Thursday, August 9, 2018

A Child's Escape to the Barn

My readers, my friends, know that I grew up on a farm in southwest Georgia. I loved the barn on the farm. As you can tell in this poem, I found lots to be interested in. The smells, the light and darkness, the animals and just the atmosphere was comforting.

A Child’s Escape to the Barn
By Glenda Council Beall

I enter the barn through the corn crib.
Flour dusts the floor around the hand mill.
Gray mice feed on cracked kernels;
either very brave or too greedy

to notice my intrusion.
The fragrance of cottonseed meal,
heady in my nostrils, tempts me
to see if it really tastes like toasted nuts.

Light shoots into darkness through narrow
crevices between wide rough boards.
Rays seek out the spiders' lacy traps
lining corners, the angle made by roof and wall.

Chickens, fat and full, sit placid,
in straw-filled boxes hung high above
the ground, protected from predators
except one that coils, swallows their eggs.

Musty smells arise from the lot
where hard-worked mules munch on grain
in troughs held fast to cured pine walls
by hammered twenty-penny nails.

I climb the ladder to the loft.
Wide eyes of feral kittens peep
from behind bales of hay. They skitter
away, tails aloft, straight as flag poles.

Tiny English sparrows twitter and flit.
Some nest on rafters under the eaves. 
I’m a natural born citizen of this place
but they have made a home here.

Without warning a summer shower pounds
the tin roof, runs off and wets the black mix
of dung and dirt, serves me up an odor rich
with life. I'm overcome with contentment.

This poem and others similar to it will be included in the book, Paws, Claws, Hooves, Feathers and Fins, by Estelle Darrow Rice and Glenda Council Beall. Use the contact box at the top of the Sidebar to order the book at the discount price of $14.00 plus $3.00 S&H
This lovely creature has a story in the book.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Charlayne Hunter-Gault and UGA history

Today I watched Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates on Public TV and Charlayne Hunter- Gault was one of the guests. As she traced her family history back to slavery time and beyond, I remembered when I was a junior at the University of Georgia and my sister was a freshman. Charlayne entered that year and she was the first black woman admitted to the college.She and a young man who had attended her high school in Atlanta, Hamilton Holmes, wanted to go to the best school for journalism so they applied to the University of Georgia. They were turned down. Still they would not give up. When they were backed by civil rights organizations they had clout behind them. A judge ruled that they were qualified and had the right to attend this school.

Looking at her tonight on this show and thinking about taunts, the horrible words said to her and all she endured to break the racial barriers of discrimination back in the sixties, I am glad I experienced the turmoil, was there to see first hand how people reacted.

The first night she stayed on campus, people from the town of Athens and elsewhere came and rioted around the freshman dorm where my sister also lived. I was so scared for all the girls in that dorm. I don't think Charlayne was still there as the windows were pelted with rocks and bottles. I imagine she had been whisked away and taken back to her home in Atlanta. What an ugly part of history that was!

"Hunter and Holmes arrived on the UGA campus on January 9, 1961, to register for classes. The new students were met with taunts and racial epithets. Two days later, after a basketball game, a crowd gathered outside Hunter's dormitory, smashing windows with bottles and bricks. The mob was finally dispersed by Athens police armed with tear gas. That night the Georgia State Patrol escorted the students back to their homes in Atlanta, and the University of Georgia suspended both Hunter and Holmes, supposedly for their own safety.
Hunter and Holmes at UGA
Days later, after a new court order was issued, the students returned to campus and resumed their classes. As the writer Calvin Trillin noted in his account of their experience, Hunter "attracted much more attention than Hamilton," who lived off campus and went home on weekends. Hunter was sometimes met with animosity from students who jeered at her while she crossed campus, but she formed several friendships, including one with Walter Stovall, a fellow journalism student. They married in 1961, had a daughter, and divorced a few years later."

