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when I went to work...

Thursday, August 28, 2014

...on Sunday, I was prepared to leave the store and drive south. I had loaded up my accoutrements with the intention of driving to Quitman to spend the night. It's a three hour drive, and I got started about an hour later than expected, so was late getting there. And it was really dark out there in the south GA woods. I was so tired when I finally arrived, I don't think I even brushed my teeth before flopping into bed.

I got up on Monday morning and wanted to get some work done in the yard before it got too stinking hot to get any thing accomplished. Between mosquitos, gnats and heat, I knew my tolerance would be fairly low. But the weather was surprisingly moderate - a pleasant day to be out in the world, enjoying fresh air and sunshine. I took my sprayer and the heavy duty agricultural-grade 'mojo' chemical that kills weeds (and probably anything else it comes in contact with), and planned to work for several hours: beating back the overgrown undergrowth and picking up trash that continually falls out of pine trees. It was a productive day, even though nothing really looks any different.

The thing I will say is all those places in the yard where you don't see any tree trash, no limbs lying around, no pinecones scattered everywhere: that's what I did. Looks really nice, but of course, the nature of yard work is that you have to do it again and again and again... over and over and over. I pay a man to keep it mowed, who just does it when it needs doing. But nothing takes the place of someone who cares looking at what needs doing and keeping it up.

gone but not forgotten...

...is the title of the article I read recently in the magazine printed by the Nature Conservancy. I think someone sold my info. as I seem to be on lots of mailing lists for environmental organizations. They all send calendars this time of year, with little postage paid envelopes, hoping I will want to make a donation. Which, in turn, will invariably cause them to send more requests for my financial assistance.

The article I read in the August-September issue of the Conservancy magazine was about passenger pigeons. Just a little blurb to remind us it has been 100 years since the last pigeon, who was, I think named Martha, breathed her last breath. I read some where that they once were so plentiful and flocked in such massive numbers they would literally blot out the sun when they took off.

The article wanted to bring attention to the fact that the demise of the passenger pigeons was due entirely to humans: a prime example of man thinking there is no end to natural resources? There is a man named Andy Stern who has developed a project to raise awareness about this human-caused extinction. He wants to get us to make one million origami pigeons (see a template at foldtheflock.org). The Smithsonian Natural History museum and Chicago Academy of Sciences is involved in promoting educational aspects of  this project. I assume there is something on the site that directs us where we could/should mail our home-made pigeons.

about HAL...

Wednesday, August 27, 2014
..the name of the computer that ran the operations of the space ship in the movie "2001: A Space Odessy". I have been thinking of Hal a lot recently, since a computer has begun to generate the schedules of all the associates at my work place. The actual designation for the system is Oasis. I am sure it is an acronym, but don't know what it really represents. I've decided to call it Hal, but have to explain the backstory to everyone who gives me a strange look.

I honestly don't recall much about the movie. I thought it was about twenty years old, but when I went to - you guessed it: google! - I found that it came out in 1968. Meaning I have apparently misplaced about twenty years... 

It was a big deal when it was first released and has been on late night TV over time. The thing I remembered best (and might possibly not be all that accurate in my remembering) was that at the end of the movie, the last thing you saw was the great void of space, tiny pinpricks of distant suns glowing in the screen. And  the astronauts drifting off into oblivion as a result of Hal taking over the mother ship and deciding that humans were no longer essential.

Does that give you an idea of what I am thinking about the Oasis scheduling system we are being shoe-horned into? Not only does it determine who works when, it tells you what time you are scheduled for taking a lunch break. From what I understand the computer has a wealth of information to base the needs on. Including years of sales records, weather records, customer count, day of the week, items in weekly ad., a mountain of trivia all compiled to determine how many cashiers are needed at any given time. How many baggers and stock-guys are needed and the hours they will be expected to be in greatest demand.

I am trying very hard to reserve judgment, but I will am currently leaning towards the possibility of  not being a happy camper. Which does not sit well at all with our corporate philosophy, so I will put on my game face and go ahead and cowboy up.

you have already heard....

of completely unlikely things you should be thankful for. Some of which are so taken for granted in our country, we do not even stop to consider what our lives would be like otherwise. What daily activities would be if we did not have all the promises found in the US Constitution.

There are people in the world who cannot get in the car (they don't have a car, to begin with), and travel at their convenience. They can't go places that involve crossing over state lines: the passage would be denied, or they would be suspect, have to explain to the authorities their reasons for travel, and have paperwork to prove their plans. Without the documentation (and often even if they do have the necessary stamps of approval), they could be detained, locked up or disappeared.

I know there are heartbreaking, horror stories of bad things happening to people who do not deserve misfortune, living here in America, daily.  And people who live here, in the US who are struggling with unemployment, housing problems, medical issues. But we do have a whole lotta things to be thankful for.

I just put a load of dirty clothes in the washer, added some detergent and turned it on. Can people in third world countries do that? How far to walk just to get potable water to prepare a meal or provide a drink for a thirsty child? How many of them have clothing to spare, that they can let it pile up and sit around in a basket for several days? How many of them have to walk great distances to get to the water source they use for cleaning garments and the same water for bathing, as well as food preparation? Every time you turn the handle at the sink or shower, or flush: wow! potable water comes out, and goes down the drain - what a blessing. As well as a monumental waste when you think of how desperately other people are in need.

