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watching it...

Saturday, June 28, 2014
A sad confession I will make: I have been watching it for several weeks. Got to the point that the waistband on my pants would not button, and I was feeling a bit inflated, so I knew it was time to start back to Weight Watchers. I had been telling myself since early in the year, actually probably after Thanksgiving, that it was tragic, but necessary, to 'bite the bullet' instead of all those other things I have been enjoying.

Then along comes Christmas, and you tell yourself: might as well wait until Jan. to get back on the wagon. Then along comes January and you tell yourself: you don't want to go in there when all those other people who overindulged and made fluffy promises in the form of New Years' Resolutions are going to be clogging up the doorway. Then along comes all the chocolate temptations associated with the middle of February. Then it's getting warmer, almost time for thinking about wearing shorts, knowing swim suit season will soon follow. So you tell yourself: 'get on with it'. Then comes Easter, with all the chocolate bunnies hopping down the bunny trail.  And people who persist in giving you malted milk eggs you don't want to eat - but can't put in the trash. Then: it really is summer, and work pants are not the only thing that you can't squeeze the waistband together on. So: buy shorts with elastic waist. Problem solved!

I really did start back to WW several weeks ago, and have been pretty diligent. Feeling miserably guilty when I backslide. And say to myself as I am sinning: don't put that in your mouth. But occasionally do it any way. Though most of the time I can rationalize and say: "I do not want that (fill in the blank) getting on the scales with me when I have to go back and weigh in next week."

I was talking to a friend recently who said that he had a lot of pants that 'don't fit any more', and was thinking of donating to a thrift shop. Then suddenly realized it was not the pants that had, while hanging in the closet, mysteriously changed sizes.... but not yet quite ready to admit that he enjoys eating too much to face the reality of never being the same size as the pants again.

So, back up there to the opening sentence, where I make a distasteful confession: I have discovered, much to my dismay that my historically agreeable waist line has begun to creep up. It seems to be a couple of inches north of where I remember last seeing it. Which I guess explains why the waistband of the work pants (even with a bit of elastic in the waist) doesn't seem to care about meeting in the middle any more. I am nearly certain I do not care to buy more pants just for the pleasure of attending employment, I will persue this option of checking in at the scale every week (for a fee of nearly $10 per wk.)


My friend PC and I go to pot luck dinners each month as part of the Emmaus community. Always at a church in the area, in places that have a big enough fellowship hall to hold a hundred or more people. There seems to be certain people who invariably, consistently bring the same thing each month to share. Someone comes with those 'ooey-gooey butter bars' that will put you in the hospital.  Another attendee brings a big crock pot full of beef stew, with lots of yummy vegetables and gravy. A friend who works for a pizza store always brings several varieties of large pizzas we dig into. There is always plenty, actually too much, food, in a great assortment.

I decided several weeks ago, at the dinner we went to over in Phenix City, that I should be bringing biscuits to sop up all the good gravy from the pot roast that is left over when we have fished out all the yummy beef and delicious vegetables. Knowing that is what certain people will always show up with, and we'd all be happy to eat biscuits and gravy for dessert (after eating dessert, of course!)
So I have concluded the 'thing' I would start bringing to each of the monthly events would be a pan of fresh baked biscuits.

I have this deadly recipe I found in a magazine (probably while cooling my heels in a doctor's waiting area) that I surreptitiously borrowed and folded up to put in my pocket. I only do that when the magazine is really old. If it is fairly new, I will ask the receptionist to make me a copy of a page, and leave it intact for someone else to swipe. The biscuits are so amazingly good, it's difficult to believe there are only three ingredients. But when you realize what's involved, you readily understand why these baked goods can be both delicious and deadly.

Reminding me of a family friend, who was an orthopedic surgeon... when he would occasionally get stuck doing a night in the ER, and see people come in at 3:00 a.m. with a particular set of symptoms, he called it: 'Biscuit Poisoning'. A classic result of eating a great big plow-hand breakfast every morning for forty years. Then being awakened in the wee hours, with mysterious aches as arteries slowly became completely occluded over time from monumental amounts of cholesterol.

Paula Deen's Cream Biscuits
2 cups self-rising flour
1Tbs. sugar
1 1/2 cups heavy cream (no substitutions)
Stir together. Turn out onto floured surface, fold and knead 5 -7 times. Pat out 1/2 inch thick. Cut with 3 inch cutter, place on greased pan with 1 inch between biscuits. Bake at 500 for 10 minutes. Makes 10 - 12 biscuits.

My notes:  I patted mine a bit thinner and probably got close to 20 on the pan. Butter as soon as they are cool enough to pick up and eat, before anyone else knows they are out of the oven. You can probably get two or three before you get caught, and the competition for the remaining biscuits starts. The guy here, who had several before I took them away last night, said he thinks they are better than Angel Biscuits - which is saying A Lot.

Oh, and there is a cat named 'Biscuit' at the house on Eleanor St. in Decatur.

the flowers, part 2

Friday, June 27, 2014
I really enjoy doing this stuff, and cannot say why it is that I get so stressed out. But trying to make myself get started is so difficult, and I find so many trivial things to do around the house while studiously avoiding that which must be done. Until I finally say to myself: "just do it", and jump right in and get busy.

It only took me a couple of hours to do the three corsages the bride wanted, and nearly complete the hand-held bouquets. There are five: one for the bride, plus the four attendants. I'll have to wait till nearly time for the event to do the satin ribbon wrap around the stems. That's about it for wedding party flowers. Nothing for the guys, nothing in the sanctuary.

A flower arr. for the food table at the reception in the church lobby/café area, that would have to be really big and showy. And some smaller bouquets to go on the tables that were to be laid with lime green cloths for people to sit, eat, chat. With plenty of colorful spray roses to make everything look cheerful and charming. Cut short and put in some neat little square glass containers, to look like nosegays centered on the green table cloth.

I'd decided there was no practical way I could take a huge arrangement to the church in my little car.  Knowing it would be nearly five feet tall when I added all the flowers and greenery to the urn that was already about eighteen inches and then some with a block of floral foam inserted: it would never fit. So after I got the stuff done this morning, I loaded up the bucket of flowers, the silver wine cooler, and some greenery I cut from around the yard and took it all to put together at church.  It looks really good. I am pretty pleased with myself. Also did those eight little arrangments that go on the round tables for guests.

I will have to go in the morning to take the three corsages (two servers and one mom) and the hand-held bouquets. They are in a bucket in the kitchen, still needing to have stems wrapped with navy blue satin ribbon. But getting that done, and getting them to the church by noon is all that I have left to do.  I can't do the wrapping part until the last minute, so the ribbon will not be wet when the brides and maids pick them up. I am so thankful, relieved to have it all behind me. I hope the roses will open up some more, so the bouquets will look really full and pretty.

B.'s weddinng flowers...

I went to Alabama,[with a banjo on my knee :) ] on Wed. to pick up the flowers I had ordered from the wholesale floral business there. Lesson #1: ask how much before you place your order, so you won't have to be picked up off the floor when you go to pay. And got some gorgeous roses. A dark almost chocolate brown, called 'Chococinno', some variegated orange/reddish, a few yellow, and some that were ordered to be a brick or rust color, rather than traditional rose shade that is more pink or burgundy/wine. I'm stuck with that last color, and will have to make the best of what the guy at the wholesale store ordered. But hopefully close enough that the bride will be pleased (or at least oblivious until the photos come after the whirlwind day of the wedding.)

