Posts from the ‘Mr. Smiff’ Category


They didn’t call him “The Voice” for nothin’…Vern Gosdin was the geunine article.  After years of health problems, mostly related to strokes, Vern died here in Nashville yesterday.

The last time I saw Vern was about a year ago when CLC and I had lunch at the Cracker Barrel by Opryland.  Apparently, Vern was a daily customer and was on a first name basis with all the staff.  (Remember, Chris? One-by-one just about ALL the waitresses came by to see him?) 

Vern had a couple of different careers in music, first making his mark in the Bluegrass world in the 60’s with The Golden State Boys, which included his late brother, Rex, Don Parmley and  Chris Hillman.  They later changed the hillmenbands’ name to The Hillmen.  Vern was right in the middle of the country/rock movement of the late 60’s on the West Coast and even had one of his songs in the movie “Easy Rider.”

After giving up a music career and moving to Atlanta, Vern resurfaced and lordy, I’m glad he gave music another go.  Some of my very favorite country music recordings are Vern’s…his version of “Dim Lights, Thick Smoke (And Loud, Loud Music)” is my favorite rendition of that tune…Curtis Young’s perfect harmony on it is just superb…


Vern’s Gospel album, in my mind, is way up there with the best of the best. The Gentleman Formerly Known As My Husband had the priviledge of contributing harmony vocals on this album. I can’t speak for him but I would wager he is quite proud of that.  Vern’s version of “Jesus Hold My Hand” is my most absolute favorite recording of that Albert E. Brumley classic…

Vern’s classic, written with the late Max D. Barnes, Chiseled In Stone, I think, is up there with He Stopped Loving Her Today with the best of the best of country songs…embodies everything that makes a country song a great country song…very visual and real; so much so you just want to cry when you hear it…

The Elephant In The Room

I’ve hinted at it here and there and have been deliberately delicate about how to approach this subject here.  I think it’s kinda obvious what has happened at the Casa de Smiff.  Yep.  Me and Mr. Smiff have, in the words of that great American, Tex Ritter, split the sheets.

So there ya go. 

It’s an odd place to be.  Even though we’ve been here before, this time is a totally different experience than the other time.  8 years is a good amount of time, and really, I don’t feel like I’m even the same person I was then, much less the same kid I was when I got married in 1989. 

This is the question I get a lot…”How are you?”  It’s usually said with a little trepidation, like the asker is afraid I might actually tell them how I am. 

My question is, DO people really want to know how you are when they ask?  Cause, like, people ask me the question and if I say “I’m good, how are you?”  They will say “REALLY?”  It’s almost like they want  you to not be ok. 

I was in the bathroom at work the other day, talking to Dr. Mac.  Dr. Mac is, well, she’s a doctor.  She is probably the most absolute coolest Canadian I’ve ever run into.  She is hysterically funny, she spins, is very personable, plays on a co-ed hockey team…just love her.  She has also recently been diagnosed with breast cancer.   

We’re in the bathroom washing our hands and I turned to her and asked her how she was.  Then, I remembered who I was talking to and I said “Do you almost get the feeling people want to see you fall apart in front of their eyes?”  She laughed…of course. 

I’m not comparing a divorce with breast cancer.  Apples and oranges , but, both are major, turning-point-in-your-life experiences.  People ask Dr. Mac the same sorta “How are yew doing?” questions and try to answer for her.  I guess people mean well.  Breast cancer and divorce are unpleasant things and I think people are afraid that they may be contagious or something.  I dunno.

So, how am I?  Let’s just say this last month, especially, has been very difficult.  There have been good days, bad days, REALLY bad days, so-so days.  I’ve had some days where I’ve told the co-workers, who are not used to seeing me in teary mode, “If I appear tearful, just ignore me and for pete’s sake, DONT ask if I’m ok.” (Why do people do that?  If you are crying, perhaps “OK” is not the word you’d use to describe yourself.  Just what IS ok anyway?)

I’ve found myself hibernating a bit more than I have in recent times.  It’s not so much that I’m sitting here in my adorable, homey digs weeping and wailing (although I have, make no mistake). I’m just finding myself chillin’.  I don’t know how to describe it.  Quiet. Lots of thinking.  Lots of reflecting. Lots of praying.  In some ways it’s a really good thing but then again, it’s sad.

 I’m not one to meltdown very often, but, according to my counselor, I should do it more.  I haven’t exactly been great at owning my feelings for many years, in fact, I sorta got numb to them.  I believe they call it in the Psyche world Disassociation.” 

It was kindly humbling to find out that what I always thought was one of my “spiritual gifts”, sarcasm, was really a coping mechanism.  Ain’t that something?  Here I’ve been thinking how stinkin’ clever I can be.  And even more humbling was a couple weeks back, my Sunday School teacher pointed out that the root word of the word “sarcasm” comes from the Greek “sarkaizen” which means to “tear flesh.”  Webster defines sarcasm as “a sharp and often satirical or ironic utterance designed to cut or give pain”.  Yikes. 

