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the giant (not)chocolate chip cookie...

Saturday, September 29, 2012
Some of you will remember having a giant chocolate chip cookie, prepared by loving hands, on a pizza pan, delivered on Jan. 21 or Oct. 9 to the lunchroom. Timed so that it appeared just as you were going to sit and eat with friends, who would say: ' Is it your birthday?' and "will you be my BFF just for today, since you have something good to eat?' Sliced into wedges, just like a pizza, but with candles and matches that would require all the cohort to sing the Birthday Song before they could enjoy the goodies.

I made one of those yesterday. But since there were no choc. chips in the house, it had a cup full of chopped up pecans instead: suits me, as I am definitely not the choc. chip cookie lover in the family. Never would be too soon for me! I was going to a pot-luck dinner last night and prepared a casserole to take (most of which came back home, so I will be eating left overs all next week), and was going to a meeting this morning as well. I figured since I was heating the oven to bake the pot-luck dish, I might as well go ahead and make something good/bad for you, to take to the event today.

Sad to say, I was a sluggard this morning, staying in bed so long, I was late for the 8:30 start, so most of my big cookie came home with me as well. TI guess everyone else there was on time, or early, and certainly brought sweets/snacks with them: there were  probably a dozen boxes of dozens of Krispy Kremes out on the table. This monster cookie is really good with all the extra nuts and no choc., but I am constantly/daily turning over a new leaf, so I plan to take 3/4 cookie (big as a sixteen inch pizza) to church and get all the Methodists to eat it for me. I am sure they will be willing to step up and help out: something for nothing is always too good to ignore. Plus I am certain that no one here needs to be eating it, and want to get it out of sight before the temptation gets too great.

Giant Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe (makes one as good as the high priced things you buy in the mall!)

1 box yellow cake mix
1/2 cup. cooking oil
2 Tbs. water or milk
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 to 1 cup. semi-sweet choc. chips
 chopped nuts if you want (I put in 1/2 to 1 cup)

Combine oil, water, eggs, mix well. Add cake mix, stir well. Add chips and nuts. Spread with fingers (moistened with water) onto greased pizza pan. Bake 350 for 20-25 min. till lightly browned. Slice into wedges like you would a pizza. Try not to eat too much. As I said, not being a lover of choc. chip cookies, I like it better with just nuts and no chips, but as you can imagine - if you do that, you cannot call it a Giant Chocolate Chip Cookie, so you have to think of another name...

i can't esplain anybody else...

Friday, September 28, 2012
My auntie from Valdosta came to visit for a couple of days. I am not even sure any more what the definition of 'couple' is: I thought that 'as a couple' meant two individual items, like people or apples or vases. I had asked her when we finally settled on a time for her to come, to plan on staying a few days. Looking at my calendar for this particular week, I could see nothing of note after I worked on Sunday and Tuesday.  So expected that she would be here longer than 48 hours. She arrived around noon on Wednesday, and now is  gone, headed back to south GA, at 9:03 a.m.

Traffic is so horrendous on our street that I suggested she wait until at least 8:30 to try to get out of the driveway. Between the constant stream of commuters, due to hundreds  of vehicles that pour out from a side road right near our drive, and all the carpools and school buses from about &:15 till 8:)0 it is virtually impossible to pull on to the street for nearly an hour. Traffic is a mess: one of the reasons I wanted to move two years ago. And the mess now includes all the construction trucks going to and from the new middle school that will be practically in our back yard. Plus more workers and delivery trucks for the many more new houses being constructed... arggghhh.

We are on a dead end street, that is one of two outlets for hundreds and hundreds of cars, SUVs and trucks that come and go all day and all night. In a house on the crest of a hill that allows speeding vehicles to sneak up at a high rate of speed from either direction. Making you think: 'hmmm, well, all-righty-then, maybe I will just stay right here, close the blinds, lock the doors, turn out the lights and be safe in my little cocoon.'

Anyway: she is (hopefully) on her way home... seemed baffled by some relatively simple driving directions (including a hand-drawn, not-to-scale map), so I hope she will get safely on her way after a stop for gas.  

We went up to Harris County yesterday, and toured FDR Park and Callaway Gardens. Now that schools are running, vacations are over, everyone's gone back to the Real World, we practically had both the Park and Gardens to ourselves. Pretty day, pleasant temperatures, clear blue skies, a nice day to be out in the world.

still cleaning like a crazy person...

Wednesday, September 26, 2012
I am still sweeping, scrubbing, moping, a-running the vacuum (all of which I determinedly detest) in addition to the dusting I have not started. Admittedly, I took a complete break from the chores of cleaniness on Tuesday, after working half day, and running some errands on my tired feet, I was so very not in the mood or energy condition to do any more labor. Also went to Walmart, and discovered when I was walking across the parking lot that my list was not in my pocket.... arggghhh. That's what we make lists for - so we won't have to store that stuff in our heads. So naturally, I found the dang list as soon as I got home, and could only mark off about one-third of the things that I meant to get.

The auntie who is coming to visit today (which brought about this burst of  forced, belated house-keeping has had a medical problem that might prevent her from driving. I had something similar several years ago, so 'yes, I actually can understand/sympathize'. Though she seems to usually  be struggling with something that no one else has experienced quite like her numerous issues - this is one I clearly remember as being very frightening: Vertigo.

It was four or five years ago, and I woke up one morning, nearly fell in the floor when I got out of bed in the wee hours to go to the bathroom. I was mystified, but got back into bed, and slept for several more hours. When I awoke, I could not walk without reaching our for support, propping up on door frames and walls. Really frightening. I got dressed, we went to the ER and I was quickly diagnosed. (That in itself is something Very Unusual if you have ever been to the ER and waited for hours and hours and eons for help - which you were truly desperate for or would have not toddled into the 'emergency' entrance in the beginning.) I don't recall what sort of medication I was given, remember a poke in the hip - could have easily been something like benadryl. But I got back home and slept it off, and was, as best I recall, cured.

It was really scarey for me, and I was not alone.

 I cannot imagine how terror inducing it would be when you can't walk or think straight, and you know you will have to resolve the problem. You know how we Never want to call attention to ourselves, and probably a worst case scenario would be calling 911 to have EMS come roaring up to your front door: being the center of loud, unwanted attention. So we are all most reluctant to make the call- no matter how serious the problem... but if you are by yourself, the 'alone-ness factor' would make it all the more difficult to not be anxious, fearful, feel like you are coming Un-done. Already frightened by what's going on, and the prospect of dealing with a gazillion questions while not at all well, would be overwhelming.

After the odd event, several years ago, I was relating my experience to someone, who said she had severe inner-ear/balance problems one time, and when Rx meds. did not help, the doctor told her she should go to the fair and get on one of those rides that spins you around and generally makes you want to urp. But she was desperate, the carnival was in town, and she got on the scrambler-type ride: it worked.

it's only 7:50 a.m.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012
It's not even eight o'clock yet, and I have been so productive, I feel the need to impress all four of my regular readers with my accomplishments thus far: Cleaning the floor! What fun! What fun? you may ask... and I guess the joy is to be found in the thought that right now: it is true "is the floor clean enough to eat off of, Mom?" is the question often asked twenty years ago. Sorry it took so long for the answer to be: "Yes!"  Thankfully there were any number of times two decades ago, that it was also (mostly) true. I never thought anyone would become terminally ill from eating dirt, partially due to the knowledge that I consumed a huge quantity as a kid.

From my experience of growing up in a house on a dirt road, constantly digging holes with a tablespoon in the driveway, fully expecting to eventually peer down and see: a wee little person dressed in a beautifully brocaded coat with a mandarin collar, tiny little shoes on tiny little feet, jet black hair, and beautifully slanted eyes. There was one day that I actually dig unearth the broken handle of a tea cup: so I knew I was getting close - what better proof than a  long buried remnant of an elegant civilization - I was nearly there!


