On This Day in 1899

On This Day in 1899, this cute little girl was born to Thomas Gilbert Lafayette Keene and Sarah Elizabeth “Bettie” Brown. I’ve written about her before as she was one of my favorite people in the whole world. She was my great grandmother, and I had her in my life until I was eighteen years old.

Earl Vandorn and Eula KeeneEula Ouida (WEE-duh) Keene Pickett was born in Lauderdale County, Mississippi and lived there her whole life. She had an older 1/2 sister from her mother’s first marriage and two older biological sisters. She also had two older brothers and one younger brother (shown in the photo), and she had a brother who died as an infant before she was born.

At the age of 17, she married Benjamin Berry Pickett. The Pickett clan was a wild bunch, caught up in moonshine stills, run-ins with local law enforcement, as well as a shoot-out with a revenuer (tax collector) over a moonshine still that landed her husband in jail for a time.



I didn’t know much about her life when she was alive – the Keenes didn’t speak much of the past – more on that later – but as I started looking at that side of the family through ancestry research, I found her to be quite fascinating. She had a son at the age of 18 and a daughter at the age of 19 (my grandmother). Life seemed to be going along as expected.

At the age of 22, things began to turn sour.

In September of 1921, he father died. She was six months pregnant with her third child. In December she gave birth to a daughter and named the child Fleta Clarice after her 1/2 sister. Though fourteen years apart, the two sisters must have had a great relationship, as a few months before, Fleta had a daughter and named her Eula.

Seventeen months later, Fleta Clarice died of pneumonia. They held the funeral in their living room.

pickett fleta clarise headstoneThe Meridian Star, May 8, 1923

 Fleta Marie (Clarice) Pickett Born: December 1, 1921 in Lauderdale County, MS 

Died: May 8, 1923 in Lauderdale County, MS 

Fleta Marie (Clarice) Pickett Fleta Marie Pickett, 17-month-old daughter of Ben Berry and Eula Keene Pickett, who reside near Zero, MS., passed away this morning at 4 o’clock. Funeral services will be held from the residence Wednesday morning at 10 o’clock. Interment is to follow in Fisher Cemetery. 

A month later, Eula’s sister Fleta died at the age of 38.

This was the same year of the bloody shoot-out with the revenuer, but I’m not sure if that incident happened before or after her infant and her sister died. I’d hate to think of Eula enduring those tragedies without her husband by her side. I know he was eventually released from prison and came home, but I’m not sure if he was home by 1926 when Eula’s mother passed away.

These tragedies helped me to understand why she was such a woman of faith. Sometimes you just don’t have anything else to hang on to.

Okay, I promised some family background on the Keenes. In 1859, her father was the last born to Green Keene and Sarah Tabitha. He had an older brother and three older sisters. In the 1860 census, the Keens also had grandpa Gilbert Keene and aunt Elizabeth Keene living with them. By the 1870 census, Thomas was eleven and living with his aunt Elizabeth and two of his sisters. Somewhere between the 1860 and 1870 censuses, his parents and his grandfather had died. In the 1880 census, he was living with his married sister Martha, her husband, and their three children, as aunt Elizabeth had died. In 1887, his sister Martha died. I always found it interesting the Keenes didn’t discuss the past, but in Thomas’s case, he may have been too young to remember his parents or his grandfather. It seems every adult who took care of him died, so maybe he didn’t see any point in dwelling on the past or the sadness. I’m thinking Eula inherited that trait from her father.

In September of 1936, she received the phone call every parent dreads. Her son had been involved in an automobile accident and on the verge of death. He was nineteen.

Eula Keene Pickett with Howard and AzaleaThe Meridian Star, September 5, 1936

Howard Benjamin Pickett 

Born: November 19, 1917 in Lauderdale County, MS 

Died: September 3, 1936 in Newton, MS 

Howard Benjamin Pickett, 19, son of Mr. and Mrs. Benjamin Berry Pickett of Meridian, who was injured in an automobile crash near Newton on Highway 80, died in a Newton hospital late Thursday. Miss Hazel Brasfield, 15, also of Meridian, remained in a critical condition Friday morning. Pickett, who was said to have been driving the automobile when it crashed at 5 a.m., received internal injuries. He never regained consciousness. Miss Brasfield is suffering from a crushed thigh. Other occupants of the machine were Jim Edwards, Billy White, Neva Ezell, Jack Ward, and Geneva Burt, all of Meridian. All were slightly injured but were able to return to Meridian soon after the accident. Pickett is said to have rented the automobile from a 630 taxi driver at 7 a.m. Wednesday, stating he intended to go to Jackson. The crash occurred when a tire blew out, causing the machine to leave the highway, overturning several times before striking a stump. Funeral services will be held at 4 p.m. Friday from the Eight Avenue Baptist Church. Surviving are his parents: Mr. and Mrs. Benjamin Berry Pickett and one sister, Azelea Pickett, all of Meridian. The Rev. Ed Grayson and Rev. Blanding Vaughan will officiate at the funeral. Interment will follow in Fisher Cemetery.

