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driving on I-85 ...

Friday, March 31, 2017
... heading south instead of north. If you are up-to-date on the news, there is a section of the interstate highway missing in north Atlanta, due to a fire. Another great reason to avoid metro Atlanta. My guess (where I pick a number for the lottery for re-opening) is that the highway will be closed for a couple of years. You do know what happens when the DOT is involved with a project, right?The state will defer to the contractor who originally built the bridge. Even though we probably have a thousand engineers on the state payroll who would love to go look at it, lean on their shovels, take off their yellow hard hats and scratch their collective heads.

I had a couple of red plastic Adirondack chairs barely squeezed into the back of my car, that I was looking forward to putting in the back yard. They are there, and I have enjoyed an adult beverage sitting in one of my new chairs. Perfect view of the trees down the slope towards creek. Lots of brightly blooming dogwoods with sparkling white blossoms scattered out on the hillside.

This all started when I was being industrious recently, pushing the wheelbarrow to and fro hauling mulch, and feeling ever so productive. I casually mentioned wishing I had some chairs from which to enjoy the scenery, and a nice cold beverage at the end of the day. A close associate had purchased some really nice chairs, solid, and much more durable than the variety you see on the sidewalk at BigLots.  When I found out the price, I said: "Holy Cow-pie."  I would not spend the funds for chairs with a twenty year guarantee, but happily settled for cheap. With the thought that I can replace them twenty times instead.

tick alert...

... as a result of getting infested when I was working in the yard earlier this week. It happened on the day that was so productive planting the blueberry bushes. Which means the 'by-product' of having a successful day of hole digging and yard working is suffering the possibly frightful results of finding a tick embedded in my skin. Reminding us of the fact that everything has some potentially scary side-effect. You just have to make a judgment call: is it worth it?

Actually the second one in recent weeks. I found the first one, aimlessly walking along on my arm, and calmly pinched it off and deposited it in the toilet, gave a vigorous flush and waved goodbye. Some years ago, I found one firmly attached to my person, and had to pull it out. Saved for posterity all this time. Of course, you do not know how long you have been an unwitting 'host', as well as what deadly diseases it might have transmitted while hitching a ride.

I saved the extracted bug, put in a small container to preserve the evidence. With instructions to keep indefinitely, and to deliver to medical personnel if I should begin acting strange(r than usual). I have a cousin who has had several serious encounters with debilitating disease, including: Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, as transmitted by tick bite (or maybe Lime Disease?) Which makes me super cautious about deadly illnesses spread through insects.

I've been faithfully cleaning the bite site, applying antibiotic and covering with a band aid. So concerned about 'proper hygiene', being a good medic, I went to a considerable extreme: bought a fresh tube of Triple-Antibiotic. Discarding the old tube that probably expired in 1999, and using the new stuff after cleaning the bite with hydrogen peroxide every day. Pretty serious, huh?

Though I know that having an assortment of bug bites is routine hazard of enjoying the world outside, as well as a fact of life when you live in the south, I will never deliberately co-habitate. Often finding on the floor, usually in the kitchen, a random roach corpse, thankful it is deceased. I know with recent rains it's about time for mosquitoes to get awful, so will break out the Avon Skin-so-soft when I next get outdoors to putter about...

driving through the woods...

Wednesday, March 29, 2017
...of middle Georgia in the afternoon, with the sunshine slanting through the pines. And hundreds of brilliantly blooming white dogwood trees scattered amongst the densely wooded forest floor. Or  peeking out along the verge of the right-of-way. Prettier than I can every remember seeing them in all the springs over all the years. Spread by berry-eating birds, volunteering randomly in the hills and byways throughout the South.

I worked half a day, then did a volunteer job for a couple of hours, hoping to leave town by mid-afternoon. Finally got loaded up and on the road about 4:00. Headed out from home cruising towards Atlanta enjoying the scenery as the forest begins show a thousand shades of green. Beauty-full pines and leafing out hardwoods along the right of way, with bright white blooms of dogwoods and wild plums sprinkled throughout in the understory.

Finally getting into town, where we all come to a screeching halt after happily speeding along at 79 in a 50 mph zone. Completely-stalled-out-for-no-apparent-reason, as usual. Due to arriving in the mess at the worst time of day when every single one of the eight million individuals is going from A to B.

Getting off that dratted interstate highway, into the city, and ending up on a nice quiet street in a peaceful chicken-filled back yard, with a cold beverage to enjoy. Thinking: Serendipity. I don't know what Webster's Dictionary will tell us is the most accurate definition. But mine is: Surprised by Joy.

you will never...

Monday, March 27, 2017

...guess what  I discovered in my yard this afternoon. Amazing, as well as baffling and fascinating. I was raking up oak leaves, that pile up in the back of the house. My peeps from Chattanooga get on the roof and sweep/rake/blow all the leaves that fall and pile up in the valleys on the backside of the house. Big piles ready for me to relocate to provide mulch for the new blueberry bushes.

In the process of raking to pile in the barrow, I accidentally uncovered a teeny snake. Don't know what kind it was, so I decided: do nothing. It was small, skinny, about as big around and as long as a wooden pencil, but solid brown. I do not know what kind it is, but that small is usually pretty harmless. It was remarkably feisty: really defensive for something so small. But I guess like a little kitten or a small but aggressive dog - they don't really know how easily they could be stepped on. Mr. No-Shoulders lives to wiggle, hiss, stick out that wee forked tongue another day.

The remarkable thing I found while I was rearranging the oak leaves with my wheelbarrow: a pair of nearly intact deer antlers. I've often thought what a neat thing it would be to randomly walk in the woods and find a discarded antler. I know to find one is pretty rare, as there are lots of small mammals that consume them for the calcium. It is common for many little creatures find the antlers, shed on the forest floor and eat them. A good source of trace elements, they gnaw them like they often do bones they find in the woods.

What is really interesting is that the pair, almost perfectly matching, were inside the fence. I was picking up sticks, windfalls, along with raking and relocating the oak leaves. I know the four foot chain link fence is not a deterrent, as I have seen deer prints in places where the soil is bare after a rain. The fence is not high enough to keep them out if they want to be on the other side. But is was a delightful surprise to find a pair of antlers just lying there in the leaf mulch in my back yard. Probably within fifteen feet of the house. How cool is that?

finally decided...

...got 'em bought and planted today. I still cannot figure out why it was such a stressful undertaking to decide which ones, where to purchase, whether to even buy them or not. But it's done, and they are in the ground. Perfect example of: why ask for advice if you are not going to take it?

I have a paper/flyer from Ag. experts at U of GA, full of information about care and feeding of blueberry bushes, facts about different varieties, specifics about how to plant, prune, feed. I read it, then got all wishy-washy about actually making the purchase my very own plants. Which, sadly, replace the ones I  bought last spring, but did not mulch, keep watered, care for, nurture, tend, talk to with encouraging words. So they deceased. Looked bad late in the summer, after I did start doing all those things, but obviously not soon enough for them to survive the drought.