So I felt like if I had survived all those ring worms in my feet and pin worms in my intestinal tract from years of gallivanting around in the woods, digging in the back yard, stomping around in the manure of a horse pen, and (insanely) barefoot grass mowing, I felt like eating a piece of toast off the floor was relatively harmless. Especially when you invoke the 'five second rule'. One of the rules of survival for parents of people under four feet tall.

I know imperfect housekeeping, and minor infractions of sanitation rules are not the death knell: one of the daughters was so swamped with an oral fixation, she would put anything in her mouth. I clearly remember my moms' horror when she saw the baby gnawing on one of my flip-flops. I told her I occasionally put them in the washer, so it was definitely not the dirtiest thing in the house. Another memorable event was when I noticed she was chewing on the wooden leg of a chair. I wish I had it still - just for the tooth marks.

I cleaned bathrooms yesterday, and have swept and mopped bathrooms and kitchen floor this morning. I'll get the living-dining floor done when I get off work this afternoon, and might even do something as extreme as a light dusting on the surfaces most crowed with newly hatched dust-bunnies. I look at how some other people have so much stuff they cannot use their carports for carports. So I rationalize: I am not such a terrrrrible, awwwwful hoarder, but I still have boxes of stuff (currently squirreled away in closets that have no clothes - just precariously piled stacks of 'stuff') I would love to sort/toss/get out of my life. Maybe next week....???? or year......




thinking about my dad...

Sunday, September 23, 2012
You have all read those interviews with notables who are asked the question: if you could go back in history and meet one individual, who would that be? I had never considered this, and have not given it any thought, so don't know of anyone that I would particularly want to meet/visit/talk with.

After one of the daughters came today to visit Paul on his birthday, got to church and lunch with him, I started thinking about my dad. And how I wish I could have one more day to spend with him. And began to ponder what how I would want to spend that time. At firs consideration, I thought that we could just go out in the back yard and sit on the bench and talk about all manner of trivial, inconsequential stuff, drink a glass or two of iced tea, sitting in the shade, and spend the day doing nothing.

Then I realized there are so many things I would like to know about his life I would have such a long list of questions, we would never get it all said. I know so little about his parents, grandparents, growing up years, the experience he had when he was in the Army in France and Austria at the close of WW II. How he felt about his life, what he really liked, or didn't and what he would change if he had the chance. I never thought to ask him about his military experience, and wonder if he would even be willing to talk about it, tell what it was like, or just needed to leave it in the past.

But as I take the time to think about what I would want to do if I had that one more day, I think that I would just rather follow him around the yard, in his workshop, in the house as he was puttering/tinkering around. Just enjoy being in his company, doing all the things he would do to keep himself busy when he was strong, healthy, full of energy and always looking for something that needed to be 'fixed'.

Wondering who you would spend the day with if you could?

you'll be thinking: she should just move to SC...

...especially when you realize that I have been across the border to SC three times in the past week or so. I  hope they don't try to make me apply for a tag, as I just paid for the new decal for GA license plate recently.

Went back to South Carolina on Saturday, after returning from there to Decatur in the dark on Friday night. There were plans to go to visit a cousin in Augusta area, who actually lives north of North Augusta, the counterpart of Augusta that is across the Savannah River from the actual Augusta in Georgia. I think her family had lived in Augusta most of her life, but when her mom died just over a year ago, she felt like a major change was in order. She and her mom, who was my mother's cousin (their mothers were sisters), had lived in adjacent houses, and had a sweet, remarkably close relationship. One that I had long admired, and know even now was something very special, for mother and daughter to have such a close life-long bond.

She and her mom had been primary caregivers for her dad who died some years ago, and then she was the best, most dutiful caregiver for her mom before she passed away. A lot of heartache in a short time. Then her beloved father-in-law suddenly became ill, and died, so there is a lot of residual grief still floating around.

But this woman has the best, most upbeat, positive attitude of anyone I know. And the sweetest smartest husband. I am so crazy about guys who are 'handy', having been raised by men who go back generations as remarkably self-sufficient, guys who could take most anything malfunctioning tool/equipment apart, study the innards and figure out what needed attention. Usually repairing the old, or actually creating/manufacturing the replacement, then reassembling to have that once annoying item busily humming along as well as if it were new. This personifies my granddads, my dad, my brother, son-in-law, all those guys who will tinker and ponder until the problem is resolved. The older guys, would be doing it because you could not run to the store and buy the part, plus so thrifty they would not have done it even if it was available. The younger guys because they refuse to be outsmarted by something without a brain, that mechanical thing they know they can take apart and study to fix and reassemble. Plus I think the guys just love to tinker/analyze, determined that something in-animate will not get the best of them...

Anyway: the Decatur cousin and I had planned to go and spend the day with the Augusta cousin, so we drove over and spent the afternoon. Had a tour of their new house out in the country. Enjoyed visiting, lunching, exploring an interesting little town in SC. Eddingfield supplied the state with ten governors: their major claim to fame, in addition to being the birth place of the most prolific US Senator in history: Strom Thurmond. I don't recall how many wives he had, or how many children, I think he was in his late 90's when he finally died so he could not longer reproduce with the latest beauty queens. Thankfully/tactfully, this was not included on the historical marker on the street in front of his birthplace. But they were Biblical in number.

It was after dark when we got back to Decatur, though I had planned to leave Augusta area mid-afternoon, allowing me to get back home before dark. So it was nearly 11:00 when I dragged in, after having driven for about seven hours. I'm thinking I might stick pretty close to home this week.... maybe.

is there such a thing as a 'compulsive traveler'?

Saturday, September 22, 2012
I think that some animal that continually migrates from one place to another, in a season manner, as do many birds, and some mammals that travel in search of food/water may qualify as compulsive - when family groups require such quantities of forage or in times of drought that they are continually on the move in an effort to constantly replenish basic necessities for survival. And doubt that modern humans here in this supposed advanced society qualify for that level of neediness.

As you might guess I have been traveling again: went to Decatur on Thursday afternoon, so I could jump on the interstate and motor to South Carolina on Friday for the day. Expecting to get up early, and beat the commuters out of town to go to Greenville and visit my penpal, then return to Decatur in the evening, after an enjoyable visit in SC.But I spent several hours on Friday morning in negotiations for a new window to replace the one that had got busted out by a vandalizing jerk at 4:00 am.

Sorta ironic, that before I went to bed that night, I thought to myself: 'you should have moved your car off the street and parked it in the driveway up closer to the house'. But then I said 'what could possibly happen??' and went on to sleep, obviously oblivious to the foolishness of that decision. A neighbor called about 4:15, saying his dog woke him, barking, and when he got up, looked out, there was a car parked in the street with lights on. When he went out, he discovered my window broken, out and called the police. Then called us. By the time we got decent enough to walk out the door, the police had responded, and there was a black and white parked out on the street, right behind my Toyota.

Sorta Ironic: that I was lying there in bed, awake, thinking: I should have moved my car. Seriously ironic, that there was nothing of value in it, which the criminal/addled jerk soon found out. Had I left it unlocked, it is possible the window would not have been shattered. Nothing was missing - mostly because I did not have anything worth stealing. The cop said he was probably looking/hoping for a GPS tucked away in the glove box. And I wonder if that was because the charging cord for the phone is always plugged into the lighter...

