Heart of a Southern Woman

A snapshot of life one blog post at a time.

“R” is for the Royal Red Divas of the International Red Hat Society


Red Hat's misbehaving

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The Royal Red Divas of Youngsville and Wake Forest, North Carolina, became an organized chapter of the International Red Hat Society in 2004. Eleven years and going strong! We have done crafts, been in parades,  and eaten our way through Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill, NC! We’ve toured, partied on the local, state, and national levels, and have loved every minute! There’s just something about wearing red hats and purple outfits to make you laugh at yourself–so of course, everything seems funnier and more lighthearted. Sadly, we had one of our members die, but she even elected to be buried in her red hat regalia with us dressed to the nines as her escorts!  Now that is impact.

We are an especially lucky chapter, because although we have had a lot of turnover with moving and all, we have always kept a diverse group age wise, and racially. Having pink hatters, those under 50, and red hatters, those over 50, keeps us young I believe, keeps us vibrant! Some of our oldest members do that well also, as they are our friendliest flirts…we are never alone! Laugh, Love, Live those words  are our motto! 

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“Q” is for Queen of my Red Hat Group!

Red Hatters (2)

Hands Down! The most fun thing I have ever done has been to serve as the Queen of my Red Hat Group, The Royal Red Divas, for ten years! Queen! Queen! Queen! I never thought of myself as the Queenly type or even a Princess, in my childhood I was the cowboy!  But I learned quickly that being the Queen was fun!  We learned to PLAY–to play dress up, to play games, to play with the rules! The poem of our Society says it all–“Warning by Jenny Joseph—


Red Hatters kicking up some fun!When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we’ve no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I’m tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick flowers in other people’s gardens
And learn to spit.
 I retired last year, and the Divas honored me with  an awesome party!  I’m still a part of the group, just not the Queen, now I’m the “Dowager Queen”!  My pins say “Founding Queen ” and “Retired Queen”, take  your pick!  We have the most wonderful new Queen, Angie Rowe! 
You might know of, or even belong to the International Society of Red Hatters.  If not,  you may not know how much fun they are! You can start your own chapter and be the Queen, or look around and join one near you! It doesn’t matter how old you are either. If you are 50 and above, you wear a red hat and a purple outfit, reversing colors on your birthday!  If you are under 50, awaiting “reduation”, no matter how young, you are called a pink hatter, and you wear pink and lavender!  You can go to the website, redhatsociety.com and find a chapter near you. if you are in a group, please let me know in the comments. It’s always great to meet other red hatters!


“P” is for Purple Elvis Clock!

When I turned 50 years old, some of my friends gave me this purple Elvis clock, and his legs swing! It has delighted me for years now.  I have loved Elvis since I was a young child, so this was a wonderful addition to my Elvis Collection.  I can’t show all of the collection to you in this one post, but sit back, listen to the king, and enjoy sharing the fun! There is something very special about this Purple Elvis Clock, and maybe, maybe I’ll tell you the secret by the end of this post, maybe– it’s very personal…we’ll see. 
Did I tell you I found out  that I am kin to Elvis?!  According to familysearch.org, he is my 14th cousin! It looks like this: 

Elvis relationship to Helen , 14th cousin

 I don’t think I could settle on just one favorite Elvis song, but I’ve always loved “Jailhouse Rock”! Over the years, family and friends have added to my cherished collection my ability to see Elvis perform this song  always– on my own drive-in theater, and among others, from the mouth of the cutest Elvis Bear you could ever ask for!

Elvis Drive in Theater blue screen


No thoughts of Elvis would be complete without thinking of some of his ballads, his gospel, and his love songs! Oh my, that man could sing! Still gives me chills!

The secret, and you are not allowed to steal this idea now, the phrase “Purple Elvis Clock” is my password for after my death, when I am trying to communicate with my family. Others see butterflies, birds, find dimes–there are all kinds of signs that our loved ones are trying to get in touch with us from the other side. My family knows that if they hear the term “Purple Elvis Clock” or if that picture arises in their minds, then Mom/GiGi is giving them a kiss, letting them know I am fine, that I am thinking of them, and that I am doing my best to help from afar! LOL  Now what do you think of that?  Did you see that one coming? Do you even believe in an afterlife? Communication between?  Think on these things, and let me know. Until we meet again, know that I am always wishing you well. 

