Words from a Reader

The “Writing Life Stories” e-mails I receive are such treasures. As soon as I see there is one in my inbox, I read it immediately. I look forward to them and never know how they will touch me. They can be interesting, informative, humorous, and/or touching.

Monday, September 21, 2020

Pandemics, Isolation, and Positive Thinking

September 20, 2020

What do you do to fill your free time during this pandemic? In the past, I enjoyed meeting friends to chat and talk about our writing. I enjoyed getting together with my sister and niece for lunch in a restaurant in the Atlanta area. I used to enjoy the beautiful drive up to Sylva, NC and a visit to City Lights Books, the best and one of the few independent bookstores left in western North Carolina.

Before the pandemic I met with other writers at the Moss Memorial Library once a month for Coffee with the Poets and Writers. We gathered around tables where one of our local writers or poets read some of their original work. After, we opened the floor for others who want to share a poem or two or a short prose piece. I began this event for our writers back in 2007, and it has become a favorite with our members. The local community is invited. Refreshments are included and announcements of future writing events are offered. I miss this group.

But there are positives about being stuck at home all the time. Less stress from deadlines, too many appointments, too many hours working instead of playing.

I find that I like waking up each day and realizing I have no pressure to be some place or do something before the day is over. My time is my own to watch a movie or Heartland, this wonderful Canadian series on Netflix that takes me completely away from the uncertainty and frustrations of the world of today.

More and more I seek programs on television about ordinary people dealing with everyday problems. No murder, no gore. No bad guys terrorizing girls, no rapes and sexual abuse of women. Today’s modern television and movies are filled with violence. It symbolizes our mean culture, which has developed in the past couple of decades.

There was a time when the top-rated television shows were multigenerational  shows. The Waltons, The Andy Griffith Show and other similar shows kept everyone enthralled for years. Today, people are flocking to those old shows. But it soon became the norm for crime shows every night. People were killed and in our living rooms, we witnessed close-ups of the blood running out of their mouths and noses or the beatings where we saw the damage to the victim’s face and body. It seems the movie makers and producers of television shows are only happy when the audience feels they are in the scene seeing the gory mess and pain on the screen.

I have never understood anyone wanting to see women being terrified by knife-wielding thugs or mentally ill men. Horror movies serve no purpose as far as I can see. Life has enough difficulties without manufacturing things to frighten and disturb me.

I find myself listening to Celtic Thunder CDs and watching shows made in Australia and Canada or England. Shows about relationships, characters I can relate to.

 What is happening in my own country today is upsetting and depressing. I just want to escape the anger, the lies, and the violence I see on screens. I know things will get better, and I am looking forward to next year.

I read books meant to make sense of it all. I escape into historical novels or memoirs. I visit my sister and her husband to have intelligent conversations with people I admire and love, people who are not mean-spirited, who don’t judge others just because they are  different from them, who are good and want good for all of us in this world. The only safe house I feel I can visit is their home in Roswell, GA.

Stu and Gay at the Old Oak Tavern where we had lunch outside.

Never in my life would I have thought that, at my age, I had to become isolated from people. I am glad I am not bored although I feel lonely at times, missing my dear Barry. But I have lots of projects I want to complete, so I can always work on them.

During these months I discovered people I can learn from, people I admire. I found them on podcasts. I listen to podcasts regarding health matters, and some that are funny like Trevor Noah who speaks with humor about our chaotic political situation. I listen to The Creative Penn for Writers, Unlocking Us with Brene Brown, Hidden Brain, Fresh Air, Meaningful Conversations, Clear and Vivid with Alan Alda. Alda’s theme is communication, the lack of which is a major problem with our culture. People do not listen. They are only waiting for the other to shut up so they can speak. So much communication today is filled with anger and name-calling, dishonesty and fear. So sad to me.

But I am speaking of the positives in my life right now. I have blogger friends in states far away from me as well as in other countries. I have met relatives I did not know through my genealogy research. Because of the NC Writers’ Network, I know wonderful writers and fantastic poets from all over the state of North Carolina and in other states as well. I am more fortunate than many widows and women who are alone at this time, and I am grateful. Acceptance and adapting are my words for now.

Thank you, my readers and friends, for stopping here.  I love to read your comments.

How do you fill your free hours these days? 

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

College Football Season

September means football season, or did, at our house. From the time I married Barry Beall, I knew that Saturday afternoons in the fall meant he would be watching or listening to Georgia football.
One time on vacation in Tennessee, we had at a nice cabin in the mountains, but there was no television at that cabin. Barry could not believe that I would book a rental where he could not see the University of Georgia play football.