It is resolved, though I am $50 wiser: the deductible I had to pay to get the window replaced while I was in SC. There was considerable riga-ma-role involved in getting a new glass installed, but it occurred, so I did not drive back from Greenville with lots of  fresh air, as I did when I made the trip east. And I gauran-damn-tee I will not leave my car parked on Eleanor St. overnight again.

They later found more damage, to other cars, likely from the same piss-ant. I understand that same low-life/scumbag probably out broke windows on two other vehicles, parked out on the street, at same time. Even though it was a major aggravation to get the window replaced, I sincerely hope all his criminal behavior was no more successful that what he found in my little air-ish Toyota.

r u ready?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012
Today, September 19, is 'Talk Like A Pirate Day", so you are expected to go around all day, offhandedly spouting things that you would learn from one-eyed kidnapped parrots in bad movies. Like 'ahoy, matey', and 'cast off, you slimey bilge pumpers' (I made that up) and 'avast there, you land lubbers', 'prepare to walk the plank', and of course the old standby: 'arrggh'.

I had several assorted pieces that I could patch together and try to convince people it had the overall appearance of being a Pirate Costume. Like little plastic sword, black eye patch, bandana to wear over hair, eye-liner pencil to make scruffy mustache and beard. But I think I must have given the essential ingredient: eye patch a toss when I cleaned out sock drawer. Now that I have heard a rumor about the advantages of dressing like a Pirate, in addition to the most importantly identified day when one should Talk Like A Pirate, I might have to drop by Party City or Toys R Us or Halloween Store to complete my costume.

Feel free to add your traditional shipboard sayings, used by the unwashed, unloved, brigands of the seas in the comments area - let's get cracking here, if we are going to be fouling the air with pirate talk all day....

I can't blame anyone else, but wishing I could...

Tuesday, September 18, 2012
I reluctantly take full responsibility for a disastrous day. It was so unproductive, I may deliberately eat chocolate, to make me stay up longer/late enough to feel like I have gotten something, anything accomplished.

It probably started on Monday, when I got a call asking me if I would do a kindness for a stranger. The church receptionist had received a call (or maybe be an email? )from someone who was in need of transport to pick up some groceries at a food bank. Sounded a bit 'sketchy' to me, so I told her I would help, but wanted to call from my home phone, rather than let the woman in need get my cell number. So I called when I got home last night, and made plans to pick up 'Ms. Britton' this  morning between 10:30 and 11:00 to get her to the Outreach program. Later, when I realized I had an appt. at 10:15,  I called Ms. Britton back and told her I needed to come earlier, to be able to keep the doctor's appointment I had on my calendar for weeks.

When I told her I was going to brush my teeth, leave home and be there in 20 or so minutes, I really thought it would happen. But it was an hour later before I finally found her. All my fault - a comedy of errors if it had happened to someone else. But so aggravating I am still recovering from the frustrating morning. Plenty of 'arrrggghhhh' to go around....

I started out at a disadvantage, but did not realize this until I got close to my goal: I failed to pick up driving directions I had written down when I talked to Ms. Britton last night... so I actually did not know where to find her, and only due to persistence and a truck-load of Luck did it happen. Plus I had zero gas, and stopped to buy $10 worth that should have been plentygood for several days... but wasn't. About the time I pulled into the pumps, I realized I did not have the note with her directions and phone number so I could not call to ask her again how to get to the apt. complex. Outsmarting myself  being so careful to not call from my cell. A little thump on the head from God, as my payment for doubt.

I thought I remembered she said South Lumpkin Road, so I did that, and proceed to look for an apt. complex that has 'river' in the name. There were NO apartments on South Lumpkin, so I thought... hmmm... maybe it was 'North' instead? Stopped at a curb store to ask, and found that there were several big complexes on the North end, so I went up there (meter running/clock ticking this whole time - for the taxi driver who said she would be there in twenty minutes - and now it's been at least thirty.) Found three different areas with apartments, none of which had 'river' in the name, none of which had buildings that were alphabetic rather than numeric... so I know I am not in the right place, as Ms. Britton told me B-1.

Stopped at one of the offices for apts., and asked to use the phone book, to call the Outreach people in hopes that they had her number and I could call to get more info. But all they had was her name. So tried the church and did get her number, but since Ms. Britton was sitting outside waiting for me, she was not inside to hear the phone ringing when I tried to call (from my cell phone - remember me Not wanting to do that?). But the worker at the office at the wrong apts. did know of a place that had 'river' in the name, and sent me back to South Lumpkin. Where I found Ms. Britton (who persisted in calling me Fran, and never offered her first name) waiting on a stool outside her door.

I don't know precisely why I felt the need to apologize for being an hour late - as I was the one who was doing her a great favor. Plus I drove right past the Outreach program an hour ago, on Macon Rd., long before I drove around by both elbows trying to find the place with 'river' in the apartment name.So I could have 'delivered the goods' on my first trip and been Done with All That.

But you can see by all the crazy driving to-and-fro trying to find the 'river' place that I am going to be so, so, so very late for my own appt. right?  "If I only had a brain", I would have thought to tell Ms. Britton I would leave her to tend to her business, and come back to pick her up when I got finished with mine. Frantic Is Not Conducive To Clear Thinking. (This would make a good bumper sticker). So we get to the Outreach center, after circling the block several times trying to figure out where/how to get there. And I ask for the use of another phone book to call, and explain that my life has suddenly gotten overwhelmingly complicated; I cannot get to my appt. and need to reschedule. Arggghhh. The whole reason I left home so early was to get Ms. Britton squared away and allow me to get to the appt. I had made weeks ago. Which is now next week.

It all eventually resolved itself: Ms. Britton got home with her donated groceries. But I have not had a 'Monday' like that occur on a Tuesday in so long, it makes me want to say 'arrrggghhh' again.

I used up the $10 worth of gas trying to locate my good deed, get her groceries, and deliver her and food back home, so have already had to buy more gas. At $3.64/gal. Arggghhhh.

the washer is running....

Monday, September 17, 2012
It took nearly as long to get back from the coast of South Carolina which was only about eight hours away as it did to get back from central America in July. You'd think I'd misplaced my map-reading skills, or fell in the swamp (though I doubt they have any that can compete with the ones found near the GA-FL line where even Jimmy Hoffa could vanish forever. Maybe that's what happened?

Detoured to TN, as if driving all over two states wasn't enough. Back to Decatur on Sunday afternoon, and visit with cousins. Spending another night in Atl., and lots of time walking on Mon., before heading out for middle GA in the afternoon. I had to get back to be at the Hospice on Moon Road, for a volunteer training. After discovering months ago that the Columbus Hospice program here is one of two in the nation that provides patients with pet assistance, I thought: 'I can do that!'

I called and talked to the volunteer coordinator, and said I wanted to be a volunteer, and need to get signed up. Easier said than done. A long tedious process: get the application, fill it out, return, get the fingerprints for a background check, get the TB test, return to have the injection site checked in 48 hours, do more paperwork. I'm trained as a volunteer, and await the call that will tell me when to come for more training to be instructed on the proper procedure for inserting pets in carriers to safely transport. The funding for this comes from a grant, and covers taking pets to vet. for immunizations, health checks, emergency visits, as well as to be groomed, and food. Volunteers with the program could transport pets for any of this, or make a run to the store for pet care products as needed. That would be me - but I suspect there are plenty of other people who think 'I can do that!', so I don't know if there is really all that much demand for someone with my particular desire/training.

I discovered at the training tonight that one of the requirements for the Hospice program to accept and be reimbursed for Medicare patients is that at least 5% of their care is provided by volunteers rather than trained staff. I do wonder about that, but don't have the answer as to why this is so...



not home yet....

Where did I leave off...????