I have a good friend who knew Walter Stovall and his family. She told me that his family disowned him when he married Charlayne Hunter. He was from a small town in South Georgia, like me, and his family must have been shocked and dismayed that he married a black girl. If they had not disowned him, they would have been ostracized by the community or maybe worse. Racism was huge in the area back then, and I am sorry to say, it still raises its ugly head today. My sister and I heard from the narrow minded people in our town simply because of an innocent comment made by my sister to a newspaper man who twisted her words when he printed what she said in answer to his question about Hunter going to school there.

I was young and never thought about what the future held for this brave young pioneer of the civil rights movement, but Charlayne was intelligent and proved herself even in high school. She evidently knew what she wanted for her career and went after it. I am happy that she has been successful as a journalist in this country and abroad. It was wrong to try to bar her from an education at the university. I think most people in the south realize that today. 

In spite of her difficulties at UGA, in 1988, she was the first black person to give a commencement address at the school.

You can read more about Charlayne Hunter-Gault and her accomplishments in life here. 

Other similar topics: The Movie 42, I Finally Saw It

Saturday, July 28, 2018

This country idolizes youth and demeans the "old people" with jokes and insults, but this post by Bernard Otis shows what the older generation brings that younger people should learn. The civility, good manners, kindness, patriotism and many other things we were taught when we were growing up seems to be missing with some of our youth. He also mentions the value of having grandparents living near and how he enjoyed his grandmother living with him and his parents.    

I teach senior adults to write about their lives. In a world where families are scattered here and yonder, grandparents are aware their grand-kids might never know about the old days when kids could play and run free. I think telling their life stories on paper validates the men and women who hope their stories will matter to future generations of their families.

I believe those children who have no interest in the lives of their grandparents today will, someday, be happy to have those memories written for them to read.

I have no children to whom I can pass on my stories, but I write about all of my family. I hope my nieces and nephews will enjoy reading about their ancestors.

Council and Robison families with lots of my nieces and nephews

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Civility – are we losing it in our country?

If we go by what we see on television and on social media, most people in the United States have become downright nasty in their speech and behavior to others.

I seldom, if ever, encounter rude people in my everyday life. In fact, I am the recipient of acts of kindness and civility everywhere I go. Just this week at the grocery story, a man, who was checking out ahead of me, turned and unloaded my cart for me. We struck up a conversation, and I found he was a native of my county, born and raised here in Clay County, NC. I had been told when I moved here over twenty years ago that the natives did not like outsiders and did not welcome us warmly. I found that not to be true for Barry and me.

My friends and I talk about the random acts of kindness we receive from strangers. Michelle said two women at Home Depot, not part of their staff, helped her load stone pavers into her car trunk. They were walking by and saw her tackling the chore all alone and jumped right in to help. At first I thought this is because we live in a small town and those who live here are less afraid to get involved. But my sister, who lives in Atlanta, had two meals in restaurants paid for by strangers. Another friend said she drove through a fast food restaurant and found that her bill had been paid by someone in the car ahead of her.

Another incident recently at a local restaurant was an example of people caring about others and showing it. I came in alone to a small restaurant in our town about 7:00 PM. I waited for the waitress and when she did not appear, I began looking around to see if I could find anyone to take my order. Three men who wore shirts labeled with the name of a landscaping company sat in a nearby booth. One of them noticed I was waiting for help.

“Can we help you?” he asked.

“I was looking for the waitress so I can order,” I said.

“She just walked out a few minutes ago. She quit.”

“Oh. How do I get service?” I asked.

He stood up and came over to me. “What can I get you? We’re trying to help and can get you something to drink.”

Eventually the owner came out of the kitchen and took my order. But to my surprise, several people who had been eating, got up and cleaned tables, their own and others. No one made a big deal of it. They just did it. The owner accepted the help with no great fanfare.

These kinds of things are proof to me that we are not the angry, mean, foul-mouthed population we see on television and on Facebook and Twitter.

I don’t know what is happening, but I think that because of the mean spirited rhetoric we hear on TV and the ugly name calling by our current president, most of us who were brought up to be civil and to be polite to others feel that the only way we can show we don’t fit into the mold of incivility is to show kindness to others.

