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.

Friday, January 4, 2019

Sharing photos of animals with their own unique stories

For as long as I can remember, I have had a special feeling for most animals, especially horses and dogs. I also adore little kittens. When Gay and I were little girls, we played in the hay loft with the kittens that lived there. Although they were not tame, they were not so wild that they didn't let us hold them. 

My first experience with horses came when my father lifted me up to ride on the sweaty back of Charlie, the farm work horse. Charlie was a terror when he was first hitched up to a plow, and my daddy had his hands full as he tried to keep Charlie calm. The big white horse was known to run away with the plow flying in the air behind him. To keep Charlie in line, Daddy hitched a mule next to the big white horse. Together the two worked well and Charlie did not run away anymore.

One might wonder why a small child would be hoisted up on the back of such an animal, but by late in the afternoon, Charlie was tired and only looking to reaching the barn and his feed. Besides he was being led and no longer hitched to a heavy plow.

When I was older and learned to read, I found every book on horses that was available on the bookmobile or at the school library. The most popular horse book was the one I liked less, Black Beauty. 

Daddy liked dogs and our family always had a dog - that is until the family pet was run over by a car or lost its life someway. I heard a story about a bulldog who was important to our family. I was not born yet when this dog stepped between my brother, Rex, who was a little fellow, and a rattle snake. The dog was bitten and he later died. 

My brothers didn't seem to have the urge to pet and show affection for dogs like Daddy did. To some of them, dogs were livestock, like cows and hogs, that were put on earth for use, but not to love. 

Tiger, the bob tailed cat was Barry's loving, sweet pet.

Gay, on the left, in the middle, Dixie, and on the right is
Glenda. This pretty dog belonged to Aunt Judy. When Dixie died,
Aunt Judy never had another dog. "It hurts too bad when you lose them," she said. 

Ray, my oldest brother, had a small dog he adored in the later years of his life. None of my siblings cared about canines the way Gay and I did. We had dogs to play with when we were little and, although they were never allowed inside the house, we loved Fluffy, Turbo, a black English cocker spaniel given to my sister, June, and even Brit, the shepherd that was bought to drive cattle. Too bad none of my family had a clue about how to train the puppy. 

I vowed to myself that I would someday have my own little dog that would be with me all the time or as much time as possible. When I married a man who loved dogs, who gave me my own little bundle of fur, and I was in Heaven. I raised a miniature black poodle we named Brandy. We had him until he was nineteen years old. He died in his sleep. Losing one of them, no matter how old, is heartbreaking. It is like losing a member of the family.

At this link, you will find photos of some of the animals that touched my life. 

Do you have any stories about your pets, dogs, cats, rabbits, horses, goats, chickens, and domesticated wild animals? We would love for you to share them here on our blog.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Back home after Christmas

Lexie loves Christmas. We are in front of the tree at the Moring's.

I am back home after spending a wonderful week with my sister and brother-in-law, Gay and Stu. When I walked into their house, Christmas enveloped me. Their tree is always perfectly decorated. The mantel, table tops, buffet and dining table offer lovely Christmas themed arrangements.

They attended church two times while I was there. They sing in their choir and take their responsibility seriously. In spite of having been sick for over two weeks with a bad respiratory virus, they were able to attend rehearsals and sing the cantata as well as participate in the Candle Light Service at Alpharetta Presbyterian Church.

I felt sad as I left today, looking at the tree for the last time. Both Gay and Stu loaded my car for me and it was loaded! They are generous and very caring people. I will get out the things I need tonight, but the rest will wait until tomorrow when I have help.

We went out to eat several times and Gay and I went to see Mary Poppins Returns, a lovely musical with good acting. We did a little after Christmas shopping, as well.

I have been fighting a respiratory illness for the past few weeks and eventually was prescribed an antibiotic. I was doing much better until Christmas night. We had such fun at the home of my niece, Lee, and her family, eating and laughing so hard we could not stop. But later that night I developed something new or my original illness worsened. Now, I think I have bronchitis. I coughed so hard my chest hurts and my throat does, too. It was good that I came home. Now I can stay in bed or just do nothing until I get over this malady.
Any time I am out with people, it is easy for me to become ill. I can be exposed to a small amount of chemical such as perfume, cologne, candles or things I am not even aware of and in a short time I am sick. I believe that I react badly to live Christmas trees because they are treated with chemicals to keep them green and pesticides to kill insects you don’t want to bring into your home.

Today while reading about toxins in our home, I found some interesting facts that pertain to all of us.
Formaldehyde is in many of the products we use and have in our homes. Who would think our sofas or chairs could be hazardous to our health.

Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen. Formaldehyde is in most manmade fragrances – perfumes, scented items people use on their bodies every day. Learn more on Toxnet.