We left MB a day early, and drove six hours to Decatur, where I had about thirty seconds to bail out, get all my stuff, grab whatever I did not want to send to Columbus, before he left for home. He actually stopped long enough to 'do his business', before heading south, which gave me time to clean out all the assortment of flyers, coupon books, brochures, sundry 'attractions' maps and trash that had accumulated under my feet in four days of travel.

I'd tried to get him to want to meet his oldest daughter, who lives in the metro area and he rarely sees.  But he seemed to feel like getting back on the road and out of town before afternoon traffic became horrendous more important. I will add that the original plan was to meet for lunch of Friday, which fell through when we decided to leave SC a day early.

I'd planned to be in Chattanooga on Friday afternoon: but here it is Thursday, so what to do? Walk the dogs, of course!  Hang out, goof off, be shiftless, acting like it is Saturday....

More of the same on Friday am, and then off to TN in the afternoon. I got near the TN line, and veered off the interstate at  Ft. O., like I usually do, partly to avoid converging/diverging/confusing/intimidating   traffic, and partly because I have always favored the scenic route. Wildflowers blooming there along the right-of-way  the highway meanders through pastures at the base of Lookout Mtn. I  love the dark, rich, lush purple color of Joe Pye Weed, and the contrast with brilliant yellow golden rod along the fence rows.  Something white blooming out there tow - but unnamed, though I've concluded that weeds are just wildflowers growing in places no one wants or tend them.

On Friday night, we went up on Signal Mtn. to the Mountain Opry, where we enjoyed some serious bluegrass picking.   I had read about this event, that happens every weekend in what looks like an old school (in every sense of the word) from the 1950's. Lots of twanging, fiddle playing, bass-guitar thumping, banjo picking, and singing of songs that could easily be a hundred years old. We'd stopped for pizza before going to the 'picking 'n' grinning' so, in addition to be stuffed, were loaded with carbs, which caused some of us to think about taking a nap in the dark auditorium. I guess it was a pretty good crowd, and about two-thirds of the seats were filled - at least what I could see. The group that was playing when we snuck in (no admission cost, but they do pass the hat/bucket/plate/paper bag) mentioned that they had just had an anniversary celebrating thirty-three years of entertaining: both themselves and the audience.

Lots of aimless hanging out over the weekend, including a trip to Hobby Lobby (where I did not spend the first cent, scrupulously looking down at my shoes the whole time to not be tempted to want one of everything I saw), good Mex. lunch, trip to the store they thought was on my bucket list, but it's not. I had never even heard of the place before, but it was amazing. A huge collection of 'stuff', where I was not so fortunate to escape with my resources intact. I bought a couple of things I will give for Christmas, that must remain un-named here. And something for my yard that is, surprisingly, not a plant. I'm sure you've seen them everywhere: a long metal pole that bent on the end, for hanging yard decoration. It actually has  two big U-shaped two metal hooks that I can put out in my 'new' flower bed and put hanging baskets on. I  have a small plastic bird bath that I will hang on one side of the 'shepherds crook', and probably put a blooming plant in a pot on the other.

When we were wandering in the store, and strolling through the Garden area, that was mostly tired, thirsty, leggy, neglected annuals, I noticed this: the 'shepherd's crook'  that had only one hook, priced at $12.99, then another that had hooks on each side, oddly priced at: $12.99. I said to myself, several times: 'why would you buy this one that only has one hook, when you could get the other with two for the same price?' Then tucked that thought away in my brain, and continued to wander/plunder. When we had looked until our eyeballs were weary, and ready to go, I went back to get the crook device, and mosey on to the checkout. The cashier rang up my several items, and my family hurried me out of the store - were they expecting me to make a scene? How could that be?

As I look at my receipt, I discover I have been overcharged for my crook, and went back to the cashier, who assures me that $14.99 IS the correct price. And I assure her that both of the items, the one hook, and two hook variety are both priced at $12.99. After much discussion, my making another trip to look at both signs to assure myself, she calls a supervisor, who assures me the larger one is actually priced at $14.99. I tell him  about the signs I have just re-inspected, and he and I go out to look at the signs: Again. He has to agree with me, and tells the cashier to issue me a refund. But is too sorry to go out and take down the wrong price, and calls on his walkie-talkie to have a peon/worker go remove it.

Now I am wishing I had bought six of the really nice (and temporarily discounted) double-hooked items to give to all the people I know who would enjoy both having some way to hang baskets of plants, and hear this long convoluted tale of how it came into their possession. Along with all those other amazing bargains I found that would have completely completed all my gift-giving needs.

funny stuff in south carolina, part 5

Thursday, September 13, 2012
Those shows that we saw in Myrtle Beach, rumored to be as great, wonderful, entertaining as anything one would witness in the theaters of Branson: oh... yes, I think pretty good. This coming from someone who learned to drive on narrow, two lane dirt roads between fields of cotton, corn and tobacco. So: it don't take much...

We went to "Calvin Gilmore presents the Carolina Opry" on Monday night, which was mostly country music, as you would assume from a performance with 'opry' tacked on the end. (Never heard of Calvin Gilmore? Me neither - but he can obviously afford to build a big fancy theater with his name in lights...)  The show was well done, a professional, thoroughly rehearsed, beautifully costumed show with singing and dancing and some very amusing comedy sketches thrown in. And a group of four guys with amazingly fast feet, dancing in sync., who according to the program provided, had been featured on any number of daytime, tabloid-type TV shows. They were something to behold. Similar to some of the footwork in the Riverdance shows - moving so fast, from the waist down, it's just a blur.

One of the little comedy bits was a conversation between the one jokester in the cast and and a straight man who played the part of thoroughly befuddled. Along the lines of the old 'who's on first?' routine, about a guy who was opening a motel where the first floor was the highest, and the fourth floor was the lowest (price-wise), but you can imagine how confusing it could get...  And another bit where someone dressed up as a female, and took over the stage from the audience. Then later comes a guy with a routine, talking about going to work in a chicken processing plant that had been taken over by the corporation that makes the Schick razors, so the business was shaving instead plucking, and was called Chicken Schick....hmmm - maybe you had to be there to get that one...

On Tuesday night, we went to a show in the Alabama Theater.  I don't think the famous, retired musical group from Muscle Shoals really has anything to do with the production, other than possibly receiving some financial benefits from their investment and putting the name (probably trademarked) of group on all the publicity. The show was very good. Well worth $45 a ticket for three hours of entertainment: more singing, great dancing, lots of costume changes and more highly amusing comedy - probably my choice for the best part of the show.

We went early to pick up tickets that had been ordered by phone,  and took a coupon for a discount that came in the envelope  to nearby restaurant before the show began. We had been told to arrive at least fifteen minutes early for the 'warm up show', so we got there and found our seats, waiting for something to happen. This very random guy comes on stage before the curtain goes up, dressed in faded jeans and a red T-shirt. That says 'I put ketchup on my ketchup'. Everything he said sounded so sincere, and he seemed so well-meaning, and was so amusing. Turns out he is originally from Decatur, went to UGA, worked in advertising, but quit his job to do stand-up comedy. He was hilarious. Came out once during a break, riding on a little kid's push scooter that had blinking lights, with a giant foam taco on his head, wearing work-type coveralls with CD covers velcro'ed all over the front. He started off by saying it was a 'commercial', and he was obviously there to promote the recordings done by members of the cast. There were several pieces of velcro without the little jewel cases stuck on them and the MC walked out (in about the 10th costume change) and asked why he did not have one for the recordings of Christian music of his, titled "All You Need Is Faith"? The guy in the coveralls, whose stage name is Ricky, said 'well, ... I guess Faith Is NOT All You Need, is it?', so deadpan, the audience roared. He  was just so plain spoken, so open, seemingly so baffled by everything, you could not  help but be convinced of his sincerity and believe that it was all spontaneous, just whatever came into his head would pop out of his mouth ... perhaps you had to be there for that as well...

