Sunday, March 17, 2019

I Missed Rick Bragg, but Hope He is Doing Well

I am just getting home from Roswell, Georgia, today. I made the trip down to attend a workshop by Rick Bragg, a wonderful southern novelist. The title of his workshop was How to Write about Your Family without Getting Killed. I registered a few months ago, sent my check and looked forward to Friday afternoon when Roswell Reads would host this event.

But, a few weeks ago I received an email that said Rick Bragg was ill. I have since learned that he has Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. He could not be there in person, but there would be a video of an interview with him. I was given the opportunity to have a refund, but I wanted to see the video.

So I arrived in Roswell on Thursday afternoon and had coffee with my sister and my niece. We went to dinner later that evening.  After I climbed into bed around 11:00 PM, I began having severe pain in my right foot. I knew what it was. It was nerve pain caused by spinal stenosis in my lower back. Sometimes sitting too long brings it on and sometimes I have no idea what ignites the the sharp stabbing pain that goes on and on and on.

I took extra strength Tylenol and wrapped my foot in my heating pad. But hours passed and nothing stopped the pain. I walked up and down the hall, wincing and trying not to cry out loud. Lying down made the pain worse and I could not sit at all.

After a few hours passed, I took a hydrocodone with Tylenol. It is a mild dose, but sometimes it breaks the pain cycle. However, not on Thursday night. Before daylight I had taken all the pain pills I thought were safe to take. Still, I did not sleep at all that night. After I had breakfast, I went back to bed. The pain had subsided. I finally slept. 

The Rick Bragg workshop began at 1:00 PM, but I could not go. I was so dopey from the pain medicine that I had to stay in bed. I slept off and on until evening. What a disappointment! 

I have done much research on Spinal Lumbar Stenosis and millions of people suffer with this horrendous pain as I have for the past couple of years. I am searching for a new method of treatment and I hope it works for me. My life is being turned upside down by this problem.

Dear Friends, please send positive thoughts my way. If you talk to God, please send up a prayer. I have much work to do and can't be sidelined by all this pain.

Monday, March 11, 2019

If you can hear the whispering about you and never yield to deal in whispers, too

I heard from a regular reader of this blog, Pat D. down in Florida. She commented on my last post.

She said they had a tradition in her family. All the girls, when they reach the age of ten, receive a copy of If - For Girls by Elizabeth Lincoln Otis

"For some reason I thought I remembered the phrase you quoted “to keep our heads when all about us were losing theirs” as being in that print, “If – for girls.” As you can see, it wasn’t. A very old fashioned set of values, but still not bad advice…even though I wonder what young girls and/or today’s more confident, socially and politically assertive young women think of it (especially the ‘sweet and gentle spirit’ part), and even more so, what the ones who receive it in the future will think of it." 
 
 
IF - for girls
-Elizabeth Lincoln Otis

If you can hear the whispering about you
And never yield to deal in whispers, too;
If you can bravely smile when loved ones doubt you
And never doubt, in turn, what loved ones do;
If you can keep a sweet and gentle spirit
In spite of fame or fortune, rank or place,
And though you win your goal or only near it,
Can win with poise or lose with equal grace;

If you can meet with Unbelief, believing,
And hallow in your heart, a simple creed,
If you can meet Deception, undeceiving,
And learn to look to God for all you need;
If you can be what girls should be to mothers:
Chums in joy and comrades in distress,
And be unto others as you'd have the others
Be unto you - - no more, and yet no less;

If you can keep within your heart the power
To say that firm, unconquerable "No,"
If you can brave a present shadowed hour
Rather than yield to build a future woe;
If you can love, yet not let loving master,
But keep yourself within your own self's clasp,
And not let Dreaming lead you to disaster
Nor Pity's fascination loose your grasp;

If you can lock your heart on confidences
Nor ever needlessly in turn confide;
If you can put behind you all pretenses
Of mock humility or foolish pride;
If you can keep the simple, homely virtue
Of walking right with God - - then have no fear
That anything in all the world can hurt you - -
And - - which is more - - you'll be a Woman, dear.



You may remember the poem If - for Boys which we read in school. I always liked both poems.
I remember part of If - for Boys:"If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you,"


The ending line is "You'll be a man, my son."