End of Sermon.

the chemical composition...

of dust bunnies, when googled, was disappointing. I was serious, and the answer was not. It seems they are a product of static electricity and felting.  I was surprised the info., when googled, was not more scientific sounding, with lots of chemical symbols scattered about.  With various symbols from the atomic chart inserted here and there, to look very informative and obscure.

I know there are human skin cells involved, as that is what I sweep up in the bathroom, especially in cold weather when skin is dry and sheds due to friction.  And a lot of pet hair and dander if one should deliberately have small canines/felines in residence. I have not had or wanted animals in the house, but since January, and the cat moving inside, I seem to clean the floor much more often. It's a wonder she is not completely bald, as much black fur as I continually pick up, sweep, and vacuum. 

I woke up this morning about 5:30, probably as a result of having gone to bed too early. But I read quite a bit, before finally being able to get my eyes to stay shut. Then when I awoke, I decided to be productive. So got up and swept: kitchen, hallway, bathroom, living-dining area, laundry room. Then I decided while it was trash, cat hair, dust bunny free, I might as well mop."'Yes, the floor is clean enough to eat off of."

And while I was on a roll, swept off the screened in porch. That only gets partially swept when the lint from the dryer gets embarrassingly piled up. Actually moving furniture to sweep all the stuff that has not be moved, cleaned around in a couple of years. Did I say 'I hate cleaning'? That's probably all I will get done for several months. Oh... and I cleaned bathrooms before I dashed off to work Tues morning.

what's cookin'?

Friday, August 22, 2014
... a recipe from south Georgia. I know the origin, because the 'title' on the card I found in my file is for 'Ocean Pond Tomato Casserole'. Ocean Pond, a well known fishing and eating spot in the far reaches of Lowndes County, is located just about as far south as you can go without being in FL. Plus it's in my mom's handwriting. So we can assume it was printed in the local newspaper, and such a well known, well loved, tasty dish, it was in great demand all over south GA.

I need something to take to a monthly pot-luck supper. In perusing recipes, looking for something tasty and relatively easy (perhaps I have those two adjectives in reverse order?), I thought this would be good for a make and take. Just a few ingredients, and for the person who rarely eats animals, a good filling all-vegetable dish that might provide leftovers for another meal or two.

Now that the decision for what to prepare has been reached, I think I might go ahead and make double. To leave one at home for the guy who won't be going to pot-luck, but likes to eat on a regular basis.  Along with a little ham steak and a couple of biscuits: there's a meal!

Ocean Pond Tomato Casserole

1 can Hunt's special tomato bits and pieces,  un-drained
1 can (1 lb.) diced tomato, including liquid in can
1/3 cup diced bell pepper
1/2 cup diced onion
1 cup diced celery
3/4 tsp salt
1 tsp. sugar (I used splenda instead)
3 slices bread, crumbed

Mix all ingredients, saving a bit of bread crumbs for topping. Cook for 30 min. in 350 oven, uncovered. Sprinkle with reserved bread crumbs, and cheese, if desired. Bake 20 min. more.

Confessions: I did not measure, but diced up a large bell pepper, two onions, two stalks of celery, to make two separate casseroles. Put two cans of diced tomato (whatever spices/flavorings strike your fancy/tastebuds) in the dish, add the diced veg. plus crumbs, etc. All kinds of yummy things come in the can with diced tomatoes anymore: garlic, rosemary, basil: your choice for deliciousness.

another majik mox...(on the way, with recipe)

Though I have found it to be quite amusing, I have not been consistent with sending surprise packages to TN. Not dutifully looking for interesting recipes, or doing the shopping, to say nothing of paying the postage to ship boxes with canned good. Foolish to pay ten bucks to ship five dollars worth of food? Well, yes. But amusing,  none the less.

I have just let it get lost in the shuffle lately. Though I know the recipient is a busy person, who often works long hours, and often not planning ahead for an evening meal. I have a Southern Living book, borrowed from a friend, that has lots of easy recipes for hurried/harried cooks to slap a meal together based on what's in the cupboards.  And always on the look out when I sit in waiting rooms, reading old magazines for a casserole, or one pot dinners that sound tasty and simple, with relatively few ingredients.

The man at the postoffice took the box on Monday, and assured me it would be it delivered to Chattanooga by Thursday. So I 'll write about it, and wait to publish until after it arrives, so it will be fun to peek in the mailbox to see what's there. Same sort of thing that continues to motivate me to do all that corresponding, because I know what a happy little surprise it is to open the mail box and find a card or letter, whether the news enclosed is trivial or not.

When I put stuff together in the box (including a $10 BI-LO gift card to purchase the fresh produce I could not ship), I decided to add a little can of ham, for the guy who would likely not think too highly of a meatless meal. At my house, I would probably add some hamburger or browned sausage crumbles to the pan, after I had dipped out enough to make a meal for myself.

Mediterranean Pasta with Zucchini
(prep. time 13 min.)

8 oz. penne or ziti pasta, uncooked
1 - 14 oz. can diced tomatoes with basil, garlic, oregano
1 - 15 oz. can chickpeas, drained
1 medium zucchini
2 Tbs. sliced ripe olives

Cook pasta according to directions, omitting salt and fat.
While pasta cooks, combine tomatoes and remaining three ingredients in a large skillet; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer, uncovered for five minutes. Spoon mixture over tender, drained pasta. Makes 4 (two cup) servings. The additional info. printed on that same page in the cookbook, designed to make this a complete meal, suggests serving with pita bread and fresh pears.