And then there was the "Legends on Stage" show at the Palace Theater on Wed,night. Pretty good, as you would hope/expect people who get paid for getting up on stage and faking it should be. We saw the (not) Elvis, Celine Dion, Little Richard, Alan Jackson, Aretha and someone most won't know/remember because your brain is not old enough: Bobby Darin.  Apparently you can call/check the website to find out which Legend is performing any particular night, which we did not know to do, so I was disappointed to not see the fake Michael Jackson - I was really wanting to study his feet and try to figure out the Moon Walk

Otherwise we entertained ourselves by walking (me), climbing six flights of stairs to get to our room (me- trying to burn off all those calories from accompanying the guy who likes to eat several times each day), riding up and down the street trying to figure the map out where the street names are duplicates numbers. That town, clearly designed for huge crowds of consumers has first, second, third, fourth, fifth,  etc. avenues,  but some are N. and some are S. Making U-turns and trying to decide if the driving directions we had meant 'Old' highway 17 or 'new' Highway 17, or we should be searching for the north avenue or the south avenue. And now that I have pretty much figured all that out, and mostly know how to navigate my way around Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, the map is in the recycling bin and I am back in Georgia.

amusing oneself in south carolina, part 4...

This is probably true anytime you are away from home, and at the mercy of the 'gimme your money' culture, in our economy that is so sadly based on outstretched hands/greed. Everything we did, except for me going on a walk, required cash. A couple hundred bucks to stay for three nights, plus tickets for two, for three nights at nearly $100 per show, plus we had to eat while we were there. The motel had a complimentary, continental breakfast (that you already read about - testing the limits of compliments and on the edge of the continent as well): Don't do that, don't use this, don't take this away, don't go in here, don't leave that there.

And a notice in the room that said 'you are responsible for dirty dishes'. With another sign under that stating that if you did leave your mess for the housekeeping staff you should expect to be charged an additional $25 for someone else to clean up after your sorry self. Though the sign did not precisely say 'sorry self', I am sure they had more than enough experience to warrant signs posted over every sink, in every kitchenette, in every single room. Which now that I think of it: might not be a terrible idea to post over my own personal sink at home.

But we ate out twice a day, anyway, even though the Quality Inn with debatable 'quality', provided a carb. laden breakfast. And that's not cheap - even in the 'off season', so we probably spent another fifty bucks a day on eating. I was traveling with a man who has always believed in eating a minimum of three meals a day, and now that he is a mostly non-compliant diabetic, usually makes an effort to eat on a mostly irregular schedule, but does put it away at least 3 x day.

So when I asked him if he thought we had had enough fun at some point on Wednesday, he said that even though he did not know if he had reached his 'fun' quota, he felt like he had likely had all the fun he could afford!  Which mostly explains why we left SC on Thursday morning, when we had planned all along to return to GA on Friday. Where we parted ways, for him to return home, and me to drive to TN on Friday to spend the weekend.

But, I digress: wanted to tell about what we did for high-priced entertainment while we were visiting Branson-east. We'd heard (or maybe just retelling urban legends, repeating mis-information) that a trip to Myrtle Beach was nearly as good as going to Missouri - plus 'way much closer, so thought that we would give the one that is only eight hours away a try first. Though I readily admit I should have considered it would be another aaaalllll-day long trip in a small space with someone of many concrete opinions, which should have induced me to have had second, third, etc., thoughts.

But we survived. He said he had a good time, and enjoyed his vacation when he put me out in Decatur and headed home. The credit card bill hasn't come yet, so I believe it's true.

Which I will tomorrow, in the next edition that gives you an opportunity to experience Myrtle Beach, not only in the peaceful off-season, but FREE, albeit secondhand...


traveling out of south carolina,part 3

We decided that we have had enough fun, so leaving on Thursday instead of Friday as originally planned. Got up about 7:15 to get dressed and go down to the complimentary breakfast(which means you cannot complain about what they are serving, and you have to mind your manners and remember to be complimentary, say 'please' and 'thank you' when you get what you get/don't complain).  It was the same every day we ate it: make your own waffle, or have instant oatmeal, or cold frootloops or raisin bran with milk, plus some micro'ed egg-y like things and sausages that obviously had been nuked as well. Two kinds of juice, all the hot coffee you can drink (before you get in the car to drive 300 miles and your bladder pops from too much caffeine.

Then we were ready to load up and hit the road.... unfunny at the time, and laughable later:

I told him he should go to on out and load up his powerchair, and I would take a little cart and go back up to the room to get all our belongings gathered up, and meet him in the parking lot.  Well, of course that did  not suit him, so he came up on the elevator driving his little chair, to oversee my loading all our gear onto the trolley I borrowed from downstairs. The elevator was so wee that the trolley and the powerchair with driver could not fit, so he went ahead after deciding I had been sufficiently supervised.  As I was walking out the door of room 602 ( why we were on the sixth floor is a complete mystery, as there were about 12 vehicles in the parking lot the whole time we were there - and probably 20 rooms for guests on each floor), I remember my leftover 1/2 turkey sandwich from Wed. tucked in the fridge.

I reach in the fridge and get my lunch, add it to the armload I am carrying: book, box of pills, etc, with one hand free to push the luggage-laden trolley.  I make it to the elevator, push the down button and wait for it to return to the sixth floor. When the doors open, and I go to step in, I drop my box full of supplements I take every day. It has a little plastic compartments, labeled with days of the week, on 14 little doors so you can fill/open for each day as you need to take the meds. Nothing in my little box is Rx, all just supplemental stuff that I have decided I need to take for various reasons, protecting bones, warding off effects of arthritis, brain health, etc. Maybe 10 or so capsules/pills in all. So here I am with one foot in and one foot out, completely unprepared to play Hokey-pokey. Stalled in the doorway, knowing someone else has pressed the button on another floor and tapping their footses, waiting, wondering: 'what is taking that dang elevator so long?'

I start raking up pills by the fist-full, not knowing what to do with them when I do get a handful - so just drop them helper-skelter back in the little compartments, all willy-nilly with no sense of organization whatsoever. Arrgggh. I finally get them all gathered up,tossed willy-nilly into the bus with no discretion as to days of the week in total disorder. Then press the button to take me down to where the guy has to power chair loaded: probably sitting there in the car, with engine running, drumming his fingers (as usual) on the dash, waiting, wondering 'what happened? Where is she? Did she get stuck? Hijacked on an elevator? Kidnapped and forced down the laundry chute by the housekeeping staff?'

And when the door opens on # 1, I realize I left my trolley full of belongings back up there on #6!!  So here I am chuckling to myself, amused at my folly, thankful no one else is there to witness my amusement, as they would be baling out, rather than being stuck with The Crazy Person in an elevator that is about 4x8.  Punched the button to take me back up to the sixth floor, and the doors open to a family who was awaiting a ride down to breakfast, having pushed my loaded trolley aside. I apologized, and think they probably looked abit uneasy as I got off and they got on. I knew the trolley wouldn't fit in that small space with other riders and had to wait till they got on, to push the down button to try again. Noticing while I was waiting for the metal box to return for me, that I had left several miscellaneous pills on the sixth floor, rolling about under the wheeled trolley. So I picked up what was hopefully the last of my meds. and, still laughing, got on the elevator to finally get the luggage out the parking lot an and loaded up to head for GA.