What do you think girls of today would say about this poem?
 
 

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Sunday, March 10, 2019

Maria Shriver wants to be like my mother.

Dear God, please help me remain calm, strong, classy and dignified, no matter what life throws my way. Amen.  --Maria Shriver

This prayer posted by Maria Shriver today reminds me of what my mother might have said.
She raised my sisters and me to stay above the fray, to keep our heads when all about us were losing theirs. When I came home and told my mother that a girl on the school bus wanted to fight. Mother said, "Girls fighting is low class, trashy, behavior."  This from a farm wife who was unsophisticated, but had been raised with good morals and values. 
LOIS COUNCIL

I still feel that way and when I see high school girls fighting, it turns my stomach with disgust. I feel sorry for them that they had no one to teach them how to behave.

From what we see on television and in movies, our society in the United States has become "low class, trashy" in many ways. Civil, dignified behavior is absent from our leadership in Washington, and it has become popular with the people on the street, the children in school and in homes. We have become a "dog-eat-dog" culture where we say and do anything that behooves us, and we care not for those who get hurt. 

It seems our culture is missing empathy. We only think of ourselves and we can't or won't put ourselves in the shoes of others, try to understand how they feel. Alan Alda who is an expert on communication says we don't listen. I think we all know that. We are thinking about what we want to say, and we don't hear others speak.
JUNE COUNCIL

My sister, June, was the perfect southern, genteel woman who could hold her own with anyone who was disagreeable or who was being a problem. She never used a curse word, a vulgarity, or called anyone names. She had such command of vocabulary that the average person hardly realized that he had been shut up and admonished by the best until he walked away.

June was strong, calm, classy and dignified no matter what life threw at her. I strive to be like her, but I often fail. 


We need more role models like June Council and my mother, Lois Council. Perhaps that would bring back classy, dignified deportment and rid us of the trashy, low class behavior prevalent in our world today.





Friday, March 1, 2019

My Favorite Method of Exercise

I have loved to dance since I was a teen and I still do, but not in public now. Recently a blogger I read wrote about dancing and how it helps her through the bad times.
https://writingthroughcancer.com/2018/05/07/for-the-week-of-may-7-2018-what-having-a-good-time-does-for-our-health/#comment-16232

I am not much for exercise these days since I have to deal with pain in my leg and hip, but dancing was one of my favorite ways to exercise. My sister goes to line dancing every week. That would be a fun way to get my blood flowing but I must put that on hold until later.

I will try water exercises again. With physical therapy and water exercises, I think I will see some good results.

Last summer I went to the pool in a nearby town twice a week. It was warm and felt so good. I never stopped moving while there. I know I felt better and was much more mobile than I am now.

Why can we exercise in water with no pain when walking on the ground brings on the aching hips and feet?

Water walking can help correct muscle imbalances. Walking on land emphasizes the muscles in the front and back of your thighs. Walking in water works your upper body equally as hard as your lower body because water gives all your submerged muscles 12 to 14 times the resistance of air.

Exercise in water compared to that of land burns more fat, helps you build stronger muscles, and is very effective in burning off calories.

A cousin older than I, but much more active, went to the pool to exercise and slipped on the wet floor. Sadly, she hit her head and died within the next 24 hours. That has made me think hard about going to the pool at this time. Because of my hip and leg problems, I feel my balance is not what it should be. So I am concerned about slipping on the wet floor in the dressing room at the pool. But I will go back because I need to build more muscle. 

Wish we had a heated pool in Hayesville. With all the retirees who live here and more are expected to move here in the near future, our community really needs a place for us to do water exercise. 
Do you ever exercise in water and how do you like it?





Monday, February 18, 2019

Clouds, Owls, and Tombstones - a story for everything

I am sharing some photos today with little stories that go with them.

Clouds
Clouds over the mountains

On a drive home I saw these beautiful clouds. I have always been fascinated with clouds. When Gay and I were small children we often climbed upon the back of our big broad farm horse, Daisy, and we'd lie there watching clouds. 

We saw images, faces and animals, in the clouds. They were always moving and that was even more fascinating. When I painted, it was such fun to try to paint clouds, but I never mastered them as I wanted. Some days I like to sit on my deck and just watch the clouds sailing over Lake Chatuge. 