I've purchased an 'early' bloomer, and a 'mid-season' bloomer, to go with the one of the three that made it through. Number three, the one that was purchased to produce berries late in the season,  is looking good, with lots of little bright green leaves, and seems to be doing well. All three have been carefully mulched, and well watered. The ones planted today both have lots of blooms on them, and I know I am supposed to trim them back, so they will put all their effort into establishing a good healthy root system. As opposed to standing by and encouraging them to make as many berries as possible the first season. I might even gather up my gumption and actually trim them like the flyer from UGA Ag. experts recommend. I've invested so much labor in the ones that I purchased and planted today, hopefully that will inspire me to do the nurturing to keep them healthy.

an amusing day...

Sunday, March 26, 2017
...with a handful of Girl Scouts for day camp while they are out of school for spring break. There were only about a dozen, a good size to be manageable, and they were pretty close to the same age, and skill level for crafts and games. The person who manages the outdoor programs for the scout council had planned the event, and did a most excellent job of keeping them busy and entertained.

I've been working with her as part of the team for Higher Awards, and find her to be capable and super organized. She seems to be really invested in supporting the principles of scouting, and doing all she can to make the scouting experience positive and helping 'Girls Grow Strong'.  Two of the days she had them going places to experience other environments. One was at the local public museum, touring with docents, spending the day with art and in the museum garden.

Even though I was only there on Friday the last day of the week long day camp it was obvious the girls who were participating had a great time. Lots of fun activities, high energy, some educational experiences. Now that I've seen what happened on that one day, wish I had been there more, to benefit from a full week of all the interesting things they did.

whoa! what a productive...

Saturday, March 25, 2017
...afternoon, following a very frustrating experience with being profoundly indecisive about the blueberries. I just had to sweep the blueberry business under the rug for the time being, and  move on to other things. I have been out in the yard working until it got too dark to see. When I watered my foot instead of the plants, that was a sign it is time to quit. Digging holes and planting things: the Lenten Rose/Hellebore I accidentally bought at the Callaway sale on Thursday, and some tiny little violas that will hopefully reseed and come up in profusion next spring.

There is a bed of mixed misc. across the front of the carport, in a place where there is nearly no direct sun. It might get a few  minutes in the middle of the day, but between a wide overhang from the roof, and lots of deciduous trees, there is lots of light, but nothing intense. A good place to put things that like shade. I am crazy about astilbe, and will keep planting in hopes of eventually getting a good showing, when it blooms in the spring. Pretty foliage, and spikey flowers. The ones I started with a couple of years ago were white and pink. But those that were planted in the past couple of weeks are red and purple. They haven't come up yet, but I am really optimistic. And excited, hoping they will grow and bloom in the unexpected amazing colors like the picture on the package.

I've been wanting to put a border of sorts across the edge of that bed, with some rocks that have been lingering around for several years. Raked out all the leaf mulch, sprinkled in some tidy cypress shreds, and got the rocks planted along the edge. Watered those new astilbe, along with the ferns that have not unfurled their fronds and some Solomon's Seal (another shade lover) relocated there last summer. I am ready for the show to begin!

can't say why...

... there are times when I deliberately make things so much more complicated than necessary. I want to replace the two blueberry bushes that did not survive the drought last summer. There were three, carefully decided upon, and deliberately chosen to produce berries throughout a longer bearing season. One was an early bloomer, one a mid -season, and one that would bloom later, to spread out the harvest over a number of weeks instead of being swamped with berries for a couple of weeks.

The only one that made it through last summer, and is now putting out new leaves, thinking about blooming, is the one that was chosen to be a late producer. Meaning the new ones I am planning to buy would have to bloom earlier in the year, and therefore have berries ripen sooner. It has gotten so involved. Trying to decide which ones to buy, while moaning and groaning about the cost.

I know there are people who can research a topic or project or airline tickets half to death. Never thought of myself as a 'researcher' until now, but I have had the hardest time trying to get my feeble mind made up. I know I need to go ahead and buy and get planted. But crazieness has had me go to three different places this afternoon trying to see what is available. I've been to two different grocery stores and wallyworld looking at sizes, prices varieties. Had to take a pen and paper to write all the options down and keep everything straight.

I'm nearly, barely, almost, maybe decided. Finally. After two hours of chasing my tail and feeling like I am being held hostage as a passenger on the struggle bus for most of the afternoon. Hopefully a peanut butter and jelly sandwich will be help me come to a conclusion? I think I know what to do, but now that I am home, I do not want to  get  back on the bus, to make the purchase!

anon. quote...

... read on a sign, probably in front of a church, some where in recent travels. It was worth my effort to scribble down while I was driving, so also worth passing along. Think about it:

You are the only Bible some people will ever read.

only bought one...

Thursday, March 23, 2017
...when I spent the afternoon at Callaway Gardens volunteering at the Spring Plant Sale. Which is really pretty impressive. I tried my best to stay in the little area where I found myself a job. Not looking around. Keeping blinders on to avoid seeing things I would want to take home. Deliberately not browsing with other vendors, looking at all the wonderful, amazing, delightful, tempting bloomers they grew and trucked in to lead me astray.

The man I was helping was from Hendersonville, right along the NC/SC state line, has a plant nursery called Big Frog. I had never met him before, but just walked up and introduced myself, asking if he needed help and could put me to work. He did and I spent the rest of the day pricing, fluffing and moving plants around. He had some yummy Hellebore also known as Lenten Rose, as it flowers around the time of Lent in February. I accidentally bought one.

There is a bed in front of my house that never gets any direct sun where I hope it will be happy. I've put out some astilbe, ferns and think it will be a good spot for the Hellebore. Shady and damp, which is what they like.

possibly mis-lead...

Wednesday, March 22, 2017
..or more likely just un-informed, but I am the one who lost something in the translation. I left home on Sunday afternoon to drive to Decatur, thinking I had been recruited to do some house painting on Monday.We had talked about it. I was expecting to be put to work. I like being useful.

I even had my paintbrush at the ready. When it comes to painting, I am always prepared. My best house-painting brush lives in my car, so I will never miss any opportunity when someone is broke down and stranded along the highway in need of a painter.

But when I got there: my fave-o-rite thing to eat was ready for me. We had bruschetta. Something I tend to eat as long as it is available. Meaning stuffing it in, until I need to go lay down for a nap. Especially pleasant last Sun., as I had failed to eat lunch, due to taking my break to attend church instead of eat.

I mistookenly assumed the plan was to paint on Monday and travel on Tuesday. After having my bad spelling corrected: we left town on Monday without making a mess. I was not helpful with the painting project. There are some nearby friends who have been recruited to help with the work.

I did apply a lot of masking tape in the two rooms to be painted, when we got back to Decatur on Tuesday afternoon. Around door and window frames, along baseboard molding and edge of ceiling. I sincerely hope all that masking tape did not fall off overnight, landing on some unsuspecting sleeper. If so it would surely induce a  heart attack when you awoke from a sound sleep, dreaming you were tangled in a giant spider web, and finding it true! Plus the tape will need to be re-applied today before they can get underway. It was of the easy-removal variety that is supposedly designed for painters, to protect areas you do not want to paint, while being easy to remove after the fresh layer has dried. Hopefully it did not spontaneously remove prematurely.

another waterfall...

