Jason Denton–Advice for Sketch Comedy Writers

What is your name? Any nicknames?
Jason Denton. My parents used to call me for some reason Jaycee. A friend ironically called me Jay-Dog.

What do you do with your time?
Middle school substitute teacher and stand-up comedian.

How old are you and where do you live?
39, and in Hendersonville, North Carolina. Behind the Ingles.

Where can we find you on the internet?
I’ll put in a plug for J/K Comedy. You can find us at jkcomedy.rocks or follow us on Twitter @jkcomedy007

The most interesting place you’ve visited?
Chicago, in the sixth grade, I was twelve or thirteen. The Museum of Science and Industry was great. My uncle was living there and my older brother and I took the Amtrak (with a layover in Philadelphia.) A funny thing–Mom and Dad had packed us IBC root beers. They weren’t twist-off, so you had these two young boys carrying what looked like beer bottles to the lounge car to get a bottle opener. We got stopped a couple of times.

Your favorite meal would be?
Cream of chicken soup with turkey sandwich on the side.

Pet peeve?
Not thinking two steps ahead. Doing something without forethought. (This applies to me more than anything else.)

Can you tell us about a time you wish you’d thought two steps ahead?
Heather and I are both bad with money, I guess, making bad financial choices. Early in our marriage we got a timeshare. If we’d taken the afternoon to just think about it that would have been a better thing. I’m also bipolar and one way the mania manifests is buying things. I’m on medicine right now, and doing better. But for instance, If I hear a song I like I’ll go ahead and download the song, then figure out who sang it and buy other stuff they’ve done and go on from there to other albums and by the end of the hour I’ll have bought fifty dollars worth of songs.

Wow, and thanks for sharing. Favorite book, or movie, or TV show?
Book: “To Kill a Mockingbird”
TV Show: The earlier seasons of “The Simpsons.”
Movie: “Dark City,” a science fiction flick, “City Lights,” with Charlie Chaplin, and “Scott Pilgrim Versus the World,” which was the most fun I had at the theater.

Why was “Scott Pilgrim” the most fun at the theater?
Well, this is kind of a downer, but my vision was going and it was one of the last movies where I could really see what was going on. But the audience was really engaged, and the movie was visually interesting with lots of animation and it was also, it feels like, one of the last movies that was made for my generation. Seinfeld, video games, lots of nineties references.

Would you mind telling us about your vision issues?
It’s called retinitis pigmentosa, or just RP. It’s the opposite of macular degeneration. Instead of a blind spot in the middle it’s tunnel vision. Starts out as night blindness, affecting the rods of the eye first, losing your night and peripheral vision, then later starts to affect color and clarity. It affects different people in different ways, and it’s progressive. It’s hereditary–my mother has it and my older brother has it worse than I do. Mine hadn’t been that bad until the last year or so when the peripheral vision really started to really go downhill. I’m now using a cane to get around the grocery store, that kind of thing. Also you tend to develop cataracts early; I had cataracts seven years ago.

If people want to pray for you, they could pray for…..?
Just throw a good prayer out there in general. Good thoughts, good prayers.

I know this answer because I interviewed your wife a few weeks ago, but let’s go ahead and ask: are you married or have you been? Any kids or pets?
Yes, married, and we just had out tenth year anniversary. One dog, Toonie. Did Heather tell you how Toonie got her name?

I don’t think so.
When we got her she’d apparently been named Petunia. I couldn’t see myself calling a dog “Petunia,” so I shortened it, but still kept some of the sounds so she could hopefully recognize her name.

One thing many people don’t know you can do?
Well, I used to be able to do a one-legged squat, but my knees are blown.

Oh, I feel your pain. If you had any spare time (and money), what would you do with it?
Travel to Europe.

Tell us some interesting things about yourself that aren’t already covered?
Well, I do improvisational comedy. I got involved in college, I do stand-up, do character-based humor. I’m moving more to observational, but I may get back to character based. I like to write monologues and sketches; I used to write monologues in college for people for auditions.

What’s the most rewarding part of stand-up comedy?
Hearing the laughter. Getting your point of view out there, your own brand, your sense of humor. There’s lots of different kinds of comedy: observational, one-liners, story-telling, character-driven. The fun is trying to find your own voice.

What’s the hard part of stand-up comedy?
Weirdly enough, the same thing. Something you might think is incredibly funny but you can’t get it out either verbally or physically on stage to where it “reads” for the audience and it’s not relatable.

Can you offer some advice for sketch comedy writers?
The clichéd thing, but it’s true, is to write what you know. If it’s something you know and care about, then it will be relatable. To make it funny, take something that happened to you in real life and by “yes, anding” it, take it to a ridiculous extreme.

What do you mean by “yes, anding” it?
Taking a situation and pushing it a little bit farther as far as stakes go, building on what you have. If you have a scene, for instance, in a space station. One character: “I snuck my pet mouse on board.” “Oh, no, that’s terrible.” “Why, because it’ll use up the air?” “No, because I snuck my pet cat on board.” It’s the ultimate comedy improv rule.

Jason, thanks much for sharing with us. Good luck and blessings on your adventures.

Kathy Coomer–Advice for Volunteer EMTs

What is your name? Any nicknames?
Katherine no-middle-name Coomer. Kathy, Kat, Kashka, or Kiki. I answer to them all.

What is your occupation?
I’ve worked as everything from a talent agent in Los Angeles to a Schwan’s truck driver with lots of things in between. Mostly, I’ve been an Executive Assistant to movers and shakers. Currently, I’m a shut-in caregiver to my disabled husband and our 15 year old son. This is by far the most challenging and rewarding “job” of them all.

What was the most enjoyable part of being a talent agent? The most frustrating part?
What I really loved most about being a talent agent was finding the right person for a given job (whether it be acting, writing, directing or producing). I enjoyed combining these efforts with casting agents and production staff. I worked for one of the top three talent agencies in the world and our “pool” of talent was amazing. So I was like a kid in a candy store when it came time to help find a good fit.

I think the most frustrating part of the job was dealing with the egos. You might be surprised to hear that I’m NOT speaking of the talent here but, rather, of other industry professionals. It’s why I left the business. Lack of kindness.

How old are you?
There aren’t enough numbers.

I’m 16 + 32 – 5 ÷ 2 X 4 – 30 if you must know.

I tried to figure that out, but gave up. Where do you live?
Hendersonville, North Carolina, ya’ll.

Do you have a blog or anything where people can learn more about you?
Nope. I’m a mystery, even to me.

The most interesting place you’ve visited?
Rome, Italy. Soooooo much history (good and bad) there!

Someone has one day to spend in Rome. How would you suggest they use their time?
Eat. The food is AMAZING! And no, it isn’t just pasta and pizzas. They KNOW how to cook fish, for example (my participation in the consumption of said fish was before I stopped eating anything with eyes). And it probably goes without saying that anybody who visits Rome MUST see as many ancient ruins as possible. Talk about history! WOW! The Coliseum is a given. Just to stand there and contemplate the things that happened there… Yeah, that.

