Monthly Archives: September 2021

Knothead the Coonhound Dog: Our Remarkable, Carefree Four-Legged Friend

This is a good representation of Knothead

Not all new friends you make when you move to a new place are human. Take Knothead for instance. Knothead was a “good ol’” hound dog that we met when we rented our first home in Millbrook, Alabama in 2004.

He was the friendliest dog. He acted just as I imagined a hound dog would act — ambling whenever he walked or plopped on the concrete for his naps.

We first met Knothead when we went to see the house we were thinking about renting. Since we were new people, he felt the need to wander across the street and say hello. His owner told us he got his name because he truly is a knot head. He’d been hit by cars a few times and one of his front paws was askew because of this.

One of our favorite Knothead stories is when his owners brought a new puppy into the mix. The puppy was a female black Labrador. Beautiful dog, but she got into everything. I might mention here the neighbors did not chain up either dog.

Knothead was not a fan of his new black Lab puppy!


The puppy, whose name I don’t recall, would follow me on my walks around the neighborhood. And she was a thief. Once, when a utility worker came to my home, she left her shoes on the front porch because it had been raining and they were muddy.

When the worker came out, the shoes were gone. The puppy had taken them. The owner went around the neighborhood every so often to return items the puppy confiscated.

Anyway, Knothead was less than thrilled about this puppy development. As his owner told us, he found the puppy wandering along the side of one of the main roads in town, a couple of miles from our neighborhood. After picking up the puppy, he saw Knothead almost to our subdivision. Apparently, Knothead was trying to lead the puppy away so she would get lost. It didn’t work, but shortly after that incident, the owner re-homed the puppy.

Knothead even helped us find baby squirrels that blew out of their nest during Hurricane Ivan. Of course, his intentions and ours were quite different, but we were able to save all three babies, who didn’t even have their eyes open yet.

We rescued three of these little guys, one from Knothead’s mouth.

We frequently wonder what happened to Knothead and if he is still alive. He was one of our more unique neighbors, but he was our friend.

Until next time,

Vicki

Do you have any stories about four-legged neighborhood friends? Tell me about them.

And don’t forget to subscribe to this blog on the right so you never miss another post!

Victoria Terrinoni is the author of the new book, Where You Go, I Will Go: Lessons From a Military Spouse available here.

September 11, 2001: The Most Devastating Day in My Life

I’m sure every blogger in America is writing about September 11, 2001, this week. Can you stand to read another one?

We all have stories about that fateful day. It is on the scale of the attack on Pearl Harbor for my parents’ generation. Here is my story.

The alarm radio went off at the usual 7 a.m. time, but this time the DJs were talking about a plane crashing into one of the twin towers of the World Trade Center in Manhattan. We just moved to Vandenberg Air Force Base on the Central Coast of California in late July. I jumped out of bed and turned on the television in our room. Just then, the second airline jet crashed into the second tower. The Good Chaplain uttered an expletive.

“We’re under attack,” he said. And with that visual and those words, I knew our world was about to change forever.

Lots of questions arose about our plans for the day. Our twin daughters were getting ready for school. Should they go? I also was to go to their school to speak to the journalism class about freelance writing. Would classes still be held? We knew the Good Chaplain would be in demand.

We called the school. Classes were still being held, but it was up to the parents if they wanted their children to attend or not. Part of our quandary was whether the girls could get back onto the base after school. I was driving them to school, but they would ride the bus home. Would the base be shut down — no one allowed on or off — by the time school let out?

The Good Chaplain called the base command post and asked the question.

“I know we will be going to Delta. Will my daughters be able to get back on base this afternoon, after school?” he asked. Force Protection Condition Delta is the highest level the base could go, which basically means a terrorist attack has occurred or is imminent. A terrorist attack definitely happened on U.S. soil that day.

“Sir, we are not in Delta,” the person on the other end of the phone line said.

“I know that, but we will be soon. I just need to know if my kids will be able to get back on base after school.”

“Sir, we don’t know that we will be going to Delta.”

The Good Chaplain sighed. “Okay, sure. Will my kids be allowed back on base after school. We’re trying to decide if we should send them or not.”

“Sir, the buses will be allowed back on base,” the command post person said.

“Thank you. That’s all I needed to know,” said the Good Chaplain.