... viewed on the tour was not in GA. Yeah. So it really wasn't a 'Stay and See Georgia' tour after all, but a 'Drive to TN and Spend the Night' tour. We arrived mid-afternoon, and went to the grocery to get supplies for dinner. I knew they would have left dishes for me to wash, so I started with the clean up while my traveling partner began prep. for the meal. We ate, and laughed.

They told us about a neat place to go up on Signal Mountain, along a road named 'W'. Think about it: So many switchbacks up a steep hill side the signs at the bottom say 'No Semi's allowed'. Reminding me of the road signs we would see when traveling with little people. Square metal sign of brilliant yellow, tipped so it is mounted with corners pointing in compass directions. The only marking on the sign is a black 'S' shape with an arrow on the end, indicating a winding, twisting road ahead. I told the people in the back seat the sign means 'there is a snake in the road'.

We were not surprised that we failed to see that particular scene of beauty, due to the number of Detour and Road Closed someone completely disregarded. I knew there would be a sure-fire way to stop all traffic if they really wanted to. There was a actual gate, padlocked, at the point we turned around. And work trucks parked in the road, barring further passage.

Time to move on. Did we even have a Plan B?  Yes! They suggested a place up on the side of Lookout Mountain, where you could nearly, almost, not quite see their house, 'way off, out there,  down in the valley from the rocky outcrop. It was about a half way up, along the steep road that takes vehicles along the twisty route to the top of the ridge. Where we were instructed to notice a narrow turnout, for vehicles to park, or slower traffic to pull over and let the daredevils speed on ahead along the steep incline.

We parked and walked about a half-mile into the woods, along a well worn path to the place where the falls are viewed. This one really looked like what you expect, walking along a trail, headed to the 'falls'. A torrent cascading over the edge of massive, broken rocks, barreling down into a jumble of fallen rocks, tree trunks and on towards the bottom of the mountain. Probably feeding into the larger creeks that feed the Tennessee River. We stood and looked, then returned from whence we came. Back to the car and back to GA.

there was...

... here in the state where I live, a tourism promotion some years ago, with the theme of 'Stay and See Georgia'. Encouraging vacationers or weekend travelers to explore the natural wonders and urban resources within the state rather than go elsewhere to spend their time and funds. Though a native, and a life-long resident, I know I have not seen it all - plus such a variety of landscapes and unusual destinations, interesting places I would love to visit again.

I came across a really interesting book last year about waterfalls in the hills of north GA., east TN., and upstate SC. Though I have visited a number of state parks in north Georgia over the years, the book was a surprising discovery. Written and well documented by a man who lives in the Atlanta area, it is all about places to see waterfalls. I did not know there so many, some seasonal and most in the preserved areas managed by the department of natural resources. I was not aware of the number of picturesque places where water pours over rocks, often descending with great force from heights to create beautiful scenes. The book tells just precisely how to find each one. Some require considerable hiking, while others are more accessible. The author provides clear instructions  about trails and distances for finding the places he visited.

There is one up in the extreme corner of northwest GA on land protected by the state, near Lafayette. Probably one of the easier to see, as the walk through the woods along a wildflower trail is on an elevated wood path, actually accessible by wheelchair for viewing. Pocket Falls was more of a splashing cascade down through a jumble of exposed rocks, rather than the dramatic drop from a great height you generally associate with 'falls'. You could hear it off in the woods, burbling down the hill, long before the first viewing.  The water was amazingly clear, gurgling along the rock strewn creek bottom.

Wildflowers blooming in the floodplain were glorious. Most were tiny, with flowers the size of your pinky thumbnail, easily overlooked in the leaf litter and fallen tree limbs on the forest floor. One prolific bloomer was called a Virginia xyz, with brilliant blue blooms. None of the deciduous trees have begun to leaf out, with ample sunshine to cause the early bloomers to show their colors.

We had to ford a little stream, on foot, stepping from rock to rock to get into the protected area, so walked a bit. There were maybe a dozen other vehicles that bravely maneuvered the creek I would not drive through, and other groups out enjoying the pleasant weather. There was parking for the disabled at the start of the raised wooden trail, making it easy for those with limited mobility to enjoy. A beautiful walk in the woods.

inching closer...

Monday, March 20, 2017
...to the required number of days that are minimum to remain in good standing with the substitute teaching system in public schools. I have not taken the time figure out what causes me to think this is important. Why I continue to feel  a sense of urgency to reach that number I cannot say. Thinking it is necessary to keep myself on the list for future work. It is certainly not essential to my welfare, and often gives me with a stress headache by the time when I am finished for the day.

But sub. I did last Friday. In a pre-K class at the elementary school down the street from the house. One that I can get to in about three minutes if traffic is  not horrendous. The day was a sort of a good news-bad news experience:  there were three other adults in the room. There were lots of students with issues that required extra attention and support. There was plenty of assistance for a variety of routine daily events and constant challenges, minor frequent child-sized crises presented to teachers.

I failed to eat lunch, expecting to find something in the cafeteria. But could not make a decision about the two choices: baked chicken or BBQ pork sandwich. Only had a five dollar bill so could not eat lunch out of the vending machines in teacher work room. Which is another reason for having an ache-y head at 2:45.

It was a relatively uneventful day. Thankful I am incrementally closer to the magic number of ten days for the semester. Surely accumulating the two more before mid May will not be difficult.

little free library update...

... actually a conversation that occurred with the Media Specialist at the elementary school. These people were 'formerly known as': librarians, before the technology training caused them to wear many different hats, and magically transform into experts in all things tech. A relative who has been teaching elementary school for some years recently volunteered to transfer out of the classroom and into a media job. Astounding, is what I am thinking. Me being the person who struggles with anything math related, remotely related to technology, vaguely sounding of electronics.

While I was there, subbing for a para. pro. last Friday, I went to the media center/library to talk to the media specialist about possibly installing the Little Free Library at the school. My first thought was to put it up on the corner near the house, but there is no sidewalk. Which means no foot-traffic that would come by to peer in the little box for books to read.

Plan B: put it in the parking lot at the church. That proposal was not well received. There was conversation about how 'inappropriate' reading material could possibly appear as a donation. So rather than make big deal, I backed off.

Plan C: approach the retired librarian who lives down the street, worked at the elementary school before retiring. Thinking she could be persuaded to bring it up with the media person/principal at the school. Whereupon they would be more responsive/inclined if the idea came from her. She did the talking, and they have my number.

I actually offered to donate my library box to the school. I told the media specialist I would bring it and leave it at the school after they return from spring break next week. For her to see, talk about with students, begin to make them aware of what it is for, how to use/respect/enjoy. Explain some do's and don'ts, how they should always bring a book to leave for someone else if they take one to read and enjoy.

She sounded like she would consider. I know it will be a laborious process to gain approval. My hesitation from the get-go was due to thinking of all the steps/individuals who would need to sign off in the chain of command. Needing approval from the school Principal, her supervisor, his supervisor, their supervisor, Superintendent, school board, general public when it shows up in the news, US Secretary of Education, Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff, POTUS, etc., etc.

not intentional...

...but it looks like I am going to be enjoying a 'spring break' next week. As the person at the absolute bottom of the pecking order, most of the time I can expect to be working on Sunday and Thursday, with other days randomly thrown in for good measure. It appears that I will be working about 9 hours in the week that started on Saturday.