What would be your favorite meal?
Tomato pie with a side of sautéed asparagus drizzled with fresh lemon juice. Hands down!

Pet peeve?
Only one? Oh my… Let me narrow it down….

Okay, narrowing down more…

Dishonesty. That would top the list.

Favorite book?
The Bible

If people want to pray for you, they could pray for…..?
Greater patience. I know that that can open up a can of worms God-wise. Who knows what He’ll give me in order for me to have that but I really am willing to do whatever it takes to know it. I’m pretty restless.

Tell us about your family?
Married, one human son, one dog son and two dog daughters.

My husband, Roger, has a severe traumatic brain injury. He is a quadriplegic and he can’t talk or eat. He is still and always will be the love of my life and it is an honor and blessing to care for him. Our son, Timothy, is 15 years old (you wouldn’t believe how much he’s grown, Henry!). He has autism and he has worked so hard and made so much progress to overcome many negative behaviors associated with that. I’m very proud of him. He’s still a work in progress but aren’t we all? We have an old Beagle, a younger Pekingese, and a younger still German Shepherd who all sleep with me (but don’t tell anybody).

They are all imperfectly perfect and I love them.

One thing many people don’t know you can do?
I’m right-handed but play darts best left-handed.

If you had any spare time, what would you do with it?
I honestly wouldn’t know what to do with it. It’s been years since I’ve had it. A cruise to the Greek islands sure sounds nice!

Tell us some interesting things about yourself that aren’t already covered.
I’m a former volunteer EMT (I really miss that work!!!). I studied improv at The Groundlings Theatre in LA and am a former model. I’m a U.S. Navy veteran. Ummmm…. I love to paint and write and would spend days working in the garden if I were able. I’m a vegetarian/borderline vegan. I suffer from insomnia. I like Brussels sprouts.

Can I show my readers this picture you’ve painted?
Yes.

Thanks much, Kathy. Can I ask you to offer some advice for volunteer EMTs?
My advice for volunteer EMTs? Sometimes, when people are confronted with “the worst” in life, the best care they can receive is that of a hand to hold, an ear to listen and a shoulder to cry on.

What did you do in the Navy?
I was a Radioman in the Navy. I worked in satellite signal propagation, cryptography and other things that I’d have to kill you if I told you about. I had my basic training in Orlando, my technical training in San Diego, and then was stationed for two years in Naples, Italy, two years in Thurso, Scotland, then six months in Norfolk, Virginia before I was discharged. Honorably. LOL!

Kathy, thank you for sharing with us some of your story. May God watch over and bless you and your family.

Brian Mason–Advice for Historic Gun Collectors

Good morning, friends, and welcome to “Advice for Everyone.” We’re glad to have Brian Mason with us today. Brian, can you tell us what you do for a living?
Law Enforcement

How old are you, and where do you live?
Dirty 30s, and Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

Where can we find you on the internet?
http://briankmason.wixsite.com/author

The most interesting place you’ve visited?
I would have to say Edinburgh, Scotland for so many reasons I can’t even count.

Can you tell us something interesting about Edinburgh?
It is a tremendous city and so much to see but you need to take your time doing it in order to take in the vast culture around you, like the wandering bagpipe bands. But by far the best part is Edinburgh Castle. Take a full day to do it otherwise you will miss something. There is so much history and culture in that castle that you cannot possibly be let down.

Thanks! Your favorite meal would be?
Beef Stroganoff by a long shot.

Pet peeve?
People with wet shoes who grind and squeak their shoes on the floor.

Favorite book, or movie, or television show?
Does my own book count? Other than that, Band of Brothers by far.

Can you tell us a little about your book? Where could people find a copy?
The book is Biscuits and Gravy, Southern Comforts for the Heart and Soul. Currently available on Amazon. The book features a compilation of true short stories from my family’s oral tradition of the odd stories that happen in the south as well as a few of my own antics. They are all written to give some enjoyment and some serious stories to the reader but to also give some motivation and inspiration at the end of the day. Kind of like a southern version of Chicken Noodle Soup for the Soul.

If people want to pray for you, they could pray for …..?
Focus, clarity and ease of mind.

Are you married or have you been? Any kids or pets?
I’ve been married almost two years now. My pets (cats) are demanding for attention every day but hey, that’s ok, it eases any frustration in the day.

If you had any spare time, what would you do with it?
I do a mixture of things. I’ll read, tinker with artifacts or go out into the wilderness on long hikes. Anything to keep my mind engaged or put a physical strain on the muscles.

Tell us some interesting things about yourself that aren’t already covered.
I do enjoy writing, anything from nonfiction to short stories to science fiction. I have an immense passion for history and as such operate a living history association. I love the outdoors and being away from civilization. I’m an avid historic gun collector and target shooter. My past career was as an archaeologist so I do enjoy old things, artifacts, antiques, anything with a story behind it really. I have been a part of many things. I used to be a part of Rotary International and with that have met her highness the Queen Noor of Jordan and entertained the ambassador of Cote d’Ivoire to Canada. I’ve stood as part of the honor guard to unveil monuments and been decorated by the 7th US Special Forces.

Can you tell us a little about your living history association?
The First Special Service Force Living History Association was founded in 2012 by myself and a gentleman in St Albert, Alberta, Canada. It was meant to bolster the living history program for the Canadian Forces in hopes of bringing better education and understanding to the public on the Second World War as well as veteran awareness. We focus on the First Special Service Force as our main allied representation, which was a special forces unit that operated from 1942 to 1944; comprised of half Americans and half Canadians, it became one of the most respected and feared units in the Italian Campaign. We also have a German contingent to show both aspects of the war but the hope is to educate folks on this era and veterans in general rather than them gaining their perspective from video games and Hollywood.

Thanks, Brian! Can I ask you to give some advice to historic gun collectors?
The first thing that comes to mind is plan and prepare. Otherwise you end up with a hodgepodge collection immediately that reproduces like rabbits in your gun cabinet. But outside of this, do your research, look at what is out there first and avoid those impulse buys. Think of where your main interests may lie, such as what era or type of combat you are interested in; this will affect what direction you might ultimately lean when collecting. If you know your stuff ahead of the game then you will know better what you are looking for and will avoid getting sucked into a void of either fakes, mislabeled pieces or the elusive ‘good deal’ that ends up burning a hole in your pocket so deep that it would make a miner blush. Once you know what you want, look around, don’t jump at the first deal like a schoolboy on prom night.

So you know your sources, you know your material. Take your time looking and look for those unusual markings, those rare configurations. Then, make your buy and then take care of the blasted thing. You toss it in the closet like those brand new gym shoes covered in cobwebs and you’ve wasted your money. Oil, lube, and the like are your friend. I suggest Frog Lube for your outer metal bits, no internal working parts–bad idea. Short and sweet, love it like you would a girl on your wedding day. Take care of it and you will be glad you did.