While Eula’s family grew to include a son-in-law, two grandchildren, and eventually six great grandchildren, over the years, she lost everyone from her youth. Her brothers died in 1939, 1947, and 1960. Her sisters died in 1964 and March of 1981. Her husband died in 1973.

She died 3 Oct 1981 and is laid to rest in the Fisher family cemetery in Zero, Mississippi with her husband and her children.

Happy birthday, Grandma! ♥

Pickett Ben and Eula Pickett

This post brought to you by On This Day: A Perpetual Calendar for Family Genealogy

Pretty Sure I Was Abducted By Aliens

Day after day, every morning is the same routine.

After I get out of the shower, I wrap my hair in a towel. I apply deodorant and face lotion. I get dressed, dry my hair, plug in my curling iron, apply my makeup while it’s getting hot, then curl my hair and add earrings. Aaannnd, I’m off! Twenty minutes, tops.

Here’s what happened this morning!

I did all the above, just as I always do it, in the same order, without waiver, just like every other day!

I went to work and caught up on a couple hours worth of items leftover from yesterday. I then joined a conference call that spanned a dozen people over five states. If you’re not familiar with WebX, someone on the call will be the presenter and share their computer screen with everyone else.

During this time, I realized I had been so busy all morning, I had neglected to use the restroom. You know, if you get stuck in a situation where you can’t go to the bathroom, it makes you have to go all the more! Well, I was the presenter in this WebX conference and couldn’t leave – not even for a minute! And this was a TWO HOUR presentation.

FINALLY, we ended the call and I sprinted to the restroom.

Upon washing my hands in front of the mirror, I looked up, and to my horror, I saw my pale, bare, makeup-less face. Nope, not one little swipe of blush. No eyeliner. No mascara. No lipstick. What the H E double L was going on here???

My hair was curled. My earrings were on. Did I not look into the mirror this morning to do those things? Where I would have seen my makeup’ed face? And certainly noticed the lack of said makeup?

Wait! If my hair was curled, what was I doing for the five minutes it took for my curling iron to warm up??

I can’t figure this out.

I came out of the restroom and told my co-worker, “I forgot to put on eyeliner this morning.”

To which she replied, “Yes, I noticed that right away.”

“WHAT?! And you didn’t say anything???” (May be on the hunt for some new coworkers.)

The only explanation I can figure is I was abducted by aliens this morning for about five minutes.

Either that, or I’ve lost my ever-lovin’ mind, and I refuse to believe that is true.


Everything I Need to Know, I’ve Learned from SpongeBob

Every morning I get ready for work while listening to SpongeBob playing on the television in the other room. No, I don’t have little kids. I turn it on for my dogs. Hush. Dogs like TV.


(SpongeBob SquarePants image property of Nickelodeon)

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m in love with that square little piece of sunshine, and I’ve learned quite a bit from him. I think I may have zeroed in on everything one needs to know to be happy in this lifetime from that crabby-patty-flippin’ sponge.

If you’ve never watched the show, do yourself a favor and tune it. Here’s what you’ll learn:

  1. Wake each day with a smile on your face.
  2. Find a job you love to do and do it to the best of your ability.
  3. Have a very good friend, preferably one who lives next door.
  4. Have a pet. It makes life so much better.
  5. Don’t take yourself so seriously.
  6. Don’t feed into other’s negativity.
  7. Don’t believe what others say about you, even when they say it to your face.
  8. Always be kind.

I think that sums it up! Life according to SpongeBob. Have a lovely day, my friends!

(SpongeBob SquarePants show cast from Nickelodeon)



Agitations of a Writer: Grammar, Content, and Dog Stealing

All writers and editors live in a constant state of frustration. Each and every blog, social media post, newspaper article, etc. are filled to the brim with incorrect grammatical phrases, punctuation errors, and badly written content that make us shake our collective heads. We usually grit our teeth and walk away, but today is not that day. My writer and editor friends will surely feel my pain, and I hope the rest of you get a kick out of the frustration that lives in the mind of a writer. Disclaimer: For you PETA-type people out there, don’t get your dander up. This post is not about dogs. If the subject was purple Chevys, I would have written the same thing.