I don't usually tell on myself. having deliberately raised family with a reminder that 'you don't have to tell everything you know', but this was so funny, as it was happening, and even now, hours later. I wanted to write it down so I would not forget to remember to laugh... at myself.

traveling in SC, part 2

Wednesday, September 12, 2012
I finally got my toes in the sand. The last time I was near a large body of salt water, on the Gulf, somehow there never was an opportunity to get to the beach and take off shoes and socks. But I've just been there and done that. The weather has been beauty-full, remarkably cool for mid-September, clear and breezy, perfect for beach walking.We are located within easy walking distance of the surf, and the city has many boardwalks and paths built out through the dunes for easy access to sand.  Along with more tourist attractions than I can recall ever seeing, since no one took me to PCB as a kid when I my eyes would have glazed over from all the flashing neon, blinking lights,and garish souvenir shops, where everything is 75% off.

Beach access here, in between the high-rise motels and condos reminds me of being a visitor on Tybee where the community welcomes tourists and wants them to come and visit, especially since they bring pockets full of quarters in parking meters. There was a recent article in the news, revealing the price for metered spaces on Tybee has doubled, along with fines for leaving your vehicle in a slot where time has expired. Probably a great, easy way to raise funds in this era of economic crunch.

We went today back to the SC state park we visited yesterday. Due to the fact that 'someone' had peeled off T-shirt, to sit in a tank top in the sun and write postcards. Then forgot the T-shirt. The 'failing-to-remember' was mostly legitimate, since I had been tempted by the Squish-a-Penny machine in the snack bar. And left the shirt on top of the machine while it was making an imprint of Myrtle Beach on the flat copper. Got back to the motel, when pondering the MIA shirt, and finally remembered where it was located. So I looked up the number for the park (the old fashioned way: in the actual phone book) and called to ask if they would save the shirt for us to pick up this morning. Yesterday was just as pleasant as today, walking out to the end of the wooden pier on the sun, talking to the geezers about their fishing.


We did go back to get the missing clothing, and surprisingly did not have to pay another fee for entry. So went on farther south to another park, hoping for another fishing pier to stroll. But found an old un-kempt mansion instead. At Huntington State Park, built in the 1930's by a couple from New England as a 'winter retreat'. Husband was excessively wealthy, spent his life giving money away that he had inherited from his family or made from good investing: as my mom would say 'it takes money to make money'. The wife was a well know sculptor, and developed a garden that is now registered as a National Historic Site, with lots of exotic plantings imported from elsewhere, and pieces of her art work displayed. The mansion is open for tours, but in complete disrepair. There is an arts/crafts show sale that honors and supports the home each fall.

The couple of state parks we have visited nearby remind me of the ones along the GA coast that have areas that have been left in their natural state, probably some land that developers would love to have access to. But it is plainly been left with only minimal land clearing, and road making, though they do have campgrounds and boardwalks for beach access. And amenities for visitors, offering snacks, showers, etc.

We will go to another show tonight, and possibly head back to GA on Thurs.

traveling to SC, part 1

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

I left home on Monday morning at 5:00 a.m., to drive to Decatur. Paul was supposed to leave Columbus around 8'ish and meet me there at 10:00, we would leave for South Carolina. What did I expect from a guy who gets to church at 8:15, knowing the service starts at 9:00? I should have known he would arrive at 8:45, ready to go. We had just been on a long looping walk with three ADD dogs, through the neighborhood around Eleanor St., and were heading back to the house, when he pulled up behind us.

I had made a great plan to meet the semi-in-laws in Myrtle Beach and spend several days, sightseeing, going to show and being generally entertained by amusing Irwins. But even though they actually made the motel reservations, it turned out they could not attend. And cancelled out over the weekend, when work/duty call came in to go to LA mid-week. It was my intention to go regardless, so their change of plans only slightly altered mine. We had agreed that I would leave with them on Friday, and go back to TN, as this is my weekend to visit with P and C (and G and W). Therefore I drove myself to Decatur to leave my Toyo, so I can take myself to TN, and then back home on Monday.
We got here about 4'ish, after leaving Decatur at 10, and a stop for lunch.The Mapquest info. indicated it was a 6 hour drive from ATL: and yes, it is that long from Atlanta to Myrtle Beach.So would be about 8 hours from Columbus, meaning it took mostly, nearly all day to get here, esp. when you consider I got up at 4:30.
The last time I went any distance with my traveling companion, I had doubts we would both safely return to Lynch Rd. I suspect one of the passengers on that trip back in August was seriously considering mayhem, and there were times when I had dark thoughts myself. Here's the thing: why would you ask for advice and not take it? Why would you ask Mapquest to find the best route and then disregard the info. you printed out? Why would you call Onstar to ask for the shortest,quickest path to get from A to B and then go a different way? Why would you ask the passenger to look and the map and provide directions that you don't take? Hmmm....

 No problem with check-in, though I find the 'quality' part of Quality Inn debatable. We are on the sixth floor, and yes it does have a 'beach view', but you have to look between the high-rise motels/condos that are between the QI and ocean, kinda lean over on the balcony and squint... but you do get a view of the sparkling water. There are lots of boardwalks with public access (and parking meters) for getting on to the sand, and I will put on my little flip flops and walk the beach at some point, since I don't think I even got sand between my toes the last time I was near salt water.

 After eating the complimentary breakfast we walked a bit down the sidewalks along Ocean Blvd. He lost interest, and rode in his little power chair/went back to QI  take a nap. I told him if he went to sleep, he would think when he woke up it was time for breakfast again.


 I found a really neat little boardwalk that goes right through the middle of a big gaudy amusement park, and walked along an estuary for a short distance before returning to the QI. That little board walk apparently protects drainage that goes into the ocean; I could see the tide going out, little schools of minnows in the tannin colored water, waving bright green marsh grass along the edges. A wee bit of the natural world right there sandwiched between the go-kart track and merry-go-round.

We went to a show last night. I thought it was really good, but we don't get out much, and are pretty easily entertained. Mostly country music, some comedy,girls in short dressed or tight jeans dancing (how come they never make the guys wear short dresses and skin-tight pants?), and a group of four young men with amazingly fast feet. The Carolina 'Opry - I was so entertained I could probably go back again tonight and see the same thing over again! Kinda sad to know it is so easy to amuse me...

I know there are other shows, and think we should look, ask to see if anything might have a matinee - but suspect that everything really drops off after Labor Day, when tourist season is over. I've looked at brochures, fliers and see a show that has fakes. Imitators of everyone from Elvis to Little Richard to Michael Jackson. Maybe we will try that... Or go on the sunset cruise?



sing-a-long-ing with the scouts...

Sunday, September 9, 2012
I have semi-, sorta, kinda, but not really got involved with a group of 'retired' Girl Scouts. I think GSUSA has finally begun to realize there is a tremendous un-tapped resource in adults who were active as kids/teens and have good memories of the scouting experience. Not only in the sense of being financially secure to possibly provide monetary resources, but people who are prominent in the community and can trace some of their success to the skills GS wants to develop for the next generation.

I'm not any of the above, but love what GSUSA is doing for young girls and teens. And I certainly have the time to offer, so am available to 'be volunteered' when the Legacy Group wants to plan events that are open to all the area troops. One thing they tried to do in August did not receive community support, so the event has been tactfully 'rescheduled' for a later date.

The event last night was publicized as 'Sing-A-Long and S'mores'. I long ago learned that when you do not attend committee meetings, you are more than likely going to be the person who gets volunteered to do something none of the people present want to do. So I was the Official Fire-builder. I was tempted to go out in the yard and scrounge up some twigs to practice, as my skills are very rusty. I know I can do it, just thought I might need to have a dress rehearsal before I did it in public. But then I thought: "ha! I'm sure I know more about it than those kids" - plus I can get there early and get it started before they begin to trickle in, and no one will know about the secret fire-starters buried down in the center of the pyramid.