We drove to the nearest town where he bought rabbit ears in hopes he could get the TV in the living room to play. Seems it was only there to play DVDs. When it became obvious that we would not be seeing the University of Georgia play football that weekend, Barry and my brother-in-law, Stu, drove into town and found a bar where they could see the game.

At home, I knew that Saturday afternoons would always find Barry in his chair in front of the TV. As I moved about the house doing whatever I wanted to do, the sound of the crowd filled the space and the voice of the sports announcer rang loud and clear. Barry was with them, on the field, playing as hard as the uniformed boys on the turf. If the dogs lost, he was down for days. Unlike some fans, Barry never blamed the coach. He was a fan of Coach Dooley and later was a fan of the coach that followed him.

In the early years, I griped because I wanted him to do something with me on the weekend, not sit in front of a screen. I cared nothing about football and actually thought of it as a cruel sport. So many of those young men ended up hurt and even some died due to injuries at practice or in the game. But for a number of years, we rode up to Athens, GA with my brother Rex and his wife to sit in the stands and watch the game. That was really love on my part. In those days women dressed up for the football game in pantyhose, high heels and fall dresses that were far too warm for the summer-like weather. I hated going to those games. Not being a fan, I often had trouble following the plays. One day I fainted. I know that was embarrassing for my husband. We were on our way out when I passed out. He was sweet and kind and took care of me. I woke up with him holding me in his arms.

 Sanford Stadium in Athens, Georgia. I was often in that field of red sweating among thousands

 I liked Uga, the bulldog mascot, but felt real sympathy for him. He would get so hot on the sidelines his tongue practically dragged the ground as he panted. Eventually the dog was given a doghouse on wheels with a big bag of ice inside. I think the owners were afraid he would have a heart attack.

Among things that surprised me after my husband died, was how much I missed Saturday afternoons in the fall when our house was filled with football. I longed to hear the roar of the crowd, and the celebratory sounds coming from Barry's chair when his team won. Something I had taken for granted for 45 years was gone, and I had never thought I would miss it.

I told my friend, Karen Holmes about this and she used my words in this poem.

In Football Season, I Learn to Appreciate What I Have

Twenty-one geese just honked by, low to the gray lake.
My dogs normally ignore bird sounds, yet
rush to the window now, seem to believe
it’s their own species barking a foreign tongue.
As geese do, the honkers turn on a dime,
fly off the way they came.  I think of home,
the language of traffic, how I worry
whenever a siren screams on Peachtree,
say a quick prayer for the dying or injured flying
to Piedmont Hospital, and for the loved ones. My friend

Glenda, a widow for three years, says she misses
football sounds rolling through the house each weekend,
though she had fussed when her husband
wouldn’t turn it off.  Chris watches now.
I’m getting used to it again:  the crowd’s low thunder
under commentator prattle. Sometimes I watch a bit
or bring my laptop to the couch, look up
when the noise swells or Chris swears. Sometimes I get tired
of that TV rumbling most of Sunday after rumbling
most of Saturday, but I remember Glenda.  And I remember

my first husband’s snoring: I’d lie there telling myself
I’d miss it if he were gone, but sometimes I slept
in the other room. I remember Mother, who never spoke
of these things, hinting to me that she wished
she’d been more intimate with Father when she had the chance,
before the earthquake of his Parkinson’s. And farther back,
during my family’s three-week migration to Lake Huron,
I remember Mother mad at him for sticking to the radio’s static
as Ernie Harwell crackled the Detroit Tigers’ play-by-play,
my sisters and I picking at him to swim with us again,
carry us again on his shoulders across the blue deep
to that clear strip of aqua-- the sandbar--
where we’d splash, up to our knees in laughter.

                                ----- Karen Paul Holmes

Visit Karen's website and you can read or hear her read her poems online.

What would you miss in your life if it disappeared tomorrow?

Monday, September 14, 2020

A Story about Charlie, dear friend and a relative, who passed away today

A Wonderful Evening at the Emergency Room            

By Glenda Council Beall

             The evening began around 5:30 p.m. when I left my sister June’s bedside at the local hospital where she was recovering from a stroke and hip surgery. Her elderly husband, Charlie, had called and said he could not come up to see her. He had hurt his toe and it was bleeding. He managed to stop the bleeding the night before but the next morning it started again.

             “And something is sticking up on it. I can’t see what it is,” he said.