They are called 'spray roses', a term I did not know until I started working at Publix 16 plus years ago. The size of a sweetheart rose, but with three to six buds/blooms on a stem. So when you buy the average bunch (at Publix, it usually has three or four stems in a sleeve) you are getting at least a dozen buds or open roses.  Sold for four bucks a sleeve, so in a perfect world, we could easily make two corsages out of one bunch/sleeve of roses. And charge between $15 and $20 for it, but you have to consider: Publix overhead, like labor, lighting and cooling.
This is what the bucket of flowers has been looking like, sitting in the kitchen, waiting for the roses to open up, so they would look more like what the bride wanted, which was ranuculus, not at all in season.
And though this photo does not look much different, this is what the hand-held bouquets looked like, when I made all five of them, for the bride, and her four attendants, and put them back in the bucket, to keep fresh until time to go to the church and get the stems wrapped in navy blue satin ribbon.

I ordered twelve or so bunches, plus stopped at a Publix on the way to Opelika and bought another bunch in a color I can use. I've got about $200 invested in roses. Not sure what the brides' budget is for flowers, so hope I am not stir frying, sauteing, casseroling some rose buds in the next couple of days. I've started on the hand-held bouquets. There is one for the bride, four attendants, and some corsages. A mom or grand., plus a couple of folk who will be helping with the reception: serving or cutting cake. The rest of the cut flowers will go in some small square glass containers she wants to put out on eight tables for people to sit at while they are enjoying eating and visiting. 

And a big glorious arrangement to go on the food table.  Which I have polished up the silver urn for. The urn is almost as old as adult children: won in a golf match when P. was in his golf playing days with the Hackers group,art of the foursome that came in with the lowest score in a tournament in 1987. I will have to take the urn, and bucket of cut flowers to the church to put it together. When I realized it would be too big for me to safely transport into town, I decided I would just take the 'ingredients' and assemble it there. So I would not have to worry about spilling, tipping, traffic, sudden braking, unexpected veering, or some other impending disaster that only occurs when you know you cannot afford any problems.


Thursday, June 26, 2014
I am very fond of squash. Better in a casserole than any other way. I am not so excited about eating it fried: too greasy. But cook it till tender, put in some other goodies, and bake it: I could probably eat squash seven days a week. In fact: I just have.

Some one gave me a big bag of fresh, home-grown last week, and I started cooking. Put most of it in a casserole I dragged across the state on Saturday to the family gathering. So I would have some vegetables to eat when everyone else was eating meat. (Also took salad makings we stopped and bought over there in east GA at a little IGA store in Sparta, to avoid being hungry when they were having all the illicit stuff that goes with BBQ.)

There was a lot of squash left over, so  I brought it home, and have had some for lunch every day, either at work or not. The best is a recipe my grandmother used to make, that I do not have a recipe for. I can tell you how to make it, but don't think the ingredients were ever measured, to give an idea about how much of this and that you would use to make it perfect.  The  traveling squash casserole that went across the state and back is from my sister-in-law, who loved to feed her family, and loved to share when people said: "this is so good, tell me how you made it?"

Jane  Sanders Callan's Squash Casserole

2 quarts sliced summer/crookneck yellow squash
1 large onion, diced
Cook together until tender, drain well.
Add 1/4 stick butter, salt and pepper.
Mix one can of  cream of chicken soup with 1 egg, plus 1/4 of a sleeve of crumbled saltine crackers.
Spoon into baking dish, top with parmesan cheese.
Bake at least 30 minutes, 45 is better, in a 350 oven.

I had such a bait of squash, from a friend, I made enough to completely fill a 9 x 13 baking dish. Plus putting several quart bags in the freezer. It got to the point that I was hoping I would not soon receive such a nice gift again.  I had so much, I readily admit that I did some adlibbing with the recipe... as any cook will do who thinks they can improve on a good recipe.

there should be some sort...

Wednesday, June 25, 2014
...of award given for most states covered in the shortest amount of time. Like that race across the US from NYC to LA. There was a movie, Burt Reynolds I think, about the 'Cannonball Run'. I'm not quite ready for that, putt-putting along in my little 47 mpg Prius, but I have been getting around. When I realized I went to SC last Sat., and TN on Monday, and going to AL today.  If not an award, some help with the MC bill when it comes would be nice....

I have agreed to do some wedding flowers for an acquaintance at church. She is getting married on Sat. I will run over to Opelika today to pick up flowers I ordered last week from wholesale florist. She wanted something they tell me is completely unavailable at this time of year, so I am hoping the spray roses will be close enough to be a decent substitute. I will leave them out and let them open up, and would like for her to believe they look similar to the ranuculus she had picked out. I am thinking the most important part of the bouquets was the color, and feel like I conveyed my choice to the doofus at the wholesale store pretty well.

So we will see what they ordered, and I will hope the colors come in relatively close to what the bride wanted for her hand-tied bouquet and the flowers for attendants and table arrangements. But at this point - we pretty much have to go with what's available to purchase, as it is too close to Sat. to be ordering stuff and expect it to come before I need to put it together. Keep your fingers crossed?

that was amusing...photo added

Tuesday, June 24, 2014
We went to north GA to tube on the river that comes straight out of glacier in the Arctic. It was, I think, considerably colder than I remember the coldness of tubing on the 'Hooch in Helen. Which was Cold.  I wondered about the likelihood of taking a wet suit, but decided I would rather suffer than be laughed at by total strangers, as well as close family members.

Fortunately I discovered the option of renting a kayak instead of a tube, so hardly got my feet wet. But wet enough to know it was, oh... I'd say, about as cold as ice water. I'm all for fun, but do not think it would have met my definition if I had been dragging my backside in the water for three miles floating down the river.

I got up early and drove up to Decatur, where we got organized and went up to north GA to meet P. at McCaysville, near Blue Ridge and Ellijay, snugged right up there next to the TN state line. We rented two tubes, two kayaks and got on the shuttle to trek up the river to the 'put in' place. Pretty river, really scenic, even with lots of houses along the wooded edges. There were some things sporadically blooming along the river's edge, so I paddled over to take a closer look. Sort of looked like magnolia blooms from a distance: but  I guess it's rhododendron. I have never seen that color before. Pink while still buds, before they open, then fading to white as the flowers mature. Really pretty, and unusual coloration. We got rained on a couple of times, just a sprinkle or two, but it was a pleasant day, with lots of laughter and good, clean fun.

the dessert recipe contest...

...was totally rigged. I just realized that one of the judges was related to one of the contestants. Who conveniently won first and second place. So think he, unwittingly, knows where his bread is buttered?

Someone, several years ago, had the brainstorm for getting people to bring desserts to go along with the barbeque dinner by telling the attendees there would be a contest, with winners being announced for bringing their best.  When F. went with me a couple of years ago, she was incensed that she had brought labor intensive cupcakes and got no notice whatsoever. Was completely disregarded by the (highly biased) judges. All men: who will eat anything involving whipped topping. The 'best' was something made with a purchased sponge cake, torn up and layered with fresh strawberries, and large quantities of coolwhip. While her made-from-scratch cupcakes with laboriously stirred caramel icing got hardly a passing glance.

So she plotted to make something the judges would to take to the family gathering this year. To impress judges who happen to be: guys with beards, dressed in camo., wearing hunting boots and cargo shorts. Guys who would fall all over anything with the first ingredient listed being whipped topping. Using a recipe she filched from her sister, she made this thing that is layered poison and (the original artificial food-stuff) coolwhip. Chopped Reese Cups, coolwhip, chopped Snickers, coolwhip, chopped Oreos, coolwhip. Maybe add in some cream cheese, whipped up with more coolwhip. What's not to love?

That was a tie for second place. The first place was a zucchini cake, and the second was: I forget, along with the layered dessert we hauled across the state. And my little offering of Mexican Brownies got: nothing. Not even a decent tasting. As I brought three-fourths of the pan back home with me, and immediately thought: where can I farm this out, so I won't eat any? The answer: "I will give them to someone who has zero body fat, and will burn them off while sleeping".