I have not actually made it, but thinking I will do it for supper tonight, and add a bit of meat to his part. I usually have some cooked hamburger in the freezer, but noticed 'veggie crumbles' in frozen section at the grocery yesterday, so might try to slip some of that in instead of animal.

PS: the box arrived in TN on Thursday, so I knew it was time to post the blog to share and not reveal a surprise. She said they might have it for dinner.

that's the way...

...the world is going, whether we like it or not. The thing no one seems to consider is what will happen when the system is disrupted beyond recovery. How all that stored information will be accessed when the grid is no longer functioning. How frighteningly dependent we are as individuals, and as a society on electricity. How calmly we continue to assume those wires and cords will continue to supply the juice to run all our appliances and devices.

For whatever reason, be it natural events (some of which we have brought on ourselves through lack of concern and respect for our natural resources) or deliberately sabotaging the environment, there will come a time when we will see undesired effects. Honestly, I am Not a doomsayer, but convinced that we have become far too dependent on technology. Plus convinced we all make so poorly considered assumptions of an unending supply of electricity to power all our gadgets. (That being 'said' as I sit here, after dark, with the lights on, in a cool comfortable house, typing on a computer!)

We seem to be storing a tremendous amount of valuable, irreplaceable information/knowledge in ways that it could easily disappear. When the time comes that we don't have the electricity to run the devices to retrieve it. What to do? What to do? Is this why I continue to be a faithful library patron, with an affinity for the printed word, ink on paper?


at loose ends for a couple of days. Deliberately not planning anything, due to the expectation that I would be going out of town. That did not come to fruition, so I will have to devise plans for my own entertainment. Which is usually not difficult. I could spend the day in the house cleaning and not get it all done. I could spend the day in the yard, picking up trash and planting things and not get it all done. Or I could just fritter the time away, and get nothing done. Which sounds like a much better plan than the others! So much for productivity...

I was lying in bed last night thinking about some things that need planting, and decided that is what I  will do. Plus we've had several thunderstorms with lots of wind that have caused limbs to fall.  I could easily spend all day with my wheelbarrow getting stuff picked up, to roll tree trash up the driveway and dump near the street for city pick up.

Some of those unlikely asparagus starts I planted a few weeks ago are at least three feet tall: a complete surprise. I did not expect anything to happen there, much less such remarkable results, amazing growth.  Followed the planting instructions, digging a trench and putting in good rich dirt to replace the red clay, and have kept them watered. But the idea of putting them out at such a completely wrong season caused me to have no expectations whatsoever. I know they take a couple of years to mature, but I am amazed that they even came up out of the ground.

If I'd had any idea of such amazing growth, I'm sure I would have put far more effort into their environment! I did get that zero-fertility red clay out, and put good dirt in. But I thought there were only three 'starts' in the pack. And there were eight. Apparently several of those did not come up, but still, they should be spaced out better. Expecting only three, I did not have enough space prepared for so  many, so they got kinda' stacked up, forced to accept less than ideal growing conditions. A classic example of what my mom would call: "20/20 hindsight." The crystal clear vision we tend to exhibit when the situation that needed better judgment is long past. 

I don't recall specifics, but I am sure the day they got planted was hot, buggy, muggy and by the time I did that hard clay digging, and was ready to plant, I was tired and desperate to get back in the house away from ravenous mosquitos and heat. So they did not get that 'perfect situation' I now wish I had devoted my time to creating: bigger, deeper, longer trench with lots of good dirt - but honestly - my expectations were so low, I was amazed anything at all came up.

Four of the five tomatoes I planted at the same time are still alive, to create great optimism about the likelihood of a fall crop. Hopefully they will start producing before the first serious cold/freeze. I think they are all Big Boy and Better Boy, so we will see what happens there...

I have some daisies in pots that need planting. And will put out behind the house where some holly ferns grow. The ferns are in a very shady area, but I think with some decent dirt and a bit of attention, the daisies planted along the edge, in the sun, will like being there and hopefully thrive. Several rescue mini-roses, that need to go in the ground, while it is wet enough to dig. I put some out early summer, that have done remarkably well: a testament to that good homemade soil combo. I create, mixing things together in the wheelbarrow and storing in five-gallon buckets. (The secret ingredient is probably Osmocote, time release fertilizer, in little pellets that dissolve when they come in contact with water.)

not a big deal...

Thursday, August 21, 2014
...for you, but pretty impressive to me. I kept working at it until I got it figured out. I have learned how to set the alarm on my phone. So I don't have to wake up forty times each night, wondering if my clock will wake me at the right time in the mornings. Wondering if the battery will slowly peter out over night, and the hands will completely stop just short of the time I need an alert. Wondering if really did to remember to have set it to 'alarm' me into wakefulness. And also not replacing batteries in the clock just for the certainty that it would not decease in the middle of the night, leaving me to my own devices...

Not tech. proficient, and generally hoping for the best. But lately, my phone has been doing pretty good. I know it is only as cooperative as the programming. But my skills are so limited, and I am so doubtful of my ability with things mechanical, I am invariably anxious about getting the desired result.

The only problem thus far is that once I set it for a certain day and time, I don't seem to be able to disarm it. So I have figured out to circumvent by changing the time when it goes off from 4 a.m., or 5 a.m. to noon. I don't have a problem with it going off in the middle of the day. And can hopefully remember what I did to be able to change the time when I actually need an 'alarming' reminder.

we've been hearing....