I found this owl sitting on my lower deck one day. He never made a sound and didn't fly when I walked out to photograph him/her. I don't know what he was observing or maybe he was napping, waiting for darkness to come so he could see the mice and chipmunks that lived under the ground cover. Not only does an owl see in the dark, it hears exceedingly well. Perhaps this owl sat here because he felt safe from the large hawks that fly during the day and prey on owls and other birds and small animals.

It brought back the memory of the evening, about dusk, when Barry and I were walking back to our house from the stable where we had fed our horses. We stopped under a small oak tree to listen to the evening sounds and breathe in the cool dampness of the woods nearby. One of us glanced up and saw an owl, just like the one in this photo, sitting right above our heads. We continued to stand under the tree wondering how long the bird would stay there with us so near. But the owl made no effort to fly and we finally went inside. I think the owl was waiting for darkness. They see best in the dark and he would begin to hunt when the dusk gave way to dark. 
I loved living in our woods on the farm in south Georgia. Nature was a big part of our lives--birds, squirrels, large turtles, and even snakes which I could have done without. Every day I watched rabbits from my kitchen window as they frolicked and fed in the small meadow near our yard. 

That is why I love my home in the mountains. Now I have deer in my woods, squirrels on my decks, chipmunks scampering everywhere, hawks overhead and geese flying back and forth.

Hummingbirds hover in my deck garden and at my feeders. I see many varieties of birds at my feeders. Butterflies of all colors sip at the blossoms in spring and summer.

Recently a murder of crows startled me and I went outside to see if I could find what they were so upset about. To the right of my front yard, such raucous and angry sounds, but I could only see a couple of the large black birds. Soon, however, I saw a smaller bird with several of the crows on his tail driving him away. Aren't our nature friends interesting? What was that intruder doing to upset those big black birds? 



And now on another subject:

LARKIN ROBISON - 1826 - 1911

Grave marker found in Woodville Cemetery - Leon County, Florida

(The Robison name was continually spelled with an N in it throughout the census records and it seems in the military records.)

Larkin Robinson 
Age: 35 
Civil War (Confederate) 
Branch:
Confederate Army -- Enlistment Date: 1862  -- Fifth Infantry (Ph-R)  Florida
1862 – April 9, 1865
The 5th Florida Infantry Regiment served in E.A. Perry's Florida Brigade alongside the 2nd and 8th Florida. Perry's Brigade served under Anderson’s Division of Longstreet’s First Corps, of the Army of Northern Virginia.[1]


I believe this is the brother of my great grandfather, John Monroe Robison. Both of them served in the Confederate Army and both enlisted in Leon County, Florida. Their birthdays are very close as well as their death dates. Larkin had a daughter, Laura, I found on a census, and my mother told me John Monroe had a brother named Larkin and a sister named Laura. So many similarities I feel the man buried here is my great great uncle. Someday i will prove it with my research. Just can't find enough time to spend on Genealogy these days as much as I enjoy it.







Thursday, February 14, 2019

No Happy Valentine's Day

I walked down the aisle of the drug store today and thought about the years I searched for the perfect Valentine card for my sweetheart. February 14 was the one day when Barry gave me a love note. He never wrote me a love letter or any letter because we were never apart. 

On Valentine's Day, however, he always remembered and gave me a beautiful card with the perfect sentiment printed inside. But it was not just the words written there that touched me. Barry took this opportunity to write me a love note. I kept them all. 

Our last Valentine's Day together was in 2009. What a sad day. My youngest brother, Rex, died suddenly that day. Barry had been suffering from cancer for the past year. We did not have any idea that he, too, would die within the next few months. 


The Council Brothers - Rex, left front, is the youngest, 14 or 15 in this photo

I went down home for Rex's funeral service. I couldn't stop crying. Barry was too ill to go with me. He would have been there otherwise, for he loved Rex. For many years we rode to Athens, Georgia with Rex and his wife for every football game. We spent many weekends together. I don't think there was anyone in this world who didn't love Rex Council. He was a quiet man, but when he spoke, we listened. He had a terrific sense of humor and could tell good stories, but he was not outstanding in a crowd. Our best times were sitting across from each other in a restaurant where he drank lots of sweet iced tea. When he called me on the phone, we talked for an hour or more. 