Brian, thanks for letting us get to know you a little, and good luck with your various interests and obligations. Take care and God bless.

Renee Handley–Advice for School Librarians

I’d like to welcome Renee Handley to “Advice for Everyone.” Thanks for being with us. Can you tell us your occupation?
Public school librarian. Currently with an intermediate school that serves fifth and sixth grades. I have been involved with education, one way or another, for about fifteen years. I was a preschool helper and substitute teacher for a parochial school when my children first started school themselves. I then started teaching art for lower elementary but never had my teaching certification. I thought I eventually would get it, but then started working in a high school library as an assistant and found a true passion and a mentor that would not take no for an answer and she pushed me into pursuing my Master’s degree. I completed my MLIS in December of 2016, and was hired as a librarian for the 2016 – 17 school year.

How old are you?
Fifty. I have no need to hide my age. I spent most of my late 20s and 30s completely in love with my children and everything about them but rather miserable in other aspects of my life. My 40s were a time for me to rediscover who I was and what I wanted out of life and so when I turned fifty this year I wanted to embrace all that I have done and accomplished.

I notice from your picture that you’re a fan of “Doctor Who?” or a fellow Whovian, in other words?
I fall in love with every single doctor. My first doctor was Tom Baker. I was about seven years old and our local PBS station played Dark Shadows, Monty Python and Doctor Who on Saturday nights. My older brother would watch that line up and I wanted to do whatever he did, so I started watching them all as well. The idea of regeneration has always been exciting and I am never disappointed by The Doctor.

Where do you live?
Asheville, North Carolina in a Hobbit Hole. It is a 117-year-old stone cottage. When I moved in, one of my friends looked at it and exclaimed “YOU LIVE IN THE SHIRE!!!” I figure it is either that or the cottage of a wicked witch. I am okay with either.

Do you have a website or a blog or anything where people can learn more about you?
Not yet. This is actually a goal of mine this year, to start a blog about librarianship. I am not exactly sure what my focus will be, though, so it is still ruminating around my brain.

The most interesting place you’ve visited?
Eyam, Great Britain. It is a little village in Derbyshire Dales. Several years ago, I read a phenomenal historical fiction novel by Geraldine Brooks entitled A Year of Wonders. The book is based around the true story of a small village that was beset by the Bubonic Plague in 1666. The village voluntarily quarantined themselves for a year to try to stop the spread of the disease. Over two-thirds of their population succumbed. I was so fascinated with the story that I gushed about it on social media and a friend of mine, from high school, piped up with “Well, you know that is where I live, right?” I had no clue. She had married a man from this small village and moved there about seven years prior – but I had not seen her since high school and had only recently reconnected with her. I told her that if I ever had the opportunity, I would come visit her. Last year, I took my children to England and Scotland and we made sure to include Eyam on the trip. We stayed in a former stable that had been built in the 1700s and then converted to a home in the late 1800s . It had been in my friend’s husband’s family and was not occupied at the time. It was right across the street from the village church where all the characters that were in the book were buried. It was a completely fascinating town. So incredibly quaint and the people were very friendly and wanted to talk about their claim to fame in history. My children (aged 22 and 19 at the time) counted that as favorite part of our entire trip.

Your favorite meal would be?
I am by no means a “foodie” but I like to be adventurous. So, this is hard to pin down.

Pet peeve?
Inauthentic people. I have always been a person who has been a bit out of step with my peer group, for one reason or another. When I was younger, it bothered me that I couldn’t quite figure out why. When I got older, I began to see the games people feel they need to play in order to make themselves feel special. I often get very angry, but mainly I feel sad for those people and the fact that my friendship will really only be at a surface level with them because I have no idea who they really and truly are.

Favorite book?
Ugh. TOO MANY BOOKS!!!!! I have a lot, and for different reasons.
From childhood, I always had a Nancy Drew mystery tucked under my arm. I was determined that I was going to be a newspaper reporter who solved crimes.
There is a beautiful book called The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. A beautiful story set against the background of the time right after the Spanish Civil War. A graveyard for books, a mystery, a love story. So much.

Pretty much anything by Neil Gaiman, whom I refer to as “Muh Boyfriend” (and my actual The Fella is TOTALLY okay with that). The first book I read by him was Neverwhere, and it still holds a special place for me. But for the past four years, I think I have recommended The Graveyard Book at least once a week to a student. At this point, I honestly think his publisher should give me a bit of a kickback. It is such a wonderful book.

Why is Neil Gaiman a favorite?
I just love so much about him. I first stumbled across Neverwhere in about 2005 , when I really, really needed to escape my own reality. It was the perfect vehicle for that in that it involves an alternate world of an underground London where the disaffected live. Then I began hearing some amazing quotes from him in regards to education. ( “Google can bring you back 100,000 answers. A librarian can bring you back the right one.” This is a particular favorite.) He speaks with such admiration about education and how to let your imagination flourish, that I jokingly say that he was flirting with me. I had the opportunity to hear him speak at a Storyteller’s night a few years ago. The entire evening was phenomenal, but his presentation of his story was just so immersive. I have always loved the concept of storytelling and I really hope to include it more in my own librarianship. He was once asked if he could decorate a children’s library, what would he include. He said that he would just have the words “…and then what happened?” painted on the wall. I was so incredibly taken with that thought, that I had it tattooed on my arm.

Are you married or have you been?
I was married, and after trying many, many years to make something work that never should have been, we went our separate ways. But I don’t count it as a loss because I have three amazing kids out of it. My oldest daughter is a theatre major at UNCA who has always had so much self confidence. My son is an incredibly smart quirky Viking musician dude, who is trying to figure out his place in the world. My youngest daughter died when she was 23 months old. The official cause of death is still undetermined but is listed as “Sudden Unexplained Death.” It is perhaps related to SIDS but affects children over the age of one. She is still a very present part of all of our lives, even though she passed away in 2004. Her life and death shaped a lot of decisions that we made for ourselves.

If you had any spare time, what would you do with it?
Gosh. So much. As I mentioned, I just finished my master’s degree and the past two years of my life were really crazy with studying. I hermited myself away from a lot of things and even stopped a lot of the things I normally would do for fun, like costuming for theatre. I had to in order to keep focus. I stopped reading for pleasure, and time spent with friends was a rare and wonderful thing. I assumed that I would dive right back into costuming and reading for pleasure and so many other things, but it has taken awhile. I am not sure I am actually going to go back to designing costumes for theatre, though. I loved it, but I am just not sure I want to do that any longer. I think I want to focus on more specialized clothing and costumes.

I have always wanted to travel. That is one of the reasons I joined the Army. But, I never really got that opportunity. I had the opportunity to plan a huge trip with my children last year to the UK and the travel bug has definitely been unleashed. I want to go and see EVERYTHING!!!