            I called the caregivers on his floor at the assisted living facility where he and my sister, June, had recently moved. Nobody on staff knew about Charlie’s toe. I asked Mildred, who answered the phone, to check on him. After a few more calls to the staff, I realized I needed to take Charlie to the Urgent Care Clinic. Mildred said the staff was not allowed to do anything medical for a patient, not even bandage his toe. She said she had offered to call an ambulance and have Charlie taken to the emergency room at the hospital. He refused.

            I’d have refused to go to the ER in an ambulance for a hurt toe. Charlie, however, had a problem I didn’t have. He takes Coumadin, an anticoagulant to keep his blood thinned. That’s the reason I told Mildred if she would get him ready, I’d come and take him to the Urgent Care clinic. I knew that if I called him, he would refuse to go. But if Mildred told him to get dressed because I was on my way, he would be ready.

            Charlie waited at the door, dressed with shoes on his feet. I assumed his toe was wrapped in gauze. We hoisted his walker into his car, and I maneuvered through Friday evening traffic hoping to get him to the clinic by five o’clock. Charlie knew the drill. He went to the window and pulled out his billfold. He had his Medicare card out when the receptionist appeared.

            I told her we needed someone to look at Charlie’s foot. “He’s on Coumadin, and he has injured his toe. We’re afraid of infection, and we want to make sure it stops bleeding.”

            You would have thought I had asked her to take off his leg. Her eyes widened. She said, “I don’t think we can do that here.”

            “Put your cards away, Charlie,” I said. They can’t help us.”

            By then she had hurried back to speak to a doctor and returned with her face frozen in an emphatic negative expression.

            “We can’t do anything for his foot. He needs to go to the hospital.”

            “You mean you can’t bandage a bleeding toe?” Incredulous, I stared at the woman.

            “What do you handle here?” Charlie asked.

            “Well, we can’t do everything. Just like -- if you had a heart attack, we would have to send you to the hospital.” She seemed to think that made perfect sense.

            Charlie looked up and stared at the woman. “If I had a heart attack, I wouldn’t come here in the first place,” he said. Charlie put his cards back into his billfold, grabbed his walker and followed me back to his Lexus.

            Although he didn’t want to go to the hospital ER, I didn’t give him any choice. I didn’t know how badly his toe had been injured, but he had told me it bled all over the carpet before he realized it. That, alone, was enough for me to take him to a doctor, even if the only one was at the Emergency Room at North Fulton Hospital in Roswell, Georgia.

            I let him off at the front entrance while I parked his car. When I entered the waiting room, the receptionist had met Mr. Charlie and given him papers to fill out. Although he had some difficulty getting up from the low seat he had chosen, I helped him and he made it to his walker. He led the way to sit down in a small room and give answers to another woman who entered his information in her computer. Then it was back to the waiting room again.

            I felt positive we would be out of there within the hour. I saw only two people ahead of Charlie and they didn’t look very sick. In about fifteen minutes, Charlie was called and put into room 9, the last one on the hall. He was told to lie on a pristine sheet-covered cot. He lay back on the thin pillow, his thick head of gray hair resting on his forearm, looking as uncomfortable as a beached whale.

    Charlie has developed a little potbelly in his later years. Carrying that paunch around has likely added to the reason for his recent back surgery, which led to his having to use a walker.

            A tall dark-skinned orderly settled Charlie in, making little jokes and giving him the TV controls. He didn’t know how long before we would see a doctor. Before he left, the orderly pulled off Charlie’s loafers. As the right one came off, something flew out and landed on the floor. The young man jumped back as if a cobra had risen from the shoe.

            “What was that?” he asked, coming over to peer at the blood covered object.

            “That’s his toenail,” I said, laughing.

            “Man, look at that thing.” He seemed quite impressed. “I guess I better keep it.”

            He found a four-by-four gauze pad and picked up the long toenail and stuck it into a plastic bottle.

            Charlie has small feet. His left foot was neat and clean. His right foot was bloody from his toes up to the middle of his foot. I couldn’t believe he had worn no sock over the injured toe with all the blood. I learned later that Charlie can’t reach down to put on socks because of his bad back. He wears loafers so he can just step into them and easily step out of them.

             A kind nurse came in and joked with Mr. Charlie. She made a face when she saw his bloody foot. Carefully, she wiped his toe and foot until she had cleaned away all the blood.

            “There now, that didn’t hurt, did it?

            Charlie smiled. “No. I have neuropathy and can't feel anything in my feet."

            “Shoot,” she said. “I wish I had known that. I was trying to be so careful not to hurt you.”

