The Mystery Juror

The front of the courthouse -- notice all the offices have window air conditioning units. The courtroom had none.

In my little section of the world life is slow.  We speak slowly (most not as slowly as I do); we move slowly (except when we drive); and we pretty well let things move along at their own pace.  We’re okay with that.

Our jury trials are no exception to that rule.  If you’ve read any of my posts before, then you know I am a court reporter working in small counties, and we have some interesting experiences around here.  Reporting proceedings on the fender of a car was a rather unique experience that I posted in Fender Reporting.  

On one such particular day in the summer where the wind was barely moving and the back doors were open to try to get a cross breeze through to the front doors that were also open, we had a jury of 14 people sitting in the cramped jury box.  The air was thick, and we were all sticky.  When a fly would land on my fingers, that were moving rapidly, it just sat there, stuck on  my sweaty hand, enjoying the ride apparently.  I had to take my hand and literally sling the thing off of me.  (I really hate flies.)

Since it was so hot, the attorneys were without jackets, and I had taken to wearing sundresses and sandals.  It was way too muggy for hose and what-have-you.  We were a stinky lot.

And that must have been what attracted him.  He sauntered in through the back doors and down the hallway, stopped and looked into the courtroom.  I saw him, but didn’t think he would actually come in the courtroom.

But he did.  He came and placed all four big, black paws that were connected to his big, black Lab body right beside my chair and stared at me.  Now, I sit almost in the jury’s lap, so the dog and I were at the edge of the jury box.  My thought processing was in high gear.  “Do I say anything about a big, black dog being in the jury box?”  “Is anyone in the jury box afraid of dogs?”  

In my great wisdom I decided to leave it be.  The proceedings were going full strength, and I just really couldn’t find a stopping point to say something to the judge.  As long as he didn’t start licking me, I decided he would just mosey on out in a bit.

Ah, such great smelly stuff here!

But he didn’t.  Instead he started sauntering down into the jury box.  And, of course, all eyes and attention was on the dog.  He was stopping to sniff first one and then another.  After all, he had found the stinky mother lode.  Would he want to jump in one of their laps to roll in the delightful stinkiness?  

The attorneys and judge had no idea this dog scenario was going on, and they continued on with their questioning while the jury was undoubtedly not paying attention to anything but the dog.  My wee brain was once again in high gear.  “Is anyone afraid of the dog?”  “Do I say something?”  “Does it matter the jury is missing out on the evidence by dog disruption?”  “Will it bite if someone makes a sudden movement?”

In my great wisdom I finally said to our judge, “Excuse me, Your Honor.  There’s a big, black dog in the jury box.”

The judge turned from the bench and looked at me and smiled.  I again said, “There’s a big, black dog in the jury box.”  And he says, “You’re kidding, right?”

SAY WHAT?  Am I kidding?  I stop the proceedings of a jury trial to make a joke about a dog?  Now I wonder what he would have done if I had said, “Yeah, isn’t that a great one?”

But I didn’t.  I merely said, “No, really.  There’s a big, black Lab disrupting the jury.”

similar to our Juror Blackie

And about that time, as if to bear witness to the truth I had just spoken, Blackie (as I now call him) sauntered out of the jury box and into the bar area, slowly made his way down the aisle to the front doors, and went on his way.  As we all, transfixed, watched.

I am just grateful Blackie did not think I smelled “good” enough to lick or try to roll around on.

My Organized Disorganization

My sis says everything a person can’t see at my  house is so organized.  My cousin Sandy says everything about me is disorganized, including the things a person can’t see.  My friend Cheryl says there is always hope; at least she hopes there is hope because she is a lot like me in the disorganization department.  My friend Bert has quit coming by to help because, well, it just never seemed to improve matters.  My friend from Texas, Terry, says she will most definitely come to visit but she is not doing any dishes.  Nor is my friend Kay.

So this weekend I am organizing all my music for Zumba; all my music for piano lessons; organizing my Pandora stations…

… and seriously considering cleaning house next week.  Before it starts looking like this!

messy house

For more photos like these click here.

I have this site bookmarked for the sole purpose of saying “At least my house doesn’t look like that!”

Got It Going On, Baby

Today is a good day.  Today my cold is better (thanks to good meds), my niece and nephew have been cute as buttons, and I feel thinner (thank you Zumba dance).

