So not only did you teach me about writing memoir, you also taught me about reading and thinking about how others write memoir. Thank you so much!

p.s. my mom now refers to me as the family "chronicler" - getting down all the family stories. How I love that title!! :)

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Monday, January 20, 2020

Getting off the fast track this year

For years now, society has been compelled to stay busy, working constantly, at home and at the office.

We hear ourselves reciting a litany of what we accomplished today or this week. We go, go, go all the time as if we are on a treadmill and must keep going faster and faster, doing more and more.

On Social Media, we see our peers posting about all they do. I was caught up on that track myself. I didn't realize what I was doing to my health. After all, I only did what I wanted to do. But I will not be given a crown in glory for what I accomplished today. My reward was the feeling of pride in myself for having done something. However, my life doesn't need to be measured by the items completed on my to-do list.

Although I like to write the end to a long-planned task and I enjoy my work for NCWN-West,  I have planned my life with three days each week set aside just for me to do only what pleases me. If I want to read or watch a movie or talk for an hour on the phone, I will not feel guilty or pressured. On some of these days I plan to spend time with friends and family.

I will never complete all that I need to do in my house. I accept that. I can be happy with my stuff scattered about on my dining table, my upstairs office and downstairs in my studio. I accept that my unique manner of disorganization is mine, and I can work with it. 

All weekend I have been home alone, with Lexie to keep me company
I enjoyed the peace and quiet, the free and easy lifestyle now becoming mine. Monday is a holiday here in the USA, so my weekend is extended. I might not dress to go out at all. I can eat whenever I want and sleep when I want with nothing to interrupt me.

I watched two Sunday TV shows. I am caught up in a series on a streaming channel and I watch some of that every day.

I can't seem to make my new Lenova laptop work the way I need. With so many new "options" in every program, I hope to turn off those I will never use. Part of my free time is spent educating myself on new technology. I love to learn, but this is more than I bargained for.

I no longer have cable TV.
 My local television shows are now coming into my house on the Internet. Sad to say, Internet does not work well here in the mountains. I have had to buy enhancers to help bring a signal for my television sets. I had to purchase an Amazon Fire Stick for my Roku TV, and then I had to install it. Although I have worked with it for several hours, it is not working as it should. I will figure out what to do sooner or later.  (Oh, how I miss Barry. He would have had it working with no problem at all.)

It looks like it will take more of my time to get the hang of this new system. I can only work on it for short periods of time before I get stressed. My goal is to stay as calm and stress-free as possible. With my newfound lifestyle, I am sleeping better and longer each night. I am cleaning out my Inbox and throwing away most of the paper that comes in my mailbox each day. For a long time, I have been drowning in paper. Political, charities, and retail envelopes. Now it goes into the trash before I open it. What a waste of money and paper!

This week I plan to work on genealogy and family history. I will also meet old friends one day for a long lunch. It will be fun to catch up. Life is good.

Most important, probably, is my determinination to move more.
Just moving around during the day instead of sitting too long is essential to my good health.

In the book, The Blue Zones, the author tells about why the people in these zones live longer than we do and they are healthier. They move all day long in their daily lives. They live much as my parents lived on the farm in the twentieth century. 

Blue Zone inhabitants are social people.
The author says we should have at least seven people in our lives we can call on at any given time. Everyone who knows me will tell you I love people and being with people is uplifting for me. Social interaction increases endorphins, I guess. 

The people in the Blue Zones don't try to live to be 100 years old. They don't go on diets, or go to the gym. In their daily lives, they walk almost everywhere. They eat simply and burn calories. We can climb stairs, walk to work or ride a bike instead of driving everywhere, and that could help us live longer. 

I can do what is best for me in my own environment. That is my plan for 2020 and beyond. I made my Vision Board for this year. I found that is a great way to accomplish goals. But, I will work some, play some and relax more. No more should do, needs to, and must do now. No more pushing myself and blaming myself when I don't make deadlines. Unless it is a matter of life and death, I will do my best, but if I am late, it is not the end of the world.

Time is our most important commodity. We can't buy it, borrow it, or bring it back once it is gone. I hope to make the most of every minute I have. I want to spend time with my loved ones, friends and family. I will call them and see them on my open days if they are available. I don't want to say, as I have often done in the past, "I wish I had called her, or gone to see her" when I am sending flowers for her funeral. 

is your stress level? Do you feel you need to slow down, take more Me Time and enjoy a simpler life? 