I cannot explain why the official work week starts on a Saturday. Even if I had the actual information, I do not have the authority to provide it. It's just been a fact since I have been employed all this time. Paychecks run from Saturday to Friday.

Reminding me of a calendar someone gave me once. Being thoughtful and providing mementos for friends who were not invited to go along. When they vacationed in a place where calendars are printed with the weeks starting on Monday, instead of Sunday. After several weeks of attempting to adjust my brain, keep my life sorted out, I put the calendar in the trash. Bought one that was my definition of  'traditional', with weeks running Sunday to Saturday in order to retain  my sanity.

I've discovered when someone is not working assigned hours, I can ask to have their time. Coworkers who are not there for their full forty hours leave a hole in the schedule. There is no actual factual basis for my assumption, but I conclude that vacation time or sick leave pay come from a different pot/budget. Meaning if someone is not at work when they should be, it is possible for someone else to take advantage of the situation. 'Someone' being me, the only person who is hoping for a bigger paycheck from week to week. That 'someone' who is so far down the totem pole as to be below ground level, feeling like the red-headed step-child. Yep, me.

when walking into...

Friday, March 17, 2017
... a local grocery store this afternoon to pick up a couple of ingredients for dinner, I passed a woman and her son. I just briefly noticed the pair, walking across the sidewalk, and then again when I came out to go to my car. In case you have forgotten to be thankful today, now is your chance.

The mother had her son by the hand. He was an adult, with Down's Syndrome. It would have been totally inappropriate for me to speak to her, so I just nodded as I passed them. But my heart has kept them close since that chance encounter. I am so thankful for capable, intelligent, educated, self-sufficient adult children. Who have gainful employment, doing work they enjoy and find gratifying.

My heart aches for that nameless woman who likely frets on a daily basis about that young man. Wondering what will happen to him when she is gone. Who will care for him? Provide the necessities, as well as love and affection when she is not able. Thinking of all the things she needs to do right now, making daily efforts. Hoping and praying she is doing everything necessary to see that he will have what he needs in the future.

You do have a lot to be thankful for, right?

and another thing...

...or  two, to go along with that last little tidbit of personal philosophy.

Life is too short to be miserable. Working in a constantly stressful situation. In an environment that causes you to feel anxiety, be on the defensive, fearful of co-workers or supervisors. In a situation where you are too uneasy to carry on a conversation, feeling any bit of inconsequential information will be reported and come back to bite you on the behind.

Life is too short to let anyone steal your joy. This may be the same as the previous one... just a different perspective. I'm thinking of the necessity to avoid people who seem to devote much of their time to being negative, nit-picking, griping, being dis-satisfied instead of thankful. So I guess it applies to people you encounter in the workplace where you do not get to choose who you spend time with.

Life is too short to eat bad pizza. You can usually determine the quality by the price. Frozen is ok. Hot take-out is not essential. It is nice to have someone bring it ready-to-eat to your door. But here's what I know about buying out of frozen case: Do not buy the store brand, or generic, or stuff that comes in a plain brown wrapper. If it does not have a yummy looking photo on the box (or does not even have a box, but a bar code on plastic wrap!) you should not expect to make your taste buds happy with the end product.  I am speaking from experience.  I'd rather make another trip to the store than eat crummy pizza.

More to come when I think of others...

though you did not ask...

Thursday, March 16, 2017
...here's what I think. Something I feel worth typing, sharing, and maybe stashing away some place to refer to later. I've been pondering, after hearing some friends talk about: life, why we are here. I had something I wanted to say, an opinion to share but did not. I was surprisingly quiet, able to keep my mouth shut, due to not wanting to pipe up and sound like 'another country heard from'.

A quote I read years ago in a book by Tony Hillerman, recently deceased, a very prolific fiction writer. Stories about a couple of men in law enforcement who were Navajos, living in the Four Corners of southwestern US. I'm sure I don't have it perfectly memorized, as I have not thought of it in some time: "If you think things happen at random, you are looking at life from the wrong perspective".

I believe this is what Hillerman was trying to help us see: don't be judgemental until you have the facts. One of Hillerman's characters was an older man, with many years of experience at studying human nature, understanding if you are willing to take the time to see things from another person's point of view, you will understand their motives. Make an effort to be aware of the things that go on in their minds that cause them to do things you would not expect them to do under different circumstances. People can be burdened with guilt, or carry a torch for a lost love, feel a desperate need for revenge that will make them do crazy things.

And this is what it says to me: we cannot know God. We do not have the wisdom, ability to understand. We don't have footing to step back far enough from our lives to truly see the Big Picture. I think we should mostly be thankful we do not control the universe: look what a steaming hot mess we have made right here on this little planet.

field trip...

Wednesday, March 15, 2017
... for my wheelbarrow. It has been on an adventure. There was a big event at church on Sunday, including games and relay races, lots of good eats, bouncy house, hilarity and good cheap fun. When the person organizing the games requested wheelbarrows, I said I had one that would love to attend the picnic. But when I tried to put it in back of  my car - it didn't fit. Going in with the handles first did  not work, and going in with the wheel first did  not have the clearance to get in the back door.

I called a friend who has a truck, and asked if he would give the wheelbarrow a ride. Not sure if, due to weather, the games would proceed. But they did and all the needed 'barrows showed up to play an important part in the activities. I believe the wheelbarrow had a great time at the party.

I assumed the friend who picked it up would also return it in a relatively prompt fashion. Wrong. I called today just to try to find out where it was located, if it had enjoyed the fun so much it might have run off with a traveling carnival. You know: in the same way kids always want to go along when they pack up the circus tents?

It was sitting behind the building at church. That made me sad, to think it has been used, taken out for fun, then abandoned, cast aside when no longer useful. Put out back with the trash cans. I asked if the free-for-all church truck was available so I could come get it and drive it back home, to show it some affection. It's right back where it belongs, and I think happy to be home again.

the last one...

... of the eight Wednesdays for attempting to help four year olds learn some pre-reading skills. One of them was markedly disinterested in the whole process. The little boy I was working with probably told me on half of the eight days I took off work, went to the school to spend time with him: 'I don't want to read.' What can you do? Can't force 'em to read. So I just took him back to the classroom. It was not beneficial to either of us.

The little girl I was helping was a delight. Very talkative, interested in each book over the eight weeks, and loved to practice writing her name. The book this week had illustrations of a number of animals, wildlife, I pointed to, asked her what it was.Woodland creatures we can immediately identify: rabbits, owls, frogs, turtles, raccoons. She didn't know what any of them were.  It's hard to imagine a child not being able to name them. Sad to think that no one has devoted the time it takes to sit and read, talk about books with her.

I am thankful I can read. Constantly grateful for the ability to decipher the written word. Appreciative of the taken-for-granted coordination required to read and write. And type! I took typing in the eighth grade, and again in high school. (This was looooonnnnggg before there was even an inkling of the idea of 'keyboarding' as a skill.)  I still have to use the 'Columbus Method' for numbers, as it seems I never did train my fingers to find numerals on the top row of keys. Wonder if that has anything to do with my being chronically math impaired?