My brother liked to travel by car, and I think he saw every corner of this great United States. He also was a pilot. He was an interesting person to talk with because he was a life-long learner as I am. We didn't always have the same political views or opinions, but we loved each other. 

He was the brother who had no qualms about taking care of our mother. He didn't send his wife when it was his time to be caregiver. At the hospital when she was in ICU, he would go in and ask questions of the nurses. When he found a problem, he didn't hesitate to have them call her doctor. One night he saved Mother's life by insisting the doctor be called when her blood pressure soared. 

He studied alternative medicine and, although he seldom practiced what he preached, he knew what to do for most ailments. I have written a story about Rex and our trip to Colorado for a ski trip. It shows his tenacity and confidence in his own ability, even if it meant driving through a blizzard. I will include that in my memoir.




Below is a poem I wrote about Rex and that awful time in my life when I lost my dear brother and my beloved husband within six months. 

Foreboding

At visitation last night, dressed
in a blue suit, you seemed asleep
while friends and loved ones
talked about the man they knew.
Your presence filled the room.

I pressed your cold hand to my lips,
patted your broad chest, ached for your
big bear hug and gentle voice. 
A waterfall of tears fell like all the years
that slipped away too soon.

I came alone. I had to leave
my own beloved, your good friend, at home.
Bitter omen of what lay ahead.
While I mourned you, My Brother,
a raven loomed above my mountain door.

By Glenda Council Beall










Friday, February 8, 2019

What do you say?



A few years ago, after my husband died. I saw a call for submissions for this book, On Our Own, Widowhood for Smarties. I decided to send in some of my poetry I had written while dealing with my grief.

I am proud to have been accepted for this anthology. The work in this book is not only poetry, but short pieces by those who have lost loved ones and how they are going on with their lives. A blog reader recently said she had ordered the book when her husband died. I think it is good to give to friends who have lost a husband or a wife, a life partner or even for children of widows because they don't often understand. It is not all sad. Some of the stories are humorous and all are of value to those who are in mourning or who are grieving.

As I told my dinner companion last night, when you have been married 45 years, you become one entity. When one of you die, the one that is left is like half a person for awhile. It takes a long time to make the half that is left work like it should. 

I am not sure if this book is still in print. The book was published by Silver Boomer Books out of Abilene, Texas. I have three so if you want one, let me know. 
Here are some pieces in this book.

Widowhood: Some Notes by Cathy Douglas
1. Nobody knows what to say to a person in grief, especially someone they don't know well. I used to wonder what to say, too. I suggest "condolences," or some related phrase, because it gives the person an easy reply: "Thank you." If you say "I'm sorry," it is awkward, because there's no obvious reply to it. You can't thank a person for feeling sorry and a reply like "Me too" sounds flip. By offering condolences, you're making things easy on the grieving person, and helping the conversation move forward. 
One time I said "I'm sorry" to a teenager who'd just lost his sister to leukemia, and he replied, "That's okay. It wasn't your fault." ...

Sleeping Alone by Glenda Beall

In the dark, I close my eyes,
try to push away the memories,
the feel of your smooth skin
sliding over lean bones and strong sinew,
the softness of your hair, smelling clean
as fresh air and rainwater. It grew back thicker,
darker
after chemo.









Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Middle Class - what is happening to us?

In a study a family earning between $30,000 and $50,000 was considered lower-middle class. For high earners, a three-person family needed an income between $100,000 and $350,000 to be considered upper-middle class.. Those who earn more than $350,000 are rich.Jul 17, 2018


 A trucker who says trucking was once a good middle class job, now says it is no longer middle class in salary. Back years ago when the unions and corporations worked together to get good wages for the workers, trucking was a good job. A man could afford to raise a family and buy a decent home for them. But everything changed in the seventies. 


In order to bring prices down for the consumer, wages were deregulated. Workers were not guaranteed a living wage, but consumers found that products became very cheap.