Monday, August 18, 2014
...about it for months, and it is about to come to fruition. Our church staff, supported by the congregation, is opening a 'satellite'  in Alabama. Not all that far from our building here, but much more convenient for the people who live in Phenix City/Russell County than driving for half an hour to get to events. If you are involved in things that might meet during the week, that adds up to a couple hours of drive time on a regular basis.

So a couple(with kids) who has been on staff for several years, have agreed to head up a new church 'plant' across the river. Next Sunday will be the first time the new facility will be open, and ready for services. We will loose well over one hundred of our regulars who will start attending in the new spot. Live music, and children's programming, but a live 'feed' for sermons to start with.

I have supported missions most of my life. Raised in a church that regularly took up financial assistance to send to foreign mission programs, as well as providing support for workers state-side.
And have even sent my own personal missionary to India, once for three months. Plus took myself to Mexico for a week a couple of years ago, when some Presbyterian friends went to support a start-up church near Cancun. Meeting out doors under a tin roof, in really rustic conditions. But surrounded by locals who were enthusiastic, dedicated, and excited about the future.  While I was anxious the whole time about getting Montezuma's Revenge!

The church I have been attending for over ten years publically reports when the board shares the annual budget report each year, that they tithe ten percent of total income to missions. So I continue to support the 'Go Ye' philosophy. In all these many years of church going and donating, I have never felt I have been a part of 'planting', involved in the making something of nothing which is what this out reach project sounds like to me.

when I woke up...

...this morning, I thought I had another of those rare days with: nothing on my calendar. But then remember (with a little prompting as a result of actually looking at the calendar, because if I don't write it down, it's gone!)  I'd agreed to go with a couple of fellow gardening friends down town to do some weeding. The local master gardening group has committed to several projects that require regular attention. And this was my once a month Monday to go and donate time.

One is a small area in between buildings belonging to the Springer Theater, available for rental space for receptions. Mostly neatly groomed lawn, but attractive landscaping around the edges, inside a gated courtyard, with a peaceful fountain blurbling near a brick wall along the back. We three pulled some stray weeds and grass in the straw beds. Pinched the blooming tops off some coleus planted in big circular raised brick beds out in the street median.

Moved on to Historic District and more weeding and sniping of bloomed out decorative plants. I trimmed off daisies, others tidied up beds of roses and a few vegetables still producing,  mostly tomato plants. I dreaded this part of the project, as I remember how voracious the mosquitos were when I was last there- they have not changed. I borrowed bug spray, to make myself unappealing, but they probably tasted me a dozen times. My legs are still itchy.

After about an hour, I told them I thought I had all the therapy I needed, and was going to sit in the car and wait. They could continue to feed the insects all they wanted, but I would rather be hot and steamy sitting in the back seat than donate any more blood for lunch. I've long preached weed pulling as a great form of therapy, something that is generally mindless and requires little conscious thought. But after all that bending over, to the point that my thighs and back had begun to ache,  pulling up dozens of volunteer cherry laurels and other assorted unwanteds, I felt I had filled my quota for the day - or week.

while googling...

... I somehow got lead off on a tangent, and ended up looking last night at some videos of Mark Lowery. Who is hilarious. Even those stories he tells I have heard a dozen times continue to be comical. Someone gave us a cassette tape (can you remember back that far?) of his comedy routines, that we still find ourselves quoting to each other.

The story of learning to drive, with the tale of his family going to church every time the doors were open. He knew he was in trouble, with a history of 'sassing' mother and teachers, and was expecting severe punishment from his dad.  I won't give it away, you need to look it up on Youtube and listen for yourself. Almost as amusing as hearing the tale, was seeing him change over the years, from a young sprout, in a very loud royal blue jacket sporting a mullet, to a short grey bristle-cut dressed in a conservative business suit. He apparently travels and performs quite a bit with the Gaither crowd, and was really enjoying giving the patriarch, Bill, a hard time in one of the videos.

He has a remarkable singing voice, as well as being hyper and ADD as a child, which is great fodder for his comic career. You probably did not know that he wrote the Christmas song:' Mary, Did You Know?' There is a video clip of that song that is worth your time to watch when you look it up.

listening while driving...

...to a game show on public radio. And heard a bit of info. about someone who sounded really interesting. So I wrote his name down, and looked it up when I got home. How did we get along before googling??

He was talking about how we are not really attentive to our surroundings, or other people. And how easily folks can be fooled and distracted when they are not focused and deliberate in their awareness. As it turns out, he does amazing magic. I found  him on Youtube, trying to teach a card trick. It didn't really look at that difficult, though I can see how anyone not in the know, or not seeing the full picture could easily be buffaloed by hands moving so fast you don't see the sneaky part.

He is the kind of guy who would pluck suckers from the audience in Vegas and have their wallets in his pocket by  the time they got up on stage. Expecting to 'help' him with some clever subterfuge, and find the 'helper' is the one who got tooken for a ride! So be prepared to play the part of a fool when you get invited to be the Assistant.

His name is Apollo Robbins - look it up.

those wee 'buggers'...

Sunday, August 17, 2014
must really like a clean floor. I picked up nearly two dozen millipedes already this morning. Continually amazed that I do it 'bare-handed'. They have become such a annoyance, and the Irritation Factor far outweighs my squeamishness about removing them from the premises.  I just pick 'em up. I am still surprised to find myself so quick to bend over, gently pinch, so as not to smoosh the little things between my fingers, and deposit in the trash. They do smell bad, to remind you to be sure to wash your hands after. Just a strange chemical odor, that makes you know your nose is not happy.

