Sallie Satterthwaite's blog

Mary's summer plans

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Our German daughter Mary really wanted us to join her when she has vacation time this year. As it turns out, we ran into some staggering expenses and simply couldn’t afford it this year.

Among her suggestions for a shared vacation: Oaxaca, Mexico, where a medical group was soliciting for people to participate in studies, all expenses paid. We all but begged her not to apply – this was when drug violence was really flaring up in Mexico earlier this year – and were relieved beyond words when she wrote and said she missed the deadline. Read More»

Chicken in every pot

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Just about the time you’re convinced that your editor doesn’t read your stuff, he chides you for miscrediting a quotation and sends you back to the dictionary. No wonder I sometimes “forget” to copy him when I send my column in.

But a “misassigned” quotation in last week’s Pulitzer-worthy epic about armadillos caught his eye. This is one of those situations in which something is defined not by what it is, but by what it isn’t. Read More»

New neighbors in the 'hood?

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One afternoon last week when Dave was watering the plants a neighbor called over to tell him that she had seen a strange animal run under our screened porch. By the time he called me to come see, there was a second one, and then a third came out to see or be seen. Read More»

Still looking for Daddy

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When I opened a letter from a cousin last week, out dropped a photocopy of a hideously scarred old photograph. It was a formal studio portrait, dated December 1892, of a woman and a man of indeterminate age, with an infant and a small boy. I sat for a long time looking at that dim picture.

It was the first time I had ever laid eyes on a likeness of my grandparents.

Haven’t brought up my genealogical data lately; I get so wrapped up in it that nothing else happens when “Mom’s doing genealogy stuff.”

My daddy's family was what we'd call today dysfunctional. Read More»

Well be back after this

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Has there ever been a time when the world felt truly safe? A few years will pass quietly while we think, “Ah, maybe we can relax, maybe we can practice peace instead of war. Maybe we can trust both our leaders and those of other governments.”

Like the industrialists who said there’s less oil in the Gulf than we thought there was. Instead, there’s more, much more. Church leaders who despoil children and enter into a pact of cover-up. Lessons learned: Don’t trust anyone. Read More»

A-Camping we will go

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A recent “camping” trip brought back memories of camping in yesteryear, with three little girls along to liven things up. We usually chose state or natural campgrounds and paid about $5 a night when I went on a diatribe about how expensive it was and we’d never come back for that price.

We did come back, of course, and today the Corps of Engineers campground charges $22 per night. At least that is mollified somewhat by being reduced to half price for seniors. Read More»

A hill of crosses

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In the photos it looks like a couple of lengths of PVC pipe, and not proportioned quite like the Latin cross Christians revere. It has stood for decades on a small pile of rocks on a craggy hill in the Mojave Desert, and is unadorned. At different times in its embattled 75 years it has been covered with a box or a blanket, with posters announcing that a religious symbol should not be placed on public land. Read More»

Ospreys win this one

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Years ago, when Dave and his family frequented the beaches of Florida, they never even heard of nearly extinct birds like great egrets and eagles. The brown pelicans we know so well today were hanging by a thread. The only pelicans they knew were the white ones migrating through the wetlands. Brown pelicans, so common today, simply did not appear in the Southeastern states.

And they would have been dumfounded if they had glimpsed an osprey cruising several hundred feet above the dunes. Read More»

Dave stories

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Found more notes from my interview with Dave. I closed a recent column with a story about a fatal airplane collision and little boys delighting in a treasure hunt for pieces of a shattered P-40.

I offer these vignettes as a glimpse of a young man’s life during the Great Depression and the Korean War years.

When Dave was 14 he worked at Welsh’s Auto Body in St. Petersburg, Fla.. During the war, people couldn’t buy new cars and took Old Faithful to a body-shop, whatever it took to keep her running. It was the heyday of auto repair. Read More»

Dave remembers

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It takes two people to get one of us through life, we’re fond of saying. What one of us forgets, the other may remember.

Taking meds on time or missing a well-known turn in the road or catching a favorite TV show, we share the memory banks. But memories from childhood or youth – if one has only one’s own cache and those of fading siblings – there’s no hope for that, so Dave is the official keeper of the family memories and, of course, his own. Read More»

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