Which I kinda, sorta did, even though I knew that the city would not allow open fires in the public park, and we would be roasting our marshmallows on a grill. The only problem was that the grill was just that: mounted on a metal pole about  three feet off the ground, with the base embedded in concrete. And the rack/grid for cooking, was permanently attached to prevent disappearing; would not lift high enough to get anything more than good-sized twigs under it to build my fire. I had a bag of real fire-wood, like you would buy for some outrageous price at the grocery store, and had great plans for a Real Campfire. It didn't happen.

Plan B, fortutiously was someone on the planning team brought a bag of charcoal. So after I got  my twiggy fire lit, I tossed briquets of charcoal onto the nicely burning pile, they caught on, and it made the perfect little fire for charring marshmallows. There was a sort of assembly line set up, by adults, who were so thorough in their planning, they even remembered pump bottles of hand sanitizer.  A little overly cautious for my taste: s'mores are much more flavorful when dropped in the dirt. But every one who wanted: scouts, troop leaders, moms, dads, little brothers, hangers-on, passers-by got loaded up with a double dose of sugar.

Lots of singing, all those camp songs that are so interminable, they make you grind your teeth. I think the younger ones especially had a good time, with listening and seeing older girls joining in, enjoying songs with hand-motions, a thousand verses, watching Girl Scouts having fun. I remembered to take a jug of water to put out my fire when the last sticky face consumed the last blackened marshmallow - as the society columns in used to say: A good time was had by all.

pseudo kudzu: the real deal...

I went to FL on Thurs.,and on to spend the night in south GA on Thurs night. I'd packed up my yard working equipment before leaving home, prepared to whack as necessary, but really expecting that I would do some weed spraying. Never knowing that the vine-ing things had gotten completely out of control. After a dry summer in the early months, there has recently been so much rain that all this sudden growth spurt would not be out of place in the rain forest of central America or along the Amazon.

After paying someone to cut lots of overgrown azaleas down to a nub, and paint the stumps to keep them from coming back - foolish me, I thought I had solved the problem. But not only have the azaleas put on lush growth in an effort to recover, all the little seeds that would not germinate in their dense shade have taken off, covering everything: weeds, stumps, pine straw mulch, all competing to try to see which can get the tallest quickest. So there was lots of stuff to spray with the weedkiller: coral vine, morning glory vine, smilax (who am I trying to kid - a forest fire would not kill that stuff!), weeds galore...

Spent the morning spraying, and pulling up crab-grass (another futile occupation!), piling up trash. And went to the cemetery to spray around the people I know and miss who are there. The city does a pretty good job of keeping it mowed and neat, but grass is always creeping up over the edges of the slabs, and inching around the monuments. So that got a good dose of weed killer as well.

Did a little visiting in Q., and V. and started back towards middle GA. I knew I was 'invited' to be at work the next two days, so though I had thought to spend another night in south GA., I decided to come on back on Friday night. Got back to Lynch Rd., just in time to fall into bed.

battlling pseudo-kudzu

For many years I have been trying to warn people that they really don't want to plant English ivy vines and have it growing out in their yards, without supervision. There was a time, many years ago, when, in my blissful ignorance, thought I wanted to have it at my house: not recently though, as I periodically get out with my industrial strength weed-killer and spray as much as I can, hoping to eventually eliminate the evil beast. It is a long process: ivy killing, as there is much leaf mulch that has accumulated out in the 'natural' areas, with lots of deciduous trees that contribute on a regular basis, some all year long, constantly shedding, adding to the recycling effects of nature.

In recent weeks, I have devoted a little time to getting out in the yard, picking up tree trash, limbs that have fallen and been accumulating for months. Plus the detritus from the yard guys who did a less than half-hearted job of cleaning up after they did some major bushwhacking early in the summer. I was delighted to have them come and clear cut azaleas that had gotten completely out-of-hand due to twenty-five years of benign neglect. And probably  know that one should not seriously expect men to do a good 'clean-up' job, even when they are getting paid for it! So the trash removal is an ongoing project, with the necessity re-occurring every time we have a storm with heavy winds that blows more limbs down.

It's time to try to get back out there and spray the ivy again, before the weather cools and it is not actively growing. I had help cutting back the vines that had inched up in the trees and were taking over (thank you C.) so it does not look so overwhelming. Some of the wandering, invasive vines had gotten so high up in the trees, the tree tops would appear to be evergreens, full of leafy branches all year-round, though they were oaks and sweet gums that drop all their leaves in the fall. I have some weedkiller that is only available for agricultural use, that I purchased at a farm supply business. Much more potent than the mild-mannered stuff sold for homeowner use: it is a concentrate that can be mixed to the proportions that would be most effective, depending on the nuisance value of what you intend to eliminate.

When I encounter someone who talks about how much they just 'love' ivy, with the long twining tendrils, think it is ever-so-pretty, I tell them to keep it in the pot. Warning they should keep it trimmed, don't let it get a toe hold, even though it is super-easy to root from cuttings: never plant it out in the yard where it can grow into a monster.. And occasionally tell them that I believe it turns into kudzu when no one is looking.

south on highway 27

Saturday, September 8, 2012
Traveling again. Left home early on Thursday morning to head south. It's a pretty drive, through farmland in southwest GA, parallel to the Chattahoochee River, but sadly, not close enough to actually see it. That would be an amazing view. I often think, as I take that route to N. FL how interesting it would be to start down that highway, and spend the day, taking every road that turned off to the west/state line/river, just to see where it goes, and how close you could actually get to the big, wide, slow, muddy water. Maybe next time...???

Much of state route 27 has been four-laned to make the drive quicker, and avoids many of small rural communities with by-passes that swing wide of commercial areas. As you can imagine, that means many of those once thriving communities with retail stores so dependent on the business of farmers, who are often at the mercy of the weather, are slowly drying up.  I'm sure this is true in other areas, across the U.S., where farmers have had to give up life-long work, being physically exhausted themselves, and tired of trying to provide for families with rising costs on exhausted fields - getting deeper and deeper in the hole with each growing season. Then the government builds a big wide highway that diverts traffic around local businesses: and poof! Another one bites the dust.

It was a pleasant drive, uneventful. Though I made several detours through those struggling little burgs, looking for a newspaper. I found lots of weeklies, published to cover county events, and news that was so old by the time it got to press, it wasn't news any longer. I doubt they serve any purpose other than the requisite legal advertising for probate, and foreclosures. The loss of the daily printed word is another sad story, for another day...

Got to Chattahoochee about 10:30, and had a nice visit with dear friends. We had plenty of time to solve all the problems of the world: but since papers with world news are such a scarcity in that part of the world, we didn't know which ones needed our attention the most. (Yeah, I know: there is always TV, but you know how I feel about that!) We crossed the river to have lunch, and had a little tour of local park, then drove out to inspect the dam that creates the lake on the AL/GA/FL line. Below the lake, the river is the Apalachicola instead of Chattahoochee, as this is where the Flint River joins in.

I've recently noticed in our newspaper that the Corps of Engineers,as the party responsible for maintaining the dam and locks, has decided to permanently close locks farther north: creating a media up-roar (you know how they can choose their topics and generate howling protests over a chicken-plucking?). Columbus will now be 'land-locked!' What?  No big deal: the state of FL will not allow dredging of the silt in the channel below the dam, so commercial vessels cannot use the river anyway. There has been no commercial/barge/tug traffic as far north as middle GA for years, due to shallow navigation channel. So no need to man/maintain locks that are not used.