The trucker said, And this is the question. This is the question that everybody needs to ask as a citizen of any place, which is, how much money do you want to save, at the expense of good jobs, community character?
You know, we all have our $9 sneakers from Wal-Mart now. That's great. But in order to get those $9 sneakers, we had to export all of our manufacturing. So now we don't have good jobs, but we have $9 sneakers. Is that a good tradeoff? In my opinion, no.

Americans are known for buying tons of items they don't need. They rent storage units to hold all their stuff. Homes and garages are filled with boxes of  stuff. Those who have disposable income throw it away on junk. We all know of someone who passed away and in her closet were hanging clothes with the tags on them, things she bought and never wore. But there are families that can't afford to take their children to McDonald's once in a while. 

Our disparity between those with high incomes and those with low has been going on for some years.

Most American households did slightly better economically in 2015 than 2014, according to a recent survey by the Federal Reserve; 69 percent said they were living comfortably or doing OK, up from 65 percent. 


But 31 percent said they were either struggling to get by or just getting by, a figure that includes millions of middle-class Americans.
In a survey, the question was asked. "Could you come up with $2,000 in 30 days if you had to?"  Forty percent or more of American families can’t, despite the improving economy we keep hearing about.  

In Hayesville, NC while helping an evicted single mother, I learned the renter must come up with two to three thousand to get approved to rent a decent place and some are not so decent. The people who need to rent apartments to keep their children from being homeless, are the ones who don't have the money to pay the deposit, first and last month's rent. A woman who makes 10 - 12 dollars an hour, cannot save thousands of dollars. As we heard often on the news recently, most people are living pay check to pay check.


A man who has lived year round in The Hamptons for many years, Neal Gabler, has a good job, but has no savings. He raised a family, sent children to college, but he could not come up with $400 in an emergency. He says he is typical of people who used to have a good income, but the income has not grown to meet the costs of living in this country. 
Hear his interview with Judy Woodruff on PBS.

https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/why-so-many-americans-in-the-middle-class-have-no-savings


When asked why he didn't move from The Hamptons to a less expensive place to live he said he had thought about it. "And we have talked about that. But here's the catch-22 of that. If we were — once the recession hit, the house lost its value, as it did for most Americans.
So, now the house is deteriorating, it's lost its value. So if I had the resources to fix up the house to sell it, I wouldn't need to sell it. That's the catch-22."

I relate to Mr. Gabler as I have a nice house, but with prices so low, I would lose money if I sold my house because I would have to pay more to get something adequate for my needs. I don't want to go down in my standard of living at my age, so I just keep putting more and more into my house to keep it up. Just the past few months I have replaced a hot water heater and paid for repairs on my well. All of that came out of my savings that I am grateful to have. But many people have no savings. 

I have wealthy friends who have pensions. Yes, they are older folks who worked for major corporations and are among those who have great incomes in their seventies. They want to sell their big house in the mountains and move to a Fifty-Plus community. Age and health issues force people to go where they have help with physical tasks and are near hospital facilities.

But my friends have had their house on the market for over a year and it hasn't sold. They have put much money into their house to make it the perfect place. No one wants to pay what the house is listed for, but they have a certain amount they need to get out of their home so they can purchase the home in the retirement community.

I notice the cost of living has soared in the past ten years, but the income of most working people has not risen. With all the blustering and government  shutdown, thousands of low middle class families suffered and now live in fear that there will be another shutdown in three weeks. It seems our government is doing more to hurt citizens than to help them. 

With the stock market falling as it has done lately, those retired people who had money invested for their future are worried now. So, how is our economy so much better? I don't see it. We hear that more people have gone to work, but they are not making living wages. The lower middle class, those who make thirty - forty thousand dollars a year, is now more dependent on food stamps, medicaid and such federal programs that our elected officials in Washington want to do away with. How far can these people be pushed?  

I hate to hear people who have never had to resort to signing up for government aid complain that "those people are playing the system."  The system is complicated and food stamps can be cut back to practically nothing because of a small raise in income, even though the income is too low to provide rent, car insurance, gas for a car, and medical needs. 

I was told recently that my home town in south Georgia has become a major crime city. When I asked why, I was told that after the big flood in 93, the lower income housing was razed and new government housing was built. People in the rural areas moved into town and there are not enough jobs that pay a living wage. Poverty and easy access to drugs provide the perfect setting for the criminal element to take over.