“O’ is for Officer, Sir, Sergeant James Kearse, Irish Cop


George "Gabby" Hayes as Police Officer from free-classic-movies.com

George “Gabby” Hayes as Police Officer from free-classic-movies.com

Before I started my genealogical research, I knew nothing about my great grandfather, my mother’s grandfather, except that hia name was James Kearse, and that his father  Robert had come over from Ireland, fought in the Civil War, and raised ten children along with his wife Margaret.  James, my great grandfather  became a cop in Richmond, Virginia like his Dad, as did his son, my grandfather Tom.  James married an Italian woman, apparently the love of his life, my great grandmother Mary Catherine Botto. Lots of friends gave him grief about marrying an Italian, but they were happy with  their four children.
As a police officer, James was apparently very popular as he was nonminated to be chief, and stories of him filled the pages of The Richmond Times Dispatch 1870-1890 after the Civil War.
As I read the articles, I was thrilled to feel I was getting to know the man born  almost 100 years before me!  There was one story in the paper that gave me a great glimpse into James’ personality! It was hilarious, and showed his sense of humor!   Such a cute story, I wish I had written it, and that I could have been there!  I want to share it with you here, hope you enjoy.
Source: storytime.readingchick.com

Source: storytime.readingchick.com

 Kerse, James, Cow visit police station Halloween 1913
Sergeant James Kearse has a visitor on Halloween night at the Police Station–fromThe Richmond Times Dispatch,
Nov. 1, 1913




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“M” –Mangled Marriage of Mack and Marissa


domestic.violence.battered.woman500x250, americansendingabuse.org

source: americansendingabuse.org –National Hotline, 24/7, 1-877-1-800-799-SAFE (7233)

Mack had just gotten out of jail for beating his wife nearly to death. After only three months in jail, he was now on probation and court ordered to attend “stupid” outpatient therapy once a week for two hours for a whole year! “Disgusting” was his cleaner thought. He wouldn’t bother to go, but if he didn’t, the therapist would report him and he’d just end up back in a cell–“no thank you!” So attend he did–hating every moment that he had to pretend he was learning “anger control–how stupid do they think I am?”

His great desire was to get his wife back. He was pretty sure he could do that, but for that damn therapist who kept talking to her. The therapist would never encourage her to return to him. Just the opposite, she’d gotten his wife to take a protection order against him, and he could not go closer than 100 feet to her! He’d lost custody of his son…”all because he’d lost his temper…once…okay, maybe two or three times. He didn’t mean to hurt her, but she aggravated him so much, she was so stupid sometimes. Still, she was drop dead gorgeous, and he loved her in some ways. But sometimes, he just had to haul off and smack her! He just got out of control this last time. He didn’t mean to pick up the butcher knife, didn’t mean to cut her arm, her hands–he was just so mad, and the knife was just there. It really was her fault, if she would just shut up!”

“I truly believe I can get her back, if I can just talk to her! I have to see her,” Mack thought to himself. So, he hatched a plan. They both had to go to the large public mental health center for counseling. The center took great pains to schedule them on different days however, so they wouldn’t cross paths.

“What can I do? How can I fix it so we are forced to run into each other there, and we can talk?” Mack knew there had to be a way, and he was scheming as hard as he could! When he was at the center for his group therapy tonight, he noticed that the cleaning crew left the front office open while carrying out the trash. The office was always locked, you had to talk to the receptionist through a glass window. But here was the door, propped open! There sat the appointment calendar for anyone to thumb through! Quickly, he picked it up, opened it to the current week, and “yes! –Marissa was scheduled at two o’clock tomorrow afternoon. Stupid therapist!” A plan began to form in his mind.

Wednesday brought a bright, sunny day in Georgia. Marissa was scared to death as she loaded the last suitcase in the trunk of her car. She’d already arranged for the sale of her car, and the buyer was taking delivery in an hour at the Mental Health Center of all places.  She was headed to school to get her five year old son Michael. She couldn’t believe it, but she was leaving the state today!

She really thought Mack was going to kill her this last time he’d beat her. He’d cut her as well. Although she loved him, she knew now that he’d surely kill her if she let him into her life again. Her own group and individual therapy had convinced her she had to get away. She should have done it while he was in jail, but now she had to take Michael and go! She had no money–that was part of the problem. But once she’d convinced the therapist she was serious, the shelter had introduced her to the Underground Railroad for Abused Women. She was scared to death, but today was the day. She would take Michael with her to the Mental Health Center.  A lady from the Women’s Shelter would meet them there, and take them to the train, bus, or airport, she wouldn’t know until it happened. They would give her a new ID, a new passport, and send her to a home where she and Michael would stay, just tonight, one night! The next night they would be staying in a different home or shelter, or hotel. Her expenses were taken care of. It was like entering the witness protection program. She’d filed for divorce while Mack was in jail. He’d signed the papers in exchange for reduced active time. She’d said goodbye to the few friends and family she had, just saying she had a job opportunity and was moving away. Her parents were deceased, she hoped to never see Mack again.

Marissa knew that in about seven to ten days, she and Michael, from now on to be called Ken, Kenny, or Kenneth, and his Mom Carol, would arrive at their new home, an apartment paid for by the Underground Railroad. Kenny would go to school and be safe she hoped. She had a job waiting for her, she didn’t even know what yet, but different from what she’d done before. She was scared a bit, nervous, but excited also. “Finally,” she thought “Michael And I will be free, safe, and able to pursue a more normal lifestyle.” She was only thirty years old.