So having a good day causes me to ponder my life, my accomplishments, my blessings.  What do I think about me?  And I have decided that I’ve got it going on!

This month my little Dollar Store calendar is full of activities and lessons and appointments.  Then I looked at last month… and, by gollies, it is filled with stuff, too.  Not all good, mind you, but full of stuff.  Turning to next month, and, well, you guessed it. More stuff!!  Stuff to keep my mind busy, to make my body healthy, to teach me, to experience, to give back, to teach others, to support, to encourage.  To love and accept and nourish.  To grow in wisdom.  To give out what little wisdom I may have.  To be.

So what that my plans get set back for a month or two?  So what that my ideas are slower to take off than I had dreamed?

It just doesn’t matter…. ’cause I got it going on, baby!

Lightening My Mood

Ava and Gigi

I love this little pudgy thing… and she loves that little wrinkly thing beside her.  We have great fun.  And all I have to do is look at this picture to be filled with that warm, fuzzy feeling.

Maddy and me

This is another picture that brings me joy.  I have the most beautiful niece, inside and out.  She had some fantastic pictures made, but I can’t put them on here yet.  Just wait!!

Kate, the princess, all tied up

Kate is the Queen of Pretend.  She has taught her little sister all the idiosyncrasies of great pretend play.  I can only imagine what a great actress she would be.

Maci... growing up

Maci, aka the Screamer, is growing up waaaay too fast.  She had enough hair to braid when she was born, and now it is way down her back.  Even though we tease about her bossiness and her, um, loudness, she gets it from her father as did Owen.  (He outgrew it and we think she will, too.)

Owen and his new bike

Owen is such a treat.  He is growing up into the sweetest, most thoughtful little guy.  Except, of course, when he is terrorizing his sister, Maci.

Henry and Charlotte Ann... with Momma

And these two full-of-energy pumpkins are the friendliest little boogers around.  Henry would probably have tried to ride alone if Momma would let him.  They are both independent!

Jack and Sam Christmas 2011

Last, but no where least, are these two hunks of burning love or energy or mischief.  They are the great explorers, always gifted with super powers if the need arises, always finding some great treasure.

And they are all my great treasures.  I have to do no more than peruse their pictures to have sweet thoughts and memories come flooding in and washing away any downcast moments.

I so love these guys and gals.

A Whole New Look at Drug Rehab

If your family has ever dealt with a loved one who is addicted to alcohol or drugs, then my heart goes out to you; my compassion and empathy is profound.  An addict will sell themselves, give up their children, cut off ties with family, and wander from place to place or live in the streets and alleyways.  Their thoughts have been in drug mode for so long they don’t know how to think normal thoughts anymore.  They don’t know how to “pull themselves up by the bootstraps” and get clean.

It’s not because they don’t want to.  Their self-loathing is immense; their pain from the disappointment of losing themselves and sometimes their families is deep.  The uphill climb to “clean” is a monstrous mountain to them that seems so gigantic that they fail before they even begin the first ascent.

Does the drug abuse come from undiagnosed mental illness?  Did it begin with casual use as a young person and then became the demon-clawed monkey on their backs?  Was it some horrible experience that first drew them to the escape from real life into the fantasy life of drugs or alcohol?

The reason isn’t important.  The overcoming is.  The ability to live the rest of their lives without the use of drugs or alcohol is what matters, not the whys.

Teen Challenge

Teen Challenge is a place for these lost souls, these hopeless people, to be saved.  Quite literally.  Here is their mission statement:

“To provide youth, adults and families with an effective and comprehensive Christian faith-based solution to life-controlling drug and alcohol problems in order to become productive members of society. By applying biblical principles, Teen Challenge endeavors to help people become mentally-sound, emotionally-balanced, socially-adjusted, physically-well, and spiritually-alive.”

It is not for those who aren’t ready to climb up out of the pit, nor is it for those looking for an easy road to sobriety.  This program is the hardest thing any person will probably ever do in their lifetime for themselves.  From day one there is no smoking, no foul talk, no talk of the street, no disrespecting the counselors… the list goes on and on.  From day one there is a work ethic in place, a hygiene standard, an accountability practiced… just a few of the things used to build self-worth.

The program is about one year and can be all the way to two years.  The men (the median age is 35) sleep in bunk beds with their clothes and shoes and personal items neatly in place, and those beds made up military style of the mornings which begins around 5:30 or so.  They have work details, jobs in the community, for which they are not paid.  They are immersed in Bible study and surrounded by encouraging people.  They are required to dress in accordance with the dress code and go to church regularly.