See you next week and thanks for stopping by.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Home for a wedding and visit with family

The holidays are over and I am back home. I had a great time with family at Christmas and down in south Georgia where I attended the wedding of one of my great nephews, Colby, the grandson of my brother, Max. The wedding was held at the First Baptist Church in Camilla, Georgia, the hometown  of Kathryn Stripling Byer, my friend, and the first woman poet laureate of North Carolina. My parents grew up in Pelham, Georgia which is in the same county.

The wedding was touching as the bride and groom had written their vows and spoke them to each other instead of the pastor saying the typical words spoken at most weddings. 

It was fun to see all my nephews dressed so nicely in their formal clothes. I usually see them in jeans or shorts. Saturday, the day of the event, was beautiful, but that evening turned cold. The reception, held at the old Shackleford house, a landmark, in Albany was overflowing with guests and many of the younger ones were outside dancing. Not liking crowds, I went outside in the cold, had someone bring me a chair and enjoyed talking with the handsome men in my family. I truly enjoyed the evening.

I had not been back to my hometown for a while and it is always surprising to see what has changed there. We had a good dinner on Friday night at a new restaurant, The Flint, in old downtown. We all hope this is the beginning of the city rising from the ashes.The owners came over, welcomed us and invited us to tour the large facility. With my hip and knee problems, I stayed in my seat and visited with another nephew's lovely girlfriend. She told me about Terry HoYum Yum sauce made there in Albany. She is CFO of the company. I'm sorry I didn't get some sauce to bring home.

But I did pick up some May Haw Jelly, one of my favorite foods when I was a child. Mother made the jelly every year from the tiny red berries that only grow in that area. I even found some syrup made from sugar cane which I can't get up here in the mountains. When I was a kid, I went with Mother to the cane grindings in our community each fall. We drank cane juice and always came home with lots of cane syrup. But here in the super market, I can only find maple syrup, and many brands made with corn syrup and artificial flavors. The popular syrup made in this area is sorghum syrup, but it is too strong for me.

I will share a few photos I made at the wedding. I am not the greatest photographer, but these are OK.

Groom, Colby Council,  with his lovely bride outdoors at the reception

Gay and Stu, having fun. Gay held my wine and my purse so I could take photo.
 She was very cold all evening, wore her coat, so you didn't see the beautiful dress she wore.

Glenda and Gay, great aunts of the groom

Three of my generation were present. My brother, Max, Gay and me. I missed my brothers and sister who are no longer with us. It was particularly sad when Max came in and walked down the aisle alone because his wife is ill and could not be there with him for their grandson's wedding. 

Sunday, January 12, 2020

After the storm, I'm reading the Blind Pig and the Acorn

After a stormy night that left my yard littered with limbs from the trees surrounding my house, it is wonderful to see the sunshine today. I am sorry for all those who lost so much through this mass of bad weather that battered the southland this week. I am grateful no tree fell on my house and I don't believe I have any other damage.

I want to share a post from The Blind Pig and the Acorn. If you like music, and, if you were a fan of the late Glen Campbell, you will enjoy this post by Paul, brother of Tipper Pressley. You get a bonus at the end. A video of the Pressley Sisters and Paul singing Gentle on My Mind. It is not a studio version, just a home video of the group singing in the kitchen. They have other cds for sale on their website.

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Tis the Season


As we approach Christmas Day, a very special time each year to reflect on our good fortune, our losses, our happy times and our sad ones, we appreciate the reason for the season.

I think of this holiday as a time to renew hope in the world, to believe that we will survive as human beings because we are basically the product of our past, our forefathers and mothers who often struggled to provide the best way of life for themselves and for their world.

We have goodness in us even when we do bad things. When I hear the voices that speak out of fear, I try to turn them off. I believe that we still have strong people who won't give up and give in to the worst of human nature. 

I have seen the best in people recently, when out of kindness and caring, they left their comfort zone to give me aid when I most needed it. I know that people do this all the time, around the world, for no pay or recognition. While we hear the bad news day after day, we also hear of good deeds, good people who just want to help their fellow human being. I wish we heard more of the good than the bad, but sadly, bad news is good business for media today.

The worst part of this time of year is the begging that goes on, asking us  to give to those less fortunate, to give to political parties, to foundations and groups that help others, and the guilt we feel when we can only do so much. I get more requests for donations this time of year than any other time. 

