Nashville or Bust

The trip that started a longer journey

Boxing Day Massacree

Holiday Greetings! It’s December 26–Boxing Day. I have a little story to share with you that will warm your insides. But, in order for it to make sense, I need to tell you another story first…

This past June, Dave took me to Nashville for a long weekend to celebrate my 50th birthday. We wrote about our first night here. But, what we didn’t share was the epic 24-hour period during said weekend when Dave’s sister, Kris, joined us for some fun. It was her first time to Nashville–and she wanted to know what all our fuss was about.

As soon as she met us at our East Nashville rental, we dialed up Lyft and took her down to Lower Broadway. Three guesses what came next!

“Be still, my heart. It’s those Killen kids and they brought another!” – Mama Tootsie

When in Rome…drink Corona.

Oh, Tootsie’s… and the 2 p.m. Saturday Day Drinking binge with our buddy, Jake Mauer. The ghost of Mama Tootsie and the present day Miss Julie behind the bar know us so well. Dave led us onward, Kris smushed in the middle and me sweeping up the back. We threaded our way in, barely made eye contact with Miss Julie, had beers placed in hand, and secured a spot in the back corner in less than a minute. To us, it was normal. For Kris, well, she was in that strange place between mystified and horrified. It happens when you go from bright daylight into jammed honky tonk. I told her she would be okay. “Uh-huh…”

The three of us settled into a space that was tops 24-inches square. (Well, Dave and I settled. Kris was in awe.) In typical Tootsie’s fashion, Dave and I started to chat with an affable couple who became wedged into said small space with the three of us. Turned out they were from Toronto. We quickly apologized for the state of our nation and made mental note to become friends with them. Who knows when we may need to visit, eh?

Jake kept playing and warming up the crowd…reminding us all that, “no good story every starts with a salad!” We began to explain to Kris, as well as Frank and Rochelle, the fine art getting drunk and making bad decisions at 2 p.m. on a Saturday. Frank quickly told us about the bad decision he had made moments prior to finding Tootsie’s that culminated in the fine hat upon his head. We assured him it was a good decision and continued to chat. (make friends-make-friends-make friends-tip the band-make friends)

And, in typical  Tootsie’s fashion verse two, we did become good friends. Best of friends. All five of us. Any riff between U.S. and Canada was forgiven and forgotten. Beer bottles clinked. We laughed and swapped stories. We yelled for the band to play more. And then it happened. Frank disappeared.

The Tootsie’s Summit, June 2018

Oh, but, only for a moment (don’t want anyone to worry). With a grin, and his snappy chapeaux off to the side, he came back to us, bearing gifts of gold. These. Five shots of Fireball. “Christmas in a cup,” as our friend, Andi, would say. But I digress…

Kris didn’t know what to do. Remember, this was her first time. It was probably 2:30 in the afternoon and she was starting to get the depths of the salad joke. Dave, not much for the firewater muttered, “aw prairie shit!” under his breath. Me, not wanting to upset our future Canadian sponsors, happily accepted. While our northern friends were kicking theirs back, through clinched smile, I hissed to the brother and sister duo, “drink, it…both of you. NOW!”

Kris, clutching her offering in one hand, took a timid sip, smiling over the rim. Dave, waved his shot glass up high so no one could see. I quickly said “Merry Christmas” with a gulp and then reprised the action all slight-of-hand-like two more times for Kris and Dave. Frank and Rochelle were grinning, “Good, yeah?” We smiled, nodded enthusiastically and returned to Frank three empty cups. Two Killens relieved–one, slightly aglow.

“Haller and Swaller!”

Looking back, I’d say we spent another hour or so with Frank and Rochelle. Well enough time to snap a bunch of photos and text them to each other. Yes, international numbers exchanged! But all good times do come to an end and soon, the moment came for them to move on and get ready for a night at the Opry. With hugs and high fives we bid them good-bye.

Since that day, random texts have been exchanged with our friends from the north. Fourth of July. Bastille Day. Some other random toasting event… all precious and educational. We’ve learned new customs.

And now that I’ve set the stage, I can move forward with my post. The real post. This is a story about Boxing Day, right? You remember, Boxing Day…

For Christmas 2018, Dave wanted to get something special for his big sister. He had heard she was looking for a new perfume for the coming year. And, while wrapping up our shopping the other day, he disappeared. But, he quickly came back with a mysterious brown paper bag and some art supplies. Hmmm….