I cannot conceive of what a life of being illiterate would be like. Wondering if those little four year olds have improved over the eight weeks five different volunteers were coming in each day to read and help them decipher the illustrations in each book? Looking for colors, counting things, identifying animals, reading the pictures? I know there is a pre-assessment and another evaluation done after the two months of volunteers coming in to read the same book all week long and do work  sheets, boosting pre-literacy skills. I hope it has been helpful and they all were able to demonstrate some measure of improvement.

driving across south GA...

...again on Monday, in the rain. My little Toyota is so dependable, has never given me any trouble, ie.: reason to go to the shop for mechanical difficulties, it is a joyo to drive. Times ten when I think of the good gas mileage I get when I am traveling. And how reliable it has been, never causing me to worry.

At least not until The Man Who Lives here kept telling me there was something leaking on the carport floor from under the motor. I had two different people poke around under there, and am convinced the puddle was only condensation, which all vehicles do when you park them. So after that Mr. Fretful scare, I am once again, not concerned about getting out on the road for north, south, west, or east.

I had a day on my calendar with (surprise!) nothing to do, so I went to Florida. Contacted friends who live in Tally after moving up from Ocala last year to be closer to amusing grandchildren. We agreed that we could not come up with any reason I should not visit, so I got up early and drove south. Starting in the dark, veering off the most direct path for a brief detour in Quitman, but was in Tally before 11:00.  We had nice visit, a good lunch (with fresh - really fresh: just picked lettuce salad) and pie.

I took the makings for pie, to celebrate International Pi Day a bit early. The reliable, standby chess pie with cornmeal and vinegar. It seems like I can never get satiated in my desire for chess pie. If I had someone who would eat it all and only allow me one slice, I would probably make it every week. I just cannot get enough. Some people I know cannot abide egg-y, custard-y type things, but I like really like buttermilk type custard pies. Not a big fan of cake or cookies or even ice cream, but that pie is something that constantly calls my name like the sirens luring men onto the rocks in Greek mythology. Luring me right down the slippery slope.

best ever ...

Saturday, March 11, 2017
... therapy: hole digging. Very satisfying, especially if you have something you want to plant, which we all do, this time of year as things begin to grow and green up. Seems like as soon as the sap starts rising in the trees, we get itchy to be out there, puttering, observing and putting things in holes.

After working half a day, from 6 am till 1 pm, I came home with a mental list of things I hoped to get done this afternoon. On the way in this morning, I heard on the radio 'if you live in Georgia, you should expect rain on Sunday'. Inspiring me to want to get some stuff done before a nice drenching will occur tomorrow.

I dug up some butterfly bush when I was working on my little project across the street at the golf course, transplanted, but not expecting much from them, as they were the better part of a week without getting watered. I hope that problem has been resolved. But it has rained a couple of times, so do not know if the irrigation is working, or rain has helped.

I continually find more 'children' as the butterfly bush spreads underground. A couple got relocated out on the north side of the house.  I wanted to dig others to give away. A couple of friends will find themselves gifted, and benefiting from some 'free therapy', when they will have shrubs  to plant. If you would like one for your landscaping, now is the time to put in your request.

Plus, the person who swore to would never plant tomatoes again: bought four at K-mart this week. My peeps in VA sent a planter that they had amazing, remarkable, 'as advertised on TV' success with on their deck, so I will give the cherry/grape size another shot. You may recall that those big fat nasty worms enjoyed most of the ones I planted last summer? I feel compelled to try again with that nifty planter and expecting the little bite sized tomatoes will do well. Got those planted hoping they will get watered with tomorrows' rain.

Dug up more of those aggravating little onions that come up every where. I have carefully, deliberately pulled up several hundred in the past couple of weeks. Some with tiny bulbs no bigger than a pin head, some with bulbs as big as the end of your pinky. But if you do not get every last stinking one, they will definitely be back next spring.Arrgghhh....

Rearranged some succulents that were doing really well in a big rectangular concrete planter on the driveway. Now there are two planters that will have the blistering-heat-loving sedum in them. I feel very productive. And tired. I can tell when it is time to quit when my back says 'you've done enough'.

it happened at school...

Friday, March 10, 2017
...when I had sub. teaching job today. I signed on to take a position at a nearby elementary school as a para. pro. expecting to either be in a pre-K or Kindergarten class. I knew there was also a position at the same school open for a second grade teacher, and though it pays better, deliberately did not agree to do that work. As I expected, the need was greater in the second grade.

There were not a lot of students in the class, less than twenty. Several were pleasant, agreeable, cooperative, helpful. But most of them were determined to show me who was boss. It was a stressful day. At one point other teachers came in the room to remove students, place in other classrooms.

We went to lunch. I fell in the cafeteria, tripped over a little guy who was standing right behind me. I don't know if it would have been better or worse if I had landed on my backside, but the thing that hit that hard concrete floor first was my hip. There were plenty of witnesses standing around who saw the 'incident'. Most likely, all were interviewed to give their reports. And the little boy who was underfoot was really shaken up, but I know he was not hurt.

I was interviewed, report was typed up, faxed to main office. Asked a lot of questions that were unrelated to the event, making me feel like I was getting the third degree.Then I was sent to the main office, to provide the report again. This time hand-written, with my fingerprints all over it. And sent to be drug tested. Standard procedure, I am sure. A CYA protocol. The Risk Prevention Officer at the District office asked about filing paperwork for the district to cover any medical expenses.

I told her I felt OK, thought I would be all right. My original thought was to minimize the entire occurrence, but by the time I got all the documents completed I was persuaded caution was the best path. So when I got to the clinic  where I was sent to pee in a cup, I was ready to establish a history with the doctor's office. By the time I drove across town to one of the professionals on the approved list, present myself for the drug test, I decided: "Yes. I will sign the paperwork to file a workman's comp. claim."

I am sure I will be stiff and sore in the morning, even after applying ice and the cream from Dr. office. I expect to be bruised, look mistreated tomorrow.  But very thankful it was relatively insignificant: I did not crack my head open as could have easily happened.

even though...

Thursday, March 9, 2017
... most of the time I am willing to confess to foolish behavior, this is difficult to admit. I will often tell tales on myself that I would have been far too sensitive and embarrassed to tell in the past. After a time of pondering, I will usually decide the stories are closer to the 'funny' end of the scale, rather than 'mortifying'.  Share things I would have otherwise never revealed had they happened years ago. Now I find myself doing the opposite of what I tried to impress upon daughters: keep it to yourself. "Don't think you have to tell everything you know." (Some times I believe they learned that lesson too well!)

But here I am: confessing. I have had to get replacement cards issued twice in the past several months. The only bright spot in all this is it forced me to use a debit card, which I have had for years, and been afraid of. Never used to make purchases. Thinking it would bite me? Fearful of spending getting out of hand if I failed to make notes in my check register of each use. So uncomfortable with the debit idea that it only coming out of my wallet to access instant money at the ATM.

It did  not take me long at all. Even with limited experience, I consider myself quite adept in the swiping. It never would have happened if I did not have a pin number that anyone in my immediate family would easily recognize - other wise I would never have been successful, as I do not store numbers in my head. All those years of credit cards before the embedded chips has been helpful as well.