I have a giving budget. Throughout the year, I give to the organizations I feel most passionate about, where I feel the most is needed. At Christmas, I don't receive a bonus or extra money to put into my bank account. December is not a month when I have windfalls that I don't need. As a senior adult with a fairly fixed income and too many bills to pay, I have very little cash to give to others. 

I do what I can all year long, and still keep funds to support myself. I don't want to become one of the people who needs charity. But it is a fact that those who have the least, give the most. Those who have the most and use the most resources, give the least to others. 


When I see this art work out each Christmas as part of my sister's holiday decorations, I spend time just enjoying it, looking at the detail and seeing the work of love it really is.

My photo is not good, but you can appreciate the artistry of this folk art by my artist sister, Gay Moring. It is a gorgeous piece of work, in three pieces, on wood and the brush strokes are perfectly done. 

I hope you have joy and happiness and peace in your hearts and in your homes this special holiday season. I hope the new year brings you good health, love and less stress in your life. I hope you laugh every day. 

Try to find the humor in the worst of times, and you will come through better and with less pain. Even a trip to the ER can have moments of humor. That's a bit of wisdom from someone who knows.

Read this post on Senior Women for a glimpse of a Christmas that went awry.

How will you spend your holidays this year?

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Just When Life is Going so Well

Thursday, Dec. 18, 2019
Just when I think life is humming along beautifully, fate lands a left hook.
Today I am not having fun, going out to parties or attending luncheons because I injured my knee and right leg yesterday. After spending about five hours in the ER, a total waste of time, mine and theirs, I am home with my knee wrapped up, an ice pack on that knee, and all my stuff around me on the bed.

I was told to rest for several days and stay off my feet. That's not hard. I can’t stand or walk because of the pain in my right leg. So, for the time being, I get around my house when I absolutely must, in one of my chairs with casters. This works fairly well, but the chair won’t fit through the bathroom doors.

I learned a good lesson yesterday. Don’t go to the ER unless you are dying or think you are dying.

If you are in pain or can’t walk due to pain or can’t even stand due to pain, your issue is not going to make the priority list.

As people came in with their complaints, my name fell lower and lower in priority. About three o’clock I thought I was going to be seen, but no. When it was found that I was not the one with palpitations, I was wheeled back into the waiting room where my name fell further down the list.

I waited all afternoon, hours and hours, in a tiny cubicle with nothing to read, to hear or anyone to talk with, but finally about six o’clock, someone came and wrapped my knee, and gave me instructions to stay off my feet, and ice my knee several times a day. I didn’t get much information or any diagnosis as to what happened or how to prevent it happening again.
An ACE bandage on my knee is supposed to help me.

Never again will I waste my time in an emergency room at a hospital. To get attention, one must arrive in an ambulance and have life threatening symptoms. I remember giving my sister, June, instructions to call 911 when she began having breathing problems because she would be seen right away. I am grateful for those people who cared for my mother and my sister when they needed life saving treatment. If I have a heart attack or stroke, I hope they will put me first on the list.

But where do you go for help when you are in extreme pain and can’t even stand or walk? Should I have called for an ambulance to take me to the ER? I did not think I should have an ambulance being used for me when someone who has had a stroke or heart attack might need it.

Once again, I learned an important lesson. Actually, I learned more than one lesson. I found out just how terrifying it is to be helpless. To be alone, unable to stand or walk, or dress myself, is very scary. I felt a rush of empathy for those who have to live like that. For the future, I  will make a backup plan. I will try to never have this happen again.

I knew I had people I could call, and my wonderful neighbor, Alice, was the first person I contacted. She, with the help of another friend, Joan, struggled to get me into the car and to the hospital.
Alice and Marsha came back to the hospital and brought me home. It was dark by then, and neither of them are comfortable driving after the sun goes down. I am grateful they are such generous people.

Word spread among my friends and family about my predicament. Mary Mike, when she learned where I was, hurried to the hospital to sit with me. (I was gone by then,)

Estelle called around to try to find out what was going on. Gay, in Roswell, was on the phone and then in the car. She is with me tonight. She brought a “transport chair” which had belonged to June, so now I can retire my chair with casters.

Bedrest for several days this time of year is really the pits. I was sorry to miss the CWPW luncheon which I had looked forward to. I will miss having dinner tonight with my dearest friends.

But enough of my complaining. 
I will have Christmas with family I love, and we will have a great time as we always do. I don’t have any gifts wrapped and some gifts have not made it to my house, so Stu will get an I O U. His gifts will come after Christmas. I talked with him today, and he told me he had just sold another copy of Paws, Claws, Hooves, Feathers and Fins. I don’t know how he does it, but he has sold far more books than I have. He said it isn’t hard. “The books sell themselves,” he said.