            Forty-five minutes passed and still no doctor. Charlie and I were discussing the terrible state of the world today when Gay and Stu, my sister and brother-in-law, arrived. They had just come from visiting the Critical Care Unit. 

            Charlie asked no questions about his wife who was two floors above us. Gay told him June was unable to speak very well, but she did eat and tried to smile. I imagine the thought of her unable to speak was too hard for him to think about and certainly too hard to talk about. The two of them adored each other.

            I told them about Charlie’s dilemma with his toenail. Charlie said he had signed up on a waiting list at the old folks home to get a pedicure, but the clerk had not put his name down, so it would be another two weeks before they would see him.

            “What takes blood out of a carpet,” Charlie asked.

            Stu quipped, “I think the carpet layers take it out when they put in a new one.”

            A discussion on spot remover ensued. Charlie concluded he would call Stanley Steamer.

I agreed that might be the next step.

            At this point, Stu spotted the long toenail in the plastic jar.

            “What is that thing,” he exclaimed. I passed around Charlie’s former toenail and we all began to ask questions.

            Why did the guy save the toenail? Did he think the doctor was going to glue it back on? “It’s not like it’s a finger or a part of a limb,” Stu said. “I’ve heard of saving a bullet that had been removed from someone’s head, but saving a bloody toe nail?”

            I asked Charlie if he wanted to keep it and show it to his buddies. He opened the bottle and examined the contents. Then he replaced the top with the utmost care and handed it back to me. I placed it on the tray beside his bed. After all, in this world of modern medicine, who knows what might be done with a broken big toe nail?

            As time passed and the wait grew longer and longer, I decided to go out and see if I could hurry them up.  It helped. A doctor came. He tucked some treated gauze into the nail bed and told Charlie to soak this out in three days. He also told Charlie to follow up with his doctor. An incompetent woman in a uniform came in and would have dismissed him then and there, but we suggested she wrap his toe. Even I could see that the gauze would not stay on until we got Charlie home.

            By that time it was 9:30 p.m. Four hours had passed. I was starving and I knew Charlie had not eaten all day. He could not wear his shoe home on his bandaged toe, so the nurse gave him a pair of red socks, the kind given to in-patients to wear at the hospital. He was happy with them, especially when the nurse put them on him. But he had no sooner got his hands on his walker and taken a few steps, than his sock on his injured foot came off. Gay replaced it and she and Stu escorted him outside while I hurried to the parking lot and brought his car around. They helped him into the front seat and shoved his walker into the back.

            We stopped for a bite to eat where Charlie, who insisted on buying me dinner, was overcharged on the bill. The waitress’s error made our simple meal cost $7,056.00. Charlie, still with humor, told the girl, “It was mighty good, but not that good.”

            Back in the car after straightening that out, we headed for the assisted living facility that Charlie called The Institution.  I knew he would get some laughs from his friends as he told the story of the expensive dinner we had at Martino’s Italian Restaurant. Warmed with good wine and lots of humor, we continued to chuckle over the bill.

            Charlie asked me, “Did you sign us out?”

            Since I’ve not had to sign out since I was a college freshman, the thought never crossed my mind. It has been hard for Charlie to accept the rule that he must sign in and out. He ignores it most of the time and slips out the back door where he keeps his car parked.

            I called the desk attendant and told him we were bringing Charlie to the back entrance. We wanted to be sure he was not locked out.

            I parked Charlie’s car in his favorite spot. Gay and Stu helped wrestle the walker out, and put that cantankerous sock back on his foot once again. Being the courtly gentleman that he is, and finding humor in the most unlikely situations, our octogenarian paused at the door, turned to me and said, “Thank you for a wonderful evening.”  

            It had been a wonderful evening in spite of the long wait at the Emergency Room. We said goodnight and closed the door behind Charlie with the conviction that he would take the elevator up to the second floor and get off right in front of his empty apartment.

            For several years he has been the caregiver. He is listed as an independent resident in this non-medical facility, where the regular staff is not allowed to bandage his toe or clean his wound. 

    Charlie could have benefited from the aide who normally assists his wife, but since his wife was not there, the aide would not be coming.  Tonight no one comes.  Eighty-eight-year old Charlie was on his own.      

 Published 2015 Anthology: It’s All Relative, Tales from the Tree, and Edited by Celia Miles

Charlie T. Council endured many losses of loved ones, but seemed to always have his sense of humor.

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Make Your Home Your Friend and Safe Place

Your home is intended to be your friend and safe place – comfortable and easy to be around, as well as a support to face the stress and tension beyond the front door. It is meant to be a personal, nourishing space where you can hear your inner voice; one that will inspire and cradle your heart’s hopes and dreams.