We mostly all fly anyway: either driving too fast, or actually in the air. No one wants to take a leisurely trip up or down the river at the speed of water travel. We're all in such a hurry to get someplace, so we can stop, get out, look around, take a whiz, and jump back in for more high-speed travel. Good-bye to the Mark Twain era: so long steamboats, river traffic. We've talked over the years about going to take a river cruise on one of those big luxe boats that ply the Mississippi River - but find that they are outrageously expensive - like taking an actual cruise. Kinda like the gov't wants to promote train travel as a form of mass transit, but it is so high-priced, everyone thinks: I can drive there for a whole lot less, and not have to rent a vehicle on arrival.

...phone ringing at 6:15 a.m.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012
Arggghhh. Even though I have been mostly awake since about 3:30, industriously scratching at my newest collection of red-bugs, it is so annoying for the phone to start up at 6:01, when the sub-finder is looking for replacement teachers. I have not taken any jobs since school started back in early August, always having something else planned, or out of town. I knew I needed to get up, get started, but was dozing, periodically napping and waking, waiting until I didn't have any choice, never intending for the phone to startle me into action.

I went to the (mostly worthless/waste of time) required meeting, about a month ago. And signed up to do it again. I know the annual event is pretty much a formality, since I did not go in August of last year, but accepted assignments that were equivalent to working a month in the course of the school year. Having some conflict with the day the program overseer/manager choose for the requisite gathering, I sent in regrets when invited, and asked to attend a 'make-up' meeting, which apparently never occurred/got organized. But I kept getting the calls, more for work as a para-professional than as a teacher,(pay rate is $65/day vs $100/day, so you see why no one wants the para-pro jobs - you work just as hard for 1/2 the pay, plus headache inducing lunch room duty) but had all the school district employment I wanted or had time for.

I should have expected that phone would ring early this morning, as I just hung it up last night, instead of going through the process of listening to the recording enough to actually 'decline' any more opportunities during this particular calling period. I remember from that official introductory meeting (that is always the same, with greetings from a school board official, and repetition of the guidelines/rules/what not to do) that in order to stay 'active' with the sub-finder program, one only has to accept and complete one assignment during the school year, and I will certainly do that.

But not today, as I am going to Publix.


you should be worried about me...

Monday, September 3, 2012
Completely out of character, so much that you might want to check on my health, sanity, body temperature, over all condition. I have been at home all day. Not completely, entirely within the boundaries of the three acre lot, but definitely within walking distance: I did take myself down to the end of the street, waiting of course, until it got to be the middle of the day, as hot as it would get, before getting out to trek for about 2 1/2 miles. I'd mostly quit the daily walks, after finally, barely recovering from the hike up and down Mt. LeConte. But have seen the lbs. begin to creep up, so know I need to get back in the calorie burning frame of mind.

After my walk, I spent several hours out in the yard. Liberally applying insect repellant (the same stuff that did not work last Friday, when I soon discovered myself infested with a whole new crop of red bugs) before going out with my wheelbarrow to pick up more tree trash. I'd get so hot I thought I would explode like a fire-cracker, come in to drink copiously and cool off - then go back for more misery. I am making progress, as evidenced by the growing line of'beaver-lodge' like piles of tree limbs piled up out along the street, awaiting the city truck on Thursday.

Late this afternoon, I had gotten so hot and weary, I actually thought I had quit, and parked the barrow in the carport, believing I was done for the day. But after coming in, cooling off, went out and started up again. I was aware of thunder booming off in the distance - miles away, far to the west, and continued to pick up trash, haul it up to the street and return for more. Suddenly, as I was whacking some low limbs with my pruners, there was a huge boom of lightening that struck fearfully close - to the east, nearly in my back yard. I said a bad word, dropping the metal pruners and knew I was finished for the day. Undecided about even rolling the current load up to the street in my metal-forked barrow, really anxious about how close that last explosion of lightening had hit, far too close at hand. But wanted to get finished before the rains started.

After that strike that was freakishly close: I am definitely done for today. I can't remember the last time I was at home All Day Long, but have had no problem keeping myself occupied: did about eight loads of wash, over half of which was stuff for church. I'm all caught up on my laundry, the neighbors' laundry, total strangers' laundry. Like when kids were small and I would bathe, put to bed, then start in on wash, so everything would be clean - for a few hours before they woke up and started all over again!

balloon fest at Callaway...

Sunday, September 2, 2012
Though we have been living here, just a county away, from Callaway Gardens for all these years, I had never been to the Balloon Festival before. Doing other things over the Labor Day weekend, or working? I don't know - I just never got there. Surprising as neat as much as I enjoy the idea of drifting, silent flight you would have traveling by hot air balloon.

I started volunteering at Callaway back in the spring, when I heard about other people who were going to their Annual Plant Fair, who were also part of the local Master Gardening group. I went for several days to the Plant Fair, even though The Gardens wants volunteers to be 'trained' before they are actually in a position to 'represent' the Gardens in public. It took me several months to successfully reschedule and complete the training - and I think I have participated in a couple of education events as a worker-bee since.

I knew that ballooning event was coming up, and requested to be on the list of workers for Friday night and Saturday morning. Then recruited some other mildly interested volunteers as hangers-on. We went up on Friday, and were sorta disappointed to not be useful. It was really impressive to see all those huge nylon, brightly colored envelopes fill with air, then slowly stand erect along the beach at Robin Lake. A couple of the balloons had advertising on them, I assume corporately sponsored by Harley Davidson motorcycles and Re-Max real estate sales/marketing. But all the others were gloriously colored, looking like huge pieced quilts as they were filled with forced air by large portable fans. There were at least a dozen there along the grass - really spectacular as the sun went down and balloonists would heat the air with blasts of propane and you saw the gas glow from inside the huge 'envelope' as the balloons gradually came upright. I can imagine it is a tricky proposition, heating the confined air just enough to keep the balloon inflated, but not so much that the wicker basket, with pilot and large tank of propane, lifts off the ground.

My agreement as a volunteer was to be there to 'assist' (which we didn't do, as the balloon teams/crews did not need extra hands) was from 6:30 to 9:30, but about 8:30, I said: 'well, it looks to me like the fireworks show is about half over, so it must be time to go home and beat the crowd out of the gate' (as we have done some many times when we were riding with the guy who made all the decisions for us.)

I had committed/agreed to be there to work again on Saturday, so I knew I was getting up at 5:30, to be back at 6:30. So 2/3 of the trio got up before the crack of dawn, and returned to offer assistance again on the following morning. We kinda sorta created a job for ourselves, thinking anything is better than standing around for three hours, feeling useless. Most of the balloon crews were setting up, filling envelopes and tying off baskets to vehicles to offer the public an opportunity for tethered rides: go up a hundred feet in a hot air balloon and gently come back to earth for $10. The basket is only about five feet square, so with the pilot and propane tank, there is only room for two adults and a couple of children. The man we had offered to help gave me a quick ride, up-and- down, so I can say, like all those other hundreds of people who showed up, and plunked down their cash,  that I've been for a ride in a hot air balloon.

When you think about the cost involved, I doubt they made any money, but think, that like many other things people get started on as an amusing hobby that they probably don't do it expecting to support the cost of the endeavor. And can see how you could get 'hooked' on it. Probably not any more expensive than something like owning a boat and fishing a lot, or having a big RV sitting in your yard when you are not out exploring.

I think there was an option in the late afternoon for people to actually go someplace: for $175 per person. You won't have any idea where you might land, or how long you might be gone, or when you might return. I guess that is the Joy of Ballooning? It was pretty, beautiful to just see them all inflated, and interesting to hear the crews talk about their experiences traveling all over to weekend events, most of which attract dozens if  not hundreds of ballonists.