Stu Moring, the book seller and my BIL

Postscript: It is Saturday now and I am improving. I can manage with a walker instead of a chair. Just keep moving, I’m told. I will do just that. I hope to be back to normal very soon.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Christmas and Cooking Favorite Foods

What a busy time for all of us, holiday time, when we try to get together with all our friends, shop for everyone until pretty soon we are overwhelmed with too much to do.

I used to have writer friends over at Christmas, but this year I have run out of time. From now until I leave to be with my family, every waking hour is completely filled. 

I do look forward to our Christmas luncheon on Wednesday at Coffee with the Poets and Writers. We will have Open Mic and many of us can share our writing. We will bring food and it will be a great spread,I'm sure. 

Tomorrow, I will prepare my dishes for the luncheon
Tonight I found myself perusing old cookbooks, many of them fifty years old, and recipes I began collecting when I was a young wife. Among the pages of stained and worn covers were clippings from The Albany Herald newspaper with names of local people who shared their family favorites. 

Our local EMC newsletter contained a section for good southern recipes by south Georgia members. Many fine cooks lived in our rural community, and the recipes were all made "from scratch." 

Although I enjoyed reading cookbooks and often used the recipes, I did not cook as much as those who had children to feed every day. Barry was not a big eater and, unlike other men, he never asked what we were having for dinner or when we were going to eat. I was brought up to believe that my job, as a wife, was to make a well-balanced meal for us, with a meat, vegetables, potato and bread. He would have been just as happy with a peanut butter sandwich and a glass of milk.
Lois Robison Council

My role model was my mother who was an excellent cook, but she had plenty of practice. From the time she married at eighteen, she cooked for her husband. I imagine she learned from my grandmother. As our family grew, Mother cooked three big meals every day. 

I watched her make biscuits, amazed at how fast she could pinch off a piece of dough, roll it around in her palm for a few seconds, and toss it on a pan with each one lining up, touching, so they would rise to perfection in the hot oven. She used self-rising flour, buttermilk, and Crisco shortening, so simple, but so, so delicious when eaten with gravy, jelly, eggs or whatever was on the table. In summer I couldn't wait to break open a large biscuit, slather it with mayonnaise, and place a slice of fresh garden-grown tomato inside. That was the best sandwich I have ever eaten. I can taste it right now!

I tried to learn from watching Mother, and at one time I could make them pretty well, but the buttermilk I buy today is not the same and neither is the shortening. The best shortening for making biscuits was lard, but that was before animal fat got such a bad rap from all the health police.

It's good, I think, that I don't make biscuits because, like my mother, I would make them every day and eat more than I should. My sisters, brothers and I could each eat two or three during a meal. 

Do you have any recipes that were passed down from your mother or grandmother that you still use today? 
Do you remember any particular dishes cooked at your home that you miss having today?

Friday, December 13, 2019

Doing new things and planning for 2020

 I was recently home all day and had the time to submit some of my writing for publication. Thanks to my office assistant, Corie, this was done quickly and well. Having an assistant is a huge help, and Corie is so easy to have around. 

Here is a link to one of the submissions. My poem was published by Your Daily Poem, a wonderful poetry online journal. You can read it here:

I feel much better about things since I saw my favorite doctor, my cardiologist, who said I was doing fine and he found no problems. My arteries are not filled with plaque and tests show I am doing well. In fact, he said that I was far younger than my chronological years.
He encouraged me to continue with my work and doing what I enjoy, but just do a little less and not overdo. 

So I have begun working on writing events for 2020.
I hope to set up writing classes for the summer at Moss Memorial Library. I will teach a four week course at Tri-County College in March. 

For many years I have taught writing and had guest instructors teach at my studio, but I see the need for changes. I will make my priority lists and be sure to save time for my own writing, submitting and promoting my work.

I hope to have more of our NCWN-West members teach and host events in the coming year. The more they are involved, the better chance of our writing organization continuing even when or if I am no longer the leader. We have some wonderful folks in our group, and I see them taking care of business in the future.

Meanwhile, I have a new laptop computer and working hard to learn all the new bells and whistles. I am in process of proof reading a manuscript for a former student. I hope she sticks with it and publishes her book one day.

I had become a person with Pain Brain.
The chronic pain I have had the past couple of years had almost consumed me until my physical therapist talked to me about pain brain. When all I think about is my pain and what I must do for the pain, I am letting other parts of my life fall by the wayside. Pain management is a complex business. It takes more than pain meds.