I often say your home is your soft place to land and strong place to launch. If it doesn’t feel like that, then it’s time to make a few changes.  Heidi Smith on Sixty and Me.   

After reading this article by Heidi Smith, I realized my home has become cluttered with things I love and don’t want to give away. I also realized that during this pandemic I have made my home work better for me. 

My dining room is now my office.  I moved my desk top computer and a printer into the dining room which is never used now since I don’t have company in my house except my sister. She and I make a space on the table to eat breakfast. Other times we eat on trays in front of the TV.

I had in my garage a small chest with two drawers. It is scuffed on the top, but my small printer sits on it and covers the scuffs. The drawers hold extra paper and printer ink. To the left of my computer is a collapsible ottoman with removal top. It is a great place to hide binders, folders and papers that I use most often.

Close by, in my kitchen, is my Alexa which I use every day. I can listen to Public Radio, listen to my favorite music, my favorite podcasts, get the local weather and listen to reminders I put in the night before. I avoid the TV news channels. I don’t want bad news pouring into my safe space, my home.

Those who have come to my writing studio the past ten years know that I have always maintained a fragrance free environment due to my chemical sensitivities. My studio and my home are my safe places to be where I will not get sick from personal body products that others use – perfume, cologne, lotions and hair spray. In my home only non-scented products are used for cleaning.

This weekend when I have free time, I will take down and put away some of the accessories in my house.  That will give me more empty space. I will not put away my family pictures. I enjoy seeing them all the time.

Lexie can be in both living room and my dining room office by sitting on the back of the sofa and on the back of a dining room chair. Isn't she a smart one?

With less home help now, I must make my entire house easier to clean, easier to maintain, and more comfortable for me. I live here and I need to be happy with every room. Comfort and calm is on the top of my list for living these days.

Readers, what about you? Is your home comfortable and calming? Does it make you feel good? Do you see things you can do that will make your life easier and happier?



Monday, September 7, 2020

Labor Day, COVID and photos of happier times

Today is Labor Day in these United States and many people are flooding the lakes, rivers and beaches to gather with friends and families.

With COVID-19 still thriving everywhere, I can't imagine going out where there are crowds of people, but some people are in denial about the danger of this virus. One man said to me recently while I waited, social distancing in line, " I'm so tired of all this. It makes me mad that Bill Gates made this virus and sold it to the Chinese." Where on earth did he get such a wild idea? I am sorry to say that many in my area seem to think the virus is not real, not dangerous to them and only affects old people. These people will not take any precautions to help stem the spread. So, I stay home hoping to avoid people like this man. Of course he was not wearing a mask. 

We have been fortunate that the death rate from this pandemic in our small county in North Carolina has been two so far. Both were older people like me. I'm sorry for their families. In other counties around us many more deaths and positive tests have been recorded. 

All summer I felt I had very little to look forward to as restaurants closed, we could not meet in person for our writing groups, and I was leery of even being with family. But I feel more positive now. Fall will be coming soon, I hope, although it is still quite warm here. I always feel better,, mentally and physically, when the weather is cooler. 

This morning I awoke earlier than usual and took my little dog, Lexie, for a walk. Because it was in the low seventies at that time, I enjoyed being outdoors. I saw more traffic than usual and know tourists from south of us are here this weekend because of the lake. I hope they did not bring the virus with them, but we are warned that this weekend could cause a surge in the coming weeks. 

In some parts of the country, autumn has already begun coloring the leaves. In Canada, fall is upon them. Oh, how I wish I could be in Nova Scotia at this time. I can almost feel the cool breezes and smell the ocean.  Isn't it great to have such an imagination? My memories are spurred by photos of places I have visited and enjoyed. Thanks to a husband who never went anywhere without his camera, I can revisit trips we made over the years. And thanks to Stu, my sister's husband, I still have photos taken when I travel with them.

 Nova Scotia

Near Estes Park, Colorado

In Front of Bell Museum - Nova Scotia

Coastline of  island of Oahu Hawaii

My favorite photo from vacation in Colorado - Barry Beall
 So many photos fill boxes and albums, but they are not on my computer at this time. 

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Do you listen to or read books by Dr. Brené Brown? Gratitude

I am a fan of Dr. Brené Brown who speaks on vulnerability and shame. She also talks about gratitude and other things that help us with life’s problems. The following is an excerpt from one of her pages and in her words.