Murphy's Law is still in effect. Meaning that as soon as I force myself to admit to being absent minded, call to cancel the card, it usually shows up. Tucked in a pocket I do not think to check before making the call. But seem to find within  hours of cancellation, when it is no longer of any use.

The minute you call the toll free number, the card is disabled, meaning that should you find it immediately after you end the call, you still have to wait seven to ten business days for a replacement. I've found it every time: right where I left it, of course. And since it is worthless, cut it up, and put the dismembered parts in various trash cans around the house. While anxiously awaiting the replacement and industriously practicing my debit card swiping skills.

The last incident was, I guess, a slight improvement over the two fatalities in the past couple of months. I got a call from my workplace not long after getting home yesterday. A customer service rep. reporting they would hold my card until I could return to pick it up. As you might expect, I had not even missed it. But when I went back to retrieve it, with my head hanging low I claimed to be a hopeless mess. I said that I was thinking of punching a hole in the card and wearing it on a string around my neck, to keep it from getting mislaid, or mis-pocketed. They just laughed.

I hope I can be more aware, deliberate about in the future. Instead of thinking about what's next, focus on right this minute. You know we cannot live in the past or the future: so my plan is to be more conscious of Now. Hard to do, but think about what I am doing at the moment, rather than what I need to get done, or accomplish hours from now.

I would not be surprised if the card company decided to put me out to pasture. Saying I had surpassed the limit for the number of new numbers they would issue in a lifetime. I desperately hope that being super diligent about paying the balance in full every month gives me some measure of forgiveness. Enough to they do not write me off completely?

I do feel better for having confessed. Light a votive and say ten Hail Marys as penance.

book review: "Work Like Any Other"...

Wednesday, March 8, 2017
.... by Virginia Reeves, published in 2016. Randomly chosen off the shelf at the public library. An interesting story about a man sentenced to the Alabama State Prison for accidently causing the death of another man. Roscoe T. Martin works for the Alabama Power Company, and after marrying, goes with his wife to live on the farm left to her by her deceased father. Roscoe thinks he can run the farm more efficiently by stealing electricity, and has the skill to runs lines onto the property.

A man is electrocuted, then  Roscoe along with another farm worker are accused of homicide. Both are found guilty and and sentenced. The farm worker, who is a Negro, has lived on the property for many years, laboring alongside Roscoe's father in law, and then Roscoe. He is forced into hard labor in a coal mine in northern Alabama, a common occurrence at the time. He is eventually freed early when his arm is amputated in a mining accident, and returns to the farm to live.

The story tells of Roscoe's time in the state prison system, when most of the convicted men are illiterate,often railroaded with insufficient legal representation.  Places where attempted escapes are resolved by having fellow inmates chase runaways with trained blood hounds, unacceptable behavior causes men to be forced into hot boxes, live on bread and water, other tales of the harsh realities of being incarcerated in the early 1900's. I suspect it is fairly accurate, though prettied up to be more palatable for the readers.

Popular moves like "Cool Hand Luke" and "Oh, Brother" are fairly accurate depictions of prison life. Things we can laugh at from the vantage point of  the present day, but a really hard life for those sentenced. No white collar, country clubs prisons in that era. You can envision that jails and state prisons of that time were run like little fiefdoms, with the guards having many opportunities to dispense favors and punishments at their discretion. The warden being the ruler, and the inmates having no recourse if sexually assaulted, or otherwise mistreated/humiliated in untenable situations.

There are several times in the story when Roscoe goes before the parole board, but early release is denied. He is released before completing his twenty year sentence, but when he is freed, his wife has secretly divorced him, and given the farm to the other family who lived and worked there. A story, I think, that is a lesson in learning acceptance. Over the years, Roscoe becomes resigned to his situation, and is eventually able to make peace with things in life over which he has no control.

it was so funny...

Tuesday, March 7, 2017
 ... I thought I might have to stop, pull off the street, and get control of my great amusement before I would be safe to be driving. I think I came to a traffic light, and had the time to manage my hilarity before green. I have been reading a talking book: "The Guardians", read by the author Ana Castillo. It is a bit hard to follow at times, as there is a lot of Spanish in the narrative, for which there is no translation, so some of the details get lost.

The quote that caught my attention enough, for me to write it down so I would not forget is highly inappropriate, but so very descriptive I wanted to share. It is in reference to a group of people who are crossing over into the US from Juarez, and have been stopped at the border. The driver had been drinking, and was expecting to to have a problem. The federales made all the passengers get out of the car, and were beginning to frisk the men. Before they could find the flask of whiskey tucked in his pocket, a thundering explosion caused the police to dash for their vehicles.

As the enforcers were tearing off to the source of the noise, flames, smoke, the driver of the vehicle reported the conflagration off in the distance was likely from a warehouse where petroleum products were stored. He referred to the flames as a "pyromanics' orgasmic dream".  Even though it is thoroughly off-color, it is so descriptive I was laughing out loud as I was driving down the street. Stopping to write it down before it slipped out of my brain.

Can't you just picture this: flames licking up into the clear blue sky, and dirty grey smoke billowing up from the super-heated gas and oil products stored in a seedy run down warehouse.Obviously the work of arsonist, desiring to provide a warning to some one who refused to cater to gang demands for payoffs. People unwilling to provide kickbacks, though it would likely be reported by the policia as an unexplained accident.

you would think...

Monday, March 6, 2017
... I should have gotten over this by now, but I am apparently so adept at carrying a grudge around, it is still lingering in a most annoying fashion. This occurred last Monday, and continues to be a story I am telling in hopes I can recruit other people will be irritated with me. You will perhaps be one of the irritated?

I'd been at work all morning, diligently cleaning, prepping and slicing vegetables. Two varieties of squash, with and without onions, put on black styro. trays and shrink wrapped. Then doing the same with four colors of bell peppers, sliced and mixed, onions added, some with asparagus, some with mushrooms, put on trays, wrapped.  All that onion slicing mixed with the peppers had me thinking of about how good some stir fried peppers and onions would be. Like a nice juicy hot Philly cheese steak sandwich. Or a platter full of peppers and onions in fajitas, to wrap up in nice warm tortillas and let drip through my fingers as I bite into one end. Don't you think that sounds yummy?

As soon as I left work, I called the Man Who Lives Here and offered to go to lunch. Meet him at a place that would make the sandwiches, or wait till later and go to Moe's for fajitas. He said he would rather have the fajitas, so I spent the rest of the afternoon anticipating. It got dark, and I was being patient, ready to go eat nice greasy, hot peppers and onions.

When we got to Moe's, and walked in the door, the Man Who Lives Here said he would like to have a cheese and chicken quesadilla. I was amazed, and possibly stunned. I'd been waiting all day to help him eat a plate of fajitas - he would eat the meat, and I will enjoy the vegetables.

I ended up with a veggie burrito, consuming half there in the store and the rest for lunch the next day. It was good. But I am still thoroughly annoyed about the grilled vegetables I did not eat. A week later, I have probably told that story at least six times, and have yet to get any sympathy...

readily admitting...