 Interestingly enough, only in the last year has it ever been directly pointed out to me that ya know, that sarcastic thing you’ve got going is sharp and witty, but, you can hurt people with it.  I’m sure others have thought that but didn’t nobody ever directly say that to me.  I have had a couple instances here on the blog where my sarcasm was hurtful and that was huge for me.

How’d I get on that subject?  I was talking about getting divorced….anyway…I’m not gonna use this space to give details about what happened that led to this, etc.  Me and Mr. Smiff are working very hard at number one, helping our kids to adjust the changes and neither one of us are interested in destroying the other one.  19 years is a long time.  One more year and I would’ve been with him longer than I was with my parents.  I have very strong feelings where Mr. Smiff and his family are concerned.  (Strong as in deep)

So, if you know somebody that’s going through a rough period in their lives…whether it be a divorce, an illness or any number of other tough times, and you don’t quite know what to say, my suggestion is (I’m bout to get Biff on ya) “Drop them” a note or an email that says just that.  I’m here for ya…I care…blah blah…don’t put people on the spot.  Don’t get all in their face and ask for details or try to convince them that they should feel this or that.  Sometimes a hug is good (cept for weirdos like me that aren’t always comfortable with that)…feel it out.  It’s awkward all around.

Sitting At A (Not So) Tiny Table In A (Not So) Ritzy Restaurant…

Chrisyub (Happy Birthday yesterday)…a date with your husband is like this…you find a place you both want to eat.  In our case, it was Texas Roadhouse.  You go about 9:15 because the crowd is much thinner, thus, you are seated right away.  You eat, chat, go home and go straight to sleep.

I think the HT was a little bumfuzzled about her parents actually going someplace without her.  She called, wanting to know how to find something on a website.

Mr. Smiff himself said he thinks we should do the late night thing more often.

Nice way to celebrate a birthday and Valentine’s Day since he will be gone for both.  Don’t feel so bad for me…Out of 18 Valentine’s Days and birthdays that we’ve been together, he’s been away for probably half of them. birthday?  You have one more shopping day.

Whenever You Walk Into The Room

I think it was Slarti who did a post last week or so about “What Songs You Would Want To Play As You Enter A Room” or something like that. I know everybody’s waiting for this so without further adieu…(and there is no rhyme or reason to this…no order…just that these songs have a good beat and are easy to dance to)

Uptown Girl-DON’T ASK ME WHY I would want this played. (Didja get that?!?!? Hee) I can dance better than Christie Brinkley, though.

A Little Less Conversation-

Soul Bossa Nova…anytime I hear this, I want to break into the little Austin Powers jig.

This number is a must too…

And this song is something of the unofficial Sista theme song..

I have a gig tonight. We’re doing this song…

I also have a date with my husband. I also went to the doctor yesterday for a follow up after my procedure. You know what that means. Grrrrrrrrrr.

Oh, Aunt Bee

Y’all have to go look at this.  It’s Mr. Smiff and them live and in the flesh on the Mayberry’s Finest website.  You can even see the Mayberry-Mobile.  Please note the expression on Mr. Smiff’s face when the video stops.  It cracks me right on up.

Incidentally, Mayberry’s Finest products are in some grocery stores now.  Be looking for it and try it.  I hear the collard greens are really good. 


Tom Jones woke me up about 4:15 this morning.  Tom didn’t appear at the foot of my bed in a dream swiveling his swivelable hips.  My cell phone rang (I’ve never been able to give up “It’s Not Unusual” as my ringer.  I just love it) and it was my mother. 

Mom was having a “spell”.  My mother is known for her anxiety spells. Mr. Smiff was the good son in law and went over there.  I just talked to him a bit ago and he’s still there.  He’s probably digging the quiet.  What if he wants to move in with my mother? 

Twice in the last couple weeks I’ve had calls either late at night or in the wee hours. It had been awhile since I had gotten these calls.  They used to happen a lot.  Since her husband died in January of 2005, I haven’t had to make a midnight run to her house.  She is going to have to move closer to us.  35 minutes to her driveway from ours.

I’ve had anxiety problems before (not lately…long time ago) and totally understand what it’s all about.  It’s very real for the person experiencing it.  It is so not fun. 

The first time I had an anxiety attack was in 1987.  I had just been to see that movie “The Lost Boys” and I don’t know what it was about that stupid movie that triggered it (it probably wasn’t even the movie) but lordy mercy….I ended up at the Brentwood Police Department, I was so freaked out.  Did not know what was happening to me or why. I just had the one then and didn’t have one until about a year and a half later.

I had them pretty bad in the early part of 1989 and here and there the next couple years.  After I had the Manchild in 1992, with my Dad’s death following 6 weeks later and then a few weeks after that, the death of my good, good friend, Kent..between birth and hormones and losing two special people…I don’t know….I never cried about either death.  Something in me shut down emotionally and it was like I was numb in a way.  I didn’t want anybody to see me cry and I guess I just didn’t quite know how to deal with the huge losses.  (I have to do a Kent post sometime.  I don’t think I’ve ever talked about him here.  A wonderful, wonderful friend…he died of AIDS at 24 years old).  I can remember thinking it might get on Mr. Smiff’s nerves if I cried too much or talked about it too much.  Pretty stupid, yes, but, I was a kid.

