December 8, 2012 | Narrative  |  Comments Off on Protect

By Lora Lusby

While reminiscing about the past, all the family members are scrunched together on the white sectional couch. The couch is pressed against the brown wall across from the kitchen. Which is filled with all sorts of food in a buffet that looks like it could feed an army.  The blue carpet is stained here and there with brown mud spots because no one takes off their shoes after coming in from the barn. The house smells of fresh dryer sheets from the constantly running dryer mixed with a slight dog odor. The dog aroma comes from the overweight boxer that releases terrible smells out of her rear and that has breath that smells of a four-day-old dead possum living inside of her. The over packed drive-way looks like an old junk car lot with horse trailers and cars parked  throughout the driveway that melts into the yard. All the family members and friends pack into the house like an overflowing can of sardines. When walking in the door it sounds as if people are entering a carnival; the volume is blaring and the noise is deafening.  T.J. and his girlfriend are playing the guitar; Anlei is running around yelling at everyone to watch the new dance she just learned; Mamaw’s tea pot has the most obnoxious whistle that squeals as loud as it can; Papaw has the television blaring as loud as it will go trying to drown out all the other commotion so that he can watch his favorite show.

Family and friends gather at the house to tell old and often ridiculous stories from the past, but they prepare themselves for what they know is coming: Papaw’s stories. His stories are always the best. Papaw (Troy Smith) is a fifty-nine year old man who loves the taste of Jack Daniels and Coke.  He has lost all his teeth and never goes without chewing tobacco. He considers tobacco to be like gum, so he is constantly chewing it which causes little brown spit stains to fill the creases in the corner of his mouth; the alcohol causes him to get obnoxious and exaggerate his stories.

As the family gathers on the couch, Papaw says, “Alright now, I gotta new story I wanna tell ya’ll kids. Now listen up cause this could happen to ya’ll!” Papaw mixes his drink and gets the chew ready for when his drink is gone.

“Alright I got my drink and my chew on hand, where should I start. Ohhhh, uuuummm, let’s see! Oh yes, I know where to begin.”

Papaw’s story come out like this. “A long time ago my best friend, Garret, took his wife, Linda, and daughter, Gloria, to the fair. The rules to go out were Gloria had to be in the middle of her parents holding their hands at all times. Something terrible happened that day. Garret went to get the girls something to drink and told them to stay put until he got back. Meanwhile, this elderly lady came running through yelling that she lost her daughter. Linda felt the lady’s pain, so she wanted to help. She turned around to get Gloria, but she was nowhere to be found.”

Austin, one of the grandkids, looked at Papaw and said “Where’d she go?!!!”

“What happened to her?” Jessica, the other grandchild asked.

Papaw sat there and shook his head in an anxious way, excited that the grandkids were actually getting into his story and wanting to know more. He started to tell more about what happened next. “Linda began running around balling; releasing tears as is if she was a water fountain. Garret came around the corner with the girl’s drinks and saw Linda’s face and knew exactly what was wrong. He dropped the drinks and froze like the whole world had just ended. They searched and searched for Gloria. The police questioned them over and over, asking the same question: Age, 9; Height, 4 Feet 9 Inches; Hair, Blonde; Eyes, Blue. They posted pictures throughout the whole town.”

Papaw stops to fix another drink. All the grandkids giggle as they go to the bathroom and get a snack. No one can figure out why the grandkids think the story is so funny. Papaw sits back down and yells “Okay, get back in here! I gotta finish the story.”