I read the following letter on a forum a while back. As a writer, I’m agitated by the grammar. The more I look at it, the more I’m frustrated by the content. I copied and pasted it exactly as it appeared, and I have wasted my entire morning ripping it to shreds writing a blog about it.


found_collar_black2__33877.1362773206.1280.1280_2“I have a community question, that needs to be anonymous.

There is a dog running around my street that is severely malnourished, to the point that you can see every single bone in ther body, and they have other dogs in small pens in their backyard. I have gotten the one wondering in my back yard with a bowl of food and water. Where can I call that isn’t a high kill shelter? I believe the dog is considered an aggressive breed, but he is the sweetest thing ever.” – Anonymous Liker


While this letter is probably written by a good-deed doer, and I am all for rescuing neglected and abused animals, the post has many issues one simply cannot overlook. Grammar is the least of its problems.

“I have a community question, that needs to be anonymous.” 

There’s no need for a comma in this sentence. Why would a question need to be anonymous? Oh, you meant the person asking the question wishes to remain anonymous. Oh.

“There is a dog running around my street that is severely malnourished, to the point that you can see every single bone in ther body, and they have other dogs in small pens in their backyard.”  

Where does one even start? This is a run-on sentence with two topics – the dog and ‘they.’ “You can see every single bone” is an exaggeration. It is not possible to see every single bone unless you’ve dissected the dog, in which case we have another problem. We understand the dog is skinny, but this exaggeration leads us to believe that nothing else you’ve written here is completely true either. I’m going to ignore the “their” typo, but who is “they” in the last part of the sentence? I’m thinking you mean your neighbors? Wait! If you know this is your neighbor’s dog, why don’t you take him home? Hang on to that thought for a moment.

I have gotten the one wondering in my back yard with a bowl of food and water.

1005-alternate-1-440x400Is this a different dog? Do you have THIS dog in your possession? This sentence has me wondering how you knew this dog was wondering. Was he sitting on your back porch in the pose of The Thinker? Oh, you meant wandering, as in roaming around. Why didn’t you say so? Was he carrying a bowl of food and water with him? (…which would probably be TWO bowls, but that’s neither here nor there.) Did you mean YOU had the bowl (singular) of food and water? I’m so confused.

(photo credit: Rodin’s Thinker, National Gallery of Art, exhibiting how I’m feeling at this moment.)

Let’s continue…

“Where can I call that isn’t a high kill shelter?”

I understand the question, really, I do, but I don’t understand how over thirty people responded to the original post with phone numbers and names of shelters, and not one person noticed that the writer had STOLEN her neighbor’s dog. The wish to remain anonymous now makes more sense.

I’ll mention the obvious here. This was posted on a forum, using the Internet, which has “The Google” as my elderly friend calls it. Just look up a number.

There should be a dash between high and kill as this two-word adjective (see what I did there?) is describing the shelter.

“I believe the dog is considered an aggressive breed, but he is the sweetest thing ever.” 

Finally, a sentence written correctly, but after the exaggeration and the fact that you’ve stolen your neighbor’s dog, I’m not inclined to trust your judgment. I may want to imagine you sitting next to a malnourished Rottweiler, but what I envision is a busybody old lady with a dirty poodle on her lap.





Rooms Adorned Etsy Shop Coming Soon

facebookprofileIf you haven’t noticed, I pretty much took the entire year off from blogging and writing in 2017. I moved into a new home December 2016 and spent the year working on the house and getting the garden going.

In the meantime, I’ve also been working on two books and started a new “day job” with a national manufacturing company. Even though I’ve been busy, I’m still always looking for the next “thing.”

So, here it is…

I’ve always created all the artwork for every house I’ve ever lived in. I’ve painted, sponged, stenciled, tiled, and grouted my way around two states. Since I’ve been working on this new house, I realized I’m making more than I have room for, and I really enjoy creating it, so I decided to start selling my work on Etsy. My new shop is called Rooms Adorned. Make room for HAPPY! Everything is handmade. Everything is one-of-a-kind.

The grand opening will be April 1st!  Rooms Adorned

Below are a couple items that will be in the shop at the grand opening. Mark it on your calendar, and please stop by. April 1st! Bookmark the store Rooms Adorned.

I’ll post another blog before the grand opening and show you the inside of my art studio and lots more cute stuff!