"There is a great quote by a Jesuit priest that says, “It’s not joy that makes us grateful, it’s gratitude that makes us joyful.”  Practicing gratitude invites joy into our lives.
Practice is the part that really changed my life, that really changed my family and the way we live every day. When I say practice gratitude, don’t mean “the-attitude-of-gratitude” or feeling grateful, I mean practicing gratitude."
Dr. Brown goes on to say, "These folks shared in common a tangible gratitude practice. Some of them kept gratitude journals. Some of them did interesting things like at 1,2,3,4 or 12:34 every day they said something out loud that they were grateful for in their lives."
One of the things Brown's family does is say grace at dinner. And so now, after learning about practicing gratitude, after grace they go around and everyone says something that they are  thankful for.
"What’s interesting," Dr. Brown says, "is when we first started, I thought my children were going to say, Oh, mom, are you experimenting on us? There was a little bit of that. But after we had done this for a couple weeks, even on those crazy, busy nights, when we were trying to get to soccer, piano and homework, if Steve and I said a quick prayer and start eating, my kids were like, Woah…what are you grateful for?
….My son often says, I’m grateful for bugsI’m grateful for frogs. But sometimes he’ll say, I’m grateful that you picked me up early. Or I’m grateful that I finally understand adjectives.”
End of excerpt.

When a friend of Brené Brown’s daughter lost her mother, the daughter said, “I’m grateful that my parents and family are healthy.”  I am sure many young people feel that, but how often do they say it?

I love this idea of saying out loud what we are grateful for each day. I often think about gratitude when I awake each morning. Years ago I kept a gratitude journal and wrote down five things each day for which I was grateful, but I plan to say out loud what I am grateful for. 

While life is hard now, I know we will one day see a brighter light. I am grateful for all the people in my life now that make every day better. I am a person who needs to be useful, and I am finding new ways to do that even when I am at home and physically isolating myself from the rest of the world.

I am grateful that I rescued a puppy who turned around and rescued me.
My six pound rescued puppy, Lexie, is now twelve pounds and still leaps and jumps like a pup.

What are you most grateful for at this difficult time?

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Gardening above ground, bluebirds and poetry

My friend, Mary Mike, works in her yard all the time. She has the most energy of anyone her age that I know. I noticed recently that her bushes have become trees. Her trees have spread all over, and she has plans to take some of them down. I had two trees cut this spring. Both were dead. I didn't even realize it. I need others trimmed or cut down, but decided to wait until winter when the leaves are gone.

I once could see Lake Chatuge from my upper deck. Now trees have hidden my view. I am a tree lover. Cutting down a tree hurts me, makes me sad, but I am being smothered by these beautiful giants. 

My gardening is all done on my upper deck these days. This year I was late buying my favorite annuals, but I planted marigold seeds given to me last year and I planted Jalapeno pepper seeds.  I also planted a potato and the plant has done well.

First pepper on my plant. I chopped it and added it to spaghetti last night. 

                      Background is my drive down below and the woods to the east of my house. 

I tried to grow tomatoes on my deck, but I get very little sunshine and my brother, Rex, who was quite a gardener, said the shade was my problem. Lucky for me, the peppers don't seem to mind.

In the twenty-five years since we bought this house, the dogwood trees, the oaks and pines have grown so large around the property that I only get a small patch of midday sunshine. My Azaleas that were beautiful a few years ago are pitiful now. Only one plant blooms and seems to thrive. My Knock Out roses are not doing well although we have had lots of rain. 
My roses should look like this.
My yard is on a slope and I can't walk there safely now. Down in south Georgia, when I was younger, I grew the most beautiful Azaleas. I had a green thumb, but I seem to have lost it somewhere.

Behind Kodi are my Azaleas in my yard in south Georgia

I, like many others these days, have problems keeping my spirits up, staying positive. My little deck garden helps. I have hummingbird feeders there and I hang suet feeders near a window where I can watch the birds feed.

Eastern bluebirds 

I have a bluebird box in my yard, and in the spring, they usually produce two hatchings. My problem is that I have to ask someone to clean out the old nests or they won't lay eggs in the box. It is not easy to find someone when I need them.

This poem about bluebirds is by Mary Oliver, one of the most loved poets in recent years. 

I do not know what gorgeous thing
the bluebird keeps saying,
his voice easing out of his throat,
beak, body into the pink air
of early morning. I like it
whatever it is. Sometimes
it seems the only thing in the world
that is without dark thoughts.
Sometimes it seems the only thing
in the world that is without
questions that can't and probably
never will be answered, the
only thing that is entirely content
with the pink, then clear white 
morning and, gratefully, says so.
  --- Mary Oliver

Saturday, August 15, 2020

What do you know about your family history?