“Where was I, oh yeah! Weeks went by and nothing came about finding Gloria. Garret blamed Linda for Gloria’s kidnapping and never forgave her. He decided to leave Linda and move out of town. He told everyone that Gloria was dead so there was no need to keep looking. Linda disagreed. Something deep down told her Gloria was still alive. A year later on the exact same day, at the exact same fair, a little boy was taken the same way as Gloria. Linda saw this on the news and went straight to the police station. The police investigated on a few things and found some suspects to question. The first house they went to was a sweet, elderly couple who owned a crematory. The police walked into the house and saw tons of pictures placed throughout the house of children ranging from the age of 4-17. All the kids had the same brown hair and same hair cut depending on gender. The police saw this a little strange considering the family had no children or grandchildren.  They searched the house and found nothing. As the elderly couple walked the police out they noticed the elderly lady’s gorgeous roses.”

The police lady asked “How do you make your roses look so beautiful?”

“Oh, honey, it’s nothing. Just a little something I add to the soil,” the elderly lady replies with a sweet, gentle grin.

The family decides to take a break from the story to have supper. Anlei felt this was a good moment to show her new dance. A few minutes pass, and everyone gathers back to the couch waiting for Papaw to finish his story once Anlei has gotten her needed attention from everyone.

Papaw sits down then starts the story again.” The police go back and do more research. They look into the elderly couple a little deeper and decide to look where they do the cremations. The police go back to the home and search their building. When they walk in the room, it’s very clean and organized. There is a little black desk placed in the center of the room with a door on each side. To the left is the room where they burn the people and to the left was a bolted door. One of the police officers break the lock and find seven children all bunched up in one corner. All the kids have brown hair just like in the pictures. Once they get closer to examine and question the children they find that they have bruises and deep wounds all over their body. The kids hunker down in fear avoiding eye contact. An officer asks one of the kids what had happened to all the children. A little boy says ‘When we don’t listen, she beats us, and if we stand up to her or try to help another kid, she burns them. The police take the kids to the hospital to get checked put while the couple is placed in jail for life. Come to find out the lady dyed all the kids’ hair and cut it to her liking.”

Everyone sits almost in tears as they think about what they just heard, but strangely all the grandkids do not react to the story. Papaw thinks this is odd but he continues on with the story.

“By surprise one of the kids was Gloria. Linda was right. She knew not to give up on finding her daughter. This was the best day of her life. After that, the lady cop went back and asked the old lady how she got her roses to be so bright. She grinned with an evil look and said, ‘If your children misbehave, you burn them and then spread their ashes over the soil.’ The officer threw up in disgust of how someone could do that to children.”

The family and friends on the couch have watery eyes thinking that something like that could happen to their kids. But still, the grandkids just think the whole story is funny. “Papaw that story ain’t true,” the grandkids say while laughing.

“Yes it is. There’s over 20,000 kids kidnapped each year,” he says back.

The grandkids look in confusion. “How do you know that?” they ask.

Papaw has no response. The grandkids decide to look up the real stats on kidnapping.

“One website said that the kidnapping rate has increased 70% since 1992,” the grandkids told him (“The Price”). The grandkids then say “There is an estimated rate of 12,500 to 25,000 kidnapped each year and 40% of the kidnapped are safe and unharmed after ransoms are paid.” (Zuccarello).

Papaw then asks the grandkids “Why’d you laugh at my story? That ain’t funny at all!”

“Papaw, everyone watches the show Criminal Minds, and that was a story from that show,” the kids tell Papaw, laughing at him.

“Aghhhh shoot, is that where that story came from?” he says as he spits out his chew and wipes the brown stains from the corners of his mouth.


Works Cited

“Mosley Lane.” Criminal Minds. YouTube. Mar. 2010.Video. Web. 4 Nov. 2012.

Smith, Troy. Personal Interview. 29 Oct. 2012.

“The Price of Paying Ransoms.” Economist 356.(2000): 17. OmniFile Full Text Mega (H.W. Wilson). Web. 1 Nov. 2012.

Zuccarello, Frank. “Kidnapping for Ransom.” Rough Notes 154.5 (2011): 84-86. ProQuest Curriculum Essentials. Web. 1 Nov. 2012.