If you had the time and funding arranged, where would the next big trip be?
Oh, gosh…. Well, my The Fella and I are planning a trip to Paris next year. We hope to include Prague in it as well. We have a HUGE list of places to visit. He spent several years living in Japan while in the Navy and has traveled extensively in the Pacific Rim, so we thought a trip somewhere that neither of us had gone would be amazing.

Tell us some interesting things about yourself that aren’t already covered.
I broke my arm my last week of Basic Training, in the Army, and had an external fixator applied to my arm because of the way I fell. My hand was shoved up into my arm and the fixator slowly pulled it out and allowed the shattered parts to knit themselves. It took quite a bit longer to heal and so I was assigned to live in the hospital and they gave me a job. I lived there for four months before I was well enough to go on to my advanced training.

I have been involved with theatre since I was in high school, but stepped away from it when I was in college. When I had children, I signed them up for theatre camp as an activity when they were quite young. I ended up being a chaperone and started making costumes for the theatre company. Eventually this led to me having a crazy double life as a costume designer while trying to have my day job and going to grad school.

I served in the Army and Army Reserves as an Intelligence Analyst. I received my BA and tried to work in my field for a couple of years but I was super stressed working in a peripheral field. I grew up in a military family and so I went into a recruiter one day and told them that if they found me one of three jobs I had picked out, I would sign up. They found an analyst position and I left a month later. My parents had no idea I was even interested in the service even though that is where they met and both retired from the Army Reserves. I worked for a Psychological Operations Company, in the Reserves. We were one of the first Reserve units to go into Bosnia in the 90s. I served as a Cultural Analyst. Basically I would find out about the customs of the area and let my soldiers know how to act in order to “win the hearts and minds” of the local populace. I am actually a huge pacifist, and so since our primary job was to train school children how to stay away from land mines, I considered it my own personal Peace Corps.

Can I ask you to offer some advice for school librarians?
DON’T get hung up on the “rules.” I have already, in my short time as a librarian, had parents come to me and ask what their kid should be reading according to Lexile scores or reading norms. I have told them to let their kid guide the reading. If a parent doesn’t like graphic novels because they can’t get past the idea that they are “just comic books” I would tell them to get over it. Kids can’t be forced to like reading and reading things that they aren’t interested in hurts them in the long run. I ascribe to the idea that if someone says they don’t have a favorite book, I will add the word “yet” to the end of that statement.

Renee, thanks much for sharing with us. May the adventures be many and blessed.

Patrick Wirtz–Advice for Aerobatic Pilots

Welcome to the blog, Patrick! Thanks for being with us. Can you tell us what you do for a living?
I’m a business owner. Manufacturing – custom precision machining.

How old are you, and where do you live?
49, and on Henry’s street.

True enough and hi, neighbor! For those who don’t know where our street is, where could we find you on the internet?
www.wirtzwireedm.com

Your website says “If Your Project Is Possible, We Will Finish It Now. If Your Project Is Impossible, We Will Finish It Shortly.” Is there a big challenge a client has given you in keeping that pledge you could tell us about?
You would really need to come by the shop so that I could show you several projects we’ve worked on that were very difficult over the years. If a picture is worth a thousand, examples have to be worth ten thousand. Lol

The most interesting place you’ve visited?
It depends on the mood I’m in at the time I’m considering it, but here in the States, Seattle, Sawyer, KS, and all of Wisconsin are very interesting in their own special ways. I’ve also taken a Holy Land tour that included Cairo, Egypt, which was fascinating.

What would people enjoy about Sawyer, Kansas?
Sawyer is a farming area in the Midwest. Vast crops, one mile squares, the quilt of the land. Amber waves of grain.
Ann and I were on a four-wheeler exploring when we came upon these horses in the road:Your favorite meal would be?
This completely depends on my mood: Steak, Italian, Greek, Asian, American. As you can tell when you look at me, I like it all.

Pet peeve?
People who are inconsiderate, which covers a lot of subjects.

Favorite book, or movie, or television show?
Books: The Bible (every year), The Goal. Shows: YouTube, Heartland, NFL football on a cold Sunday afternoon by the fire.

If people want to pray for you, they could pray for….?
Wisdom

Are you married?
Yes, to Ann Greenleaf Wirtz. Any kids? – one, a professor at Seattle University. Grandkids? – two.

What does the professor at Seattle teach?
Arie Todd Greenleaf, Ann’s son, is a Professor of Counseling at Seattle University. He has a PhD in Counseling Education and Supervision. Received his undergrad from Univ. of Wisconsin, Madison, his Master’s at Clemson, and his PhD at Univ. of Iowa. He taught at Univ. of Arkansas before going to Seattle.

One thing many people don’t know you can do?
I like to fix mechanical things. I can usually just look at something and see a solution if it has a mechanical nature. Since I own a manufacturing business, I can pretty much make anything as well with the different machining equipment we use; just for personal use, years ago I made a fireplace insert, and then a loader for the tractor. Projects like that give me great satisfaction. I enjoy singing and was the former vice-president of The Hendersonville Chorale as well as a former minister of music for about ten years. I’ve substituted leading the choir at our current church, FBC-Hendersonville. I love to see people succeed, especially our young people today; they have so much going against them, it seems.

If you had any spare time, what would you do with it?
Ride an adventure motorcycle, such as a KTM 1090R/1290R, cross-country on the Trans-America Trail. Takes about a month.

Tell us some interesting things about yourself that aren’t already covered.
I have a pilot’s license, and have actually totaled an airplane on a windy day. Loved doing aerobatics! I also used to work at Rose’s department store during high school and Radio Shack after that before college.

Can you tell us about the “airplane totaling” story?
For years, I was one of two or three pilots that volunteered their airplane and time to give charity flights for the Hendersonville Air Museum twice a year. The last time I did this was at the Memorial Day weekend, Saturday, August 30, 2003.

I had given several rides that morning, the weather was clear, but was gusty and variable. On my fourth flight, I had a mother and her young girl aboard. I departed to the south from the Hendersonville Airport and turned east for a large pattern, which was the norm for these charity flights. Right after I turned east the winds changed direction. I suddenly had a tail wind instead of headwind. The aircraft began to rapidly drop, I quickly check my power, checked magnetos, checked carb heat. All were fine. Then I heard the treetops hitting my landing gear skirts. I then put in full flaps to slow my descent rate. All of a sudden one of the tree tops hooked my horizontal stabilizer at the rear of the plane which made me point straight to the ground. I didn’t even have time to pull the throttle till the prop was buried in the ground. The plane was resting with the tail straight up in the air.