Family History

In 1998, I published a compilation of stories about my grandparents, and ten aunts and uncles on my father's side of the family. The project took me ten years to complete and could not have been done without the careful and painstaking penning of memories by my cousins, Monteen Council Hayman, Omie Gilreath Baker, Patricia Daharsh, Vivian Gant, Kathryn Council Buckingham and Mary, her daughter. My mother's memories shared with me over the years were vital to this book as were my father's stories of his youth.

Two of my Council cousins Monteen Council Hayman and Charlie Council

In this book, we tell the family history of Tom and Sallie Council who lived in Wakulla County, Florida and raised their kids on a farm. Life was hard, but like most of the people in that community, they enjoyed family gatherings and accepted the work that kept them housed and fed. They hunted deer and other wild animals for meat and grew vegetables in gardens. They were self-sufficient in the late 1800s and early 1900s. To buy other necessities Tom and his sons hauled farm goods to Tallahassee, Florida and sold them to merchants. The trip from the farm was usually an overnight venture by horse and wagon. 

Each of Tom's and Sallie's children have stories, but that of John Henry, the oldest boy, was short. He died when he was only fourteen years old. Still, he has his chapter, and we learn what kind of young man he was.

I wanted the book to include facts of birth, location and death, but also I wanted this book to be entertaining. For the basic facts, I included the genealogy of the family, the complete names, birth dates and place, marriages and divorces, and the children of each of my aunts and uncles. The genealogy was researched for proof, but the stories of the people come from memories and oral accounts passed down through generations.

No family is perfect, no person is perfect, and no life is perfect. Nine of the Council children grew up and married, moved away from home which had become Pelham, Georgia at the turn of the century. Tom Council died and left Sarah a widow with children at home. The older brother, Charlie, became a father figure for the younger siblings and helped his sisters and his younger brother, my father, Coy Lee Council during very hard times.

Both Charlie and his brother Horace took active parts in the first world war.

Family photographs were shared by my cousins and are included throughout the book. I treasure those images and often thumb through the book just to look at them.

I fell in love with this family of hard working, determined and persistent men and women who never gave up. They cared for their families and never stopped even when life knocked them to their knees. I saw what love can do when it seems there is no hope. The children of these ten brothers and sisters grew up with the same values of their parents and grandparents.  I am proud to be a descendant of Tom and Sallie Council, Coy and Lois Council and grateful I grew up with the love of family and appreciation for my ancestors.

The family history book, Profiles and Pedigrees; The Descendants of Thomas Charles Council (1858 - 1911) is a hard back book compiled by Glenda Council Beall in 1998, published by Genealogy Publishing Service, Franklin, NC.

The book can be purchased by contacting me, Glenda Beall, gcbmountaingirl@gmail.com. I am offering discounts. It regularly sells for $35.00 but at this time:  $20.00 plus shipping costs. 

Have you researched your family history or written about your grandparents and their struggles and successes? What do you actually know?

Sunday, August 2, 2020

Teaching and Writing Brings Joy to My Life

I have enjoyed teaching a memoir class for the Institute of Continuing Learning the last three weeks. As usual, my students seem to bond and enjoy each other. This class is taught on Zoom which has become the way I see most people in these strange and abnormal times.

Monday will be the last class in this course, and I hope my students have learned much and are motivated to continue writing. It is always a joy for me when my students tell me that the class was important to them in any way. You can see what some have said if you visit this page on this blog.

Some of the things we covered are the importance of using dialogue and how to best use dialogue. Dialogue is the part that readers never skip, so we want it to move the story forward, describe characters, and help the reader know the person speaking. My dear friend, Carol Crawford, editor, poet and writer, will teach a class on writing dialogue on Zoom in September. If you want to take that class you don't have to leave your own home. I will post more about it and how you can register in a later post.

I am always thrilled to see one of my students write and publish a book. 
Author Gene Vickers has a new novel, his second, titled Amen and Amen. It is set in north Georgia, and characters range from high school students to teachers, coaches, parents, business men and women from various economic levels. We have young lovers, Friday night football in the south, and a melding of cultures. The book started from a short story by the author, and someone suggested he turn that story into a novel. I want to do an interview with Gene when he and I both have time. His book is now available on Amazon.com. It is a good read, a book that offers hope and boosts your mood in a time when we all need some of that.