Bio: My name is Lora Lusby. I am 18 years old, and I have 2 sisters. We all ride horses and barrel race. My boyfriend and uncle ride bulls, so we all travel to rodeos together.

The Meaning of Clouds

December 8, 2012 | Observation  |  Comments Off on The Meaning of Clouds

By Hillary Fallon Walker

As a baby cloud is waiting to be made complete, he hovers over the water in excitement hoping to rise to the sky. He will go on many adventures in his life and see many great things. He will sail across the sky, and watch over the ant-sized people on the ground. As they get caught up in business meetings, deadlines and everyday life, he will smile while the sun is shining, showing them his beauty, but sadly they will turn their head, paying him no attention. A baby cloud starts its life from condensation and damp air being cooled as is rises (Cloud Physics, 1). Like humans, there are no two clouds alike; none of them look the same, but things like air and mountains contribute to the way a cloud is formed. Unlike humans, they have no clothes to hide behind; they are naked for the world to see. Clouds are wandering souls without a home, never stopping to rest. The clouds have no words, but they speak to the world with their beauty; all the world has to do is pay attention.

There are many different types of clouds, and since the late 1900s, clouds have recognized as low-level, mid-level and high-level classifications (Ludlam, 2). The first clouds that are sometimes seen in the morning are the Altocumulus clouds. This is a thin, mid-level cloud that can sometimes look like a sheet or a wall with ridges in them as if someone had scooped parts out with an ice cream scoop (Ludlam, 4). High-level clouds such as Cirrus clouds can be seen in the evening after the Altocumulus clouds have passed. Cirrus clouds also can indicate a warm front coming in (Ludlam, 3). These clouds sometimes look like brush strokes from the hand of the Creator. Cumulus clouds can appear any time of the day; they are dense clouds full of water, sometimes waiting to be released. The Cumulus cloud is an example of a low-level cloud that resembles vertical cotton balls in the sky (Ludlam, 3-4). Every cloud is different with its own personal story, where it has passed and where it is going. Altocumulus, Cumulus and Cirrus clouds are three very different types of clouds that have their own unique purpose in life.

The mid-level cloud called, Altocumulus, can be described as a thin-layered cloud that can sometimes cover the whole sky as far as the eye can see (Ludlam, 3). In the morning, looking out past the Smoky Mountains, the Altocumulus cloud stretches out like a blanket in the sky protecting the clouds from the harsh winds beneath it, as if they were cold. Looking close enough, the cloud is rigid like a flag blowing in the wind. The sun starts to rise, and the Altocumulus cloud starts traveling the opposite direction, as if it were running from the sun. As the sun peaks over the mountain, a gap slowly starts to form between the mountains and the cloud. The white Altocumulus cloud turns yellow at the base where the gap begins. As the sun rises, catching up with the fleeing cloud, it continues to change its color. From the yellow base, traveling further up the cloud, the yellow is dimmed and turns to light pink. The pink fades as well, turning the blue sky above it to purple. The four colors mesh together into a whole new color never before seen. The cloud has become a rainbow, but in a whole new way. Rainbows are nature’s way of surrendering and offering peace after causing destruction from a storm, but the colors from the Altocumulus cloud bring peace before the storm of a busy day ahead. The cloud is a friend to help humans get through another day. The cloud will not be there for long; the wind is taking it forward to a new place and slowly pulling the cloud apart, stretching it beyond its ability to stay together forcing it to separate. Where is it going? To inspire another soul lost in their thoughts and trapped in a world of their own.