Being in the woods and lower than the road all I could see was forest around us. I didn’t realize we were not far from the Blue Ridge CC campus. The mother had a dislocated shoulder and a cut on her forehead. The little girl didn’t have a bruise or cut at all. I had to have multiple stitches in various places. I could go on, but you get the picture, I’m sure. I had to take a very stressful flight review with an FAA official and earned my ability to keep my license. Have it in my pocket always.

Can I ask you to offer some counsel to “aerobatic pilots?”
I always enjoyed doing aerobatics. The plane wasn’t certified for high-G aerobatics, so I had to do the easy, docile maneuvers, LOL.
For instance, when doing a barrel-roll – full throttle, straight and level, pull up on the yoke to get the plane pointed upward at about a 45-degree angle, full left/right ailerons coordinated with rudder. DO NOT let go until you come back around. You don’t want to do a split-S!

For a slight change, instead of just a coordinated rudder with full ailerons, you could use full rudder for a nice snap-roll. The tail of the plane snaps around instead of a gentle roll.

Another nice maneuver is the hammerhead. It’s also the quickest way to do a 180-degree turn.
Again, straight and level, then pull the yoke back hard till the plane is pointed straight up. As it is gaining altitude, close the throttle all the way to idle so the plane decelerates to a stop, essentially “hanging” in the air while pointed straight up. Immediately the plane starts back down backwards as your stomach is left hanging as well. On the way back down (backwards) use full left or right rudder to kick the rear of the plane around…you’re then pointed straight down. Immediately pull back the yoke to level out, and you’re back straight and level in the opposite direction you were going previously. FUN!

Airport fly-bys are fun too. Just like coming in for a landing except it’s full throttle all the way, even during the descent. About 180mph, two to three feet above the runway and then a high-g pull-up at the end. That’ll give an adrenaline rush!

I always say, “Anyone can take off in an airplane, it’s the landing that’s a bit more complicated.” Also, “Never take off in a small plane directly after a large airliner. You WILL lose control of your plane.”

Patrick, thanks much for being with us, and loved the stories. Take care and God bless.

Sharon Stacy–Advice For Snowed-In Mountain Dwellers

Hi, Sharon, and welcome to the blog! Can you tell us your occupation?
Stay at home mom

How old are you and where do you live?
37, and Boone, North Carolina

Do you have a website or a blog?
No, but I’m thinking about it.

I’d encourage it. You have some great stories. Tell us the most interesting place you’ve visited?
Fiji

Can you give us a highlight or two about visiting Fiji?
We stayed in a “bure” that sat on a rock outcropping above the water and the ocean breeze flowed through the room and every day it rained, and I remember how relaxing it was to spend every afternoon napping during the rainstorm, knowing it would pass soon and we could go exploring again. Every morning at breakfast I ate fresh papaya and when we left the staff would turn our shoes facing the door (you don’t wear shoes inside) so we could slip them on as we left. I thought that was the most thoughtful thing.

Thanks! Favorite meal?
Croissants and coffee

Pet peeve?
“Know it alls”

Favorite television show?
Shark Tank and Survivor

If people want to pray for you, they could pray for..?
Healing from Lyme disease

Can you share a little with us about your experience with Lyme disease?
I was diagnosed with Lyme disease in April of this year. Lyme is an enigma, wrapped in a mystery. I had been sick for seven months and doctors didn’t know what was going on. I thought I was having strokes or seizures. I could write a book on all of my symptoms, doctor visits, misdiagnosis, but I’ll spare you the details. I am thankful I finally found doctors who looked further beyond my symptoms to find the root cause of what was going on. Lyme disease is brutal, hard to diagnose and even harder to treat. Research is lacking and at this time there is no cure for chronic Lyme. Some doctors even debate that chronic Lyme exists. I feel like this is an epidemic that is about to blow up in this country. I am thankful to God for giving me the strength to keep going even when no one believed me. Right now I am four months into a 14-18 month treatment. I like sharing my story because I want to encourage others and spread awareness.

Are you married?
Yes, to Dusty for thirteen years

Any kids?
Four: Mia (nine) Ben (seven) Sam (three), Jonah (one)

Pets?
Two dogs, Thile (fifteen) and Lucy (thirteen) .

How do you come up with “Thile” as a dog’s name?
Thile (Thee-lee) was named after Chris Thile of Nickel Creek. When I got her as a puppy they were my favorite band and I thought it would be cool to name my dog after the mandolin player who is a musical genius.

One thing many people don’t know you can do?
Take pictures

How did you get into photography?
I got into photography in high school because they offered a class. I naturally took to it and enjoyed spending my free time taking photos. I wanted to continue studying it in college but I was persuaded not to 🙂 Now it’s just a hobby.

Tell us some interesting things about yourself that aren’t already covered.
I live in the same town where I went to college and married a local. I love all forms of creative expression; photography, painting, writing, drawing…I have a Pilates Teacher Training Certification and hope to use it again in the future. I take about 40 pills a day to help boost my immune system and kill Lyme bacteria.

You’ve been in Boone for a while. What’s the best part about living there? What would you change about it if you could?
The best part of living in Boone is getting to enjoy the beauty of the mountains year round. If I could change anything about Boone it would be feeling like I’m trapped in the winter.

Tell us a little about Pilates?
When my husband and I didn’t think we would be able to have a family of our own I decided I wanted to change careers from marketing to Pilates. I liked Pilates and thought it was something I would enjoy doing every day. So I took a 500+ hour program at App State and in the middle of my training got pregnant with my first little miracle Mia. She was about six months old when I finished the program. When my second child was two years old I stopped teaching to be a full time stay at home mom. I still want to get my studio back up and running one day and venture into the health and wellness business. I have a passion to help people feel better.

Can I ask you to offer some advice to people who might have to live in mountain regions in the winter time?
I’ve heard the saying that in the mountains we pay for our summers with our winters. I’d have to say that is pretty true since I drove back to the mountains from the Piedmont today and the temperature changed from 98 to 82. Still warm, but not oppressive.

If you live in the mountains in the winter, it is wise to invest in quality winter clothing. Coats that go below the bottom are always a good choice. The wind can really rip through a poorly made winter coat and leave you wishing you had spent a little extra to get what you needed. And forget cute, no one is checking out your coat and boots when it’s in the teens outside with a windchill of below zero. Underneath those winter clothes, wear lots of layers because most businesses will be blasting the heat and you’ll go from freezing to melting as soon as you walk in the door.

As difficult as it may be, embrace the short days, and find joy in the season. Whether that be getting cozy under a blanket with a good book and a warm drink or sitting by the fire brushing up on your guitar skills. Those of you with small children, I’m sorry, winter is hard, it will pass. Get outside on any day that is above freezing; if it’s below freezing just make sure you cover your face. Go for walks, have friends over, play in the snow, and celebrate weird holidays (Happy National Popcorn Day anyone?) My family likes to plan a vacation in the winter because it gives us something to look forward to and gets us out of the cold for a while. And my last piece of advice for surviving a mountain winter is to get a good snow blower for your driveway!