I am leery though of what our future holds. I hear younger people speak about how mean people are. I see that “me, me, me” attitude in some. Many are caught up in their issues and never think about what is difficult for others--relatives, neighbors and friends. I have been fortunate to have dear neighbors who helped me so often, especially after Barry died. I don’t have some of those neighbors now and others who were there for me have their own health problems.

I hear adult children complain about older parents. They never stop to think what those elders face each day just trying to do the things that were once simple and easy.

A smile can bring out the best in those we meet.
My mother,
 Lois Robison Council
My mother was a perfect example of how to treat others. No matter what position a person held, my mother smiled and spoke nicely. Because of her attitude, service people went out of their way to help her. I find that works no matter where you are or what you need. A friendly smile and caring words always go further than giving orders.

I read this week about a man who, before hiring an employee, took him out to eat and watched how he behaved with the waiter or waitress. I think that is an excellent idea. I had a friend who talked to waitresses like they were robots with no feelings. She never looked at them, made eye contact with them or smiled at them. She gave her order in a commanding voice and complained if things were not to her liking in the same demanding way.

I hope the people of this country never lose the sense of civility. I hope the anger that has become so prevalent in our country will dissipate, and Americans will show love and caring for their fellowman. We have that in us, and it makes us feel good when we share it. Instead of screaming at people to go back to where they came from, what if we said, "Welcome to the United States."

Wouldn’t it be great if everyone said thank you, please and I’m sorry when it was appropriate? Do you thank people who hold open a door for you? Do you say thank you to the bag boy or girl at the grocery store? What about the voice that takes your order at McDonald’s? All day long they help people, but how many stop to thank them? Let’s try to see how many times we can find an opportunity to say thank you in a meaningful way this week. See how many random acts of kindness we can show toward others. 

Friday, July 20, 2018

Nancy Posey's blog for readers

On my sidebar, I have a list of blogs I visit. One of them is this one:

Anyone who is interested in reading books will find this blogger writes the best reviews of what she is reading.
Nancy Posey is a reader, writer and teacher. She wears all three hats as she writes about the books she reads.

I often share her blog posts with friends who are avid readers. Although I don't read as many novels as I once did, I put many of Nancy's suggested books on my TBR list. 
Today I am putting this book, Love and Ruin, Another Mrs. Hemingway, on the list. I hope I can find it on Audible. Most of the time, now, I listen to books instead of reading them.
What about you? Do you listen to books or still prefer to read the words?

Sunday, July 8, 2018


A visit with my sister, Gay, is the best tonic for what ails me. She has been with me this weekend and we had such a good time. 

We watched some interesting videos on You Tube about a product that she is using for her little dog, Sunny, who has been sick and limping badly this past week. We found videos on a product, protandim, which she has been giving Sunny on the advice of a lady who rescues and heals dogs and cats. Sunny was allergic to the medicine given by the veterinarian. 

I was glad to hear that when Gay arrived home, Sunny was walking better and happy to see her mama. If this product, which is said to erase the free radicals from our cells, reduce pain and inflammation, works to heal little Sunny, you can bet I am going to try it, too. 

Gay and I come from a large family that sat around our big dining room table to discuss all the important issues that needed attention. We also sat around that table just to talk to each other after a meal, sometimes for hours. 

At one time the family business was discussed and plans were made around that table. C.L. Council and Sons met there, not at an office. 

This weekend, Gay and I spent time sitting around tables - at dinner on Friday night with a friend, lunch on Saturday at a restaurant, breakfast today. But we often sit around my dining room table just to catch up with each other. We both decided that the best talking is done while at a table.

My writing studio is called Writers Circle around the Table because the best connections come from sitting around a table. My students and I sit together at the table where we share our stories and help each other with writing them.

What do you think about sitting around a table? Does it help with conversation? 

Monday, July 2, 2018

A tale From Long Ago and Dangers of Today

After a quiet day at home catching up on some work, I had a phone call from my older brother, Max. We talked for two hours. We laughed and reminisced about our childhood, family members and as usual, I heard another new story I had not heard before.

