and was then interested in the sawmill business for 25 years, also following carpenter work about ten years. He has been employed by the Southern Railroad Company at their shops for the past ten years (ca. 1914), and is numbered among their most faithful and efficient employees." He and Polly lived at 330 E. Monroe Street in Princeton. They raised five children.

The final pair of twins--children eleven and twelve to Duston and Louisa Mills--were Mary Katherine (1846-1930) and John (1846-1922). John married twice in Princeton--to Eva Paul and Fannie King--and lived at 621 Seminary Street, then 820 S. Race St, before moving west. Family stories say that his twin sister, Mary Katherine, was friendly with the Native Americans living on the Patoka River and tutored some of them. That's how she met her husband, a member of the Miami tribe, Cass Olds. He took her out west, where they married in Iowa, 1870, before moving to Missouri. By the mid-1880's, they were divorced and had six children together. She had lived out in California with one of their sons around the turn of the century, but was back in Gibson County, IN, by the time the 1910 U.S. Census was taken. She lived with various family members in and around Princeton where she died in 1930. Her twin brother died in 1922, making her the only one of the 12 Mills children to live long enough to witness the Great Depression.

Aside from being carpenters who made everything from flatboats to log cabins to milled flooring, the Mills were also learned men who practiced law, served in public office and helped to establish the towns of Princeton and Evansville. This brief recap is of my direct ancestors on my mother's side, who was born a Larson. Her grandmother was born a McEllhiney and the granddaughter of Berilla Mills-Greek who is at the forefront of this post. That is my direct connection to this great pioneering family. Berilla's grave is clearly marked and sits alongside a corn field in Center Township, Gibson County, in the area briefly described above as Fairview, between Princeton and Francisco. Sadly, the burial sites for her father, Duston, and grandfather, James, the patriarch who led the family from Maine to Indiana, are unknown. James died of milk sickness while living with another of his sons and the entire family was buried in the Patoka River bottoms, precise location unknown. Duston, my fourth great-grandfather, presumably died in Princeton in 1875, and though we know much of the story of his family, I do not know where he and Louisa (d. 1882) were laid to rest.

I'll share more about the other branches of this family in a future post, so stay tuned. (Note: The State of Indiana celebrates it's bicentennial next year. My family has owned a Gibson County farm throughout the state's 200-year history.)

Monday, July 06, 2015

Slavery, the flag and the war

Is this flag offensive to you? It is to me. And with all the debate surrounding it's use of late, I thought it a good time to put my views on slavery, the flag and the Civil War out there.

Sadly, it took our country more than 100 years to recognize African-Americans as fully-ordained citizens. From being viewed lower than livestock during the first half of the 1800's to finally receiving equal rights in the 1960's, our treatment of our black brethren was shameful, at best. And slavery remains a stain on the fabric of our nascent history. It took a young kid from Indiana only one viewing of the "Roots" miniseries on NBC in the 1970's to realize the wrong that had been done to them. I was sickened by images of young female slaves being dragged off and raped by their white overseers. The miniseries made me angry, sad and sick to my stomach.

Likewise, the flying of the Confederate flag stirs up those same feelings, for when I see it, I imagine it's user being the most vile of southern racists, stuck in a pre-1960's mindset of intolerance and hate. That is what the "stars and bars" represents for many Americans. For that reason, alone, it is offensive and should be taken down from statehouses and halls of justice. And just what "heritage" does it represent, exactly? A southern heritage of intolerance, injustice, inequality and white privilege? Quite a heritage, I must say. And if, to you, it's nothing more than a battle flag of the failed experiment called the Confederate States of America (CSA), then why fly the loser flag at all? In most battles, the tattered flag of the losing army, in this case the CSA, is lowered and the victor's flag raised. The Confederate flag represents all the wrong things--losing, at best, and hate, at worst.

Finally, I've grown very tired of the Southern revisionists who would have us believe that the Civil War was not about slavery. It was only fought over issues like autonomy, states' rights and independence.

So was the issue of slavery really a catalyst for war? I think it was. So does this article from So does Christopher Dickey, who wrote of the radical southerners and successionists, "Their cause was slavery: holding slaves, working slaves, buying and selling slaves—black chattel considered less than human beings by custom, by the courts, and even by the Constitution, whose authors never mentioned slavery but weasel-worded it into the founding document of the Union." And I agree with him. Slavery was the economy of the South. Successionists wanted to preserve their way of life, a life made entirely possible by slave labor and the crops they harvested for market. Dickey purports, "The hunger for that fresh territory and the slaves to work it was insatiable...More land, more slaves, meant more money and more power to dominate the federal government and make it support people who wanted more land, more slaves and more money." In Dickey's view the South was a "slavocracy" because, as I've always argued, their economy was built on the backs of slaves. Thus, the preservation of that economy and the war they fought for that aim was, in fact, a conflict to preserve slave ownership, plain and simple. Yet, as the article in points out, revisionists have always tried to paint it as something else. All of their vain attempts to veil the true intent of the Civil War, using terms like "state's rights" and "preserving our heritage," is just wordsmithing to remove slavery from the vocabulary of war historians. Some of us are smart enough to see through that flimsy veil, even when modern-day racists raise it in defense of things, like the use of the Confederate flag.