Sharon, thanks much for sharing some of your story with us. May your children and your family be blessed, and may the Lyme disease journey come to an end soon.

Laura VanOtteren–Advice for College Hunters

Welcome to the blog! Can you tell us your full name and any nicknames?
Laura Michelle Lambeth VanOtteren. One nickname growing up was “Lambchop” and in college I guess you can say I was affectionately called “LaLa”.

What do you do for a living?
I have been a substitute teacher for eleven years (and am guessing I will be starting my twelfth in August). I did teach middle school music for one year. I am also a church pianist and just started that a year ago at Darien United Methodist Church. This church has a neat piece of history: when Sherman was burning his way through Georgia, this church was the only one that did NOT burn.

How old are you?
I’ll let you guess with some clues in future questions. Read on..

Where do you live?
I currently live in Brunswick, Georgia, have lived in the state of Georgia for the last 25 years (that might he a clue to my age), but grew up as an Air Force “brat” for 17 1/2 years, so then I really didn’t know where I was from. (Another possible clue to my age?)

The most interesting place you’ve visited?
Two…Egypt and Israel. It was simply amazing to see the ancient architecture still standing and in Egypt when you went underground into the tombs, you still saw COLOR, like the tombs had just been painted! I got my first proposal in Egypt! I thought I was pretty well hidden in the middle of the tour group, but the guide pointed to me and said, “I’m going to marry you in 5 years.” My braces were what saved me at the moment because he said he wouldn’t marry me if I still had those. Israel was incredible because we went with the church and we did everything correctly. Having Communion where the tomb was found was SO MOVING. Walking Via Dolorosa, going to Bethlehem, we did it all right. Even went up to Masada.

How did the Egypt and Israel trip come about?
In my Air Force “brat” days, Daddy’s best assignment was our three years in Belgium I was twelve to fifteen (seventh grade through freshman year). SHAPE (Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe) had a wonderful touring company and the only trip Daddy EVER asked to go on was to Egypt and it was expensive! We stayed in four and five star hotels, I think. I was the youngest in the group. The Israel trip was planned through the English-speaking Baptist church that was in the community. This was a trip Mom found out about and only Mom and I could go because there was a base-wide “exercise” going on that Daddy had to stay behind for.

Your favorite meal would be?
I make a killer leg of lamb dinner for Christmas Eve that I love and learned in French class when we were in Belgium. In French class, we went out the whole nine yards and had ALL the courses down to having REAL wine. The beauty of being in an international school system.

Wow, Belgium. Are there other foreign countries you’ve lived in?
Unfortunately no, but many of my friends from my “brat” days (and yes, that is a very affectionate term) did get to or they got to stay at SHAPE a lot longer than three years.

Pet peeve?
Those fidget spinners that are all the rage were the most annoying thing ever in the classroom. They did not serve the purpose they were made for. Sorry.

Favorite book, or movie, or TV show?
“Charlotte’s Web” was a favorite growing up. I think I lost count how many times I read it. I do like to read John Grisham and I did LOVE “The Shack”. I haven’t seen the movie yet, but I want to. Love “Dancing With the Stars” and “America’s Got Talent.”

One thing many people don’t know you can do?
Well, I was required to take two semesters of organ as part of my music degree and I was church organist at First Baptist Church in Douglas, Georgia for nine years, I think. And before I took the church pianist job I have now, I had been singing tenor at College Place United Methodist Church in their choir for eight years. (Sorry, that is two things.)

If you had any spare time, what would you do with it?
Travel the world and get lots of sleep!

Can you tell us some interesting things that aren’t already covered?
I made seven moves in 17 ½ years as an Air Force “brat” and it’s always fun when people ask me where I’m from because I say “pick a year and I’ll tell you where I was” and that just totally blows their mind. Then I explain why. During orientation at college, when we were introducing ourselves and I said I was from Raleigh, they said “no, you’re not.” I said, “Ok, let me explain” and then I had to tell them my life story and explain that we had just moved from Ohio to Raleigh FIVE DAYS before arriving to campus. So, my accent was screwed up.

If people want to pray for you, they could pray for..?
The next year…read on!

Are you married or have you been? Any kids or pets?
Very happily married! Ed and I have been married for 25 years, but only six wedding anniversaries, so when did I get married? (Another possible age clue.) I have two wonderful girls in my house, who are both rising seniors in high school (yikes). We only have one daughter of our own (and yes, she is legitimate, going back to talking about when I got married), but we have guardianship of another wonderful seventeen-year-old that we have known for five years and a situation came up that we knew we needed to open our home to her and we have and we do not regret it one bit! So college hunting has been in the process and applications will be in the near future. This is where the prayer requests are coming from for the next year. There is also a four-year-old Chesapeake Bay retriever in this house named Buck and he is just a sweetheart most of the time. I give him the most loving. He was bought to be a duck-hunting dog with Ed, but that is the last thing Buck is interested in.

What’s Buck like when he’s NOT being a sweetheart?
We still see the marks around the house from when he was a puppy and was in the chewing stage. I caught him first chewing on the window ledge! One Sunday morning he got mad when we kicked him out of our bedroom and I think he was bored, so he chewed the wall outside of Josie’s room. And the large picnic table on the porch? Well, he had a dandy time chewing all around that when he was on the porch in his first couple of years. He chewed the benches and the tabletop.

Can you tell us a little more about the other wonderful seventeen year old?
I met Nellie one day while substituting five years ago. She had come to the states for what was intended to be a very brief time and has turned out to be much longer. Nellie has dual-citizenship because her father was Scottish and passed away when she was nine and her mother is American. Nellie, her mother and stepfather came to the states to begin a sailboat ministry. After about a little over a year, her mother went to Scotland to find Nellie a boarding school and Nellie needed a place to stay for the two weeks her mother would be gone. We opened our home to her. Nellie left for boarding school a few weeks later and was very excited about this. She came back in the summertime and continued to go back and forth between her boarding school and Georgia for two and a half years. Then things changed and Nellie could no longer go to the boarding school. This past fall, when she should have been in school again, she wrote a letter to several of us that are close friends and told us everything she had been up to, including the job working at the ice cream shop and mentioned that she was not currently in school. When we read this part of her story, we wanted her to finish school. We face-timed with her shortly thereafter and invited her into our home here in the States and now she is on track to graduate on time with Josie and the Class of 2018! Her goal is to attend Duke University and eventually go into medicine.

So, that is Nellie’s story. I call her “My Nellie” and I have adored her since the day she walked in the classroom and I had her for three days as a student and I was a substitute.

I wasn’t sure how my parents would handle this, but they just opened their arms up wide open to Nellie and they have a second granddaughter who has bright red hair and TONS of freckles. Quite a contrast from my blond Josie!