I have been letting pain dictate who I am and what I can do. I will not do that. Pain is just something I must deal with, but it will not consume me. As I have done in the past, I will find a way to continue with what I love. As a friend told me recently, we are getting older, but we are not done for, and we still do most of the things we like to do. We can't let our chronological age determine who we are or what we accomplish. After all, octogenarians and people in their nineties are living happy lives. 

For the past couple of days my sister, Gay, has been here with me. What a joy for Lexie and me when she comes. 

Look at this lovely lady, my younger sister, dancing at a Showcase recently. She had a great time and looked terrific. She is chronologically younger than I, and  much healthier and younger than her chronological age. 

Gay Moring with her dance partner

Once a dancer, always a dancer

She is a big inspiration for me. We all need to find what we enjoy doing most and just do it. I tell my friends and family who are much younger than I, "Don't wait until you retire, or wait for the best time, just go on now and take that trip or learn something new, start a business if that is what you always wanted, because you don't know what tomorrow brings."

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Grief, mourning and going on with life

My readers know I love animals, especially dogs and horses. My horse, Pretty Thing, lived to be 32 years old and was my darling. My poodle, Brandy, lived to be 19 years old. 

All of our pets except for one, lived to ripe old age. They were treated well, fed well and well-loved. We had the reputation of having pets that lived forever.
But, no matter how old they are, when it is time to let them pass on or when they die unexpectedly as our Nikki did, we grieve. We grieve as we would if any family member was gone. 

Over the years I have made a study of grief and why we grieve more over some and not so much over others although we loved them all.

The first person that I knew well and loved dearly, and who died suddenly in his fifties, was my brother-in-law, Stan. I was about six or seven years old when he burst into our family with his big smile, his boisterous nature, his laughter, and his hugs. I knew and loved him as much as I did any of my brothers for two decades and more. So I grieved and mourned his passing deeply. His presence in my life was far bigger than anyone knew. I think of him as the loving father I didn't have and the big brother who was not embarrassed to show his love for me. His passing left a place that can't be filled. 

Brandy, my black miniature poodle, was the first big loss in my animal family. You can find his shortened story in Paws, Claws, Hooves, Feathers and Fins, Family Pets and God's Other Creatures. This little fellow was a wedding gift to me from my husband, Barry. I liken living with Brandy to raising a wild, but precious boy-child. He was not obedient and was very destructive, causing us to have to move to the country when he demolished our first apartment.

Brandy lived on the edge. When he had the opportunity to take a risk, he did it. The cows grazed quietly in the pasture near our house. They were enclosed by a three-strand barbed-wire fence.  Of course the fence meant nothing to my dog. And the cows looked much to peaceful and content to him. If he was outside his pen, he didn't waste time scooting under the barbed wire and making a bee line for the herd. 

As I stood yelling and screaming at him to come back, Brandy circled the bovines barking at the top of his lungs. At first they ignored him, but, I suppose his noise-making got under their skin. Eventually one of the black and white milk cows had enough. She raised her head, looked at the yapping dog, and headed straight for him. That was the signal, it seemed, for the other cows to do the same. Big heads came up and the entire herd of forty started toward the little black dog.

Back in my yard, I continued to yell at Brandy. Now I was calling, "Brandy, come here" "Brandy run! Run, run, run!"

The mischievous little guy got just what he wanted. Every single cow was now after him, chasing him across the pasture. Brandy knew where he was going and they followed. At times I thought they were gaining and were going to trample him, but he stayed just about ten feet ahead of the lead cow, looking back from time to time, his red tongue hanging out of his mouth. 
He came home just as I wanted, but he brought an entourage of hoof beats from forty beasts pounding right behind him.

I stood rigid, holding my breath, scared senseless, and praying that my little buddy would make it. Afraid to look! I could not stand to see his body mangled by the sharp hooves. 

But Brandy was shrewd. He knew exactly what he was doing, and I am sure he was laughing in his own doggy way.

He slowed down just enough to let the cows think they were going to get him, and then he skittered under the bottom strand of wire with their hot breath on his curly coat. 

He ran around the yard, then jumped up on me. I knew what he was thinking. "See Momma, I didn't get hurt, and I had a lot of fun."

Brandy Beall lived to be nineteen years old, was nearly blind and totally deaf. I found him stretched out on the carpet in my bedroom one rainy afternoon. He didn't wake up.