They are no larger than an inch long bit of dark colored yarn, though obviously not. As they are traveling across the tiles at what is for them, a fast clip, on those dozens of legs. It is so surprising, even though I have been seeing them for months, to walk into the kitchen and find a dozen or more industriously making their way across the tiles.  They probably think they have arrived at the pearly gates, when they go in the trash and find all those odds and ends, scraps of food. It likely never occurs to them: The End. When you consider the size of their 'thinking capacity', how could they possibly consider the likelihood of Curtains?

plan for the day...

Saturday, August 16, 2014
... is to be marginally productive. A odd occurance is a day on my calendar when there is nothing noted, not a single thing that needs accomplishing, or reminder of some obligation. But there is nothing penciled in for today.

I do hope to get a wee bit of house work done. And if 'wee bit' is all that occurs: I've already picked up at least a dozen millipedes and dropped them in the trash. I continue to wonder where they come from, how they get in the house, why they are always creeping across the kitchen floor. And on those days when I walk in, and find none: I wonder where are they?  Having become so accustomed to finding them, inching along on the tile squares, when there comes the occasional morning I am getting organized to leave for work, and there are none: what happened? Why are they not here, creating the continual nuisance in my life? Irony: never satisfied?

I expect when the weather changes, causing the granddaddy long-legs spiders come in when it gets too cool outside, I will find them strolling across the ceiling. As the temp. becomes to low for bug activity - there will not be any more of this baffling millipede invasion. Though I will continue to wonder if they could be hatching out in the mulch just outside the kitchen in that shady bed by the front door. But ... who knows?  Not me!

I do hope to get kitchen floor swept and mopped, and the clouds and clumps of black cat hair cleaned up. I've finally figured out I should be covering up furniture she normally sits/sleeps on. So have several places strategically covered with pieces of fabric, that I will probably just trash instead of trying to clean. I am constantly amazed at the amount of cat hair found every day, in clumps all over the floor - how she still has any on her self is impossible to figure...

drivin' to south GA...

Tuesday, August 12, 2014
Years ago, I would drive to Albany, having arranged to meet my parents 'halfway'. Meaning it was about the same distance for us to drive, and spend a few hours together. I had little people in the back seat, securely tied down to prevent them from levitating, so excited with anticipation. Looking forward to meeting their grandparents for lunch at the mall, or picnic in the park.  I found the drive from here to there was about ninety minutes... now that travel is measured in time rather than miles.    

So we will assume that getting to Albany takes an hour and a half, due to suppressed speed limits through Ft. Benning. As well as the necessity for keeping an eagle eye out, spying local enforcement in rural areas who have too much time on their hands. Remarkably undeveloped, rural areas along the four-lane where you'd think you could drive hell-for-leather with no traffic whatsoever. Nothing but corn and cotton for miles around. Which is, I guess, why those deputies sit there behind a stump waiting for the city-boys who set the cruise control on 85 in a 55 zone. I've paid enough of their tickets, I'm definitely in the know!

I left home on Monday morning about 5:30, headed to Valdosta. And got home again about 7:30. which makes for a tiresome day of driving.  Stopped at wally world in Albany for gas, and set my mileage checker. I just looked at it this morning, and see that I drove 297 yesterday, so when I add the ninety for driving to Albany to that: nearly four-hundred.

I went to Valdosta to see a friend, then had lunch with another friend. Went by to visit my auntie, who lives there. And on to Q-town. Where I loaded up boxes full of old cans of paint, insecticides, solvents, assorted, miscellaneous hazardous materials, used glass jars, plastic containers: all to go to recycling center here. I did not want it to end up in landfill, though I doubt my good intentions make much difference. Especially down in rural south Georgia where agricultural run-off and ground water pollution is an accepted way of life. But my conscience is clear - and will be even more transparent when I take all those boxes to the new city recycle center to dispose of all those haz-mat chemicals and cans of dried up paint.

So:  getting all that bad stuff out of my car is my only major project for today. I've already swept up the dozen or so millipedes that were trooping across the tiles in the kitchen. And will probably find six or eight more when I stop typing and look again. Where in the world do they come from? And how in the world do they get in?

when I started out: driving lessons...

... in life, a gullible, inexperienced youth, I measured distance in miles. Then I went out into the world and discovered those who I thought had more knowledge, ever so 'worldly', just because they were not from a small rural south Georgia town. I was surprised to find that a trait they had (in addition to leading me astray) was the habit of measuring distance in time rather than miles. I found this to be rather odd, as all my life I had lived: a mile from the center of the small town I was raised in. And that little burg was about ten miles from the Florida state line. As well as twenty miles from the nearest town where people in the small burg would go for shopping more complicated than what was available in that little agriculture-based community.

Then I went out into the world, and found people who measured travel time by how long it took to get from one place to another. Like the big city mall being twenty minutes from their homes (which obviously included lots of traffic lights and congested roadways -none of which I experienced in that small traffic-light-and-snarl-free place I knew.) Or a place to eat would be thirty minutes away. Or going to the movies would require a fifteen minute drive - when I could bike there in my little hometown in ten minutes!