I know this post sounds like a downer, but sometimes I feel I must share what I know, what I have learned about the state of affairs in our country. We still have those with blinders on who feel that anyone can make it in the United States. But I am not sure that it is as easy as it was for my generation to just work hard and be frugal with your money and you will be successful. I see so many young people today floundering, depending on family to help them out as they try to get an education with exorbitant loan interest and work at the same time. With everything so expensive, it takes lots of discipline to make ends meet and often it takes loving parents to cushion those sons and daughters until they get their wings.

I lived at home after college one year until I married. No one thought that was unusual at that time. My father gave us land to build a house on and we lived there for thirty years. Because I had loving support from family, I have always been glad when I could help someone who was in need. There but for the grace of God go I. 

I hope you, my readers are not struggling, but have safe, warm homes if you live in a cold area as I do right now. I hope you are in good health and that you are grateful every day for what you do have and don't despair over what you don't have. Tonight I am thankful that gas was delivered to my house this morning. I am very grateful that Miller Well Service sent some nice men to my house early. They worked in the sleet and snow to repair a broken pipe in the pump for my well. Tonight I have heat and running water. I know there are some who have neither. 




Sunday, January 27, 2019

I am on vacation but still blogging January 22

Here I am sitting on the deck of the condo where I have been this week with Gay and Stu. We are at the beach, but it is January and it is not hot and sunny at Hilton Head Island, SC.  


This is the view from our deck. The long walkway over the marsh leads to the water. I can hear the waves crashing against the sand.

I prefer the beach in the winter. I can't take hot weather. The temperatures are in the forties and fifties, but it just rained and the wind is a bit cold. Yesterday we went down to the sand but not on the sand. The ocean waves rolling against the shore and the constant movement of the water is soothing and peaceful to me. In my dreams, I would rent this place for a month, sit here and write every day. What a dream!

Glenda At the Beach in January
We explored the town of Bluffton and today we go to Beaufort, SC which has preserved the old buildings, white two story houses with wide porches and banisters. The historic district in Beaufort begs me to come and spend a day there.
Many of the old white frame houses still stand in this town that was founded in the 1700s. I like that they kept the old buildings and did not replace them with modern steel and glass as did many cities in the south.

Today we are going to the new Pat Conroy Literary Center, where local people who loved the late writer and his wife have created a museum in honor of him, but the center is more than that. It is to an educational center for children, writers and others. I can't wait to go this afternoon. I contacted Maura Connelly who gave us an appointment to come today because we leave tomorrow morning and the Center is only open for visitors from noon on Thursday through Sunday. 
This is is what Wikipedia says about Pat Conroy.
Donald Patrick "Pat" Conroy was an American author who wrote several acclaimed novels and memoirs. Two of his novels, The Prince of Tides and The Great Santini, were made into Oscar-nominated films. He is recognized as a leading figure of late-20th century Southern literature.   Wikipedia
BornOctober 26, 1945, Atlanta, GA
DiedMarch 4, 2016, Beaufort, SC
SpouseCassandra King (m. 1998–2016), Lenore Fleischer (m. 1981–1995), Barbara Jones (m. 1969–1977)  
Cassandra King is a successful writer, too. I don't believe there is a movie called The Water is Wide. Conrack was made from the book with that title.
One of my favorite books by Conroy is My Reading Life. In it, he tells how reading books helped make him a writer. He writes about his fellow writers in Atlanta and his awe of some of them when he was young. 

Not only was Pat Conroy a great storyteller, his use of language made his writing more interesting. My friend, Estelle Rice, is also a big fan of Conroy and she loves the way he writes. 

"Conroy is a master of language."      The Atlanta Journal


I like Beach Music which I listened to on CD some years ago. The Water is Wide, and his cookbook are favorites of mine. South of Broad is also one I enjoyed very much. I am an unabashed fan.
I am anxious to see his hand written manuscripts and his desk where he sat to write. 

Later on the same day:

Here I sit at Pat Conroy's desk. He was a big man and I feel very small sitting where he sat.