The recipe came from a Good Housekeeping magazine years ago. I recently un-earthed it in my box, and made it for a 'bring desserts' reception at church. Makes a lot, and they are really rich, so you need to go someplace other people will eat them for you.

Mexican Brownies

1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/2 tsp. Each: baking powder, salt, ground cinnamon
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup butter, softened (two sticks)
4 large eggs
1 Tbs. vanilla extract

Coffee Frosting
1 Tbs. instant coffee powder
1Tbs. vanilla extract
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 Tbs. butter or margarine
1 1/4 cups confectioners sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 13 x 9 metal baking pan. Line with foil, and grease foil.
In medium bowl combine flour, cocoa, baking powder, salt, cinnamon.
In 3 quart saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Remove from heat, stir in granulated sugar. Stir in eggs one at a time, mixing well. Add vanilla. Stir in flour mix. until blended, Spread in pan.
Bake 25 to 30 min. or until toothpick inserted in center comes out almost clean. Cool on wire rack.
When completely cool, prepare frosting.
In a small cup, dissolve coffee and vanilla with 2 Tbs. hot water.
In 1 qt, saucepan, heat brown sugar and butter over medium heat until mixture melts and bubbles, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat. With wire whist, beat in coffee mixture, then confectioners sugar until smooth. With small spatula, spread warm frosting over brownies. Let stand 20 minutes, to allow frosting to slightly set. Cut into squares, makes two dozen.
If desired garnish each square with a coffee bean or chocolate curls.
Give away 23 of these, or you will not like yourself.

the tale Louisa told...

Sunday, June 22, 2014
I had not forgotten about it. But hoping that no one else remembered. I am sure we all do things as teenagers that come back to haunt us. Relatively harmless activities that we do not think much about before we jump into them at the time. But when they come back to bite us on the butt, we realize that in the mindless misbehavior of adolescence and juvenility, we have all, as some point, done things I wish my kids did not know about. Before I make this confession any more public, I will now assume they  also have been participants in activities I would prefer to not know about...

That horse is now out of the barn.

When I saw cousin Louisa back early in the year, we were in Macon, at the funeral of a dear man. My dad's cousin Edward, who was for me, Louisa and others the 'go-to' guy for family history. He was the one who knew the most about the most people, and now he's gone, taking much of that wealth of information with him. But he did talk to a tape recorder and share lots of stories and family memories.

There were several people who stood up at the service back in January and talked about Ed. and his well-lived life, his work in advertising and printing, his family and his influence in the community. There at the funeral were daughters, ex-wives, friends and lots of people from his circle of influence. One of the ex-wives, upon introduction to me, remembered the time I did a little B & E when her family was out of town.

So the story goes: I was attending a small two-year college in a little town about thirty minutes southeast of Macon. Such a small school in such a dull town, everyone who could would go leave on the weekends. Leaving on Friday afternoon, trickling back to campus on Sunday nights, with clean laundry. I had no transport, so at the mercy of anyone who would give me a ride anyplace that was elsewhere. Occasionally going with friends to Atlanta, or catching a ride back to south Georgia. Or finding someone who would drop me off at cousin Ed's house in Macon.

He had three daughters, acquired with a second wife.  I think at the time, the girls were about eight and ten and twelve or so. It was a remarkabley pleasant household, a welcoming place with constant activity. Three daughters, assorted pets, friends, visitors, people coming and going, always interesting. One of the daughters was invariably away at a sleepover, making a empty bed for me to use.

I don't recall the specifics, but guess I usually called to ask if I could come up and spend the weekend. This could very well be where I perfected the art of 'self-inviting'.  But apparently there came the odd weekend when I did not communicate my desire to show up on their doorstep. So when I had my ride put me out, I discovered there was no one at  home. I don't recall the details, and can only guess how long I waited before concluding no was going to let me in. At some point I began to consider my options: no way to call anyone, no knowledge of the town to get out in the street and start walking, no idea when they might come back or if they were gone for the weekend. Awkward? Yes. Stupid? Maybe. Resourceful?

Had I ever been in anyone's house when no one else was there? Not that I remember. But I was stuck. Really stuck. Decades before the advent of walk-around-in-your-pocket telephones. So I climbed in the window. The way the former wife likes to tell the story, and the way Louisa started it was that I climbed up the chimney. But it was really just a window that was probably eight feet off the ground. The outside of the house was stone; lots of toeholds to work my way up and scootch over the windowsill when I propped the screen open and found the window was not locked.  I think I got found out when I did not put all the knick-knacks back in the same place when I climbed in the window and over the chest/bookshelf inside the house. When the homeowners finally came home and noticed something askew.  And the guilty party confessed.

I called someone from school, who lived there in Macon, and got myself rescued.


...might be the record. Thankfully, the entire distance was not mine alone .But it is a lotta miles in one day, even though it started before daybreak and ended well after dark. I drove up to Decatur on Saturday morning after I got that dog I was 'sitting' squared away. All I want to say about that is that it was a very educational experience, and I am sure Lucy the cat is not the only one who is happy the little canine is gone.

F. had agreed to go with me to far east GA to a family gathering I wanted to attend. Not folks I know all that well, but have a connection to through my dad, who was born near Washington, GA. It is a small town just east of Augusta, where there are still quite a few relatives of his dad's (my grandpa Randall, who was known as Pappy) people living in the area. Some Harris cousins were the original instigators, and have been organizing for quite a few years, gradually handing the duties over to others, who will hopefully continue to put the effort into planning and gathering the 'clan' on a regular basis.

I've not been every year they have met, and missed last June. I'm pretty sure the group this time was the slimmest crowd. I think some people who are at a distance felt it just too difficult to travel with kids... but they are likely the same ones who would drive twenty-four hours to get to Disney world. Other than my daughter, and a couple of other young people about her age, in their late twenties or early thirties, I (vainly) concluded I was one of the youngest ones there. In years past there have been a passel of kids, little people running about in sopping wet clothing, having conveniently/accidentally fallen in the lake. Or swimsuits from skiing when someones dad brought a boat. Or canoeing, or just floating around in the water.

F and I went back into Thomson to get some lunch, as we arrived at the appointed time, unprepared to feed ourselves. Others had come with lunchboxes, or Subway sandwiches, or carryout bags, but I was so focused of being sure I had something for supper, I overlooked lunch entirely. So we had to trek back to fast-food-lane to get some eats, and found a Zaxbys. When we got back to the park, the crowd was sitting around telling family stories. Mostly about the dearly departed, with an occasional tale one would be willing to tell on oneself. The best one being the guy who dumped himself out of his boat into Clark Hill Lake.

The organizers have had a speaker come in the past to talk about some topic of interest, usually something to do with family, or genealogy, or history of gold mining and 'stamping' in east GA.
But this time, it was just telling tales. And, wouldn't you know it: cousin Louisa told one on me!

friday night at the farm market...

Callaway Gardens, as I read on the front page of today's Columbus Ledger Enquirer, is 'in the green.' I know they have been struggling financially for several years, and sold off some forested, undeveloped acreage in recent years for hunting land. All to try to get back on their feet after serious problems when the real estate market bombed, as they were developing housing options within the Gardens.

So the price of most everything having to do with CG has increased. I bought a bottle diet coke there for $2.50. I don't think they were that outrageously expensive when I was selling them in a booth at Golden Park when the Olympics came to town. When the price was jacked up astronomically for international guests visiting GA in 1996.  So it stands to reason that doubling the price of anything just because it is sold within the bounds of the resort has helped them get back on their feet again.