I hope my readers, my friends, will have a wonderful week ahead and find good in every day. No matter how dark things seem, there is always a silver lining if we look hard enough. 

Want a short history lesson? Click here to read what another student, a veteran, has to say about Korean Conflict. 

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Jane Fonda answers comments on her blog.

Jane Fonda is a favorite of mine and I follow her online. This post she writes about her daily life, not so different from that of most of us as we all try to cope with isolation, not seeing loved ones in person and trying to stay healthy. Click on the link below and see what she has to say.


Sunday, July 26, 2020

John Lewis was refused a library card when he was a child. So was a little white girl.

Today I found myself shedding tears, watching a horse drawn wagon carry the body of a special man, a leader who was willing to give his life for freedom for all in this country. A man who was spat on, beaten and threatened, never gave up.

 His story is touching and shows that determination and doing the right thing can raise a man, the son of a tenant farmer in Alabama, the deep south, to the halls where major decisions are made in the United States of America. I doubt that he ever thought he would reach such heights when he was a young man in his twenties, a follower of Martin Luther King, the pacifist black man who changed our country.

The story told about John Lewis that brings tears to my eyes is not the horrible beating he took on the bridge in Selma Alabama in 1965 when I was a young married woman. It is the story of him going to the library in Selma when he was a little boy and being refused because "the library is for white people only." This child had a hunger for learning, but he was poor and black, and was denied the only place where he thought he might find books so he could read and learn. 

I was a reader from the time I was small and loved to see the Book Mobile come to my house on the farm where I loaded my arms with books to last me until that book mobile came again. I wonder now, did that book mobile go to the homes of the black farmers whose farms were adjacent to our place?

John Lewis' story is a sad reminder of a little white girl who lived on the wrong side of the tracks in Pelham, GA. She, too, loved to read but the only books available to her were at school. In the summer she told her mother she would like to read. She was told to walk downtown a few blocks away and go to the library. 
The little girl, excited that she would be able to find a book to bring home, made her way down the road and across the dividing line of the Haves and Have Nots, the railroad tracks. She approached the large library doors, already feeling intimidated, and entered. Amazed to find so many books on all the tall walls, she didn't know what she should do, where she should go. Behind a large desk an older woman sat oblivious to the little girl who had just entered. 

"Can I get a book to take home to read?" The shy little girl asked the woman behind the desk. 
That little girl never forgot the look the woman gave her or the words she said. "No. There are no books for you here."

The little girl turned and walked through the big doors. Tears ran down her cheeks as she made her way back across the tracks. 

Eventually the little girl and her family moved to another town and another school. The little girl excelled in school, was a favorite of one of her teachers, and was given a college scholarship. She always loved books, fine literature, best sellers, and even in her last days she found reading a great comfort.

Today, one of her great nephews is head of the libraries in the region of Pelham, GA. I would like to tell him this story and ask what librarians today would say or do if that little girl came there. I hope they would help her.

Visit this site today to read more about John Lewis and my brother-in-law, Stu Moring.

Friday, July 24, 2020

Staying home is not all that bad for me.

One would think my weekend alone, seeing no one and going nowhere would be boring. But I am very busy doing things I enjoy.

I will attend the Georgia Poetry Society meeting online tomorrow. I will see friends and other poets  I haven't seen in a long time. It starts at 10 AM, and I am often just getting up at that time, but I will be sure to be there.

In the afternoon, I will do a telephone interview with a graduate student, working on a thesis, who has some questions for me. This young woman is related to my old friend, Darnell Arnault, who recommended she contact me. I am usually doing the interviews, but this time I will be the interviewee.

I will work on my lesson for Monday's writing class sponsored by the Institute of Continuing Learning at Young Harris college. I am teaching a memoir class on Zoom, and we are all having a great time. I can see myself holding more classes online in the coming months. If you are interested in taking a class, no matter where you live, contact me. See contact info on side bar.

I will be hosting Writers' Night Out in August with our special guest, Carol Crawford, so I will also be busy sending out invitations for that evening and taking names for our Open Mic that night.
Although technology seems to be changing rapidly, I am keeping up somewhat with learning new methods to teach.
Carol Crawford, writer, teacher and editor
I have signed up for a Tech Class online and hope to learn more about all this new and rapidly moving business. I am so, so happy that some of our older folks are teaching people like me online. I love to learn and this is a great opportunity. I am taking advantage of this hateful virus to improve myself, to learn new things, and meet new people.

I hope you are finding staying home can be a good thing. I miss some things, but am trying to find new and better ways to enjoy life. Stay safe, my friends, and make each day a good one.