...that the older I get the more willing I am to confess to doing foolish stuff. This is classified as foolish, but also so minor I am not sure that it qualifies as an actual confession. Laugh if you must...

I tell people all the time that I know I won't remember stuff I agree to do, work, meet for lunch, or volunteer activities if I do not write it down on my calendar. I also acknowledge that just making a note is almost as bad as not writing it down at all. Due to almost immediately loosing the scrap of paper, or washing my hands, where the note was wrote. I often appear at work or occasional volunteer projects with notes pinned or taped onto my person, as a reminder. Helping me to remember some grocery item I should purchase before I leave work, or meeting to attend in the course of a busy day. They do laugh at me, but: what ever it takes to get it done is my philosophy.

Circumstances are always changing, and stuff happens that causes me to alter my plans. So, on my essential calendar that keeps my life in order, there are many occasions when I need to 'white out' something that won't be needed, or make a change. I am such a cheapskate that I buy wee little dispensers of white out tape at the Just-A-Buck store, two to a pack, made in China. The package I recently opened when I needed to eliminate something written in ink did not seem to want to work to mask out the changes. I took it to my smart friend to ask her to look at it and figure out why it was not working, what I could be doing wrong to cause it to not mask over the words I wanted to hide.

After she studied, looked, pondered, examined, she reported it would not white any thing out as it was double-stick glue tape. I did not even know they made that stuff in a wee plastic dispenser. But that does explain why it would not cover up the words that I hoped to make disappear.

pinching pansies...

... was the assignment when I went to volunteer for yard work at the Botanical Gardens this morning. Trying to get all the spent blooms off, to make them want to start blooming again. Even though with this unseasonably warm weather, I think expecting them to continue to be colorful is asking more than they are capable of. Other people were doing some digging, and tree trimming, but my little group was sitting on upturned buckets pinching blooms across a wide bed where the smiling faces of pansies were prolifically putting on a show.

It's not likely I will ever get done all the things that need my attention here at home, so I had to force myself to want to go to volunteer my time. But once I got there, and settled in with fellow plant lovers, enjoyed my morning as much as if it had been a quilting bee. We shared plant lore, good places to eat information, frustrations that will always accompany gardening, stories of successes and failures, commentary about things you should never invite to go home with you as they will eventually demand to be entirely removed from your property.

Plus one of the fellow pansy pinchers had offered some plants to put out in my beautification project across the street at the golf course. She brought her plants, that I hope to get in the ground today. Sadly, I will also have to approach the landscaping guy about what he can do to insure the newly planted shrubs, bulbs will get watered. I've been over to look a couple of times, and it does not appear they are benefiting from the irrigation I thought would keep them alive. Conversation is in order, as I do not want my efforts and donated plants to be for naught due to lack of watering.

All in all, a good morning, spent in the sunshine, with people who like to dig.

a night on the town...

...last Thursday, when my favorite people took me to the Fox Theater in mid-town Atlanta. We went to see "The Phantom of the Opera". We have a 'history' with that play, as it is one we went to see when they were still in high school - at least fifteen years ago. My, oh my, where does the time go?

The first time it was a Field Trip. They were both in the chorus at school, and I guess anyone who was in the choir could attend if their parents had been willing to buy the ticket. Only thing I really recall is sitting high up in the nose bleed section and the people on stage looking like ants. After the show got underway last week, I did recall some of the songs/music. And the Phantom, having abducted his hearts' desire, polling through the fog in the semi-dark, spiriting her away to his lair.

I don't think I really knew what was going on 'way off down there, all those years ago, when I saw it with a group of antsy of teenagers, and honestly do not recall much other than that. (Probably completely stressed out by being the chauffeur driving into downtown Atlanta, with a pile of kids bouncing in the back seat.)So, I cannot say I truly enjoyed what I saw last week, as I did not know  enough about the plot to follow the story line. The most impressive part was special effects. The phantom kept setting off fireworks. It was amazing, when something stupendous and unexpected occurred, catching us all by surprise.

I had been lobbying for something interesting to see at the Fox, and when this came along, I was ready. Made myself available - as I would do any time I was offered an opportunity to go for amusement with my most favorite people. We went to a sandwich shop on the way in, for eats before the show. I had something  markedly un-memorable, and only ate half of my sandwich, so ate the other half when we got back to Decatur.   Lots of things are better as left-overs: stew, soup, spaghetti, sandwiches from Nonis.

book review: "The Hours Count"...

Sunday, March 5, 2017
...by Jillian Cantor, published in 2015. Fascinating. I read while traveling in the past week or so, driving across north GA, and then the one-day, flying-low trip to Valdosta and back. I think there were ten CD's in the box, so it kept me entertained for hours.

It is fiction, but based on some very thorough research about people who were in the news in the late 1940's and early '50's. The back story would be familiar to anyone interested in post WWII history, and the scary situation between Russia and the US during the early years of Cold War/McCarty witch hunt in Congress. Cantor writes about a fictitious character who was a neighbor of the Rosenbergs when the young couples lived on the same floor, in an apartment complex in New York City. The story is told from the point of view of a young mother who was married to a Russian immigrant. Millie befriended Ethel Rosenberg, when they met in the elevator of their apartment building and discovered they had children that were about the same age.

Millie's child, if living in this era, would likely have been diagnosed as autistic, as he did not speak for many years.  Though Millie tried to get  therapy and treatment to help her son 'find his voice', he was mute until a teenager. As the mothers care for each others children, and find opportunities to meet, share coffee, meals, play time with sons, they begin to care deeply for each other. Millie especially dependent on Ethel's attention and support as she was living in a loveless marriage to a man she feared.

Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were, in truth, the only Americans sentenced and executed for espionage during the Cold War. They were accused of providing information about military secrets, bomb building schematics to the Russians. The info. I found indicated they were guilty, but also that they were railroaded. They had two sons, who ended up being adopted by a couple who chose to change the boys last names.  Millie was caring for the boys when Ethel went to testify before the grand jury, and was arrested before she could return home. Never had a chance to talk to the boys or say good by.

I did not know much about this story,  not remembering about the Rosenbergs from history class, or just not relating to something that seemed so distant. So I googled them up and read about these Russian spies in an article from Wikipedia. Fascinating.


... not admitting to having lost any, only having recent conversations related to the little round glass things? Are  you old enough to remember playing marbles, in a circle drawn in the sand on the playground at school? Or in the dirt driveway in the backyard with siblings or neighbor kids? Does anyone ever actually play 'marbles' any more? Other than buying a bag at a craft store to pour in a jar for keeping flowers in place, is there any use for them?

The answer to that last question is: yes. I saw a photo recently of a nifty yet remarkably simple bee-watering device.  All you need is a shallow dish that will hold water with fairly low sides, and enough glass marbles to cover the bottom of the container. Place it out in the yard where it would be easily accessible for insects like honey bees and butterflies. Add just enough water to barely cover the marbles. The marbles are going to keep the insects from getting waterlogged and drowning, when they discover the new 'watering hole'. They will alight on the marbles, with the water in the crevices, and enjoy a nice refreshing drink, then go on about their pollinating business.