I was volunteering on Friday afternoon when they had a little farmers' market, along with a number of vendors. People under little pop-up canopies  selling all manner of overpriced merchandise, and probably paying for both the space to operate and a percentage of their sales ..Local honey, crafty stuff, like earrings and necklaces and 'barefoot' sandals (some contraption you put on the top of your foot, loop around a toe and your ankle, to look like a sandal - but not). Cotton Candy, kettle corn,  home made baked goods: breads, pies, cake by the slice, cupcakes.

And us, volunteers for C.G., selling produce from Mr. Cason's Garden: yellow and zucchini squash, fresh corn,  two kinds of snap beans, pretty yellow heads of cauliflower, cucumbers and several different kids of plants from the Sibley Center.  All the volunteers grabbed up the corn, a real bargain at 25 cents an ear, and fresh off the stalk. But I did not, as there would be no one at home to eat it.  I tried my best to not buy anything.  And was almost successful. But I am such a sucker for things variegated. And in spite of my best efforts, found me bringing home a sage plant with really neat foliage. I don't cook with sage, don't even like the taste, but here I am with a plant I will try to keep alive, because it is so pretty.

And on the way home, I picked up a turtle crossing the road. Third one I have helped in about a month.  Oddly - the last one I stopped and got out of the street, I took up to Callaway and left in the woods. This one I put down on the driveway to take a photo, and it zoomed (if that is a word that is applicable to a turtle?) away, so fast I only got one picture.

just observing and wondering...

Friday, June 20, 2014
about a little quirk I noticed in this dog I accidentally found myself living with for this week. I can't say I did not volunteer to be the 'sitter', but having this thing around 24/7 is not what I had expected. Like having a small child always following you around, the only advantage being you can actually put her in a cage/crate. Whereas if you did that to a human that belonged to you, it would be removed by social services upon discovery.

I am obviously not a person who made an 'A' on the assertiveness test. But it has not been such a bad experience. She has made me get out and go for a walk every afternoon, when it is getting dusky, and as cool as it is going to be. I've enjoyed the (miserably hot) stroll to the end of the street where those fireflies are still courting in the weeds along the power line cut.

The thing I have noticed when we go for a walk is a little quirky behavior I think may be telling. Possibly a result of her murky history. I suspect she has been mistreated, and likely made to fear feet of humans. I also suspect the mistreatment was done by a man. She seems to be really wary of males. Has a hard time warming up to men.

When we go off down the street, with her on a short leash, on my right side, she will walk about eight feet and then glance at my feet. My first thought was that she might have a vision problem, then that she might have a hearing deficiency. But watching her as she trots along by my side has made me conclude she is checking to see what my feet are doing. Trying to be prepared for feet to step on her, or hurt her in some way. Expectant and possibly fearful, keeping a close watch on those things that she had a bad experience with in a former life.

The funny part is that she does that so frequently, she will eventually veer over to where she is right in front of me, and seriously likely to get stepped on. So I will pull the leash just enough to get her back over to the right side, out of my path. And she will, eventually, be right back in front of where I am about to step. Making it look like she can't walk straight. You know how you can get behind a vehicle in traffic that has been in a wreck and you can tell the frame is bent, it seems to be rolling at an angle instead of straight down the street? Cha-cha looks like her little frame is bent, always walking sort of woppy-jawed.

Putting her in the crate at night has not worked well. I hear her at the other end of the house sounding bereft. Sad and lonesome, periodically mumbling and gnashing her teeth, all night long.  I guess when she sleeps all day, and has plenty of time on her hands and nothing to read at night she just wants some company?

whew...it weren't me....

Thursday, June 19, 2014
When the guy from cable company came to check and discern the problem, he said it was something that had gone wrong in the underground line between the house and the street. Signal, or whatever they use to majik the stuff from outer space into the house, was good out there on the pole. Which caused him to conclude the problem was in a line that is buried in the yard, from the street to the back of the house.

Which, in reality, means that it could have been a person with the shovel back there digging a hole. Who might have accidentally chopped into the line that majiks the stuff into the black plastic box mounted there on the back of the house. But no one mentioned the possibility of some one with a sharp pointy blade stomping around in the leaf mulch, so I did not offer any excess information.

Just like I've been saying all along: You don't have to tell everything you know. You should not be dishonest, but it's OK to keep your mouth shut. No need to incriminate oneself unnecessarily.

I told the man who has been fidgeting over lack of cable TV I wanted to get the modem moved. It is such a nasty eye-sore, sitting there like a Grinch or Troll on the wall in the kitchen. My plan was to relocate into the laundry room. Cable guy said that would not work, as there is no phone jack available there. So Plan B: relocate into bedroom, as discreetly as possible, down near the floor in the corner. Maybe. Depends on whether he was so ready to quit work for the day he failed to put in a work order for this new project.

internet on the fritz...

Wednesday, June 18, 2014
I am not answering emails because I don't have internet. And I cannot access emails from this computer in the public library because I cannot remember my AOL password. There should be a person who is willing to follow me around everywhere I go and provide a sufficient prompt to help me recall what all those secret $%&* words are for all the stuff we are afraid will get hijacked - when in reality we are the people who are most likely to loose them.

I will confess about that internet problem: I am likely the cause. I was out behind the house a couple of days ago, digging in a place that stays damp and shady planning to put in some fern starts I bought months ago. And while I was there, I noticed the cover is off the little black plastic box that holds all the cables for the TV and computer. Soon after that, when I went back inside, hot and bug-eaten, I was told that the cable was 'out'. I suspect if I had been willing to light up like a Christmas tree, attempting to replace the cover on the little black box, I could have restored both the $%&* TV service and my internet. Funny, but not very: he could not care less if I do not have any internet, and I could not care less if he does not have any TV.

I've been waiting, hoping for a Mediacom guy to come to the house for months - since the last time we had a Mediacom repair guy come to the house. He did his majik and restored the cable, so the TV addict was happy. But before he left he said he was going to put in a work order to get a new box installed as there were so many wires going in the box would not close securely (or not at all in this case?).  I'm sure we are underwater as far as priority goes with getting a new enclosure for all those cables, but now we really need some help.

And when he comes to restore internet and cable for TV, I plan to get the box, that is probably called a router? relocated in the kitchen. It has been an eyesore on wall for - literally - years. Was originally installed behind a big wooden desk, that relocated some time ago, and left that ugly thing there on the nearly white wall. I've decided where I want it moved, and have great plans for the service guy to do some major rearranging when he comes... for what he will be thinking is a very minor fix-it job. Won't he be surprised?
Won't I be surprised if he does not move that hideous router box?

it all came together...

Monday, June 16, 2014
There was a very big, very heavy box sitting on the front stoop weeks ago. Maybe in late April or early May. I'd been informed to expect a 'surprise' that would come to the house, 'some assembly required'. So I barely managed to get it in the door, and left it sitting in the front hallway, out of the traffic pattern, awaiting the party who would provide the assembly. It was sort of smelly, kind of like when you go to get your oil changed, and have to sit in the waiting room of the tire store for half an hour. Not surprising: the box contained a big wooden Radio Flyer wagon.

A gift for Mother's Day from the girl who enjoyed riding in the wagon we had when she was a little bitty thing. Until we had a yard sale, after everyone had outgrown the wagon, and I found myself persuaded to sell the wagon. It actually took some persuading, as I had not intended to part with it, but the guy who came along looking  for rummage treasures hung around and talked about that wagon so long, I somehow became willing to part with it for cash. I suspect it was originally from Santa, something that we bought for Christmas when we had people so small two would easily fit in the wooden wagon with the red slat side-bodies.

Apparently they still make them in just as durable a fashion, as they did when the company was founded back in 1917 by an Italian immigrant living in Chicago. It looks like it could handle several generations of little people Plus there are all manner of accessories I can get to enhance the experience, from a canopy to cushions, a bright red clip on umbrella to saddlebags to hold all my accoutrements. And all manner of things we never even dreamed we needed made by Radio Flyer: scooters, tricycles, little peddle cars, peddle tractors, strollers, three wheelers to peddle, etc.