Sometimes in the afternoon the Cirrus cloud can be seen. Cirrus clouds can sometimes appear similar to Altocumulus clouds, but unlike Altocumulus clouds, Cirrus clouds almost never cover the whole sky (Palmer, 1). After the cold morning is over, and the Altocumulus clouds have passed, the strange Cirrus cloud starts to peak out over the horizon. He immediately catches one’s attention and mesmerizes the eyes with his gracefulness. His appearance is wispy, and he seems to have a strange pattern no one can figure out. He should be nicknamed the “Humorous” cloud because he is often the one who makes funny objects or creatures in the sky, but this is how he talks to the world. The Cirrus cloud elegantly starts to glide through the sky; his texture is smooth, but his edges are blunt like someone had stuck their hand in the sky and ripped him apart. The sky is as pure blue as the ocean, and the Cirrus clouds look like delicate white flakes traveling through the air. He is there to inform people there is a warm front that is about to occur. But he has no time to wait for anyone because he must tell everyone else as well. Sadness consumes a person as he floats away; he will be missed. He has many adventures ahead of him, but he will take a person to great places if they let him. He starts to make his way out of eyesight, but right before he is gone, he whispers, “Follow me.” He guides people’s heart to peace and inspires them to be more than they ever thought they could.

Cumulus clouds are low-level clouds that are associated as being rain clouds. They are denser than other clouds because they have more water (Ludlam, 3). In the video “Water Cycle,” it states that, “Each year more than 500,000 cubic kilometers of water evaporates from the oceans, yet the ocean level never drops because the water is constantly being recycled, returning to the ocean in different forms.” This can be credited to the Cumulus clouds. The Cumulus clouds are nature’s best friend, and a key factor in helping the earth survive. Summer days bring heat and drought, on the earth. The grass was once so green and full of life, but now has withered away into essentially nothing. The grass is now faded from bright vibrant green to a dark brown shade, blending into the dirt and unable to grow. The plants are sad and hunkering down in defeat against the hot sun; they are so thirsty. The beautiful big, white cloud is struck with sorrow. He too was made from the earth, and these are his friends. He sees the trees so dry and fragile that one wrong touch can make their branches fall off. He sees the river where he was born the last speck of water is almost gone; all that will be left is a big dark hole with no purpose. The cloud’s once white-as-snow appearance becomes gloomy and grey. He is sad and wants to help his friends because he sees the earth. The Earth needs water. He has plenty of water; in fact, that is all he consists of. His gray appearance becomes darker and more vibrant; every moment is building sadness throughout his body until he weeps. He weeps on the grass to make it grow; he weeps on the plants so that they can stand tall; he weeps on the trees so that they can be strong, and he weeps in the river so that it can birth new clouds. Then, in the blink of an eye, he has dwindled away into nothing; he is gone. He died so the earth can live. He was a Cumulus cloud.

Clouds are loved by many people. Their beauty and color is breathtaking. On a busy day that seems never ending, the most calming thing to see is the sun setting, and shedding its color on the clouds, making the white fluff turn into a majestic rainbow. Clouds are nature’s best friend. Without them everything would die. Clouds are also humans’ friends as well. They help clear stressful minds and take people to a whole world of their own where nothing matters and everything is beautiful. Many people have loved clouds and been fascinated with them over the course of their lives. Alfred Stieglitz was one of them. He was a photographer who was extremely intrigued with clouds and who was very passionate about them. He started taking numerous pictures of clouds in 1922. During a span of nine years, it has been recorded that he took more than 400 hundred photographs of clouds (Annear, 16). He once wrote in a letter to Hart Crane, and said, “Several people feel I have photographed God,” (Annear, 16). By saying this he is explaining the beauty of clouds; so beautiful that they can only be a creation of God Himself. Clouds are wondrous creatures that simply start from water vapor and become something extraordinary. Next time a cloud is passing through the sky think about how far the cloud has traveled to get there, and what his purpose is for where he is going.

Works Cited

Cloud: cloud formation by condensation. Video. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Web. 13 Nov. 2012.

Water cycle. Video. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Web. 13 Nov. 2012.

“Cloud physics.” McGraw-Hill Concise Encyclopedia of Science and Technology. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2006. Credo Reference. Web. 13 November 2012.

Frank H. Ludlam, and John Hallett, “Cloud,” in AcessScience, McGraw-Hill Companies. 13 Nov. 2012.