We did end up going to school, and the girls could get back on the base, even though the base did go to Delta. I gave my talk, but we mostly talked about what was happening in New York and the Pentagon by that time. As a journalist, I really wanted to be in the thick of the story. But as a mom, wife, and military spouse, I was scared of what was to come and saddened that this happened in my country.

Strangely, the events on 9/11 did not hit me until another plane crash in Queens in November 2001. Then, I remember crying and going into the bedroom to tell the Good Chaplain.

“Another plane crashed in New York City,” I said.

“Was it another terrorist attack?” he asked.

“I don’t think so, but the plane crashed into some buildings,” I said.

Then I sat down and cried. I cried for the 260 people on board and the five on the ground who died. And, I finally cried for all those that died on 9/11 on the most devastating day of my life.

Until next time,

Vicki

The Horrific Week When the Cat Died, the Girls Graduated, and the Movers Arrived

Talk about stress. One Sunday morning in the summer of 2004, as I sat in my living room at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, my 20-year-old cat, Gus, died in my arms. My twin daughters sat near me, sobbing as they had known Gus all their lives. It was heartbreaking.

But that wasn’t the significant stressor. The fact that Gus died at the beginning of graduation week is what stressed me out. The family was coming in from all over to celebrate the girls’ graduation. I didn’t have time for the cat to die.

Oh, and the Monday after graduation, the movers were coming. Should I pull my hair out now? Even as I write this 17 years later, I can feel the tension rising.

After the cat died, I laid him in his carrier and called the Good Chaplain, who was leading worship services at the time. I thought service would be over, but it wasn’t. The chaplain assistant answered the phone.

“Is the service over?” I asked.

“No, it’s communion time,” she said.

“Oh, okay. When the service is over, tell (the Good Chaplain) the cat just died. But wait until he finishes,” I said.

She didn’t wait. She crept up to the Good Chaplain at the Lord’s Table and whispered in his ear that the cat died. I made my best Homer Simpson impression. Doh!

After we made funeral arrangements for Gus, we turned our focus to the influx of company. First, of course, the house needed cleaning, the cake needed ordering, and we needed to plan menus to feed all these people.

The girls were also busy with last-minute school items — getting their caps and gowns, graduation practice, and other necessities.

Then family members began to arrive. My parents, the Good Chaplain’s mother and stepfather, and his brother’s family arrived from Illinois. His stepmom, his aunt, and his uncle came up from southern California. We needed to pick up some people at the airport, and we had to make lodging arrangements too. And, oh, yeah, the movers were coming on Monday. So several stiff drinks were in order.

Graduation Day arrived — a lovely, hot Saturday afternoon at the football field of Cabrillo High School. We did not know until we left for the ceremony that the Gay Pride annual bike trip was happening that weekend, right outside the base main gate. It was entertaining to see all the colorful outfits the cross-dressers were wearing. Until our niece exclaimed loudly with the car windows open, “Hey, that guy is wearing a dress!” Thankfully, the nice person smiled and waved at her. But it opened up a whole discussion her mother was not ready to have with her.

We sat in the hot sun listening to all the obligatory speeches and waiting for that two-second time frame when they call your kid’s name. But, instead, my mind wandered to the list of things I still had to do. I remember commenting on all the people who left after their child got their diplomas.

“Hey, I had to sit through your kid’s moment. So the least you could do is sit through mine.”

Having the last name beginning with a ‘T’ put us pretty much at the back of the pack.

After the party, family members left, except my parents. They were going to help with the move. They helped watch the packers, the loaders, and the clean-up afterwards. They said they thought it was a smooth move — everything done for us and all. Deep down, I agreed.

We moved into our travel trailer and finished up the week with a farewell lunch at the chapel. My parents thought that was cool, too, and it was.

The stress level should have abated then, but it didn’t. I had so much stress built up in me I felt I would explode. I was snapping at everyone and crying a lot too. I just wanted to get on the road. And the Good Chaplain developed hives because of all the things he needed to finish before we left town.

Eventually, I remembered the adage, “This too shall pass,” (William Shakespeare in Hamlet) and I started breathing again. And, by the time we got on the road, I was relaxed and looking forward to the new adventures we would have in Alabama.

Until next time,

Vicki

Tell me about your most stressful move in the comments below.

Victoria Terrinoni is the author of the new book, “Where You Go, I Will Go: Lessons From a Military Spouse.” Check it out here.