Max is ten years older than I, so he can remember and tell me things I was too young to have known or things that happened before I was born.

Tonight he told me about the time our oldest brother, Ray, was left behind after attending an event with his FFA class. Ray had gone to school that day and, with others, was taken to the agricultural event, a Fat Cattle Show, at Cudahy Packing Company.

When the meeting ended, the teacher went home. Those boys who had no one to come and pick them up had no way to get home. My parents lived on a farm many miles from the packing plant.  The other two boys also lived long distances away.

When the school bus came by that afternoon and Ray did not get off, Mother was alarmed. Our family did not have a telephone, and Daddy had driven the truck to work at the mill.

I can imagine how worried my mother was when her son did not come home. Where could he be? What was he doing? Where would he sleep on this cold winter night? She was stranded with no way to contact the school or anyone who might know where her son was or why he did not come home.

The next afternoon Ray arrived on the bus with his brothers. He told his family that he had spent the night inside the packing house in a warm office. After all the employees left and locked up the building, one of the other boys managed to pick the lock on the outside door. The three forgotten boys went in and found an office door open. The place was warm, and they settled down and slept there all night. Before the workers appeared the next day, the three boys left and walked back to the high school. No one knew they had camped out in the office.

I am sure my mother was overcome with relief. I can imagine her hugging Ray and him pushing her away as he was not one for affection.

What if? That is the jumping off place for fiction writers. What if starts the wheels in our creative minds working. What if that had happened today?

Mother would have been on the phone the minute her son did not get off that bus. She would be calling the high school and then the police, wouldn't she? There would be hell to pay, and the teacher would be fired. That teacher might even be sued along with the school. The TV news would have it on the six o'clock broadcast. Not my mother, but some mothers, in fact most of today's mothers, would be screaming and demanding blood.

Looking back on that experience, I realize that my parents had complete trust in Ray, at only fifteen, to handle a situation on his own. He was always far more mature than the other brothers, and they looked up to him all of his life. How Mother handled his missing all night and the next day, I can't imagine. I am sure she did not sleep. She adored her first born son. I think she was comforted   knowing he was level-headed and would not do anything that put him in harm's way.

Times were different then, early 1940s, and in our small town in rural Georgia, crime was not an everyday occurrence. But it makes me think about poor people of today who don't have the luxury of cell phones for themselves and their children. Do they have things happen with their children that leave them afraid and wondering where their boys are sleeping -- in jail or in an alley knocked unconscious? Our world today is a far different place and far more dangerous.

My heart goes out to mothers of boys who live in cities where gangs prey on young kids. In countries where criminals recruit young men into their organizations by threatening their families, no wonder those mothers will travel for months to find a safe place to live. Even chain link fences around them bring relief for those mothers. At least inside those fences their children are safer than they were back home. They have food and water. I can't imagine fear of such danger that even the most menial aid is life-saving.

But I can imagine the worry and stress of a mother having her children taken away to some place she can't go and where she doesn't know if she will ever see them again. That is heart breaking.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Joy Griffin Dent, aka, Darcy Flynn, gives us the scoop on writing romance novels

Joy Griffin Dent, Tennessee author, writes as Darcy Flynn

I wanted the scoop on writing romance novels, so I turned to Joy Griffin Dent, aka, Darcy Flynn, for her experiences in this field. She is a delightful, friendly person with many talents.

GCB: Joy, your books are known for clean language, non-erotic writing but great stories with feisty heroines. How did you decide to write this kind of novel?
Joy: I grew up reading the sweet novels and watching wholesome films and T.V. It’s basically what’s in my heart to write, plus I’m hoping to have granddaughters someday. I want them to be able to read my stories.

GCB: Your books always include a handsome hero who is shown on the cover.  How do you create the men in your books? Are they based on real people?
Joy: My heroes aren’t based on real people, but on qualities I admire in a man. I want my hero to be heroic, to be devoted to the heroine, even if she believes he isn’t at some part in the story. My books lean toward romantic comedies, so there are lots of twists and turns, and mistaken identities.