An article in Readers Digest is very helpful for those of us who want to only use natural cleaning products in our homes. If everyone would use these kinds of products, people who have health issues with manmade chemicals could go almost anywhere and not become ill.

Great cleaning tips with natural products that do not contain dangerous chemicals.

I look forward to 2019 and am making plans now for good things to come. I hope you have stayed well during the holidays and that you will usher in a wonderful new year.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

My Life with My Animals

When I married, my husband, Barry gave me a miniature black poodle. We named him Brandy. We did not have children and Brandy became the third member of our family. We loved him dearly and enjoyed his playfulness and his outrageous behavior. Even my mother who never let a dog in her house, welcomed Brandy and even fed him buttered biscuits in her kitchen.

Here I am with Brandy, but he was so black Barry could
never get a good picture of him.

One day we went to the dairy barn and brought home a young cat. She was pretty and sweet, but covered in fleas. I almost poisoned her trying to de-flea her, but she survived and eventually brought into our house five kittens. They were born in a hollow tree in our yard on a weekend when we were out of town. To our surprise as soon as we pulled into our driveway and opened the car door, Mama Cat appeared with a kitten in her mouth. She followed us into the house. She headed straight to the guest room and carried her baby under the bed.She made the short trip five times as if she had planned all along that the guest room was where she was supposed to raise her little family.

We kept one of those kittens, a beautiful orange and white cat with a short little nose and long hair. Her name was Queenie. She was a small cat and we had her and her mother spayed so we had no more kittens for a long time.

One of my favorite animals was my horse, Pretty Thing. I got her when she was three years old, but I had been riding her since she was two years old and used on the farm to drive cattle. Our pets live long lives and Pretty Thing outlived all of them. I had to put her down when she was thirty-two years old, one of the saddest days of my life. 

She had been a major part of my life from the time I graduated from college. Pretty Thing was a chestnut with a milky blaze poured down her muzzle. She had three white stockings also. Her ancestry was quarter horse and she had been well trained to drive cattle. If she wanted one of them to move she would reach out and nip the bovine on the back. She could turn on a dime and I had to learn to sit tight and not fall off. The only time I had a bad fall from her back was when she fell on slippery wet leaves and my foot was caught under her weight. 

Brandy lived to be 19 years old. Losing him was not unexpected, but I grieved over him for months. I could not talk about him without crying. We had gotten our first Samoyed just before Brandy died. The new pup was named Nicki. In the book Paws, Claws, Hooves, Feathers and Fins; Family Pets and God's Other Creatures I write about Nicki and the day he was stolen from our farm. A Sammy puppy is the cutest and prettiest little thing in this world. A solid white furry mass of cute. You can see the second Samoyed puppy, Kodi, in the book. Kodi is also the gorgeous dog on the front of our book.

To see some photos of animals Barry and I loved and some I have wanted for my own, visit this page.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Is it okay to change family traditions?

1996 Christmas at our house in the mountains
At Christmas we often stress out over trying to continue traditions that no longer appeal to everyone in the family. I remember the time, after Mother was sick, that Gay and I told all the family it was too hard on Mother to hold the Christmas gift-giving at her house as we had always done. In years before, we had drawn names at Thanksgiving and I heard my sisters-in-law mourn and gripe for the next month about what family member they had to buy a gift for. That was stressful to me.

But when we changed the tradition and my siblings exchanged gifts at home with their children, we continued to get together for a family dinner.

For many years, Barry and I held the Beall family Christmas gathering at our house in Albany. We had built a big beautiful house with lots of room in 1975.
For a long time, Gay and Stu and June and her girls came to our house for gift opening on Christmas morning before going to the “big house”, my parents’ home, for the big feast.

After Barry and I moved to the mountains to a smaller house, we no longer invited the Beall family or my sisters and June’s children to our house for Christmas. Instead we went to Gay's and Stu's nice big house in Roswell and to the home of one of Richard Beall’s children.

In this article, , Martha Beck explains why she thinks it is okay to change some family traditions when they don’t work for us anymore.


I hope your family has a wonderful Christmas or whatever holiday you observe. If you don’t have family near, I hope you will be with others to share this special season of love and peace.

I have a full week ahead with lunches and meetings with writers I know and enjoy. I plan to spend Christmas with my family. Although I have one brother and one sister left from the seven of us, I will remember those who are gone, June, Ray, Hal, Rex, Yvonne, and my precious Barry during the holidays. The prayer before we eat always includes them. We feel they are with us in spirit.