What’s the most frustrating thing about hunting for colleges? The most fun? And can you offer us some advice for college hunters?
Getting to a starting point, deciding where to look. Visiting the colleges was a ton of fun. Things have really changed since we were in school. A lot more places to eat on campus and the food is SO MUCH BETTER. There are also more choices for dorms – just one roommate like what we had or suites or some have apartments where you can have even more roommates right there on campus. I think living in the suites would be nice. I had two great roommates, so I can’t complain.

Have fun looking for colleges and don’t put it off. Decide on where you want to be…Warm area? Cold area? There are fifty states, so don’t tie them down too close to home. Let them fly the coop! Ed kept telling Josie to apply in Alaska so we could go up in the summertime to go fishing or Maine so they could go moose hunting. He’s always thinking about hunting and fishing.

Laura, thanks much for sharing with us. Good luck and God bless with the college transitions with BOTH your girls.

Travis Cable–Advice for Caregivers

Hi, and thanks for being with us on “Advice for Everyone.”  Can you tell us your name and any nicknames you might have?
Travis. My brothers nicknamed me “Taz” when we were little because they couldn’t pronounce Travis.

Can I use this picture of you and Cody?
Yes.

How old are you, and where do you live?
28 years old, and Arden, North Carolina.

What do you do for a living?  
IDD Support Staff

What does IDD stand for, and how did you wind up working for them?
Intellectually and Developmentally Disabled. My youth group leader at church was the house manager at a group home in my hometown. I shadowed and worked there for a bit after high school before transferring to Buncombe County.

How did you become a caregiver?
I have several persons with different abilities in my family. Growing up, I was always fascinated with my cousin Vickie’s ability to smile through some of the toughest situations. Vickie had severe cognitive impairments and was the light of our family. She was killed in a tragic car accident one evening after being picked up from her employment site, TVS, in Brevard. When my youth group director suggested I shadow at the group home, I thought of my cousin Vickie. I agreed, and soon had a job. I fell in love with the residents and have been in this line of work ever since.

The most interesting place you’ve visited?
La Fortuna, Costa Rica

Tell us about your favorite meal.
Nana’s chicken casserole, broccoli casserole, homemade mashed potatoes, 5 cheese mac and cheese!…with sweet tea of course!

Pet peeve? 
The Kardashians

Favorite book, or movie, or TV show? 
Favorite book series: Shannara Chronicles by Terry Brooks. Favorite movie: Fried Green Tomatoes. Favorite Television Show: Big Bang Theory

Why does “Fried Green Tomatoes” make the favorite movie list?
I love Fried Green Tomatoes because Kathy Bates ROCKS. Also, I think the writers and directors did a great job portraying some of the harsh realities in American History while also shedding light on the life and humor of one of the “black sheep” of society. It’s just an all around great movie. Plus, I love fried green tomatoes!

If people want to pray for you, they could pray for….?
If I asked people to pray for anything it would be for understanding, unity, and compassion.

Are you married or have you been?  Any kids or pets? 
Not married, single, and no kids, but I do have two sweet yet obnoxious dogs. A seven year old Shih Tzu named Sophia and a two year old cocker spaniel/dachshund mix named Mazie. They’re like my children.

One thing many people don’t know you can do?
Backflips and splits

If you had any spare time, what would you do with it?
I don’t have spare time so I wouldn’t know what to do with it, but I would love to learn to play guitar.

A magician waves a magic wand and “zap,” you’re a guitar-playing legend.  What kind of music are you playing, and why?
I would probably first learn to play “Fast Car” by Tracy Chapman and “Chicken Fried” by Zach Brown Band. Two of my favorites!

Tell us some interesting things about yourself that aren’t already covered. 
Interesting things: I’ve got four brothers and we’re often mistaken as quintuplets. I’ve been a caregiver for the same individual, Cody, since high school (ten years) and he’s like a brother to me. I’m a pretty boring person otherwise

What’s the story behind THIS picture?
LOL. Of all the HUNDREDS of pictures on Facebook, this is the one you chose! I knew it. This was taken four months after my dear friend Harry lost his battle with cancer. Some friends and coworkers decided we could honor his memory with a celebration of life and created a team called “Special Soldiers” to represent him and some of our other friends battling cancer.  I dressed up as “Mr. Relay” to help raise money for the American Cancer Association in his memory. We raised a few thousand dollars that year and had a great time doing it. We’ve since participated in two more Relay For Life events and look forward to doing it again next year.

Can you offer some advice for caregivers?
Whatever you do…..always bring an extra change of clothes for back up, expect the unexpected, and always remember that your job is to help promote the best quality of life possible for those you are caring for. There is no such thing as a disability……just different abilities

Travis, thanks much for letting us get to know you a little.  May God watch over and guide your adventures.

Tim Chancellor–Advice for Dyslexics With ADHD

I’d like to welcome Tim Chancellor to the blog. Thanks for being with us, Tim.  Can you tell us where you live and how old you are?
Columbia, Missouri, and the big 50…….

What do you do for a living?
I deliver wine and spirits to restaurants, stores, and bars during the week/mornings and own/operate a bus & limo business that I work in the evenings/weekends. I love being a part of people’s special occasions from weddings, birthdays, formals all the way to first time skydiving. We also work with groups that don’t have smiles, like funerals and sequestered juries.

Where can we find you on the internet?
Celebrationlimousines.biz.  I keep getting encouraged to write a blog as people know of the many stories I have throughout the years of working with “normal” people and celebrities. Maybe someday I will jot down the funny things that happen in a limo and party bus.

Can you share a funny story about the limo/bus business?
Just purchased the limo and a childhood friend had his son graduating from military school…everyone was having a great time, pulled into the driveway, and was helping everyone out of the car when I heard a splashing sound.  I glanced in the car to see a mother’s face of fear, and vomit on sixteen feet of seats.  This eight year old looked up at me and said “sorry dude, I drank too much tonight… I had twelve suicides.” (That’s when you put every soda flavor in the glass.)

I would imagine the family is still talking about that one.  The most interesting place you’ve visited?
Just a few miles from our home, we have a cave called the Devil’s Icebox. You can take a tour underground for several miles; some areas are tiny, crawling through into larger rooms with many branching off tunnels.  Sometimes you don’t have to travel far to find another world to explore.

Your favorite meal would be?
I love a thick med rare steak but, with a mouthful of “sweet” teeth, I can make almost any dessert a meal.

Favorite dessert?
Anything sweet…haha. I would prefer to have my dessert first and vote for having dessert at every meal.  People are conditioned to have a drink at every meal like coffee, juice, soda, beer  and so forth; we need to enjoy dessert after breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Pet peeve?
Mouth noises…crunching ice, chewing with your mouth open…my wife tells me I need medication.

Favorite book?
“The Shack,” followed closely by “The Alchemist.”

If people want to pray for you, they could pray for…..?
Not sure.  I am blessed with tons of experiences (negative/positive) and He places me around people who I can share with and it seems to impact their lives. Maybe continue using me to let people see Him through me.