This program is not for sissies.  This program works.

Prison costs about $23,000 a year to house an inmate; Teen Challenge is less than half that.  My question to judges, both state and federal, is why are you not utilizing this program?  The fact that it is based on voluntary entry and the person is able to leave at any time is always the excuse used when sentencing an addict to prison instead of Teen Challenge.  But that is no issue in reality.  If  the person leaves,  then it’s off to prison.

The rigorous routine at Teen Challenge serves only to enhance the lives of those who stay, creating persons with skills and abilities to stay sober.  The atmosphere in a prison serves only to degrade even further an already beaten man/woman, offering nothing more than a housing unit until they are released.  Being ordered to Teen Challenge is a win-win situation.  The offender makes it through the program and lives a productive life:  society wins.  The offender leaves the program and is then sent to prison: society still wins.

Why not give that person a chance?  Why not see if this person can be in the statistical group of graduates, as they are called, who never go back to drugs?  Why not?

Here is the web site to learn more of Teen Challenge:


The Day After…

Valentine’s Day has come and gone… once again.  And every year there are romantic stories, funny stories, odd gifts, sensible gifts, comfortable scenarios, exciting scenarios.

I’m curious to know what you all did.  Was it one of these perhaps?

give or receive flowers

give or receive a pet? spend time with your pet?

shop for furniture together... or by yourself?

take your sweet thing to one of these places?

go on a cruise or other mini-vacation?

get engaged? give or receive a piece of jewelry?

get married!?!?!?!?

take your beloved out for a romantic evening?

plan a, um, uh, romantic evening?

This year right smack dab on the day, I received a lovely card and letters and got to spend time with little Ava.  Then I took off with my sis  to pick up the dining room chairs Kate and I bought the other day.

Yeah, that’s right.  Dar was with me on Valentine’s Day evening.  Dave and Darla have been married for, let’s see, almost 40 years.  That’s a lot of Valentine’s Days.  And they did say Happy Valentine’s Day that morning.  At least Dar said it to Dave.  She wasn’t sure he heard her.  He’s in the middle of working on the house, and his good buddy, Johnny, was coming over for a full day of work, so he was busy getting things ready to go.

Yep, it was just a good Valentine’s Day this year.

It’s Today!!


Love is patient and kind;

Love is not jealous or boastful;

It is not arrogant or rude.

Love does not insist on its own way;

It is not irritable or resentful;

It does not rejoice at wrong,

But rejoices in the right.

Love bears all things,

Believes all things,

Hopes all things.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7

The Love Story of Jack and Charlene

Jack and Charlene

Here, in Jack’s own words, is how the day of their wedding began:

“It was a cold, wet day on January 13, 1947, on a Monday morning that I drove from our home on Eagle Creek to Charlene’s home to get her.  Then we went to John and Reba Bradley’s home near Junction.  They were going with us to Morganfield, Kentucky, to witness our wedding.  I had a 1939 Ford car which had over a 100,000 miles showing.  No telling how many times the speedometer had been run back.  It was the last year that Ford had placed the shift lever on top of the transmission extending from the floor.  For some reason that I can’t remember, Charlene and I went through Equality on our way to get John and Reba.  When we went to approach Route 13, I hit the shifting lever to put it in second gear, and the shifting lever came out of the transmission and fell in the floor on Charlene’s side of the car.  By this time I was out on the highway.  The transmission had shifted into second gear before the lever came out or at the same time.  I thought about driving on to John and Reba’s in second gear, then I noticed the entrance to Pekin Coal Mine, so I turned in.   I picked up the shift lever and put it back down in the transmission.  I held the clutch pedal down and started the engine and gently shifted from second to first gear.  It worked okay, so we went on our way.  Every time I had to shift, I did it gently.”

Jack and Charlene Martin

Jack and Charlene raised three children together over their 50-some years together.   She had a stroke and for many years Jack was a gentle and loving caretaker before she went home to be with their Lord, leaving Jack behind.