F. thought I needed it as she was convinced I am still grieving over having sold the one we had twenty years ago. I think I have pretty much gotten over it, but I am sure I can find some stuff to haul around in the new one. They put it together yesterday when they were here for lunch on Father's Day.

I did not so much think I needed a replacement, but did think about some cheap fun I had in a little metal version of the red wagon when I was a kid. The neighbors had a pretty steep driveway, and kids being kids, we must have dragged that wagon up the hill a gazillion times, piled in and coasted (at the speed of light, surely!) with the wind blowing in our faces. Down the drive way, around the curve, with very poor driving skills (what can you expect when driving a little red metal wagon by the pull handle), until we all dumped out in the sand. Laughing uproariously, ready to wipe the blood off our knees and elbows and give it another go.

Well worth the price of admission. Can't you just picture a pile of dirty, sticky, sweaty kids stacked up in a little rusty wagon, with legs hanging over the sides, rolling down the driveway and crashing, tumbling out into the soft sand, hilariously giggling at the mishap, ready to do it all over again?

It makes me think about

this dog I am 'sitting'...

...is a bit big to qualify as a 'yapper', but with a high pitched bark that definitely brings much smaller canines to mind. Like poodles, and other things that don't seem to know how small they really are, leaning towards trying to sound really aggressive/impressive, but with pip-squeak voices. Like seeing that big barrel chested guy, who you assume is the bass singer in the gospel quartet with the amazingly high pitched voice. Big dogs can intimidate with size, but little ones often appear to not realize they could be stepped upon, and tend to make lots of defensive sounds, not realizing no one is fearful of the noise coming out of a three pound fuzzball.

I put her on a string and took her for a walk yesterday late, when it was getting dark. I've enjoyed going down to the end of the street, and seeing the fireflies coming up out of the weeds in the semi-dark, so we strolled down the sidewalk. She is a bit jumpy, skittish, and kept getting underfoot. I've been trying to do some walking every day, in addition to the constant to-and-fro that occurs when I am at work several days a week.

This little dog was so tired when we got back to the house from walking about two miles, she put herself to bed. She came to my house with a crate, food, bowl, leash, and as soon as I took the leash off when we got back inside, she drank some water and headed off to bed. I went to look for her, and she had already situated herself on the pillow in the crate, settled down for the night.

I'm guessing she has been mistreated in a former life. She is wary of men, and barks at strange noises, anything that is unfamiliar, but really pretty congenial and mostly so quiet and peaceful you would not know she is in the house. My only complaint is that she has obviously been allowed to sit and sleep on furniture. She apparently thinks everything she sees is within her domain. Jumping up on chairs, couch, bed. Not something I had planned on. But she will only be here a week, and I can tolerate it for a few more days. Not so sure about Lucy: she has been usurped, and  not taking kindly to the canines who have moved in on her territory. Perhaps this will persuade her to reconsider the cushy life, and revert back to an 'outside' cat?


Sunday, June 15, 2014
...is the best way to describe lunch today. I had to go to work, after going to early church. But both daughters were at church, and decided they would put lunch together and eat at home, instead of going out in the crush of a gazillion families taking Dad to lunch.  According to the info. printed on the calendar, it was officially designated at the day to honor your Father, but I secretly am convinced they really just came to see me. I'm sure at some point in the day, they provided the proper accolades and said 'happy Father's day', but I am certain I was the happiery-est of the two of us.

Good lunch - especially the part where I had no part in it other than to show up to eat.  They had chicken from the Publix deli, and a big bowl of smashed potatoes, green beans, and a big Caesar salad and biscuits. It was good, enjoyed by all. I will be investigating containers in the fridge that hold an assortment of leftovers, feeding him more father's day lunch over the next several days.

But the best part: everyone around the table. I don't know of anything that pleases me more. To have all my peeps together, sitting down sharing a meal. That's really a treat.

Well... maybe three or four beers and someone to tote me home in the wheelbarrow would be nearly as good, but certainly not any better!

a slight misunderstanding...

...occurred recently when I offered to 'dog sit' for a friend who was planning to be out of town for a week. Her trip was starting on Saturday, and I told her I would be willing to help her out with taking care of a recently adopted rescue canine. EM laughingly told the story of not having any intention of having a second pet, but when she saw this one, and heard the sad tale of being abandoned, and needing a loving home, she fell right into that trap. And soon discovered she had one more dog than she could easily manage with her travel plans.

I thought I was offering to stop by her house a couple of times a day and give her newly adopted canine a bit of attention as well as check on food and water supply. She thought I meant for her four-footed friend to come and live at  MY house for a week. I was obviously the one who was  misunderstood. So this visitor came to have a little 'doggie vacation' on Saturday morning. With all the necessary accouterments including a crate for sleeping (storage?,) food, and a leash to take on short excursions. Apparently E. dose not have a fenced yard, so this little frizzly haired friend of hers was delighted to get out of doors yesterday and run to and fro.

EM lives about twenty minutes on the far side of town, so I guess the house guest/visitor coming here for a week is all for the best. I am sure it would get really old having to trek that distance twice a day to walk the dog and be sure she had the necessities. She's generally agreeable, and a pleasant guest, but apparently has had some issues with males in her cloudy past, as she does not seem to be warming up to the man who lives here. Just a little growly when he tries to get close. Warning him to keep his distance, which leads me to believe that she might have been mistreated at some point in her life before she found a happy home.

The only problem is Lucy, the cat, is not a dog-lover. And since January, when she decided she is an indoor cat, she has had the run of the place. She has not taken kindly to be usurped. But has, reluctantly, spent the night outdoors just to avoid being in the same space as that yappy little creature she knows she did not invite for a sleepover. Perhaps the experience of spending most of her time outside in the coming week will remind her about her history of actually being an outdoor cat?

Georgia National Cemetery, June 6, 2014, part 2

Friday, June 13, 2014
When I went to the cemetery on Friday afternoon, I expected it to be so quiet and peaceful, as is my personal definition of those places where sleep is eternal.  But as I wandered through those tidy rows of monuments, all that remains of so many lives well lived, and years of history of service men and women who responded when called to action, it was not 'so quiet'. There is surely constant activity with frequent internments. And ongoing need for maintenance, mowing, planting, prepping, working on improvements that need to be done.

What I became aware of as I walked through were lots of sounds that resulted from workers going about their activities in a place that I would have expected to be so silent and solitary. You think of cemeteries as environments of peace and tranquility, with noises only associated with the occasional funeral cortege and services with grieving families present. But this place had a number of unexpected of sounds that I only noticed when I stopped to listen.

The workers who were interring a casket of a deceased veteran, using a backhoe fitted with heavy duty slings to safely lower the box into the ground. The grinding gears of the heavy yellow machinery as the casket was meticulously delivered into the opening in the earth.

Other workers with hand held shovels, with voices muted by distance, as gravediggers constantly open new graves, industriously refilling the same spaces following interments.

Power pounder, like the street crews employ to level the dirt before paving, used by the workers to flatten the earth, bring backfill up to proper level, before the crews replace the sod to make the newest interment appear timeless.

The sound of the bugler, playing Taps in the distance, under the shelter, as the family stands by for one last time with their loved one. Heart-wrenching melody.

The quiet sound of the breeze, softly whispering through the leaves of the hardwoods and pines.

The sound of volleys of twenty one gun salute. You can see it about to happen, but invariably flinch when you hear the sound.  Echoing off the hills, a haunting refrain of diminishing volume.

The sharp snap of another American flag being folded into a elongated rectangle, then a series of carefully made triangles, and presented to a wife or mother, daughter or dad.