That's my .02 on the issue. And please, quit telling me to revisit the history books. I'm quite well read, thank you.

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Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Week from hell

Sorry but please allow me to vent...from my bench in the Tampa airport...where I'll probably spend the night.

I should have been hitting Louisville on I-65 in the next hour. Instead, it would appear I've headed the wrong direction. Let me backup to Thursday of last week to give you the full picture of how Karma's working against me.

The brakes on my Volvo went totally AWOL after picking my girls up from school. I managed to turn a potentially dangerous accident into a laughable fender bender. In fact, my girls and I laughed at our dumb luck. We were not harmed and their safety is my utmost priority. My car needed rear brakes last November, but short on the $500 needed I put it off. Now, I'm faced with a $1,000+ repair bill which is near what the car is worth. It is sitting at Vol-Car awaiting those repairs.

I didn't really have time to worry about the Volvo since my mom had major surgery scheduled and I was planning to go up and support dad this week. My car was definitely secondary. Mom made it through surgery and a partial day in ICU, but the wait on Tuesday was killing me...and I hated that I was not there. But I also knew that two of my sisters were there for her and dad.

My trip was planned for today so that I could help dad with his move to a smaller, more manageable house for him and mom as she navigates the effects of terminal illness. I really wanted to be there tonight. As you know from my intro, that's not happening.

Stuck in Tampa for the night, I only have funds to get back to Tallahassee tomorrow. Very bummed. Majorly disappointed.

I went round and round with Dollar Car Rental from Monday til this morning...always an issue with their debit card policy. I found a great round trip airfare from Tampa for less than the drive up ther in a rental, so I called a cab to get me from Tallahassee airport to the waiting RedCoach that brought me to Tampa. Bus fare was about equal to a tank of gas so that was cool. What wasn't so cool was RedCoaches' bus breaking down during a stop at USF, one half hour short of my airport destination. Split an Uber fare with another stranded passenger and finally made it to TPA just before 5pm. Problem is the Expedia fare that led me down here--which I could not book online due to traveling with cash in hand--was MUCH less than what I could actually fly to Indy on using cash at the counter. They wanted $350+ just to get me there. So travel plans now scrapped, I'm blogging from the arrivals area of Tampa International reflecting on this week from hell.

I'm very thankful that all the people I love most in this world are safe. That's the main thing. Mom is recovering and my girls are safe at home. I just hate the cruel tricks and curveballs Karma has thrown my way...and not sure what I did to deserve it. It's been an uber stressful week and I just wanna sleep in my own bed tonight.

---UPDATE 05/28/15---
Come to find out that part of my debit card troubles stem from a Hotwire reservation that I cancelled and even received email confirmation stating that my card wouldn't be charged. It was. What's more, the hotel that declined my card last night put a pre-authorization hold on my card that neither they or the credit union are willing to do anything about. I had both parties on the same call just now, each pointing the finger at the other. SO FRUSTRATING! I've run into problems every time I've tried to use my debit card this week. Good thing I carried some cash with me. So over this trip and this stressful week.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

SMDH, Hoosier State! GEEZ!!!

I'm going to post a parable of sorts. You know parables...the Bible is full of them.

Well, in this parable a 500-lb man goes to church/synagogue/temple/gathering everyday that they assemble. And after every assembly, this man drives his oversized vehicle to the oversized buffet at his favorite restaurant. While gorging himself on unhealthy foods, sending his blood pressure through the roof due to clogs in his arteries, he forgets that the plate which passed before him at assembly was largely empty. When it was passed, the assembly he attends was raising funds for starving children in East Africa. And though, he had a wad of cash in his front pocket, he let the plate pass by without giving it a second thought. While he consumed massive amounts of fried food at the buffet trough, another kid in Africa starved to death.

In this parable, you might say that the 500-lb man is a glutton. You might also note that there are plenty of Scriptures about gluttony. I haven't researched it on, yet, but I'd bet there are AT LEAST AS MANY references to gluttony as there are to, say, homosexuality. Yet, I've never seen one buffet, one church or one segment of the population picketed, singled out, ridiculed or "exposed" for their sinfulness because of gluttony.

Recently, the Hoosier State, that I'm sometimes ashamed to call home, passed a law allowing businesses to discriminate. And it's not gluttons they are targeting, but homosexuals. They aren't telling the world's greatest hypocrites to take their business elsewhere. Fornicators? WELCOME! Adulterers? Come and spend your hard-earned cash. But "the gays" better just keep on walking. Apparently, that sin trumps all others. And the guy in our parable is welcomed at church and the buffet line with OPEN ARMS.

Hoosier lawmakers, I'm ashamed of you. I really am. Why must you thrust our state back into the 1950's? What gives religious people--business owners or otherwise--the right to discriminate based on ANYTHING? And if you're going to call a spade a spade, well then let's get all the fornicators, adulterers, liars and gluttons lined up and labelled, as well. I hear the Germans still have a few of those yellow stars laying around, somewhere!

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