Here are Darla’s words of her father-in-law’s care for his wife while she was in the nursing home:

“Jack was always so kind….he loved and cared for her until the end.  One day I was sitting in the sunroom at Fountain View with him and her, and he was taking lotion and dotting a Kleenex with lotion, working at getting the dry skin off of her face.  It was like time had stopped for a second.  And when I looked around, everyone was watching..a nurse, other visitors and residents of the nursing home. It was right then that I knew why she was still here (because at this time in her life she had lost her speech).  So others could see Jesus’ love through Jack Martin caring for his wife. “

I loved Charlene Martin and I love Jack Martin.  They were one of the best examples of God’s plan for marriage that I have ever seen; as well as two of the best examples of the word Christian.

And they were one heck of an example of a great love story!

My Sis and Her New Hubby… 1973

Darla - March 31, 1973

Way back on March 31, 1973, my sister and her boyfriend were married.  Bill Rister was just beginning to try his hand at picture-taking, so he was pressed into service for the photos.

Dad and Darla coming down the aisle

It was a hard-earned wedding since Mom and Dad weren’t particularly fond of Dave.  He had long hair and played in a band and lived in Jane Strong’s basement.  It must have helped that he cut his hair.

Jack Hall was the minister.

Here are some of Darla’s words about being married:

It was March 31, 1973.   I was a senior in high school.  The Monday morning that followed that weekend I found myself in Geography class being called on to write my name on the blackboard as an example for some illustration.  I didn’t write Darla Rutherford (who I had been for the past 17 years) I wrote Darla Martin.  I had gotten married that weekend at the First Baptist Church in Shawneetown.  Some memorable things I will never forget:  My colors were centered around my best friend’s prom dress that she was going to wear for the bridesmaid dress, my wedding dress was rented, my cake was bought at the IGA bakery, and the person that was supposed to sing cancelled at the last minute and the piano player sang “Color My World”.  (As I’m writing this…I’m wondering where my sister was…that is a mystery to me).  Now, 39 years later….I love this man more than I did the day I married him.  He loves Jesus, loves his wife, and loves his family.

Churnie and Amy Rutherford, Darla and Dave Martin, Charlene and Jack Martin

Nancy Strong was Darla’s best friend… and this is her prom/wedding dress.

Nancy as the lovely maid of honor

Dennis Charleton and Mom

Not sure who the young boy is, but the other two are Dave's mom and dad

My Mom was escorted down the aisle by Dave’s friend, Dennis.  As I look at these pictures, I realize my Mom was 53 and my Dad was just 49.

These pics have been in a small album, that is now falling apart at the seams, since 1973.  Some of the pictures tore as I was trying to remove them.  You can see the ghost-like discoloration on them.

The very next month my daughter, Keely, was born, so I was very pregnant at this time.  It’s not like me to keep a low profile no matter how huge I would have been, so I can only surmise that Darla did not want the bulging belly being seen!!  But I looked very spiffy in my maternity dress with my hair all curled.  Yes, Darla, I was there.

I love the pictures of Dave and Darla feeding each other cake.  They look so prim and proper!

I can't get over how little that cake looks!

She should have taken a class on how to feed cake to your husband


The happy married couple... just a couple of kids

The newlyweds with their Maid of Honor Nancy Strong and Best man David Dortch






                      By Brenda Byassee for the Wedding of Wes and Amanda, 2001

Written as a Tribute to the Marriage of Jack and Charlene Martin


Commitment begins like a spring,

Bubbling gently from the deep recesses of our souls.

It’s that first awareness of love,

A little frightening yet exhilarating.

The first look of recognition as your eyes meet across the room.

It’s that first decision in your heart.


Commitment ever so slowly rises to the surface,

And pools there,

Prodding, pushing, moving, changing

From that first bubbling of the spring into a beautiful pond.


It’s the knowledge that she’s the one;

That certainty that you want to share the rest of your life with him;

That feeling of deep caring and passion;

The seeking of God’s will and God’s ways.

The ripples in the pond of commitment

Stretch and test its boundaries

Causing the growth of a deeper, fuller lake:

Honor, respect, enduring love, forgiving heart, pride in each other.


And so it goes with commitment,

Until one day its ocean waves

Tell the story of those promises kept, trials met,  joys felt,

Love unfolded.


The waves rise strong and fierce

Remembering when two became one.

They pound with passion

Roaring their presence.


Then, settling into a steady, rhythmic roll,

They move swiftly, overlapping,

So busy in their journey:

Children, jobs, conflicts.


Until, finally, they wash gently ashore

As the stronger cares for the weaker,

No longer remembering

There once was two.