Meanwhile, back in Atlanta, Mack was putting his plan into motion. What he didn’t know was that Marissa and Kenny had arrived at the Center at one thirty. She had signed papers and transferred the title to her car to its new owner. Pocketing the cash, she met with her therapist only long enough to say goodbye and be shown out the back door to a waiting car, with tinted windows, where they quickly loaded her, Michael, and their suitcases. Waving goodbye, Marissa and Michael were gone, on their way to their new life before two o’clock.

Not knowing any of this, Mack took a break from work “to run an important errand,” he told his boss. Within minutes, he’d called in a bomb threat against the Mental Health Center from a pay phone. He drove directly there, thinking he would surely find his wife in the parking lot, evacuated along with everyone else. He laughed, no one could beat him, he always got what he wanted!

When Mack pulled up near the Mental Health Center, he was delighted to see all the staff and clients standing out in the parking lot, just as he’d predicted. He parked on the street, and began to look for Marissa. He saw the police forming teams, each with a bomb-sniffing dog, and enter the building to search. Half of him wished he’d been able to plant a real bomb!

He walked around a bit, but didn’t see her! “Where could she be?” He knew she wouldn’t still be in the building. Then he saw her therapist, his also, “that stupid woman!” He looked carefully, then approached the counselor. “Hi Angela, what’s going on?”

Angela was surprised to see Mack for sure! She smiled at him and said, “Hi Mack, what brings you here this time of day?”

“Well, I was coming by to settle my bill, and I heard on the radio about the bomb threat. Thought I’d swing by and check it out. Everyone okay? I thought I’d heard that Marissa had an appointment this afternoon, it worried me, so is she here?“

Red flags went up immediately in the therapist’s brain and intuition, but she stayed calm, and kept a smile on her face, as she said, “Oh, thank heavens, as it turns out, Marissa canceled today. I can’t remember why, but we rescheduled for later in the week.” (She lied to protect Marissa, hoping the delayed appointment time would keep him from searching for her beyond the center.)

Mack said he had to get back to work, but she saw him circling the crowd and the building. She immediately sought out the nearest police officer she could find. She pointed Mack out as she and the officer watched him get into his car and drive away. Immediately, the officer issued a bulletin for him to be brought in for questioning as a person of interest in the planting of the bomb at the Mental Health Center, or the issuing of a false report.

It was determined before long that there was no bomb in the building. Angela entered with all the other staff, although she didn’t feel very safe or comfortable. The afternoon and evening continued as if nothing had happened. About six o’clock however, Angela got to talk to the same police officer she’d seen earlier. She reminded him that she’d reported that one of her male clients, arrested formerly for domestic violence, was seen loitering around the Center during the bomb threat evacuation, and that he’d admitted he was looking for his wife, from whom he was separated. She asked if he knew whether or not he’d been involved.

The officer said he was just coming to see if Angela was still in the building, and continued to tell her the outcome. They had picked Mack up to be questioned as a person of interest. Under intensive interrogation, Mack had admitted he had planned the whole thing, that he had called in the bomb threat. He admitted that he’d wanted to see his wife evacuated from the building, and even how he’d discovered her appointment time!

Angela was surprised and saddened, even though on some level she’d suspected just that! She knew, and it came to happen, that when he appeared in court the next morning, his probation was revoked and he was sent back to jail for breaking the terms of his release–trying to harm his wife, get close to her, possibly threaten or intimidate her, and calling in a false report. This meant of course, Angela would no longer have him in the Men’s Violent Offender’s Group either. While sad, and wishing she could have done more to help this couple, she also used his incarceration as a warning to other group members that they meant business–that if the men failed to attend group and participate, or broke the rules of their probation or restraining orders, they would be reported and go back to jail. It had an impact, most didn’t want to lose their freedom.

Mack got out of jail a year later, and immediately went to see Marissa. He was surprised to learn she had moved away quite a while ago, no one seemed to remember just when. He used the internet, but could find no trace of her. After he was back at work, he used his first paycheck to hire a private detective to find her. Even the detective was unable to discover her whereabouts. The women’s shelter, the Underground Railroad had done their jobs well, and Carol and Kenny were happy in their new home and community.

(© This fictional story by Helen Y. Holshouser, was inspired by a true one, unfortunately.)

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“L” is for Liam, 7- Year- Old Grandson Has His Own Blog!




I have been blogging for a couple years now, mostly genealogical in nature. A couple weeks ago, my 7 year old, first grader, grandson Liam and his class at school started blogging! I was very surprised, and thrilled! Another writer in the family! Of couse, don’t tell him that, he’ll tell you quickly he’s going to be a State Park Ranger like his Papa!