I am sitting with Maura Connelly who hosted us and gave us history of Conroy and information about his family. Pictures from his high school yearbooks are posted and nearby are photos of him and others from his years at The Citadel.The books in the background of the photo above are some of the 8,000 books he had in his library.  

Of course, the books he wrote are for sale at the center, as well as books by his wife, Cassandra King. I brought home A Conversation with the Conroys which is an interview with all of Pat's siblings, except for one sister. They said she wasn't there because she didn't speak to Pat. Maura gave me a photo essay with pictures of Daufuskie Island's Mary Fields School where Conroy taught. It is a real treasure. 



This is a very bad photo of Santini's jacket which hangs in a glass enclosed case. The white strips are reflections of the overhead lights. I am not a good photographer. The jacket belonged to Pat's father who was the real Santini. 
Throughout the center are displays of letters he wrote to his parents and to others, all in a small neat script. He did not use a computer, but wrote all his manuscripts by hand. 

An artist friend of Pat Conroy drew pencil portraits of the authors included in the latest book, Prince of Scribes, which is filled with essays about Pat and his relationship to these authors. Two of them are Terry Kay and Rick Bragg, other favorite southern authors. 

We are already planning our next trip to Beaufort. We will take a van tour led by a friend of Pat who will take us all over the town to see where he lived, attended school, hear true stories about him and we will end up at his grave site. We hear that is something to see. Fans leave things at his grave site. 

I want to have time to just explore the town and learn more about the history. We stopped and walked in the national cemetery located in Beaufort. Long stretches of small white tomb stones under the mossy old oak trees struck a sad note with me. Many of the soldiers buried there had fought in WWII, Korea and Vietnam. In the area where I walked most of the stones were marked NY.

On my next visit, I want to take the ferry to Daufuskie Island to see where Conroy taught the Gullah children who knew nothing about life outside their surroundings. One of those children, all grown up now, leads a tour of the island. I know she will be interesting. His book, The Water is Wide was based on experiences from that year and was made into the movie, Conrack, in which John Voight starred. I think I will see if I can find it and watch it again. 

If you are a Pat Conroy fan, what books of his do you like? Did you see the movies that originated from some of his books? What do you think made Pat Conroy such a fine author?





Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Fighting loneliness when you are ill


I am re-blogging this post from Writing Through Cancer.   https://writingthroughcancer.com/2019/01/14/for-january-14-2019-loneliness-its-bad-for-your-health/

So many older people, after having lost a spouse, find themselves alone and lonely. This is an excellent article on why we should fight loneliness in order to take care of our own health.  We have to reach out to others. Many people are lonely in this country. Maybe that is why we have so many people on social media today. They want someone to listen to them.

Please read the blog post in the link above, and let me know what you think.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

What We Learn from Our Past

Like many this time of year, I find myself reflecting on the past as well as planning for the future. I read more in winter, and because I have been ill for a couple of weeks, I have more time to read. Today I pulled out some old diaries from when I was twelve years old and had practically nothing to say. When I was thirteen, my mind was on horses and boys. I wrote about my best friends and teenage parties. What a sheltered life I led, a little country girl whose world was so tiny.

When we finally got a television set in 1953, I watched Elvis Pressley and fell in love. I couldn’t wait to see his first movie, Love Me Tender, but was extremely disappointed in him as an actor. In fact, I hoped he would not make any more pictures because he was better as an entertainer, I thought. The TV opened my world a little bit, but we only got channel 2, out of Atlanta and the programming was pretty limited.
In my diary I wrote about hay rides and prom parties. In one of these diaries, I wrote about my first kiss.
 I can almost see my life as a nineteen-fifties movie with me as the simple sweet girl without a serious care in the world, sort of a Doris Day type. All I had to do was try to look pretty and do my best to catch the eye of the boy I liked. When I look back on that time I realize that I, like most kids that age, was totally engrossed with ME.