We also spend Christmas Eve with friends we love and have shared our lives with for thirty years or more. How blessed I am to have friends and family who care about me, and whom I love so much.
If I don’t get back to this blog before Christmas, I will post again around New Year’s. Till then, Dear Readers, be safe.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Audible vs. reading - My Review of Becoming

"In a life filled with meaning and accomplishment, Michelle Obama has emerged as one of the most iconic and compelling women of our era. As First Lady of the United States of America—the first African American to serve in that role—she helped create the most welcoming and inclusive White House in history, while also establishing herself as a powerful advocate for women and girls in the U.S. and around the world, dramatically changing the ways that families pursue healthier and more active lives, and standing with her husband as he led America through some of its most harrowing moments. Along the way, she showed us a few dance moves, crushed Carpool Karaoke, and raised two down-to-earth daughters under an unforgiving media glare."

My thoughts on this book and this author:
Instead of buying the hard cover memoir, Becoming, by Michelle Obama, I purchased it on Audible. She narrated her book which made it all the more authentic. She was a very unique First Lady. In her book, she explains why she did what she did and how she felt as the first lady and the first Black First Lady.  Much pressure was on her to be extra good at her job! 

She was in the public eye all the time and she tells in her book how difficult it was sometimes to be locked in the White House at night and unable to just go outside for a few minutes. Her great sense of humor comes through and her ability to laugh at herself. I liked that about Barrack Obama also. I can't imagine spending time with a man who has no sense of humor and who cannot laugh at himself.
Michelle Obama
In the book she lets the reader in on how she met Barrack and how they became friends before they developed a personal relationship. She tells how he proposed, and it was so cute. I can visualize them as young college students and then trying to decide what their paths would be. Obama seemed to know what he wanted from the time he was very young, but Michelle took one path, the one her parents had planned for her, before she realized what she was really called to do.
She is so down-to-earth and easy to relate to because she could be any of us growing up with working parents who hope their children will have it better than they did. Michelle and her brother were extremely good students, and they ambitiously sought the highest goals. They applied to the best schools and Michelle was accepted to Princeton. She had her own problems with the question we all ask ourselves -- Am I good enough? With other students arriving at school in limousines, she arrived in the family sedan driven by her father.

I remember how I used to feel in high school when some girls arrived in cars driven by their parents' employees, and I arrived on a big yellow school bus. That must have been how Michelle Robinson felt. Being smart is good, but that will not make you popular. Michelle overcame her insecurities because of the confidence instilled in her by her family. She pushed on, not discouraged. She graduated, went on to Harvard Law School, and got a job in a prestigious law firm. Little did she know that the lanky young man who kept dropping in at her law office would one day make her the most famous woman in the world.

I now know I must have this book, the paper back at least, in my hands. It matters not what political party you support. It is not a political book. I think all women, young and older, will appreciate this book and learn good lessons from it. 

Wish I could go and hear her speak in Atlanta in May, but the days of standing in lines surrounded by hordes of people are over for me. That kind of event is for younger people who have the stamina.

If you have read this book, let me know what you think.
I am really curious to know what someone who votes republican thinks.
Leave a comment. It is easy to do. 

Friday, December 7, 2018

Appalachian Memories

Down to the Soft Grass  

At the top of Windy Gap we spread our lunch of cream cheese and crackers we’d bought at a little general store in Villas. Barry and I were in our thirties and had been married for a few years. I can see him now, long legs in jeans that fit like they were made just for him, camera strap around his neck.  

We found this place, Seven Devils, and rented a rustic cabin that looked down on small towns and little roads that wormed between mountains in the far north western part of North Carolina. My memories of that day, high on a mountain in Appalachia, away from life’s reality back home, brings forth a smile. When I’m told to go to a place I want to be where I feel comfortable and at peace, I go there. That is the only way I can go back there. The place no longer exists having been developed for condos and rental houses for the skiers who fill the slopes in winter.

And Barry is no longer here to go with me, so I’d not want to go there. But I can recapture that day, the wind blowing in my face, the sweet fresh air tasting like a cool drink from a mountain spring. Little did I know how quickly the years would pass and how precious that day, that moment, would become to me, even now decades later.

I found this essay I wrote some years ago and decided to share it today on my blog. Savor every day, every moment because they are fleeting and one day will only be memories. 

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Thoughts on George H.W. Bush

It is always sad when someone who is a good person and has done good work leaves this earth.

George H.W. Bush was a good man and although he was not a member of the party I usually support, I liked his humble ways, his caring personality and his love of family. I voted for him for president.

I like that the he was not a man to boast of his success as some are in office today. He gave his entire life to serving the United States of America and, although he was a part of the big oil corporations, he seemed to be a genuine person. I liked his wife, Barbara, and I think their love story is what young people today should look to for inspiration. They experienced a sad loss early on when their three-year-old daughter died from leukemia. Instead of this tearing them apart, it strengthened their marriage. That seldom happens in today's world.