GCB: You choose the photos for your covers. Tell us about that process? 
Joy: I basically scour stock photo sites online. Since I have a picture in my mind of how my hero and heroine look, I can fine tune the search, which saves tons of time. But sometimes it’s not that easy and I search for hours, or as they say, until your eyes bleed! I have an amazing cover artist who can help with the selection if I run into trouble.
GCB: Your most recent book, Eagle Eye, would make a great Hallmark movie. Have you ever submitted one of your books to Hallmark?


Joy: Yes, I have; two as a matter of fact. Hopefully, between that and my son’s connection, I’ll have some success! My son is a director in the film industry in Los Angeles and he has given my novels to an actor friend of his who has taken them to his producer at the Hallmark Channel. Keeping my fingers crossed!

GCB: You live in Franklin, near Nashville, TN. You have been a leader of Romance Writers of America in Nashville. Will you tell us about that?

Joy: Yes, our group is a chapter of RWA and is called, Music City Romance Writers. I was the VP of Programming for two years and had charge of our fall all-day-event for three. The VP of Programming stretched me as a leader. As a right-brain dominant person, I had to be super organized. Dealing with the pressure of finding a speaker for each of our monthly meetings and to have a backup in case someone didn’t show was totally out of my comfort zone.
GCB: How does this organization help writers?

Joy: Aside, from the excellent monthly speakers, we are an amazing support group. Whether we are struggling with plot development or celebrating a contest win, we’re there for each other.
GCB: Have you always been a writer? 

Joy: During my teen years, I mainly wrote songs and poems, but somewhere in my late twenties, I tried writing a story. I sent it to Silhouette Publishing (no longer in business) and even though they rejected it, the editor gave me some great advice and encouraged me to keep writing. In my thirties, I wrote a few small things for Christian Parenting Magazine and was a contributor for Thomas Nelson’s, The Woman’s Study Bible. My contribution was both the art and text for all of the Plants of the Bible charts.
GCB: How long did it take to publish your first book?  Did you have rejections of earlier manuscripts? If so, what kept you writing?

Joy: Oh, so many rejections! LOL. As an author, I view rejections as a badge of honor. I was one of the lucky ones, though, when it came to my first manuscript. After about nine rejections I finally had interest from Harlequin, and two New York small houses.  Soul Mate Publishing offered me a contract for my first book! What keeps me writing is the joy of it. I love to create fun, lighthearted stories that entertain. If I can help someone to forget their troubles for two or three hours, then I’m happy.

GCB: Tell us about your research. We hear that we should write about what we know. Do you travel to do research for setting, subject, or plot?
Joy: Most of the time, I use Google. The Internet is an amazing tool for writers. But, when appropriate, I love to speak to people who know their subject. I’ve been fortunate to have   traveled to many diverse places in this country and the world. I use my memory for much of what I write. The book I’m working on now takes place on a cargo ship. I’ve never been on a cargo ship in my life, but I love the sea and all things nautical. For this book, I did make a trip to Mobile, Alabama to Gulf Quest Museum. I got hands on experience as to what it’s like to be onboard a cargo ship, how to leave port, and how to dock the ship. I spent time with a sea captain and heard his stories and accounts of life onboard ship. It was a wonderful research trip for me.

GCB: Let’s talk about marketing. Do you have guidance from a publishing company for your marketing? What have you found to be the best method of marketing your books?
Joy: Marketing is tough and time consuming. Most authors, including me, would rather write. That said, I get a monthly e-mail from Soul Mate Publishing with marketing advice suggestions. That’s about it. I usually stick to two social media outlets and try to do them consistently. Online presence is the key to staying in front of readers. I find most of my readers are on Facebook, so I tend to post there the most. When I have news, I also send out a newsletter. I’ve recently created two ad campaigns on Amazon. But it’s too early to tell how they’re doing.

GCB: You are a native of New Orleans where you were a beauty queen.  Tell us about that
Joy: I started my modeling career in New Orleans and continued it as I moved from city to town with my husband. When I lived in Nashville I entered the Mrs. Tennessee Pageant and went on to the top ten in the Mrs. America Pageant. My modeling career lasted for about eighteen years until I had my son.