Actually, I was not the carefree girl all the time. I had a darker side. The least thing could send me into self-doubt and depression, although no one used that word then. Sometimes I could be difficult to understand. I learned that from reading what my sister and my mother had to say about me. I found letters my mother wrote and was surprised that she worried so much about me. She said I was either up or down, no middle ground for me.
I could almost hear Mother’s voice in her letters to Gay. I got the feeling she didn’t worry that much about my younger sister who was level-headed and didn’t get upset easily. They were so much alike. But I inherited my father’s temperament, I think. He was volatile, brooding and easily angered.
Finding and reading old letters decades after they were written opened my eyes to what others thought about me, to what kind of a child I was. Maybe I was needy, but didn’t know I was. Could I have been what people now call “high maintenance?”

Best Friends then and now

 My poor mother had five children already when I came along. I was a surprise and I’m sure my father did not relish another mouth to feed. He already had his four boys and he had one girl. Then five years after the last child, I came along. I was very lucky. I had all of Mother’s attention and also that of my older sister. I was loved and I knew it.

Two and a half years later my sister, Gay, was born and then I had my life-long best friend. I had no reason to be blue, but as I grew up, I tended to think about sad things, and I worried about things that might happen. My greatest fear was losing my mother. I was terrified that she would die and leave me. As a child I prayed that I would die before she did. It was odd that I worried so about her because she was the healthiest one of our family. My father was the one who was sick so often.
I once wrote a poem comparing myself to an antique silver pitcher pouring sustenance for others, leaving nothing for myself. I think that pitcher was really my mother, the nurturing person who held us together as a family. She gave everything for her family and took nothing for herself. She was the most unselfish person I have ever known. She never complained about her life, what was lacking or what she didn’t have. When I look back, I realize that Mother never resented the pretty clothes, the nice houses or anything her relatives had. She was happy for them. Eventually she had a very nice house, but she was never hung up on things.
Objects you could purchase were not important to her – the people in her life were. Nothing made her happier than having a visit from her Florida relatives. She loved cooking a big meal for them and hearing all about their lives. She was a people-person and I am the same. I can be feeling blah, but if I go out and visit with friends, I feel wonderful.

I am in process of ridding myself of lots of material things—things I don’t need, will never use again or just hang on to because they were a gift from someone I love. Things are not special if they don’t answer a need or “bring me joy” as Maria the precious little Japanese Tidying lady says. It is the sentimental part of me that finds it hard to let things go. Do you have that problem?
You, my readers, are special to me. Even those of you I don’t know or might never meet in person. I appreciate each one of you and hope you find my posts of interest. I love to hear from you, so leave a comment or send me an email.

 

 

 

Friday, January 11, 2019

Let Me Set This Straight

Recently in my blog post, Back Home After Christmas, it might have seemed that I thought my illness came from being with my family on Christmas night, but that was not the case. As I said in this post, I had been out to eat, went to the movies and went shopping before Christmas Day. I know now that I was coming down with this awful virus that my sister and her husband had fought for weeks. So many people tell me they have had it and how long it lasted. It is a tough one.



I wondered if the coughing and bronchitis I had on Christmas night could have been from being near a trigger for my sensitivity to chemicals, which can show up days after an exposure, but it was obvious by the next morning that I had contracted the same virus Gay and Stu had weeks earlier. That shows how contagious this bug is.

I used the opportunity to advocate for clean air on my blog because that is what I do. Even now, some of my friends give me scented products as gifts. So, I continue to try to educate the public on the dangers of these chemicals.

I apologize to my wonderful niece, Lee. I never meant to infer that her house or anything in her house made me sick. She is diligent, as is Gay, to help me stay well when I visit. I am very blessed to have family that cares so much.

I love that Lee uses her mother's china for our Christmas dinner. It is nice to have my sister's dishes on the table even though June is gone from us now. I appreciate that Lee has taken on the role of having the family at her house and making sure we have a great time. For many years I enjoyed having family at my house for holidays, but the house I am in now is way too small.

Gay, June and Glenda - The Three Council Sisters at Gay's house for Christmas years ago


I look forward to getting over this illness soon, but meantime, I have the energy to do a few easy tasks here in my house before I take a nap. I get impatient when I don't feel up to doing all the things on my growing "to-do list." But patience I must have. Then my perseverance will kick in.

My readers, I hope you are well and that your weather is good - not too hot and not too cold. We might get a little snow this weekend, I think. It won't bother me as Lexie and I will be snug as a bug in a rug in our little place in the mountains.