We recently watched the funeral of John McCain and found that many Americans admired and mourned for him. I have more admiration for George H.W. Bush than for John McCain. President Bush's comments heard today on the TV shows proves to me he was the man I thought he was when I voted for him. He was not a braggart or a show-off. He did what he thought was necessary for the good of this nation and not for himself. I heard it said today that we would never see his like again and I am afraid that might be so. Politics has changed so much in the recent years that I am not sure I can trust anyone who runs for office. I wish that was not true.

I recently listened to Michelle Obama's autobiography on Audible. She is one of the humble and honest people in the public eye today. I feel sure she and President Bush, the forty-first president, would have gotten along fine because she gave up a high paying job as an attorney with a big firm to work for non-profits to try to help others. (one of the thousand points of light) I hope that all the good we hear about the late president Bush will resonate in the minds and hearts of Americans and when they go to the polls to vote in future elections, they will think more carefully about the kind of person we want to run this country, to be a role model for others and to represent us in the world today.

I am sorry for the family of this man who was so dear to his children and the grandchildren who will remember him with admiration, but, like Jenna Bush said, he will now be with his beloved Barbara and their baby, Robin.

Friday, November 30, 2018

Central Michigan University Student deals with MCS

Have you ever walked past a building and smelled the fumes from a clothes dryer? A college student, Samuel Connors, worked to stop the dryer in the dormitory laundry room from filling his room with fumes that made it difficult for him to breathe. The fumes were caused by scented detergent and dryer sheets. This young man worked with staff and others to eliminate the problem. 

Like me and one third of the population of our country, he suffers serious health issues from breathing air polluted with chemicals that are used to make scents used in many products on the market today. 

Central Michigan University must be a more advanced college because they have already banned perfumes and other products that bother students. I was overjoyed to hear that!

While some say only close proximity to these chemicals causes serious illness like cancer, those of us who suffer with multiple chemical sensitivity react with debilitating effects when exposed to small doses of fragrance. If I am in a restaurant and someone walks by wearing perfume, I know I must avoid that person or the area where that person is working. I have had to leave restaurants because scented candles were burned or because the waitresses wore scented products.

Although I hate to hear of anyone dealing with the effects of MCS, I am always happy to hear of someone who tries to make people aware of the problems. I hear from people all the time who say they have the same problems I have, but they never say anything about it. I recently left a restaurant because of the scented candles and I told the management why I left. I was told that if I called ahead a day before, they would not burn the candles while I am there. But they don’t understand. Those chemicals linger for a long time and also hang on to surfaces for days after the candle is no longer burning. The same is true with the oil diffusers so popular today.

Tonight I am taking medicine to deal with recent exposure to fragrance. The meds only help me deal with pain and symptoms and will not cure me. I had to cancel appointments for the rest of the week so I can rest, use oxygen, pain pills and other OTC medicine that help the congestion and breathing problems.

Read more here about CMU and the student who is making a difference. 

An expensive air purifier that helps make home a safe place to breathe.

Did you know you were consuming and breathing formaldehyde all the time?

"One such chemical is formaldehyde, which has very many uses & is present to some extent in virtually every modern day built setting ( home, office, hospital, school, etc) – and in the car / motor vehicle. This is because formaldehyde is cheap & has very many uses including – cavity wall insulation, MDF, (medium density fibreboard), plywood, fabric & carpet treatments, bodycare products ( shampoo, toothpaste, etc), glues, paints, plastic mouldings, electrical appliances & components etc."      from:

Friday, November 23, 2018

Thanks for those who care.

Although I am away from my computer tonight, I want to write about the joy I have when I get together with my family. We are very fortunate to have each other and enjoy our time together. I am sad when I think of some who are alone, afraid, sick and in need. I wish I could do more for them.

I have no children. My husband is deceased. I could be alone at this time of year. But my sister, my niece and her family embrace me and invite me to be a part of their celebration. I contribute by cooking my signature dish -- southern cornbread dressing and each year I hear "this is even better than last year."  Today we had turkey cooked to perfection by Dave, husband of Lee, my niece. Broccoli casserole and squash casserole, mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans, and multiple desserts.

It is fun to see Will, my great nephew who is now in college and doing well. We are all very proud of him.

I have so much to be thankful for and I never forget it. When I see someone who has no family and no one who cares about him/her, I say, "There but for the grace of God go I."
That is why I don't want to judge anyone who is in need. I don't know what happened to them, but I have empathy for them. I hurt for them and offer what I can.

With all the money that is said will be spent this Christmas, I hope much will go to help the many who are in need--homeless for any reason, sick and hungry, cold and alone.
A country is not judged by how wealthy its citizens, but by how well it cares for those who are poor.
At this time the number of  hungry children in the USA is higher than in years past, but we hear our economy is great. Churches are trying to feed the growing number of families that are in need.

What can we do? We can care and do whatever we can.