You will, of course, need to remember to dump the water, and add fresh once a week. I understand it takes mosquitoes ten days from egg to maturity. If you are pouring out the stale water and refilling with fresh once a week, you are breaking the life cycle, gradually eliminating the hatching, biting, blood-sucking process. While providing fresh water for the bees and butterflies that you would like to have as friendly bugs that will pollinate in your garden.

The other reference to the antiquated marbles was at work today, when friend Mary was asking me if I ever played marbles. I did, and immediately told the story on my brother, who dearly loved to offer a game of marbles, knowing he would beat my socks off and get to keep all my marbles. I only wanted to have marbles in order for other people to play with me, and they only wanted to play with me because they knew they would go home with all my marbles, and I would go home crying. All the kids in the neighborhood were older than me. They were also guys who had much more experience, and skill, so would naturally thoroughly beat me at the game of marbles.


Saturday, March 4, 2017
...up donated plants, marshalling the troops, as it were. Getting ready to do the planting I have been pondering across the street, near the entrance to the Golf Course. The harsh reality of the truth is more apparent each day this project drags on. When I first went over to talk to the course supervisor he readily admitted that all his budget is used for things that enhance the actual playing surface of golf. Of necessity, areas where golfers park their vehicles, and asphalt is blistering in summer heat, are at best neglected, or more likely ignored.

I've been asking fellow plant lovers for perennials they have that might need dividing, knowing that early spring is the best time to dig, divide, share. A friend offered Stokes Aster, another said she had some yellow daisies. I have lots of little white early-blooming daisies I can dig and quickly relocate.

I dreamed up/pencil sketched/drew a sort of plan and left it for the landscape guy, and already have no idea what I suggested, other than a couple of large crepe myrtles. Hoping more of the digging cohorts will come up with donations as they begin to get out and poke around in the warming sunshine. I've also dug up a number of agapanthus from the few starts from south GA years ago, as well as a bunches of snowdrop bulbs that originally came from my grandmother. Plus there are several volunteers/children of the butterfly bush also imported from south GA., that are remarkably prolific in the leaf mulch here. Pretty heat tolerant, if they will just get through the first summer.

All enough to get over there, hauling my donations in my wheel barrow and start putting things in the ground.  My contact guy has agreed to supply labor, and mulch. My biggest concern at this point is keeping them watered long enough to get established. I know there is irrigation, but do not know how effective it will be in the areas where I propose to plant, provide colorful bloomers that will perform from spring till fall.

Spent about five hours digging holes, getting the little starter plants from my yard in the ground on Thursday morning. I had plenty of help with several trusty guys who did the hard part, digging out roots, clearing the aggressive privet out from the area I wanted to plant. Lots of smilax where some lorapetalum was growing, now uprooted and relocated. It was a very productive day - I just hope the things will either get rained on or watered well enough to survive transplanting.

driving across south GA...

...in the early morning light last Wednesday. I love to be out there, puttering along as the sun comes up across the fallow fields and pastures, slanting through the piney woods and palmetto scrub. Especailly this time of year, as the landscape is coming to life after the dormancy of winter. There is always a lot of green out in the woods, with volunteer red cedars and pine trees, so the scenery is never as colorless as it would be in other places.

To see the trees that have been bare, leafless, gray and looking completely dead in the winter months, suddenly showing signs of life as they awaken is always a treat. Maple trees in low-lying areas, putting out their tiny leaves, buds unfurling in shades of rose and rust. Redbuds, volunteering out in the understory, providing spots of color, among the acres of planted pines randomly blooming with tiny lavendar flowers along limbs of drab gray twigs. Soft shades of lightest green as leaves reach for warming sunlight after months of barren limbs.

Startlingly bright yellow tubular blooms of Carolina jasmine twining into the tops of trees, vines growing sunward. Brilliant yellow of undesirables blooming in fields as farmers begin to till and prepare their land for planting. Purple of native verbena blooming in the median and along the right of way. New life abounds as the world turns and seasons change...

do you want to....

... know how my team did at the fundraiser Trivia Bee on Tuesday night? Me too. I have (nearly) no idea how we finished in the standings - other than 'way down on the list of competitors. Thought we should have gotten some recognition for the decorations on our table.  But I do not think we left with any sort of awards, or consolation prices, or raffle winnings. I know the whole event was designed to be fun, and provide financial support for the Literacy Alliance, but we were lucky to get out the door with full head of hair, and pride intact. The questions, researched by a local librarian, and read by a local news personality,were frustratingly obscure.

I went to see a friend who is a retired art teacher and has lots of paint brushes, assorted supplies, things I hoped to borrow to make us look like 'artistes', talented and/or smart. She loaned some brushes, and big cans of paint. I had a very loud flowery-printed sheet to use as a table cloth, and cut out big brightly colored letters from poster paper: C A G (Columbus Artist Guild) to tape to the font of the table decorated with paint brushes and gallon cans.

There were three other people on our team. A total of maybe a dozen different teams competing. I am pretty sure we were not the most worst. I choose to believe our team did not come in last, due to being situated next to a table of hockey players. Young guys in their 20's, who had so much beer to drink in the course of the evening, we hope they had designated driver when it was over.

We didn't win, but neither did the group that won for the past two years. Those were some very difficult questions. I felt pretty good about my useless information when I went to the first  practice, as I did know quite a few answers. But at the second practice, I suggested we should go ahead and forfeit. Voted down by fellow team members, but looking back - that was not the worst idea I have ever hatched.

update on the auntie...

...after I spent the day driving to Valdosta and back. Leaving home in the dark, last Wednesday, about 6:00 am, and returning in time to flop into bed about 8:30. Feeling wiped out from a day of sitting doing practically nothing. Met with the attorney who specializes in elder law, with a plan to start the process of application to County Probate for Guardianship. I'd become convinced early in the year it would be wise to begin this, so when the time comes (and most assuredly will) when another health crisis occurs, her family will be ready with the legal authority. Have the ammunition to enforce some necessary decisions about her health and welfare.

My cousin from Decatur met me for lunch, we had time to talk and mentally prepare. Met with the lawyer and spent about ninety minutes providing back story and history. I am lead to understand the process will likely take about three months, if we can provide the information needed to file documents. At some point early on, the Auntie will be informed about our plan to establish the guardianship, have an court appointed attorney, and given an opportunity to refute our opinions before the (newly elected) Probate Judge. Who will either approve or deny the request.

The attorney has encouraged us to file for Conservatorship as well. The difference in the two being that a guardian is charged with the welfare, health and safety of an individual who appears to be incapable of managing independently. And the conservator is responsible for good stewardship of the individuals' financial business.Could be the same person, or two different individuals, or a family member and a accounting professional.

The cousin has lots of financial information, and will provide as much as possible to the attorney, who will file documents with the probate office for both positions. In addition, her brother was able to persuade the auntie to complete a form that allows him access to banking business. So with the info. we have on hand, possibly as a result of  maybe opening some of her mail when she was medically incapacitated, we can move forward on the petitions.

Hopefully I  will not the appointed as conservator, due to being chronically math impaired, but will be assigned the responsibility managing her welfare. She will most certainly be opposed to all this, thoroughly disagreeable, and balk at  idea that she is not perfectly capable of handling her physical care and financial resources. Which is where the backing of the courts will be most useful.