Feet crunching gravel along the path, as visitors search for markers of their loved ones.

Groups of mourners talking, in  muffled tones, as they head toward their vehicles, to move on with their lives, making emotional adjustments for the holes they carry in their hearts.

 Closing car doors, to leave and return to busy-ness of daily activities.

Autos starting up, and slowly driving away, with families spreading out to go their separate ways.

The distant clink of hardware on the huge Stars and Stripes, billowing in the breeze, against the metal of the flagpole, as the clips that hold the flag on the rope bang against the metal of the tall pole. As the American furls in the gentle wind, at half mast here on another June 6, in remembrance of the hellish scene on the beaches of Normandy France.

And then, finally, the sound of silence, eternal peace at the end of day.


When I went to the Just-A-Buck store recently, guess what happened?  I bought something I did not intend to purchase! Never happens to you, right? None of that Made-in-China stuff jumps into your hands, tempting you into spending twice what you meant? Nothing catches your eye and says: buy me? Of course not.

Think about it: the value of that stuff is practically nil. By the time they manufacture, package and pack into waterproof containers. Then load into a seagoing vessel, along with hundreds of other semi-trailer sized boxes, and ship it half-way around the world. Where it is unloaded and warehoused before being put a route, trucked to stores, and doubling the price for Americanized mark-up, and still you can purchase every-stinking-thing in the store for Just A Buck?  Really....

I don't even recall what I was going for. Not because I could not remember long enough to get in the car and drive to the store (which gets more likely every day!) I am sure I had a list - the only way I could do all that extensive remembering. But it's been a while, so I've been a couple of times since, and do not recall what that particular expedition was about.

What caught my attention was all that patriotic stuff cleverly placed near the doors to be so prominent you cannot ignore it when you walk in. Flags of various sizes, bunting, metallic/mylar signs, leis and shakers, table decorations, cups, hairbands, anything they could think of to print stars on. And some triangular pennants strung together on a ten foot long plastic strip. Made of mylar, so bright, shiny silver on one side, and printed with stars and stripes.

I bought two, thinking to tie them together and drape in the tree branches out near the street. To go along with my flag-painted mailbox. You know me. Pretty overt about patriotism. Willing to stand up and shout, or clap, or whistle when the marching band troops by, playing 'Stars and Stripes Forever', so

that was embarassing....

Thursday, June 12, 2014
We were leaving the house late this afternoon to run a couple of errands and do a bit of shopping. When I got home from work I was so exhausted I had to go lay down a bit and recover. Mostly due to the cat roaming around the house, singing the song of her people all night.

I had taken my shoes off before lying down on the bed. So had to put them on when the man was sitting in the car, with the engine running, waiting on me to get my ducks in a row... we've been doing this for nearly thirty-three years. Him: being impatient, sitting in the car with the engine running, drumming his fingers on the steering wheel. Me: dashing out the door with things flapping, in a pell-mell fashion, allowing him to make me feel rushed and ill-prepared to leave.

So as I was hurrying myself along, with my shoelaces not yet tied, I shut the door, and caught one of the shoestrings under the door. Naturally, the door locked. Naturally, I did not have a key. Completely stalled out. It would not have gotten any notice at all!  You certainly would not be reading about it here if I could have untangled myself by myself. But I found it necessary to confess, standing there at the door, stalled out, to get a key and release myself from that foolish situation. 

But - honestly: if that's the first time I have gotten my clothing caught in thirty three years of rushing out of the house with something flapping, I think that's a pretty good average, don't you?

National Peanutbutter Cookie Day...

I heard about it on the radio. Baked a batch, inspired by the siren call of peanutbutter cookies.

Not entirely: I took the makings and recipe with me when I went to TN last weekend, and never got them made. After hearing on the radio about the 'official-ness' of today, I knew I needed to get crackin'. With such an important milestone event occurring, one should not allow it to pass
unacknowledged, right?

So I used the four ingredient recipe and made a batch. They are kinda small, and also kinda rich, which means, you can quickly discover you have eaten too many. A fun recipe to make with little people who love to help in the kitchen.. Because it has no eggs, safe for them to taste off their fingers.

P'nutbutter cookies with forkprints
1 can condensed milk (not evaporated)
3/4 cup peanutbutter
2 cups baking mix, like Pioneer or Bisquick
1 tsp. vanilla
Mix the milk and peanut butter (you might want to put in microwave a bit to make it easier to stir), add vanilla, then stir in baking mix. It will be stiff, but be sure you have stirred the baking mix in well.  Form into 1 inch balls, press lightly with tines of a fork on pan. No need to grease pans. Bake 8-10 min. (a bit longer if you are using insulated pans - 13 min.) Makes about 5 or 6 dozen if you don't eat so much uncooked you make yourself ill.

small mechanical crisis...

I was going to run some errands on Wednesday, before going to the church to make my blood donation. And started with going to Wallyworld to buy gas. I had to go in the store to re-charge my gas card, then across the parking lot to the Murphy and get in line for a turn at the pump. Worth a trek across the parking lot to the store and back again to save ten cents per gallon, right?

But when it came my turn, and I was going to open the little 'hatch' to take the cap off the gas fill tube: the door would not open. How can I fill my tank if I cannot get the hatch door to open? How far can I get before I run out of gas? Reminding me of that children's nursery rhyme: 'for want of a nail the kingdom was lost'. Starting with a horse that lost a shoe and army that lost the battle, and king who lost his throne - and unlikely chain of events caused by something so insignificant. That would have been me if I had run out of gas...

 I called my smart friend, PC, who had an excellent suggestion, that much to my delight and amazement, worked. Why I continue to be amazed by her - I can't say, but she is so smart. I got my errands run and my gas purchased, so my tank is full, and I am ready for the next trip. Even though I have not planned it yet!


Wednesday, June 11, 2014
not miles, but pints. Of All-American red blood. I'd like to think in addition to the red corpuscles, there is also an occasional 'flag-waving' blue and isn't there something in the mix that is sort of white as well? Which would really please me more than just fire-engine red.

I gave a pint at the ARC blood drive at church this afternoon. Our congregation does this four times a year, and I try to time my donations so I can give when the guys from the Red Cross are there collecting. About half the time when I take myself to the collection site and want to give, I am rejected, and disheartened to be wanting to donate and not have enough red for them to be willing to accept my offering. So I loaded up on iron for several days to be sure they would not make me feel unwanted.

I have been a donor for many years, starting with my living in Valdosta days. And have tried to keep up with how much I have made and given away. So according to my calculations, this pint was number 125. As you know, I am acutely math-impaired, so I cannot tell how many gallons that would be, but I'm guessing: pretty impressive. Did you know they sell their blood? I was astounded to realize that I am giving it to them and they turn around and sell the components, separate out the different parts, plasma and whatever, and sell my cheerfully given donation. Disturbing? Maybe.


Tuesday, June 10, 2014
is the distance between P.'s house in Chattanooga and the parking lot of church on Sunday morning. It was a remarkably uneventful (is that an oxymoron? maybe!) trip, with very little traffic on the road. Interstate nearly the entire distance, except for short stretch 'way up in the corner, when I take a different route instead of hitting the freeway.

The funny thing is: somehow I had it in my head that making the drive on Sunday morning when all the rest of the world was still in bed, or having their second cup of coffee, enjoying a relazed morning would be a' breeze'. And in a way it was. But: not any shorter, not a mile or  even an inch. Just as far from there to here, even though there was little traffic. I managed to get myself in mind set, expecting there would be much less time spent on the road. It is just as far, whether you are wading through Friday afternoon crunch, inching along at three mph, or whizzing along with the road all to yourself on a unpopulated twelve-lane on an early morning drive.