Over the next few months, I started having the crippling fear, tingliness…thought for sure I was dying of cancer.  I was just positive I was.  Any little twitch, ache or pain I had, I was dying.  I was going to leave my little baby without a mother.  He would grow up and never know me.

The episodes got worse and worse.  It eventually got to where they happened in public.  Nobody would’ve known I was experiencing this to look at me.  It was horrendous.  I don’t think Mr. Smiff quite knew what to make of it all.  I may have mentioned it to my mother but I think they all may have thought I was wanting attention or something.  I don’t know.  None of them had ever experienced it before. 

Finally, about 8 months later, I called my OB/GYN and said I thought something was wrong with me.  Because her nurse was very perceptive, she knew immediately what the deal was.  She said something about Postpartum Depression.  (This was before Brooke Shields and Marie Osmond had their bouts of it. It was not talked about back then).  I didn’t take any medicine or anything but the doctor sent me to a wonderful, Licensed Clinical Social Worker who helped me realize all that anxiety was grief that was just sitting there and needed to be let out.  Also the fact I was a 23 year old girl, with a new baby, a husband who was gone all the time, I had no girlfriends or any sort of contact with the outside world.

I’ve always been so grateful that the Manchild was such a perfect baby and so good natured.  No telling what kinda shape I’d have been in had he been colicky or anything.  He was the best baby ever.

My mother’s anxiety stuff started a couple years later when she got the letter from Vanderbilt saying they had used Dad’s remains and were going to bury them.  She, like me, had never really cried much about the whole thing and kept her grief stuffed inside.  Stuff like that tends to catch up with you. 

I’ve never understood why people act like, when at a funeral, when they say “So and So was so strong…held up well” or “Poor So and So just fell apart…didn’t hold it together well.”  I’m here to tell you, falling apart at a time like that is the HEALTHY thing to do.  Whenever I’m at a funeral and the family is all crying and letting it go…as pitiful as that is to see, I’m always glad to see it.  I always know that person is going to be just fine.  It’s the stoic ones I worry about because I’ve been the Stoic One.  Stoic is not always so good.

I don’t have panic attacks anymore.  Haven’t in years, thank goodness. 

Anyway…I felt bad for my mother this morning and was thankful Mr. Smiff was willing to go over there for me.

Farewell, George

We got in the car yesterday afternoon and I realized it was Sunday and George was probably on so I flipped the radio over to 91.1.  (The Holy Tara was not pleased with this move). 

My good friend of a million and two years, Traci Todd, has hosted “George, The Bluegrass Show” on WRVU at Vanderbilt for 22 years.  Every Sunday afternoon, you could tune in and hear bluegrass on the radio in Nashville, Tennessee, thanks to Traci.  She started doing the show in the 80’s when she was a student at Vanderbilt and kept it up all these years for no other reason than she loves the music and wanted to share it with the people of Nashville.  She certainly never did it for the money.

I made the comment to the HT, when I got the tuner tuned “I can’t believe she still does this show after all these years.”  It wasn’t 60 seconds later that Traci came on and said something about it being the “farewell” to George.  It gave me a little pause.

I first found George back in the 80’s when I was first getting into Bluegrass.  This was before Mr. Smiff, y’see.  I started listening to Traci every Sunday and would even record (on tape!) the show every week to my jambox.  This was during the short period between the Old-Boyfriend-I-Keep-Running-Into-Everywhere-I-Go and Mr. Smiff.  It was kinda sad and dark there for awhile and that’s one of the things I always think about when I listen to George. 

There are a couple songs I have really vivid memories of hearing on George that made me love Bluegrass and good pickin…one was Don Reno and Tony Rice’s version of “Freight Train Boogie.”   Something else she played that I loved was Johnny Warren’s “Black Eyed Susie” that featured, unbeknownst to me at the time, Mr. Smiff on bass and the “heys and ho’s”.  

Who isn’t going to miss George and every week, the playing of “The Little Girl And The Awful Dreadful Snake” after the Bluegrass announcements???   That was one of those things you could just plain depend on. 

George was a wonderful, Nashville tradition that I’m a little sad to see go, however, Traci has gone above and beyond all these years keeping it up.  She’s given Nashville just about the only radio outlet for Bluegrass.  Hard to believe, isn’t it?   A lot of performers have gotten good exposure thanks to Traci and George. 

The cool thing about Traci is eventually, she and I worked together at the old CMT.  We became instant pals and she was good enough to be in me and Mr. Smiff’s wedding.  Traci is such a good friend.  She’s one of the “True Blue’s” that will show up in your darkest hour when you least expect anybody to care.  Traci is perhaps the most organized and programmed person I know as well as one of the most intelligent. (Because she’s so programmed and efficient is probably why she’s the head of programming at CMT, still, to this day). 

So, for Traci….George and his friends….a big Saaaaaa-lute.