My experience with traffic was having my dad teach me how to drive on country dirt roads, out in the county, surrounded by farms and fields of cotton, peanuts and soybeans. The unpaved, county-maintained roads were slick red clay with deep narrow ditches, periodically graded/smoothed with a road scraper. Or loose sand, with a wash-board quality and practically no ditches at all, as the road often washed away during rains and could completely disappear. Making it necessary to drive pickup trucks, with the underbody high enough to ford creeks and streams to get where you wanted to be.

I learned how to drive in a huge, lime-green Ford Fairlane station wagon. The same one our family of four traveled in from our hometown to California and back over the course of a summer when I was about ten or eleven years old. A story for another day.

As soon as I had gained confidence with my driving skills, learning how to shift gears, operate clutch, brake, and accelerator, while steering and being hyper-alert - my dad traded cars. We obviously moved up in the world, to a Buick that had power steering and automatic transmission. I was devastated, horrified: thinking I would have to learn how all over again. He insisted this new/used Buick would be much easier to operate.  But I had put so much effort and concentration, time and energy into mastering the gear shifting apparatus and all those many (three) pedals on the floor, I was terrified of having to start over! Yeah- I know: big ha-ha-ha.

I don't think I ever admitted to being convinced, but over time did learn how to drive that automatic, and have been in motion ever since. He also taught (or tried) to teach me how to drive a little fork-lift he had in his business. He used to move bales of cotton around in the three warehouses he owned, where he stored cotton until sold. When I drove it down a ramp, going from one warehouse to another, and got it stuck in loose sand (think about how much they weigh?), that was the end of my fork-lift driving career.

I have a mental picture of my mom, driving this huge red flat bed truck all over south GA. He would need parts, or supplies for his business and she would agree to go and pick up whatever was needed. Driving to Macon or Columbus or where ever he found what he wanted. I remember a floor shift, and think it had five gears. She just got in that thing and went. Even though you practically needed a ladder to get into the cab.


Saturday, August 9, 2014
...miles from south Decatur to Simpsonville SC and back. It was a pleasant day to make a little trip. Drove over to visit my cuzzin' who lives in a little town south of Greenville. I usually try to go see her after I go to spend the day with my pen-pal. But realized that I don't get to spend enough time with her, when I am trying to squeeze two visits in on one trip.

So we made a date to hang out today. It's about a two hour drive from Decatur, so I got there about 10:30 (after missing my turn from I-85 to I-385 and having to drive several miles out of  my way to get to a place to make a U-turn).  We looked at photos of grandbabies that are too far away in Montana, then went to lunch. At a neat little sidewalk café in downtown, overlooking the Reedy River and falls in Greenville. Very scenic, very sketchy service, and remarkably average food. We will definitely try something different next time.

Made a tour of the beautiful campus of Presbyterian College in Clinton (pronounced by the locals as 'Clinnon'). And went to downtown Simpsonville to get ice cream at the converted train station. I wish I had just asked them to fill my cup with cookie dough and leave the ice cream part out. Don't care a thing about eating cookies, but could eat un-cooked dough until it runs out my ears....

Traffic was not bad, driving was a breeze with the talking book from the library I had to keep me company. I am glad I went, had some time to spend with her, and not feel rushed trying to get on the road. We enjoyed growing up together, and rarely have/take time to visit as adults. So it was a good day.

mini road trip: part 3, veering off into TN...

Friday, August 8, 2014

We were just tooling along, cruising down the road, moseying through north Georgia. When suddenly the thought occurred: we are nearly in Tennessee. And that's where my other favorite person is! So, let's go! We called, and asked about the likelihood of meeting her for dinner, and if she might be getting off work early. Yes!

After the very interesting tour of Paradise Gardens, and more information that my head could hold related to the revelations of Howard Finster.  A pleasant and scenic drive up Highway 27.  Northward to TN, and The Land of Cheap Gas. Apparently P. had not informed C. that we were in the neighborhood.  When we arrived in Chattanooga, we drove up to the house, and saw him pushing a small John Deere tractor/lawnmower down the street. He got his grass cut, we had a good meal at a southern cooking café downtown, and headed back to GA, after filling up my gas tank ($3.11). (In the interest of full disclosure: I went to the Murphy yesterday, with my 10-cents-per-gal.-off-card, and filled up for $3.03.)

Things got sort of complicated a time or two, which made me 11:00 p.m. getting home and flopping into bed, knowing I had to get up at 5:00 to be at work at 6:00. And then had to go do a volunteer job at the Rivercenter last night, which made me 11:00 flopping into bed again. I have not fully recovered yet, but hopefully that will occur in the next week or so.

mini road trip, part 2: Summerville

The goal was to spend some time in Summerville, in northwest Georgia, and visit a local attraction. We left Valley Head, and got back on the road. Had an appointment with a tour guide who would take us through the Paradise Gardens. You really need to google it to get the full story.

Howard Finster was a local man who reported God had told him to quit preaching and start making art. He was a hoarder before there was a name for it. And likely a man who could not pass up any junk/trash he saw that has potential for his assemblages. There was one decaying pile of bicycles that was originally two stories tall, where people could reportedly walk through. Much of his work consisted of embedding things in concrete: found objects, tools, glass bottles, ceramic tile, children's toys, etc. Anything he stopped along the roadway and collected to bring home. I wish I knew how much he had invested in bags of concrete?