GCB: You are also an accomplished musician.
Joy: I’ve always loved music. In college at the University of New Orleans, I majored in music and minored in theatre. Out of all the things I love, I can’t imagine living life without music. I’ve written songs and performed.  I’ve orchestrated classic piano pieces. There were many years when I was in two choirs at one time. I also served as the children’s choir director at one of my churches.

Today I use music as inspiration for the scenes I’m working on. Whenever I get stuck, I put in my ear buds and take a walk to my barn and listen. By the time I get back to my laptop, I’ve usually solved the problem and worked out the scene. Music has always conjured up scenes in my head. When I was growing up, I thought this meant I’d be an actress. I guess I am in a way, it’s just all acted out in my head.

GCB: Many writers say they can’t find time to write. You have a grown son, but when he was younger, how did you schedule your writing time?
Joy: My son also has the creative gene. I was fortunate in that he loved to build Legos, while he listened to books on tape. That’s when I could sit quietly and write.

GCB: You live on a farm where you raise Millie Fleur chickens. Do your personal interests ever become part of a book? Would your heroine live on a farm and raise a rare breed of chicken?
Joy: Yes, especially in my first few books. My personal interests filled my stories. And you bet I’d have a heroine who lives on a farm and who would raise a rare breed chicken. As a matter of fact, after I spend the next six months on a cargo ship, I’m probably going to be ready for farm life again!

GCB: Your handsome son lives in Los Angeles, CA. I’ve seen pictures of you with him and some famous Hollywood people. Tell us about that.

Joy: Aww, thanks. He is handsome! My favorite experience is when my son took us to a July 4th party in Malibu on the beach. Orlando Bloom was a guest. I met him, and when I told him he served as inspiration for many of my heroes and that his picture was all over my inspiration board, he threw his arms around me and said, “How about I take a photo of both of us for your board?” Then he took my phone from my hand and snapped two selfies. He was barefoot and wearing his bathing suit and t-shirt at the time.

GCB: You have begun a series called Like No Other. The first in that series is Hawkes Next. The second book is Eagle Eye, Like No Other, book two. How did you come up with that title and how many books do you plan for this series?
Joy: Earlier you mentioned about writing what you know. As a former professional model and pageant winner, I know about the world of beauty and fashion. My heroine in Hawke’s Nest started an organization which helps teenage girls develop good self-image, health and beauty. It focuses on the fact there is no one else like them, so the organization is called Like No Other. For the series, I’m planning on three books for sure and possibly a fourth.

GCB: What is the secret to writing a series?
Joy: There are different types of series. My Like No Other series is based on an organization and not on a single character. This type of series is much easier to write. In a series based on a single character or group of characters, each book has to not only stand alone, but at the same time sustain plot and character development over a longer arc. Think, Harry Potter.

GCB: What character in Eagle Eye might we expect to find in the next book of the series?
Joy: The third book is entitled, Knight Owl. This will be Ethan Knight and Amanda Marsh’s story. They were supposed to be the second book, but my muse said otherwise!
GCB: Please tell us something about yourself that the general public doesn’t know, and feel free to include anything you want my readers to know.

Joy: Well, I touched on it earlier, but to expand a bit… In the early seventies, I wrote Christian songs, both the music and lyrics on my guitar. During the Jesus movement, I traveled one summer with a youth evangelist singing my songs before he preached his message. It was an amazing time in my life and one I will always cherish.

My thanks to Joy Griffin Dent, aka, Darcy Flynn for taking time to answer my questions. Find her books on or ask for them at your Independent bookstore.

Follow Joy on Facebook.

If you have read books by Darcy Flynn, tell us what you think in the comments section or by email.
Other interviews you might enjoy:
Interview with popular Appalachian writer and blogger, Tipper Pressley




Wednesday, June 20, 2018

There is a difference in growing older and growing older with limitations.