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My Family Tree Held Together with Tape

I’ve been talking for years and years about painting a cool family tree in my house and putting family member’s pictures on it. I’ve researched trees, both stick-on vinyl types and painted ones. I’ve looked at wallpaper. I’ve investigated some artists. I’ve counted the number of ancestors I have pictures of and realized it needs to be a pretty big tree and will cost an arm and a leg to buy that many frames. I also realized that that many frames probably won’t fit on one wall. And for clarity, the pictures probably need to be all different sizes. I don’t know how to make this look good.

Planning how to put it together, I couldn’t make heads or tails of how to display the pictures. Mom’s family on one side and dad’s on the other? That’s logical. But we’re not just talking immediate family. I want to put most of the pictures I have, and that goes back to my 4th greats, not to mention the paintings of my family in the 1600s in England. Do I put grandparents lower and greats higher and so on? What if I have more on mom’s side than dad’s side? Also, I’m from Mississippi, so some of mom’s side intertwines with some of dad’s side. LOL.

After a whole year of staring at the blank wall in my office, one day I just grabbed a quart of paint, a handful of paintbrushes, and started painting.


tree 1The tree is about a foot wide at the bottom, so I started with a big, fat paint brush and some really scary black paint. I aimed for the middle of the wall, fighting with the corner of my desk that was too heavy for me to move. Next, I grabbed the next size smaller brush and started painting random branches. This is the point where my trophy husband came home from work, walked into the office, stared at the wall for a minute, shook his head, and walked out. Yeah, I know it doesn’t look that great, but just wait! I’m an artist. You have to trust me. Then again, he’s been here before. Poor guy.






tree 2Step two. I used a smaller paint brush to extend the branches and then another smaller one. Starting to look like a tree, no? A little skimpy, but still, a tree! It’s going to need to be a lot bigger than this for all my pictures. I’m thinking taking it all the way to the ceiling and as wide as it’ll go.









tree 3Step three. I used even smaller brushes. The tree’s getting bigger. Of course I’m climbing across my desk and standing on a chair to reach this high, so I have to keep getting down and backing up to make sure it’s symmetrical. I don’t want it perfect, but I do want it to at least look like a healthy tree. My knees may be getting a little tired. Trophy husband’s also asking about dinner. Umm, I’m in the middle, you’ll have to order a pizza. Poor guy. But in my defense, he already knew we were having pizza when he came home and saw the beginning of the tree.







tree 4Step four is a smaller brush and a smaller brush. Need. More. Branches. My arm is getting tired now.












tree 5Step five is the smallest brush I could find, like one of those out of a paint-by-number box. I’m not sure the branches go as small as I want, but my next step would be to use a Sharpie. I don’t think trophy husband would approve, and I’m not sure you can re-paint over a Sharpie. Sounds like that might be a problem if this thing doesn’t turn out.

I stared at it for a while, wondering if I should make it even bigger, maybe take it across the ceiling. For art, that would be cool, but for a family tree, I don’t know how I’d put pictures up there. I decided to stick with the wall.





tree 6Step six. The next day, I randomly taped pictures to the wall to figure out how I wanted to display the photos I have. It’s kind of looking cool just doing it randomly.














tree finishedStep seven. After living with it for a couple days, I decided to stay random. I also decided to not frame anything. I like the freedom to add and move the pictures as needed. I used two rolls of cellophane tape.

So, there it is.

My family tree.

Painted by hand and held together with tape. That seems fairly philosophical.

There are over 9000 people in my family tree. Thankfully, most of them weren’t photographed.


Maury County’s Worst Christmas

This is where I live…right in my back yard. This Christmas day, we are blessed.

Historic Maury County

Maury County has seen many joyous Christmas seasons since its founding in 1807. With so many cheerful tales of Christmases past, it would be hard to single one year out as the best Christmas in local history.

But, one year is agreed upon as the worst Christmas Maury County has ever seen—Christmas 1864.

Frank H. Smith, in a special December 1904 edition of the Columbia Herald, wrote, “At this, the most prosperous Christmas tide that Maury County has ever known, it may be interesting to recall some incidents of this season forty years ago, the gloomiest and most depressing holidays our country ever had.”

SmithPhoto2 Frank H. Smith (third from the left) sits on the front porch of the Athenaeum Rectory with his siblings.

Why was this the “gloomiest and most depressing” Christmas? Simply, the Civil War was the cause of this county-wide depression.

After the fall of Atlanta, Confederate…

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