Liam is the son of  my daughter Ali and her husband Greg Orcutt.  Liam is a nickname, named for his Great-Grandfather William Donald Brown, and his Great- Uncle  William Donald Brown II, called Bill (Greg’s mother–Kaysie Brown’s father and brother). So three in a row we have William, Bill, now Liam, all from the same name! I think that is very cool! A wonderful tribute to beloved family members as well.

Liam does so many wonderful and fun things, as you can see from above, but today, I wanted to share his blog with you. It is on a site for his school, not available to the general public. However, he was kind enough to let me repost his blog posts!

Liam concentrating so hard, has his little tongue out, just like his momma used to do when she was little! LOL   Liam’s Blog               

March 30, 2015  9:52am

Thursday night, me and my sister got new shoes. I thought mine were best!


March 30, 2015, 4:05 pm

“My Base” 

 I built a new base on “Disney Infinity.”  It has a hiding place.  I made a world for it myself.  


 April 7, 2015, 4:50pm

Walt Disney World

 My family is going to Disney World. We are so, so , SO excited.  I ‘m really excited to go to Star Tours and Animal Kingdom.  





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K is for Katy! My 3 Year-Old Granddaughter




Katy at 3rd birthday party. Collage by her father's sister, her Aunt Amy Orcutt Pickering.

Katy turned 3 on January 21, 2015,  Princess cupcake cake made by Aunt Annie Holshouser was a hit!


Kathryn Marie Orcutt, called Katy, my precious granddaughter, lights up our lives with her sweetness and joy. She is the daughter of Gregory Orcutt and Alexandra Kathryn Orcutt, my daughter. 

When she is sitting calmly by herself –sometimes, you can hear her singing her current favorite song–“Everything is Awesome!”


Katy climbing where she should not go

“Look at me! First I pulled all the videos off the shelf, then I climbed right up and leaned, fell, jumped over to the back of the chair! Now, how am I going to get down?! Help, Mommy! “

Katy is a daredevil too, however, so she keeps us  on the edge of our seats! She loves to climb and nothing is too daunting for her!  She once tried to climb  the long chain hanging  down from a stained glass lamp and pulled the treasured lamp, made by her Granddaddy, right out of the ceiling! Thank heavens, she wasn’t hurt, nor was the lamp, miraculously!


Katy the flower girl at Amy Orcutt's wedding, Oct. 11, 2014

Graceful flower girl in her Aunt Amy Orcutt Pickering’s wedding.


Katy is named after several beloved family members– first and foremost, her mother Ali, Alexandra Kathryn Holshouser Orcutt. We also have my beloved cousin Kathryn Youngblood Fuller, and my mother’s sister Katherine named after her mother–my maternal grandmother Katherine Steptoe Houchins Kearse/Kerse (called Kate) . These are some of the treasured family members her parents were thinking of when they named her Katy.

 Her middle name Marie, is just as, or even more prevalent in our family.  Max Holshouser, my husband, Ali’s father, Katy’s  granddaddy–his mother was Helen Marie Wagner Holshouser.  Helen Marie named her daughter Brenda Marie, Max’s sister. Brenda named one of her three daughters Patrice Marie, Patrice had Amanda Marie, who has Paisley Marie! That’s five generations of Marie’s in Ali’s father’s family!

I also had an Aunt Helen Marie Youngblood Webb, who had a daughter Grace Marie Webb Wingo , and a granddaughter through her son Philip named  Maria Webb.  In the South, we love family legacies, and family names, it makes genealogy harder, but it is a loving tribute.

Katy with wings and sophia gown cropped

Katy pretends she can fly as she jumps off the sofa, fairy wings held high!

Katy was a premature baby like both of her siblings. She was  6 weeks   early, and had to be in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit for  about three weeks.  That was an extremely stressful time!  Every developmental milestone she reaches, counting, recognizing letters, talking– is duly noted by her mom, and her psychologist grandmother!  We are very aware of the concerns–possible leaning difficulties. So far she is meeting or exceeding every developmental milestone, counts and knows all her letters, and even laughs at her grandmother’s jokes! 

Katy’s current favorite joke is this one which sends her off into peals of laughter!

Knock Knock                
Who’s there
Banana                                   20140801_150129
Banana who…
Knock Knock
Who’s there
Banana who…
Knock Knock
Who’s there
Banana who…
(This bit can go on for some time!!)
Knock Knock
Who’s there
Orange who…
Orange you glad I didn’t say banana again!!

She even likes to tell it herself, dress herself, walk by herself, eat by herself, and just do everything–“by myself!” Miss Independent! I love it and her.  (Sorry if it doesn’t show, LOL)  I’d love to hear about the special kids in your own life! Thanks for sharing  with me. Helen

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