My days and my nights were not the same without Brandy. I missed him so much I could not speak his name or talk about him to others for months. 

I believe we grieve most those whose lives are entwined with our own, those whose very existence is a part of who we are. Husbands and wives miss each other more because they have become almost one person over the years as my husband and I did. When everywhere you look, everything you see, touch or feel reminds you of your loss, the pain just grows deeper.

I know that Stan, my brother-in-law, made a giant impression on me from the earliest days of knowing him. What made him most special to me, when I was a kid, was he listened to me. I could tell him what vexed me and what made me happy. He knew what I loved and what I did not love, what I feared and what I was not scared of. He approved of me and let me know it. When he didn't approve, he let me know. His death left a hole in my life too big to ever be replaced. 

My little Brandy gave me memories I still cherish and always will. He loved me unconditionally, as our dogs usually do. He and I were so attached that I often think Barry was jealous of my attention to him.

For months I would forget he was gone. I looked for him around me, expecting him to be near me. Then the punch in the gut came, feeling the emptiness when it dawned on me that I had buried him out by the stable. 

They say that tears of grief are just ways of showing you loved someone, and I shed many when I lost my three brothers, my sister, my dear sister-in-law, my parents and my beloved husband.  I didn't think I could endure all those losses of people I love. But I have. What choice do I have?

I have lost my sweet, loving Samoyd, Kodi, and Rocky, the best dog ever.
I grieved more and more. So much sadness, and I still cry over those I loved, human and animal, who have gone on. But each day arrives with new possibilities. 

What will I learn today? What can I do, what will I do, today that might make a difference? I know I will mourn for the rest of my life, but somehow, I found a way to departmentalize grief while going on with living. I hurt for those who cannot do that. 

I hope your holidays will be happy and filled with fun and good memories. Make great memories this year. Don't let petty things from the past cause hurt feelings or sadness. I found that being thankful for my family, my friends and for still being alive on this earth to enjoy each sunrise and each sunset gives me peace. May you have that peace this Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 11, 2019

What we really should be talking about on Veterans' Day

Today, November 11, 2019, has been Veterans' Day. In some places it is Remembrance Day. This is a link to a post about why people began wearing poppies on this day to show remembrance.
 I love the poem On Flanders Field, and this explains where that poem came from.

While everyone is thanking our veterans of all the wars we have fought through history, I wonder if anyone will think to contact their congressman about the large cut in funding for military families' housing? I have heard some outlandish stories in recent months about the housing some of the young families with children have to endure while the father is overseas in the United States Military.

With the exorbitant budget given to our military department, why on earth would they cut funding for housing to the men and women who are in the Middle East risking their lives every single day? I think that should have been the headlines for today. What do you think?

I grew up across the road from the largest Marine Corp Supply Base east of the Mississippi. I heard too much about the waste that went on there every day. I heard about employees who came to work drunk day after day and were never fired. What kind of job does one do when he is drunk? With so much waste, maybe some of the funds could go to help families with housing costs?

I heard from Stu Moring about what he and other vets experienced when they returned from Vietnam. Shameful that we never properly made them know how much we care about them and how much we appreciate their putting their lives at risk. No matter whether we liked or hated the war, the men who were there in that horrible place, deserve our respect and our love.

Here are pictures of some friends and family who are veterans:
Charlie, my brother-in-law, WWII Vet
My great grandfather, John Cecil Council, veteran of the War Between the States
My brother, Ray, WWII vet
My brother in law, Stu Moring, a Vietnam Vet
My dear friend, Ash Rothlein, a veteran of WWII, age 95 now.

                              My husband, Hugh Barry Beall, served in the US Army 
as a German Linguist. 
He also served in Korea. 

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Old Stories of Wakulla County, Florida

While recovering from a respiratory virus this past week, I had time to read and go through old magazines and look for genealogy articles.

Years ago, I somehow got my hands on copies of the Wakulla Area Digest from 1994 and 1995. Since my Council family and, I think, my Robison family lived in that area, I enjoyed reading the history of Wakulla County, Florida. Freeman Ashmore wrote a column called "Looking Back" and that is my favorite part of the magazine.

Roads Back Then and Now describes the hardships of travel
Having been to this coastal area of Florida many times, I know how sandy is the soil and the woods are filled with palmetto and pines as well as live oak trees.