Palmer, Chad. “Cumulus Clouds.” USA TODAY. 16 Oct. 2005. Web. 13 Nov. 2012.
Annear, Judy. American Art. 25.1 (Spring 2011): 16-19. Web. 13 Nov. 2012.

My name is Hillary Fallon Walker. I was born in Murfreesboro, TN and moved to Knoxville ten months ago. I am currently studying at Pellissippi State Community College, pursuing a degree in accounting. I have always been intrigued with clouds, and sharing their beauty with others brings joy to my heart.

The Flowers Are Getting Cold

November 27, 2012 | Observation  |  Comments Off on The Flowers Are Getting Cold

FlowerBy Kiya Roberson

On a cold fall day in East Tennessee, the flowers are chattering from the cold.  As the trees stand tall and healthy, the flowers envy them because they are dying.  In Tennessee, summer is hot and humid; winter is cold and rainy, and fall is mild and dry, while spring is a mixture of these.  The climate is called a “humid mesothermal” climate, but the reoccurring and unexpected cold spells occur, and people often refer to this season as “dogwood winter” (Hemmerly 4).   As the weather gets cold, the flowers start to cry by dropping petals and wilting, and their colors start to fade.  All parts of the flower depend on one another, like the human body; however, while in the fall months, each plant becomes independent as some of the flowers die and stand alone.  While observing the dying flower something interesting occurred in each of the following: the stems, roots, leaves, petals, and the buds.

On the first day of observation, there was a long-stemmed blooming plant with a family of thirteen flowers spread throughout the top of the stem. This flower can be identified as a flat-topped white aster flower.  A flower that looked out of breath and strength as it tried to reach its food, but the nearby house blocked its light.  This one plant stood alone; no other plants surrounded it.  Each of its flowers looked to be dying, and the leaves set on the stem, in “alternate arrangement on the stem- one leaf per node,” looked like they had gotten into a fight with one another, and their clothes were ripped and torn (Ammons 1).  The flowers are supposed to have white pedals and a yellow bud, but three of them looked to have soaked in the darkest tanning bed; they were so brown they looked rotten.  Each petal hung on by its last word; some said nothing, while others said goodbye.  Little was spoken, but it was easy to understand that these flowers wanted to be left alone, to perish but only for a short while because they are perennials; they will bloom again in spring.

Unlike the white petaled, yellow pollinated flowers, the nearby bright pink flowers caught one’s eye.  This flower can be identified as a prairie rose or wild rose.  This bright pink flower looked scared; it is supposed to have five petals, but two are missing, and one is covering its face.  There are other buds waiting to open and be born, although some stand in a line tall, already born.  A bud is an embryonic sprout including the growing stem tip swarmed by new leaves or flowers or both, and a whole regularly covered by rare protective leaves (Ammons 1).  Each sprouts new branches while surrounded by leaves for protection and growth (Ammons 1).  The buds on the wild rose looked full and well-fed, but they were still reaching for sunlight.  Ms. Dorothy, the lady whom these flowers belong to later said, “They aren’t doing so well this year.  They haven’t been weeded like they should be.”  The flowers haven’t adapted to the cold very well, but their bright pink skin was eye catching. Even though these flowers bloomed in the spring, they still open to sunlight in the fall.  Each flower has held on while they shed tears and broke bones; they have fought until their stems broke and petals tear.  The leaves on this plant are “whorled, more than two leaves per node” (Ammons 1).  Each leaf has a section that is shaded dark brown, and the other section is dark green.   This flower, in particular, stood out because it appeared to be scared, with its one petal covering its face waiting for the gift of sunlight.