He was, at one point, known locally as a bicycle repair person, but when God gave him the 'make art' vision, he embedded all his tools in concrete, to demonstrate to the world that he was through with that line of work. He constructed all sort of buildings, architectural structures, things the people who have started a non-profit are still discovering that had been overgrown with vegetation in the years of neglect. According to our tour guide, Steve, the visionary Howard was given some land through a grant from the government.  Low, swampy, useless, but he dug canals, drained it and started building what he 'saw'. And like the storybook tells about Topsy: it just grew and grew. You really need to google it.

As you might imagine, it's being renovated, restored, rebuilt, through grant money and donations. I guess it could be considered a legacy worth preserving. Or a huge oddity.

I've seen some of his folk art in the High Museum in Atlanta, and the Columbus Museum collections. I think the bike-repair tools, embedded in a big flat rectangle of concrete, is part of the permanent collection in the High.  We saw a short clip of Howard on the Johnny Carson show: he was singing a song he made up, especially for the occasion of being invited to the 'Tonight Show'. You really need to google it.

mini road trip, part 1: The Winston Place

I was thinking it would be amusing to go on a little excursion. With a daughter before she gets started with work, while she had free time. So we planned a trip to northwest Georgia, including spending a night in a Bed and Breakfast Inn in northeast AL. I left town as soon as I got off work on Tuesday, drove to Decatur and we headed north, to the miniscule village of Valley Head, Alabama.

The house was built in the 1830's and had four or five rooms to let. We were in one that had two beds: one double and one king-sized, so even though it was a big room, it was full of furniture. Nicely arranged and neat, clean. But in order to try to make it more desirable/rentable, the house owners had converted two closets. One was a space just wide enough for a toilet and sink. The other: you guessed - a shower stall. We enjoyed laughing. But did not sleep all that well. Due to: the bed being on a slant so I woke up with my feets hanging off the end. And six freight trains that passed through overnight. Or possibly one train six times?

We got up on Wednesday morning and ate really good French toast and fresh fruit, prepared by the inn owner, a former player for the Crimson Tide. He really enjoyed having someone who would listen while he talked.  We went for a walk after eating. It takes about five minutes to see it all. The town of  Valley Head consists of municipal buildings, plus a bank, a pharmacy, a café and a couple of collectible stores, several churches. Plus about a dozen empty store fronts. But they do have a high school.

it might be getting better...

Monday, August 4, 2014

... or worse. This poison ivy I have been afflicted with for nearly a week is awful looking. Trying really hard not to scratch, as I know that urge would be not well rewarded, only temporarily gratifying. I guess I must have gotten into something similar as a kid, from all those years of running wild in the woods. I was the youngest of that little troupe of Indians that was forever fording steams and breaking new paths through the woods. So generally the last one in the line, most likely to get left behind, to sit down in a patch of itchy stuff.

But I don't have any memory of being this annoyed by a casual encounter with the irritating vine. And knew as soon as it happened I was in trouble. Just did not know where it had come in contact with my skin, so didn't scrub enthusiastically as the experts recommend. And now I struggle with nasty looking rash: looks as bad as a case of the Shingles, just limited to my arms.

I'd like to think it's getting better, and I have been sufficiently careful not to scratch and spread. But right now, and for several days, it's been making me crazie. Pouring on the clear version of caladryl, and feeling like it has been marginally effective. So perhaps I am on the mend. If I can just hold on....

perhaps I'm not...

Sunday, August 3, 2014
... quite as brave as I would lead you to believe. I recently reported being unflinching when picking up live, wiggling millipedes as they inch across the kitchen floor. That is true: I have done it just today, to nearly a dozen that have already been put in the trash. But there is apparently a wuss still residing in this body.

When I got ready to get in the shower, I have learned to pull the curtain back and check for living things. I often find a millipede in there. No, I can't explain it either. But it happens. Or maybe a granddaddy long legs spider. So I know to check before I turn on the water. Today: there was a living spider, causing me to say 'eep'. I pondered going to get a plastic cup to capture it with a sheet of paper. But I decided to attempt pick up with a bit of toilet paper first. I nearly made it to the outside door before it fell out, when there was a big 'yipe'. Fortunately close enough that it dashed on out, so there was no chasing with the broom.

Just a bit of transparency here: I can and will pick up a granddaddy long legs, but not the short-legged ones that can be deadly. I did  not stop to ask the one in the tub this  morning what sort it was, so just to be safe did not want to make contact that might bring about a bite. I know people who have had long hospital stays, painful recoveries and skin grafts as a result of poisonous spider bits, and do not want anyone telling stories like that about me.  That's not the kind of 'near death experience' I want to be writing about!

CLEAA fingerprinting...

Saturday, August 2, 2014
...stands for Citizens and Law Enforcement Alumni Association. Of which I am a dues paying member. So going this morning to help with fingerprinting project they do every year prior to the start of school opening (which happens next week). Much too soon in my opinion, and probably  every kid who is forcing feets into new 'back to school' shoes, after a summer of swimming, running loose and bare feet.

I got a call recently asking if I would be available to assist with this. I did it a couple of years ago, and remember next to nothing about how the process works. But how complicated can it be, right? You just ink 'em and print 'em! I think you have to have a permission form signed by some consenting adult. So I am dressed in my going-to-work clothes, but headed up to the north side of town, to a church that sponsors this event each year.

Then I will head on to Publix. I am so pleased to have a boss who will allow flexibility for things besides work, work, work. He told me that he is ok with anything I want to do that is related to church or community volunteering. He said he will be doing it, and if I want to do it, to just let him know, and he will arrange the work schedule around other things.