According to Ashmore, when the first settlers came to this part of Florida there were no roads, only trails made by the Indians and by wild animals. One reason the first settlers settled near big creeks and rivers was that transportation on the water was easier than on land. It was safer to build a boat to go from place to place back then. On land possible attacks from the Indians and the wild animals made travel dangerous.

The early settlers in my family went to north Florida as soon as it was opened up and land was for sale, around 1840. - 1845. Land travel was by high-wheeled carts, wagons, buggies and on foot. As the settlers began to widen the trails, they cut trees but often left a stump in the road. If the vehicle was high enough that the axle did not hit the stump, all was fine, but if not, travel came to an abrupt halt, and sometimes the driver found himself thrown off the seat.

Even the high wheeled wagons did not work well when heavy rains came and made deep ruts in the soft earth on the path. Also, the road makers cut the smaller trees, but left big trees in the middle of the road. For a cart or buggy to get around the big tree, the road zig-zagged around the it. Often the horse or oxen drawn vehicle would hit a stump when they tried to get around a big tree.

Freeman Ashmore told this story in his column.
The mail carrier used a pair of oxen to pull the wagon over the deeply rutted roads. The oxen bolted for some reason, pulled the cart off the road and hit a stump. The mail carrier was thrown out of the wagon. He hit his head on a root and was knocked unconscious. He landed by a bee hive and the bees, being upset by all the commotion, stung him on his arms and legs. The pain from the stings woke up the unconscious man. He sat up, confused about where he was. A local girl wearing a white dress was passing by at the time of the accident. When the mail carrier saw her running for help, (he said at a later date) he thought he had died and gone to heaven and was seeing an angel.

The writer tells other stories of the difficulty of traveling in the county, especially when heavy rains  flooded the creeks and branches. Even though the roads were built on high land, none of the land in Wakulla County is very high and low places would hold water for a long time. People usually just had to wait until the water went down before they could go to another town.

My father, top row to right of his mother. The babies and children on
the second row from front are cousins I remember, all gone now.

Even as late as the early 1900s, the roads were poor and cut through heavily wooded areas. My grandfather, Tom Council, told of the time when he was hauling salted fish and other goods from his farm up to Pelham, Georgia where his family lived. The big trees met over his head and he felt as if he were driving through a tunnel. Suddenly, from a limb above, a panther leaped onto the back of one of the horses pulling the wagon. Panthers were prominent in the northern region of Florida at that time. Both horses bolted.

Tom could barely keep himself upright in the wagon as he pulled on the reins and called out to the frightened animals, "Whoa, Whoa." He feared the wagon would flip over, and he would loose his load. But the panther scrambled away. The horses realized the danger was over, and he was finally able to calm and stop the runaway steeds.

 Travel today, 2019

When we travel on the super highways, the interstates at 75 miles per hour, it is hard to imagine the slow travel our ancestors endured. I am always in awe when I look at the structure of bridges, roads that seem to cling to the side of a mountain, or the entangled masses of highways in Atlanta.  Mankind has come a long, long way.

In our hurry up and impatient life styles of today, no one can imagine taking two days to travel from Crawfordville, Florida to Pelham, Georgia, but that is how long it took for my grandparents to move their family in 1910. Their belongings packed into two covered wagons, Tom and the children, who were old enough, walked.

My father told stories about his family and so did my mother She knew all of his sisters and brothers and his mother from childhood when they moved to Pelham, Georgia. My family history book, Profiles and Pedigrees, The Descendants of Thomas Charles Council, is about my grandfather and grandmother Council and their ten children. To purchase, click on for ordering instructions.

Until next week, happy trails.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Charleston, SC , Middleton Place, Angel Tree and the Battery

Gay, Stu and I spent a few days in Charleston, SC. I had such a great time and my hosts encouraged me to do just what I wanted. 

These pictures were taken at Middleton Place, a plantation created in the 17 hundreds and is now a National Historic Landmark. Here are the oldest landscaped gardens in America. It is a huge place and we saw most of it, but did not see all of the gardens.
Gay is standing in front of the Middleton Oak, over a thousand years old. It has a circumference of 37 feet. This picture reminds me of one where she was standing in front of a giant redwood in California.

The limbs of this oak are massive and the lower ones eventually reach the ground, but you can see that a couple of very large ones had to be cut. 

Behind the tree is a lake and in the background are rice fields. Learning about growing rice was one of the most interesting parts of this place. The rice fields have to be drained several times during the growing season and refilled. This plantation had many slaves before the war and I can see why the laborers were necessary. The rice was planted and harvested by hand, then shipped down the Ashley River to Charleston Harbor where the barrels were then loaded on large ships and sent overseas.