Just when I feel I have come to terms with ageing, it hits me in the face like a cold wet towel. I picture myself growing old but independent, driving where I want to go, spending time doing things I enjoy like writing and teaching. I see myself becoming my aunts who lived to be in their late 90s, but took care of themselves for the most part.

Having this pain that inhibits my walking has made me see things differently. I find it too difficult to stand in my kitchen and cook or clean up when I am done. I didn't expect to have this experience.

Being immobilized is more difficult than I thought it would be. I find myself mulling over whether it is necessary to go downstairs or if I can wait and make one trip serve all my purposes. When I take pain medicines, I become sleepy, and can't think straight. I certainly can't create anything new.

My older sister became disabled in her later years. She had to have help to stand, to go to the bathroom and needed help getting ready for bed and into bed each evening. I understand now how much she must have hated needing someone to push her in a wheelchair or having to ask someone to bring her a glass of water. I admire her more than ever because she never complained. She spoke as if she had hope that she would walk one day. Tears fill my eyes now as I think of her optimism. I think it wasn't until she fell and broke her hip that she realized she was not going to get well.

She was fortunate to have a husband who adored her. He waited on her and never seemed to resent it at all. Perhaps that would make it bearable, having that someone who would do anything for you. Her daughters and my sister, Gay, were also available most of the time to care for her and just to be with her.

I understand her saying to me that she was ready to go. She never said she wanted to die, but felt It was time she should pass on. She was more concerned about the ones she was leaving behind.  At 87, she felt she had lived a long life and the future was not going to get better and she did not want to linger in a nursing home. I understand now.

If I become dependent on others to take care of me all the time, I would not want to continue with life. Quality of life is more important than quantity, I believe. That is why I strongly believe in having the choice of when I want to die, to have my opinion respected if or when I have no more quality left in my future years.

From my library of books, I pulled out one that I have had a long time. When I am an Old Woman, I Shall Wear Purple, edited by Sandra Haldeman Martz, published by Paper Mache Press in 1981. My friend, Janice Townley Moore's poem, "I know the Mirrors" is in the book. Here is a small piece of the poem.

I know the mirrors that are friends,
the ones in semi-darkness that hide
the hard crease of jowl,
or the ones with the correct distance
to fade the barbed wire fence
above the lips....

The title of the book comes from this poem:
Jenny Joseph

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn't go, and doesn't suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we've no money for butter.
But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.

The book is described as "a valuable anthology. It paints a rich picture of women as they age."
And "It is a touching tender collection of writings about being old and loving the old."

The late Bettie Sellers,  Poet Laureate of Georgia and professor at Young Harris College has a poem included: "A Letter From Elvira." This is a humorous poem.

You might think the book is all poetry, but it is not. The prose pieces are just as meaningful and interesting. I think I will go upstairs now and read some of them tonight.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Father's Day Memories - mine and Maria's

Today is Father's Day My father has been gone since 1987. He is buried in the Council Family Cemetery on the farm he bought in 1942.
I don't need a special day to remember him. I think of him almost every single day. I suppose I am still trying to understand our relationship, or lack there of, when I was growing up.

I do know that he was a decent, hardworking man who felt his purpose in life was to care for his family. I did not understand him, although I have spent a lifetime trying to, and I don't think he understood me when I lived in the same house with him. However, as we both grew older, the chasm between us seemed to shrink a little.

I subscribe to Maria Shriver's Sunday Papers. Today she writes about her father and what he taught her.

She has many good memories of her father and some great advice for fathers of today. I wish all men who are fathers to little girls, would read her words.

Girls need these things from their fathers:
love, approval and encouragement.

I am saddened when some men criticize their daughters and granddaughters and never say a positive word about them. It seems the girls never can live up to what these men think they should. In past generations having a boy called for celebration, while having a daughter was a disappointment. My father, like his father, had hoped for his first born to be a boy.