Speaking of which: that yard work we did last Tuesday. The boss, and his boss were both there. I got exposed to some poison ivy. It is making me crazy. Feels like small creatures have burrowed under my skin and creeping along just beneath the surface. It is SO hard to not scratch. It is making me crazy. I have been liberally applying a clear version of pink calamine lotion but it is still driving me nuts.

I knew when I did it, looked down at my gloved hands and saw what I was pulling at, there was going to be a problem. But didn't know where it had touched my bare skin to know where to go vigorously scrub. So, foolish me, I just let nature take it's course... and now I am letting it make me crazy!

CG farm market...

I got a call several days ago, from the education department at Callaway Gardens. They were apparently under-manned for help with the Friday afternoon Farmer's Market, and needed another body to assist with sales. I knew I had to work, but agreed to show up by five o'clock to be helpful, in a marginal sort of way.  Mostly just standing around, greeting people as they walk by, and offering plastic bags for them to put their goods in. Two other volunteers, plus an employee who handled the money exchanging.

As it turned out with my employment, I was so close to having forty hours, the boss made me leave early, so I had several hours at my disposal in the afternoon. Leaving me time to make a run to Sams Wholesale to do the church shopping I had failed to do in a timely manner. I got coffee supplies and delivered to the church, with enough time to go home and change into cooler attire.

Drove up to CG in plenty of time to help with set up for market, awaiting the delivery of fresh produce. We had corn, okra, butterbeans, a variety of hot peppers, rattlesnake beans (?). The other volunteers said the quantity was a bit lean, but assumed it is getting towards the end of the season for garden production. People kept asking for fresh tomatoes, but I guess the crop is over there in Mr. Cason's garden. And I don't think they ever had peaches, though someone said there was a vendor there near the beach, under a little canopy who was selling them earlier in the summer.

I bought a little bag of tiny okra pods, with plans to look for 'how to' and roast them in the oven. Reportedly very tasty.  I discovered years ago how yummy they are steamed, just barely cooked, still a little crisp, and lightly buttered and salted. You have to have young, small pods that are still tender - oh, my goodness. Maybe I will steam them after all... The man who lives here loves anything fried, which I have not done in years. I don't want to eat fried stuff, and especially don't want to clean up the mess stove-top frying makes, so that's not an option. But I have had some that is passable sliced and cornmeal-ed and cooked in the oven. I'm just not wasting my fifty cents worth of wee okra pods on that...

Vidalia Onion pie...

Friday, August 1, 2014
... courtesy of Muvy. I ate some a couple of years ago at a church pot-luck event, and demanded to know who brought that tasty dish. I asked for the recipe, surprised to find the casserole dish had been brought by the grandma of a friend of P.

When I eat something really yummy, that my taste buds cannot quite figure out, I know there is surely some 'secret ingredient' that makes it unique. You will be surprised by the 'secret' of this recipe, but if you are willing to assemble the ingredients, you will find it likely find yourself addicted. Too bad there is such a short time to enjoy Vidalia onions. So I guess I should go ahead and tell you: it is just as good using the plain old yellow ones, you buy in the three pound mesh bag... you'll just have to call it something else!

Onion Pie

1/4 cup unsalted butter
7 or 8 large Vidalia or other sweet onions, cut in chunks, separated
1/2 cup uncooked rice
5 cups boiling water
1 cup grated cheese
2/3 cup milk

Melt butter in large skillet. Saute onions. Cook rice in boiling water, five min. Drain rice well. Stir in onions, cheese and milk. Season as desired. Turn into shallow two quart baking dish. Cook at 350 for one hour.

I absolutely positively do not eat raw onions, but think this dish is delish. I guess the 'insurance' of having the onions cooked twice and thoroughly 'done' makes it ok. I generally go to great lengths to avoid accidently putting a raw piece of onion in my mouth. Constantly asking waitstaff to be sure the onions do not get on my salad, and requesting the strongly flavored vegetables be left in the kitchen. So it is sort of surprising that I find this so good. If you have leftovers, please give me a call?

the 'ick' factor...

... has profoundly diminished at my house. I find I have no qualms about picking up a millipede as it is scooting (they are so small and move so slow - at tiptop speed for a bug, I am sure!) along the kitchen floor. Historically - I would rush to get the broom and dustpan to pick it up and deposit in the trash. But lately, I just lean over and pinch my fingers together, and drop it in any nearby recepticle.  Which might be a trash can, or the toilet or just toss it back out the door.

There was a time, when this crazy invasion started, that I would not consider touching one of these little creepy crawlers. But that is history. I am so tired of finding them roaming around on the floor, mostly kitchen, but occasionally bedrooms or tile in bath, that I just pinch them and relocate to some place else. I probably picked up a dozen yesterday, when I stayed at home in the morning and got the kitchen swept and mopped. And half that many this morning, when I have to go to work. I expect there are more, I just don't have the time to devote to ending their dull little lives.

I hope it will end with cold weather, but that is months away. So I will continue to pick them up and trash or drown as needed. I never have figured out where they originate, or how they get in the house, what it is about the kitchen floor that is so attractive? I have found them occasionally live, but mostly curled up in a little spiral, crunchy at the other end of the house. When they have been on explorations and deceased in the far reaches of the bedrooms - a millipede's definition of the Outer Limits?