Later, some purple petal flowers looked so comfy that they could have been asleep.  These flowers can be identified as Russian Sage flowers.  The purple petals are tiny and mostly missing, but they have a beautiful arrangement.  Each petal looked like it had been curled with a curling iron and rolled up like a Swiss cake roll, but was attached to what looked like, thousands of unpleasant brown pistols.  A pistol is a triple divide between the “stigma, style, and ovary,” which is attached to the stem to give the flower nutrients (Hemmerly 17).  However, each flower was dried out like a chili pepper left out in the sunlight.  All of the leaves on the long stem, which looked like a vine with a red vein, were covered with small holes throughout the entire leaf.  There were nine total flowers attached to this one plant.  Three had lost their color; six still had color, but they were still dying.  Two of the flowers hanging from the stem had white petals and a yellow center, but half of the yellow center was colored red.  When the flower was pulled out of the ground, all of its roots came up as well.  The roots were colored white, like they had been shaded with a colored pencil.  The flowers wanted to stay and keep fighting to stay alive in the cold, but the tug-a-war between the roots and a hand was clingy. Although these flowers were tiny, they were strong and fought to survive.

Across the field, there stood a big bush with brown branches and brown buds.  The buds are colored brown due to lack of sunlight and nutrients, but it is acceptable to assume the bud should be white.  Some were white and had gold specks, while others were gold with white specks.  Each bud on this bush is either opened, partially opened, or not opened yet.  All of them looked like they were shivering because they had no jacket.  The leaves were beautiful on this bush; they were bright green and full of life.  None of the leaves were damaged or dying, only the buds were.  Botanist, Dewasish Choudhary said,“Plant leaf temperatures are related to light levels and air temperature, and are regulated by transpiration” (Choudhary and Mehta 24).  For example, in this plant the low air temperature caused these buds to look dead.  The more interesting thing about these buds is that there were only a select few buds that were completely open.  This shows how strong those flowers were, even when their family got tired; they still fought to bloom and provide sunlight and nutrients, even in the fall months.  The dying flower may be dying, but its passion to live is much stronger than death.

The next night, there was a white rose shrub.  Finally, the miniature white rose shrub stood out because it had a lone flower on one side; all of the others were spread out on the opposite side.  This white rose had a tint of yellow and brown, but that was because it was dying.  Some of its leaves were broken and poked through like burn holes in the roof of a smoker’s car.  The rose had nine petals, six were shriveled, and the others were opened to the moon.  The pistols were yellow, but the tips were colored brown.  The thorns on the vine were still strong; they looked like they were the strongest thing on the entire plant. Its smell was still strong like a fresh pot of coffee on an early morning.  The honey smell left one’s nose buzzing and wondering how this part of the flower was so alive, and the rest of the flower was dying.

Dying flowers lacked curb appeal, but more importantly nutrition, causing them to not grow properly.  In Tennessee, the humidity takes a toll on plant and flower growth, resulting in guttation and oedema; both brought on by wet conditions in the air (Choudhary & Mehta 29).  Although these flowers were dying, they still had strength.  Each flower fought until they had no backbone to stand or water left to shed tears.  As the observation ended, one found that the dying flowers had numerous amounts of potential to brighten the world, but the cold weather kept them from living.  The dying flower may be dead, but these particular flowers will be back soon and bring life to the environment.  More importantly, the roots, stems, petals, and buds will be ready to rise again in spring, and lift the eyes of everyone.


Works Cited

Ammons, Neal. “Bud.” Access Science, McGraw-Hill Companies (2012): 1-2. Print.

Choudhary, Dewasish, and Mehta, Amal. Flower Crops Cultivation and Management. 2010. Jaipur, 2010. Oxford Book Co. Web. 9 November 2012.
Hemmerly, Thomas F. Wild Flowers of the Central South. Tennessee: Vanderbilt University Press., 1990. Web. 8 November 2012.

About the Author


Kiya Roberson was raised in Clinton, Tennessee and graduated from Clinton High School in 2011. She has struggled with grammar and making sentences clear, but she believes she has improved while taking English 1010. This essay fulfilled the observation essay assignment.