In reality, I probably trimmed fifteen minutes off, due to the lack of other vehicles on the road, and excellent driving conditions  And still amused by my thinking it would be so much quicker, just because the highways leading into metro were not clogged with commuters. Thinking, I guess, that I could put it on auto pilot and take a nap? Yeah, I know....

I was desperate for entertainment. I am so accustomed to having a talking book in the car, to listen while I drive, and was without 'reading material' on this trip. I probably went up and down the dial on the radio a dozen times trying to find something worth listening to. Never did find a decent replacement for 'talking books' or public radio, so I have learned two lessons in recent travels. #1 is do not get in the car without a map to consult/refer to even with people who have smarty-pants phones. #2 do not get in the car without some form of entertainment/distraction, even if you plan on sleeping the whole way.

they're baaaccck...

Monday, June 9, 2014
the millipedes have returned to my kitchen.... not yet in droves like the invasion I reported last summer. But enough that I am alarmed. I have been sweeping a few up every morning for a week or so. And nearly fifty today. I am not exaggerating. Honestly.

 It's really bizarre. I get out the broom and dust pan and sweep, most of them curling up in a little spiral, and get a dozen or so in the dust pan. Take two steps to open the cupboard door and deposit them in the trash: and before I can take another step, there are a dozen more industriously creeping across the tiles I just swept. It's crazie.

If I knew where they were coming from, I assume from the outside world, I would definitely be doing lots of things to plug the hole. But I have no idea how they are getting in, so cannot even begin to guess where the 'leak' is to remedy the crisis. Remember the story about the little Dutch boy who put his thumb in the dike? I would gladly, if I knew where... or a cork, or a gob of glue, or putty, or...

thrown together dinner...

I was hoping to get back from TN this morning to go to church before having to be at work. And remarkably, I got to town right about that time. Left Chattanooga about 5:20 and got to church about 8:45. Went on to work as soon as church was over. Put in a long day doing what needed to get done. And came home, to find a man sitting in a chair waiting for someone to feed him.

I wanted to suggest he think about what I had been doing all day, as compared to what had been going on with him. To see if he could figure out who was responsible for meal prep. To think about who the someone might be.  After someone had been at work, on her feets all day long - and not at all pleased to get home and find no one had given food a thought. Of course, the 'thought' usually consists of a question:  Where do you want me to take you out to eat? And of course, after I have been away from home for three days, do I want to go anyplace? No.

Remember the story of The Little Red Hen? That was me, all over again today. When I drove halfway across the state and then worked all day.  You can imagine I was not particularly pleased with the prospect of putting a meal together for someone who had sat in front of the television all afternoon.

I know there surely must have been times when I failed. When he worked and expected to come in the door to a home cooked meal, peace and tranquility.  During the era of raising kids, there were days I did not have the strength or notion to put a meal together and have us all sit down together, like the family experts recommend. But by and large, I think we did that 'family dinner' more than not. I am beginning to believe the shine has finally worn off that particular idea.

Prepare I did: finding stuff in the freezer, in the pantry and throwing it all together. I think he probably knew any complaints, criticisms, commentary would result in his food being unceremoniously relegated to the trash. I've gotten pretty good at stockpiling components in the freezer and pantry to be able to throw a meal together in under thirty minutes, as long as you are not picky. And occasionally willing to settle for a deliciously greasy grilled cheese and bowl of soup from a can. I would be perfectly content at least four days a week with having a bowl of most anything: cereal, oatmeal, soup for my evening meal.


Saturday, June 7, 2014
miles before breakfast on Friday morning. Not my best ever... as I remember a time when I got on the road before daylight in Valdosta and drove to Decatur (and probably took a nap as soon as I turned the ignition off!), possibly driving to Chattanooga later that day. But I got up at 4:00 to take a shower and get on the road early on Friday, headed north.  Had planned to spend the morning in Decatur, have lunch then go on to TN, but that was my plan, and not what the other people involved had on their schedules. Some had errands to do, some were going strawberry picking, some were traveling, so mostly nothing came to fruition.

Which meant I had much more time on my hands than expected: what to do?  I knew if I got to Chattanooga too early, I would have lots of time to kill, so decided to take the scenic route north of Atlanta. It was actually pretty educational, as well as pretty. I got off the interstate a bit north of the city, and drove through the country side, around the north central part of the state, making a loop from Cartersville through Canton and back to Adairsville.

Lots of things blooming along the rural by-ways in north Georgia. Many in places that were obviously professionally manicured by landscapers. In those expensive gated communities, where people pay thousands of dollars in mortgages and commute to work, never actually enjoying that gigantic house they are paying for, due to having to spend eighty hours a week driving/working to support their spending habits.

And a great profusion of wildflowers gloriously showing off along the right of way, amongst the lush greens of undeveloped miles of woods and pastures. Little agriculture based communities, with small white wooden churches, neat red brick homes. Some that were obviously long lived in by generations of farmers, and much loved over the years by homemakers who had devoted their lives to caring for hearth and home. Spending their lives raising families, 'putting by' from the garden, and observing the changes of the seasons from the viewpoint of raising crops, coping with the vagaries of the weather.

Queen Anne's lace was prolific along the right-of-way, having re-seeded over the years, beautifully blooming with big white disc-shaped lacey blooms. Oak leaf hydrangea in places where it has reverted to natural growth, in huge clumps growing along the tree line, where county work crews on tractors do not mow. Big draping branches of mimosa blooms overhanging the road from elevated clay banks above the highway, with arching limbs of bright pink 'powder puff' flowers above the roadways.  Hundreds of blooms of native daylily plants, with bright orange blooms on slender stalks faithfully popping up year after year, having naturalized along the those rural highways.

It was such a peaceful drive, through farm land, seeing neatly tended yards and gardens, along winding roads. I opened the windows, found a radio station that was playing oldies and thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon. Until it started raining, when I got back to I-75, closed the windows, plowed through high-speed traffic, dodging semi-trailers, on to TN.

Georgia National Cemetery, 6-6-14

The reason I turned off the interstate was a sign I have been seeing for several years, on my monthly trips to Chattanooga. Pointing to the east, beckoning me to veer off and go to the Veteran's Cemetery. I did not remember that the VA is responsible for the care and maintenance, operations of National Cemeteries where any person who has been in service to our country can be interred. I was reminded of that when my friend and I went over to Ft. Mitchell, to walk on Memorial Day, enjoying the cool morning air, and hundreds and hundreds of little American flags.

A combination of time on my hands, and the knowledge of a fairly new VA-operated cemetery caused me to get out the map, and exit the interstate. It was pleasant day, pretty drive through the countryside. There are, as we all read about in paper/media, veterans from WWII departing at a fast clip, so I expect the crews at all the National Cemeteries stay busy doing their work.

This cemetery is designed in a big loop, with grave sites in cleared grassy areas along the inner and outer perimeter of the circle. (Actually similar to what we saw on Memorial Day at Ft. Mitchell, AL.)I would guess there are possibly already two thousand markers in place, along with a place for ashes to be interred (columbarium?) in little niches in rows, and a 'scattering garden', with about fifty markers, provided by the VA as memorials. Upon entry, there was a sign indicating where visitors attending the three funerals scheduled for that afternoon should line up their vehicles out there in different lanes. Where in the peaceful woods of north Georgia, on June 6, 2014, seventy years post-Normandy invasion, more were going in the ground.

I got out and walked around a bit, through one of the sections of graves, markers neatly aligned in perfect formation, that appeared to be full, having reached the maximum number of internments planned for that particular site.  There were other people I saw, out there amongst the little granite markers, standing in perfect rows. Symmetry in the cemetery. Apparently visiting loved ones on that day of reflection and remembrance.