Middleton Place has a fabulous restaurant if you like southern food, which I do. Where would you find collards and cornbread, mac and cheese, fried chicken, ham and sweet potatoes in a setting like this? 
The service was outstanding as well.

One of my favorite parts of the plantation was the stable yard. In the paddock were six Percheron, very large work horses, used to pull the carriages for tours on the grounds. Others were inside the stable. 
As you can see, I used an electric mobile cart that I rented for a couple of days. It can be used inside and outside. I really put it to the test. We did not know a wheelchair map was available, so in some places my companions had to push my scooter up hill and help with steps. They are good guys who made this trip very special for me. In fact, the vacation was a birthday present for me.

Various 19th and early 20th century horse-drawn conveyances are used or kept on the premises. In summer these horses are working all the time, but at this time of year, the crowds are gone and that made it easy for us to see all the animals and talk with the people who work there.

The sheep ran loose and are in and out of the pens. They are a rare kind of sheep you don't find in this country now, but were the original breed on this plantation when it was created. Two pregnant goats were penned up. Guineas, ducks and chickens fed throughout the stable yard.  

The blacksmith works with the same simple tools he would have used in the 1800s. He worked a bellows by hand. He said the blacksmith on the plantation was the second most important laborer, but the cooper was the most important because he made the barrels that were used to ship the rice out to market.

A potter was also working the day we were there. Her pottery is sold in the gift shop near the entrance to Middleton Place. 


This is the Angel Oak (300-400 years old) outside Charleston. The limbs grow long. The largest is 89 feet in length and the area of shade is 17,000 square feet. The trunk of the tree has a circumference of 25.5 feet. As you see, many of the limbs are actually on the ground.  A big fight to save this tree was won and now it is a tourist attraction.

Often I read in historical novels that people walked on the Battery in Charleston and often wondered, what is the Battery?  I learned it is a wall built for defense against enemies who would come by sea. Such a nice place to walk and look out over the water. Markers explained what we could see from our location. Fort Sumter and other historical sites were described. I picked up a book, Charleston, The Brief History of A Remarkable City,Charleston, The Brief History of A Remarkable City, by Skip Johnson and it tells the history of a city that was one of England's richest cities in the New World before 1776. It was then Charles Towne. 

We had a pleasant walk and the weather was beautiful! We didn't visit the forts and military exhibits such as the Naval Museum. Maybe on another trip. I liked riding around the city and seeing the architecture. The old buildings looked like they had just been painted. We wondered if they had been spruced up after the hurricane hit there earlier this year. 

Stu and Gay. I wanted to get the flowers in the photo.
I think the clouds are pretty.

Had I been a better photographer you would have seen more photos, but, alas, when I looked for them in my phone, they were not there. Gay's pictures of the sheep, the Angel Oak and the Middleton Oak are much appreciated.

Have any of you, my readers, been to Charleston area and did you like it? I'd like to go back sometime.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

We need more doctors like Mark Hyman, M.D.

I am a big fan of doctor Mark Hyman, a medical doctor who is not happy with the status quo. He has a podcast called "The doctor's Farmacy."

He is thinking outside the box and teaching his patients and his listeners how to care for themselves. Many of us have learned over the years that the typical western medicine is not the answer for our health issues. Dr. Hyman learned from his own experience what he had to do and what others must do to stay healthy or cure their physical illness.

Watch the video. The female doctor suffers from autoimmune disease and hearing her speak about how western medicine failed her is eye opening.

As we age, our immune system fails us, our body breaks down, and taking another pill and dealing with side effects is not what I want. I argue with my nice young doctor who always wants to prescribe another drug for me every time I see her. I am not as interested in the quantity of my life as I am the quality of my life. Who wants to live a long life and be unable to enjoy it?
Not me.

I have made my goal for the rest of this year to put all my energy into taking care of my health, getting exercise, eating right and sleeping well. 

I purchased a gadget I wear on my wrist that tells me how much sleep I get, how well I sleep and how many interruptions I have each night.

It also tells me how many steps I make each day. I like that it keeps up with my weekly totals and encourages me when I improve. This is not the expensive FitBit. Mine is from Withings and cost about $40.00.

Just wearing this has helped me move more. I, like most writers, live a sedentary life, but now I get up from my computer and walk or dance or climb the stairs every half hour. I am putting my health as my top priority. 
How about you?
What do you do for your health that your doctor has not prescribed for you?