Are you married or have you been?  Any kids?
Engaged.  I call Lisa my wife already…Sept 9th.

I have a daughter 24 and a son 21. Lisa has a son 19 and one 16.

If you had any spare time, what would you do with it?
Travel…well I would need spare money for that but I love to explore and learn. Life is about experiences and relationships. Loved the missions trip several years ago to Guatemala mountains.

Can you tell us a little about the mission trip to Guatemala?
I was very active in my church for a while, leadership…was burned pretty bad by the top leadership and board so I went to another church and sat in back and observed.  It was a dark part of life, unemployed, divorcing, etc… I volunteered at different places to stay busy while seeking employment. One place had ties with the missions trip and they asked if I would go and they and the church would cover my expenses. This was such a humbling experience; I was in my self-pity party until I discovered how poor and desperate other people, communities were.

One thing many people don’t know you can do?
People are always amazed how I see and do things differently. I am dyslexic/ADHD and have coped with this blessing, using it as a benefit not a disability. I don’t always do things like others and some appreciate the alternative while some don’t.

Tell us some interesting things about yourself that aren’t already covered.
My memory is horrible, so I use photographs to mark my experiences. I love to take pics of life.

I love the positive attitude about dyslexia and ADHD.  Could I ask you to offer some advice to either those living with dyslexia or those living with ADHD (or both?)  
Life is really about perception in my experience. You can see anything in a positive or negative light.  I read that 90% of the most successful CEOs are ADHD. Of course they don’t last long, they get fired or transferred to another company to do their magic; one started a major airline, was fired and started another major airline.  Our relationships are like that too…we impact people but not for long.  I like to think we are like those everyday angels that impact your day, even those days we don’t know they’re in our lives.

When I worked for the Missouri Bureau of Investigations, I came up with an investigative concept of pictures. I would have people “paint the picture”…I would use comments like “as I am looking at this picture, I see what next to…?”  This concept would help people provide details that they didn’t realize would be helpful for us.  The Attorney General’s office continued to call me several years after I left asking me if I would help them because nobody else could get the confessions that I got. I told them it was about developing a relationship and trust.  Being dyslexic is about seeing the different angles….yes, backwards numbers and letters but you can also choose to use it to round out the square views.

Tim, thanks much for being with us and for sharing from your experiences.  Take care and God bless.

Heather Denton–Advice for Seafood Lovers

Hi, and thanks for being with us.  Can you tell us your name?  Any nicknames?
Heather Denton (Mrs. Denton – or Dragon Lady)

Where can we find you on the internet?
Instagram – Dragon.Lady.Denton

How did “Dragon Lady” come to be an identifier?
I think I gave it to myself, but I’m not really sure. Somehow it became a thing at school. When I get really upset (usually about bullying) my ears turn red, then my face, then my neck. I get really quiet and dangerous. Kids who have seen her swear smoke comes out my ears. I have multiple pictures made by teachers and students alike, trying to capture the horror that she is – none have come close.

What do you do for a living?
I am a middle school theatre teacher. I have taught at Rugby Middle School for 18 years.

Do you mind telling us how old you are?
41.  Loud and proud.

Where do you call home?
In Hendersonville, North Carolina in reality, at the beach in my mind.

What’s the most interesting place you’ve visited?
My classroom. It’s always changing. Something is ALWAYS happening!

A new student comes into your classroom in the middle of the year.  What’s the experience like for them?   
Well, if they come into my class in the middle of the year, they probably come in with everybody else. Kids get me for only nine weeks at a time each year. So everybody gets a little taste of each exploratory we have. Thus the term “exploratory.” But as to my class – they see me with my multi-colored hair being a crazy lady. I love to make my kids laugh, so I just get weird and silly. I purposely “try” to be cool and purposely fail miserably. Thus, strangely, I AM cool. My kids will experience Shakespeare, Moliere, Sophocles, and Broadway, just to name a few. I lead a very high energy class that (hopefully) everyone knows is a safe space for all. And I don’t mean just a safe space to act crazy and have fun. I mean, no making fun of others (unless it’s me!), no leaving anyone out based on looks, money, etc. and if you identify anyway in your life, you can be who you need to be there.

Your favorite meal would be?
Raw oysters, crab legs, and shrimp. Sides optional.

Pet peeve?
People who ask what my pet peeve is. No, not really. Students who whine. About everything. Ugh! Soooooooo annoying! Why won’t they STOOOOOPPP?

Favorite book, or movie, or television show?
Movie – So I Married An Axe Murderer; Book – More of a genre – fantasy; TV Show – Pretty much any cooking show but my guilty pleasure is Hell’s Kitchen.

What’s the appeal of “Hell’s Kitchen?”  (And, if you don’t mind, tell us why it’s a “guilty” pleasure?)  
Well, the appeal of Hell’s Kitchen is obviously Gordon Ramsay. What a hottie!! And it’s a guilty pleasure because it’s obviously trash TV. I should be watching something life changing, like “This is Us” or something. Instead I binge watch old episodes and drool over the cursing, hottie chef!

If people want to pray for you, they could pray for……?
I would say patience, but when I pray for patience God thinks it’s funny to TEACH it rather than just *poof* give it! So, if people want to pray for me, they could pray for my aunt’s health.

I absolutely agree with you about praying for patience.  Bad, bad idea.  Can you tell us a little about your aunt?
My Aunt Diane lives in Waynesville down the way from my mom. They are very close despite Di being 11 years older than my mom. (My mom was a miracle baby!) She has COPD and emphysema. She’s been having a hard time lately.

Are you married or have you been?  Any kids?  Grandkids?  Pets?  
I am married to a great guy, Jason Denton. No kids, unless you count the 600 I teach every year. I do have one grandkid. Ha! One dog – Toonie. She is the cutest darn thing!

One thing many people don’t know you can do?
Bend and hook my thumbs behind my hand.

I’m not sure I needed to know that, but thanks.  If you had any spare time, what would you do with it?
Go to the beach (that is, if I had the $), read a book, direct a show. (I have a bunch of free time in the summer so I fill it with directing or acting usually!)

Tell us some interesting things about yourself that aren’t already covered.
I am in Killer Theater- a comedy, murder mystery, interactive dinner theater group.

Thanks much.  Okay, this is “Advice for Everyone,” so I need to ask you to give some counsel to help people out.  Can I ask you to give us some advice for seafood lovers?  How to tell a good restaurant, how to get the most out of the meal, the best way to eat oysters or crack crab legs, anything that might come to mind. Hit us with your best shot.
Okay. Advice for seafood lovers. Eat it. Yeah. That’s it. Just eat it! Doesn’t matter how you do it, just do it. Oh, and most importantly, invite me. 😊

That’s brilliant in its elegant simplicity, Heather.  Thanks much for letting us get to know you a little bit, and God bless.