As our Christmas gift exchange was in full swing Monday night, the moment came. Dave let his sister know that he found just the thing for her. The thing she was pining for. The gift that celebrated her true being and inner spirit. He had to look high and low but he found it. And he hoped she would really, really like it.

Who doesn’t love a gift presentation with a story?


Fragrance evokes memory. I think the grand reveal says it all. In spite of everything that has transpired after our swirl through Music City, we had a lot of fun on Christmas Eve. We were taught to Christmas well.

“What in the world…?”

(It all comes back in a rush…)

Best. Gift. Ever.

And to our friends in Toronto, Frank and Rochelle, I wish you all the best on this Boxing Day and do hope our paths cross again for real. Thank you for the smiles and the laughter. Awesome memories, indeed, to the very last drop.





“Merry Christmas!” ~Jacqui

December 26, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Hearts: Hinged and Holding

I had been saving a good deal of my holiday shopping in anticipation of the fair trade craft event at one of my favorite spots, Carabello Coffee. After happening upon it last year, I had a hunch that I’d discover there what I was looking for. Or, to be more accurate, what I was looking for would find me.

While admiring the wares, and more importantly, learning the stories of the people behind them, I knew I was in the right place. As I wandered to a nearby display of ornaments, I heard about these…

In India, everyone carries lanterns. They never quite know when they will be without power or propane. Both resourceful and whimsical, like anything that is constantly carried, sometimes the lanterns fall and break.

A group of village artisans figured out a beautiful way to repurpose all parts of a broken lantern, including the glass panes. On one level they are quite simple. But as I leaned in to hear more, I saw something much more complex and true. I became intrigued by the hinges in the middle.

During these days when it is dark on the outside, it’s easy to feel lost on the inside. In the hustle of trying to get it all done, it’s easy to burn out. While acquiring items to share with friends and family, it’s natural to feel a twinge of loss. We’re human. We share these things. We’re hinged the same way.

So yes–hearts: hinged and holding. Holding on and loving even when it hurts a bit to do so. Windows of color dark and shrouded. Waiting for that spark of light to ignite and glow.


xoxo to all of you throughout this season. ~ Jacqui


December 16, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

December 1

Many Christmastimes ago (15? 20?) my mother-in-law burst into our home, beaming. “Look! I’ve made you a wreath!” Her face full of merriment and pink from the cold, she thrust the wreath towards me before I could even say hello. She was so darned excited to bring this over and tell us how she had started to craft with some of her friends. This was a new thing and a different thing for her. It was a tad curious for us. What would be next?

Now, I had a very good traditional green and red wreath, but sensing her enthusiasm, I quickly swapped wreaths and moved mine to the deck. Jane’s wreath has hung on our door every December since.

A few years ago, one of the apples broke free of its dried pod of hot glue. I found it and tried to re-attach it, but for some reason, every year it would fall off. I tried several different things to keep that apple in place but truth be told, I was always in a rush, never making the time to drag out my glue gun and give it a proper fix. Like a new holiday tradition, each year I’d find something in the kitchen to hold the apple through the season. Last year I must have been really desperate as today I saw the tell-tale sign of my haste–of all things, one of those inverted sticky loops of packing tape was in the little round space where, by design, an apple had been purposely placed. I couldn’t find the apple.

Today would have been Jane’s 80th birthday. Oh, how she was looking forward to this day–to finally, and officially, claim it. The last time she was at our house in July, we had quite the talk. “Can you believe I’m going to be 80?!” she breathed, while her hands absentmindedly played with the strand of beads around her neck. We then laughed as we tried to figure out what sort of bathing suit would be “proper” for an 80-year old beachgoer as we continued to plan for the upcoming family trek to the beach…

Of course, that memory and many others flooded me today while I hung the wreath on the door. Minus the apple. But then, there was that nudge and I knew what to do.

While I couldn’t find a Mrs. Cardinal proper, I did find something that is pretty darned close. And, perhaps by some heavenly design, she even has her own little clip. No need for hot glue, bread twist ties, packing tape or fishing line. The crafting gods knew I’d need the help.

I took a step back to study this bit of new. The bird fit perfectly and settled into her nest. She seemed at home and at peace. “I see you,” she seemed to say. “I see you, too.”

A different design, indeed. ~ Jacqui


December 1, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | 4 Comments