As I made the third time around the loop, probably about a mile in circumference, I noticed a bronze memorial near the flag, flying at half-mast. Stopped to read it, and discovered the land the veterans occupy there in the north GA hills: over 750 acres - was donated by the developer Scott Hudgens. I did not know much about him, other than wealth due to property in the metro area. But he was a WWII veteran, on the beach at Normandy, in most of the major battles of ETO, before he came back to make his millions investing in developing real estate in Atlanta.

firefly research...

Tuesday, June 3, 2014
...'way too  much information. I was just curious to know if both sexes do the blinking stuff. And the answer is yes.  As I had assumed, and stated with great authority (sound familiar?)  Some females are doing it to attract other types of insects that turn into dinner. If you want to know more you will have to do your own googling.

And Yes is the answer to the query about the ones at the end of the street. Dozens and dozens, dazzlingly rising up from the grasses, putting on a mini-fireworks show. That was really neat, and as delightful as it was when I was so surprised by the performance I happened upon last night. Not the astounding conflagration I have read is such a big tourist attraction in the Smokey Mountains near Gatlinburg in the early summer..Where they are synchronized and mysteriously manage to blink on and off at the same instance by the hundreds. In doing my research, I find there is also a place in  a South Carolina National forest where they reportedly are equally impressive.

I failed to get there for the performance this year, but have made a note on my calendar, in order to get the requisite parking pass to get in the park. And fully intend to be there for the light show next year - right about this time, when they are strutting their stuff. Anyone want to go along?

going for a walk....

Yesterday, Monday, was a day with literally nothing written on my calendar. That's remarkably unusual. I had sort of expected to get a call to come in to work, to replace my cohort in the floral department, who I knew was planning a long weekend. He had told me he was taking an extra day off this week, and would be away Sun., Mon. and Tuesday. So I had hoped to get a call for a fill-in... but I puttered around in my pj's most of the day.

Should have been doing something semi-productive in the yard, but spent nearly the whole day in the house. I did eventually get dressed, only because I went to run a couple of errands. And due to the fact that I make such fun of people who go out in public in their flannel pajamas, I did not have the nerve to do that myself.

Late in the day, I decided to go for a walk. My usual route is to head north, make a loop into a subdivision, where I will walk to the end of a short street, loop around the cul-de-sac and back out to the street, onto the end, then home again. Totaling about two miles.  Not really a strenuous trek, but a couple of hills that are pretty steep, good heart exercise.

I was, oddly enough, pondering as I walked along, about what a rarity lightening bugs are these days. I think primarily due to municipalities feeling the pressure from citizens to spray for mosquitoes in the warmer months, with the unwanted side effects of: us breathing that poisonous stuff, as well as killing lots of other insects that are not pests. Thus, declining lightening bug population.

But then: Holy Cow! Fireflies!  I got down to the very end of the street, where it is blocked off. Having been barricaded years ago, when a four lane highway, Alt. 27, was widened and cut the street we live on in half. With two dead ends. There in a grassy area, where power lines run overhead, was a huge display of boy bugs, looking for girl friends. Literally dozens and dozens, as it was just getting dark,  rising up out of the grass, blink-blinking. Sending out the signal that they were hoping for an opportunity to reproduce. Dozen and dozens of them in the dusk, Morse-coding their optimism, hoping for spouses.

I thought of what a remarkable thing it was when I was a kid, growing up in a small town, running loose through the neighborhood in the summer. Asking for a jar with a lid so I could go out in the dusky evening and catch the bugs in a jar. It was just the chase that was grand. I am pretty sure the insects were all freed before bed time - but somehow a delightful challenge to run about hoping for a jar full. And before the era of street lights. Not like now, when neighborhoods never get completely dark due to security lights that shine all night. A wonder we did not knock ourselves all silly charging through the pine trees at full tilt, looking at the bugs instead of where we were going.

Just to be sure that experience last night was not an anomaly, I will go again in a bit, when it is nearly dark. Not taking a jar, just hoping to see them gradually rising up out of the grasses where they have been resting all day, waiting for the chance to signal their desire. Looking like something that only happens in the movies when the special effects are so amazing you forget to pay attention to the plot.

little birdies...

Monday, June 2, 2014
... are flitting all over the place out the window. Stuck inside the screening on the porch, which the mama used to her advantage when she built that nest in my hanging pothos plant. But now to her detriment when the babies cannot figure out to get from one side to the other. I can imagine how annoyed she is: 'you can see me, and hear me when I call you, so why don't you come?' But the screening that was excellent protection while the eggs were being laid, and she was nesting is now a big obstacle.

I have been watching the drama while sitting here at the table. Actually went out to catch one, with still bits of fluffy down stuck to it's feathers, and help it out the door. That did not go well. I am surprised the little thing did not have a heart attack from stress... but it finally got out, and into the safety of the forsythia bush by the back gate. There were five eggs total the last time I got up my nerve to take a peek, assume they all hatched.

I could hear the parents furiously chirping - which was what gave me the knowledge something was afoot. I got up to look out, saw them busily flitting to and fro, with copious quantities of what I took to be the 'encouragement song'. I will go get my flashlight and take a look, but hope that the nest is empty.  I see them flying out in the yard, so assume they have all made the transition.  Otherwise I will be startled into arrhythmia when one comes swooping out of the nest right in front of my face.

Later... sadly: there is one egg still in the nest. I guess decided that 80% was a pretty good average. I don't see them flitting around, or hopping from shrub to shrub for cover. So I guess when they 'tried their wings' everything was in working order. Wondering now if they ever return to the nest? I guess that with brains that size, everything they do in life is instinctual, and when they hop out into first flight, the memory of 'home' is history. I recall having heard that there are some birds that mate for life, and some that return to the same site year after year, refurnishing the same nest and starting over with a new clutch of eggs. But do those bird-brains ever miss having a mom to take care, feed, clean, tend to their every need?

Savannah and back...

It was not so bad. Mostly because I was not driving. It was long, and exhausting. How can doing nothing be so tiring? How can sitting, watching the landscape fly past wear you out? In the same way that flying halfway around the globe makes you think you should take you brain out of your skull and fluff it up to get it straight? Make you think it has been mysteriously turned completely around and needs to be readjusted?

We left Decatur about 9:00. I said I would walk the dogs whilst others got their ducks in a row. So we headed out east on I-20. Which I thought was odd. The last time I noticed: I-20 takes one to Augusta, not Savannah. After we had been on the road a while, I made this observation: 'I assume you know what you are doing, but I think Augusta is about 120 miles north of where you want to be?'  Whereupon progress came to a screeching halt. With a bit of research and googling, GPS'ing, we were back on track. A nice drive through the countryside.

Arriving in Savannah around 1:00. A scramble to get needed tickets: they really were necessary. I don't believe we could have entered the auditorium without them.  I can't believe there was a concern about not having sufficient seating, as there were quite a few unoccupied. But it certainly was not necessary to keep the riff-raff out. I am certain you had to have a vested interest in attending to want to sit through that. So I'm not sure why they thought there might be gate crashing.

We somehow failed to eat lunch in the hurry to get across town to acquire necessary admittance. And I was not aware that the bag of Cheezits and root beer qualified. So after all the commencing we ate at: McDonald's. You probably know how much I don't love McD. But was so hungry, bordering on zero blood sugar, I happily scarfed down a 390 calorie fried fish. Then we were to go to B's place and eat again. Fortunately it took a couple of hours to get food prepared, so it was not actually two meals back to back. But I was pretty miserable on the ride back to Decatur... groaning in the back seat.

It was good to see B's dad, have a chance to talk with him. We have several people in common, and had time to share information. It was close to 9:00 p.m. when we left Savannah, so well after midnight when we got back to Decatur. I had to get up on Sunday morning to drive home, going to church , then work. I decided I really needed a nap - long before I got back to town, but fortunately actually got in the house to take one.