My sister, the first born to Coy and Lois Council felt that disappointment from our father all of her life. Later, after my parents had died, I found a letter from my father to my mother saying, "Tell that little girl she has a long legged daddy down in Florida who wants to see her." Although I showed that to my sister, she still felt his disappointment because she had heard him tell others.
Coy Lee Council as a young man

My grandfather, Tom Council,(1858-1911), held a chivaree when his first son was born. He ran around the house celebrating by beating on pots and pans and making a terrible racket just as some folks did after a wedding. Sadly, that baby boy died the next day. I never heard of Tom holding a celebration for the birth of any of his five girls.

With so many children growing up today without a father in the home or even in their lives, I am convinced that is the reason young men and girls develop low self esteem and turn to the wrong people often to lead them. A bad father may be worse than no father at all, and I know some who say they wanted their father to leave the house. A bad father can teach wrong values to his children, if he cheats on his wife and doesn't hold women in high esteem. It would be hard for a son to love a man and not follow in his footsteps.

I want to mention a man who is one of the best fathers I know. He is the husband of my niece, Lee, and father to Will, a fine young man who was brought up with a solid foundation of faith and love. Hat's off to Dave Bruggeman, a hard working, intelligent man who puts his family first.

Happy Father's Day to all the men who have children in their lives.

 Be the man your dog thinks you are.😃
😃 And your children will love you!

Friday, June 15, 2018

Living Life on My Terms

I am a fan of Maria Shriver, daughter of Eunice Kennedy Shriver. Eunice founded the Special Olympics and was a phenomenal woman as was most of the family of Rose and Joseph Kennedy. I, like many, thought that anyone who grew up as a Kennedy has it made and their life is like Utopia. But that family has suffered so many tragedies some say they are jinxed.

My life was always dictated by others, it seems, until I was middle aged. My authoritarian father and opinionated four brothers left little wiggle room for my own thoughts and ideas to be heard. My older sister learned early that she had to leave home to be her own person. So did my youngest sister.

Both of them lived in various locations and had adventures I only dreamed of. Gay moved to California and worked with Western Airlines. She traveled to any place Western flew. She often went alone and met interesting people. She wrote letters to me about her trips.

June, the oldest, met an Air Force Lieutenant and eventually left for California where they married.
She had a successful career herself, and helped her husband further his education at Emory University after his stint in the military. I enjoyed visiting them in places near enough I could drive or close enough they could take Gay and me home with them.
Meanwhile, I went to college, earned my BS in Education and came back home to teach. I hated being at the mercy of administrative men who had no idea what I needed in my classroom to help children who came to my fourth grade classroom  not knowing how to read.

I married a great guy who eventually went to work with my brothers. A huge mistake for me because I became caught in the middle between him and family when things went wrong. To make matters worse, we lived on the same farm where I grew up, where my parents and brothers called all the shots.

So how does this relate to Maria Shriver? Through following this extraordinary woman who has taken center stage in her own life, I see much of myself.

She was the only girl in a family of five. The boys were given opportunities she was not. She felt she never had a voice. (So much like me)  She lived a life trying to be the person her mother and father wanted her to be - a good daughter, a good wife, a good mother. When she tells of the rules she had to live by in her strict Catholic family, my heart goes out to her. She watched her mother develop the Special Olympics which debuted the same time that her brother, Robert Kennedy was assassinated and buried. Maria talks about this on a podcast that I have listened to more than once.

Who would think that a rich person who had all kinds of opportunities would grow up thinking she didn't matter, her opinions didn't matter. Now, as an older woman having endured the public humiliation of her husband's affair and divorce, she is writing books, holding meetings with people all over this country, important people who want to talk to her. 

She posts on Facebook and has a Sunday post that I subscribe to and read every week. She has created a powerful organization for Alzheimer's cure and is an advocate for that and many things.
She says we should never think our thoughts, our voices are not important. I agree.

When I moved away from home in my fifties, I found that my voice does matter. I found that the ideas and values I always had were appreciated. Although I had been a great worker in organizations I supported, I had no confidence that I could be a leader, a person who was sought out for my opinions or respected as a person of influence.

I urge my readers to follow and read the books and posts by Maria Shriver. She has overcome her lack of confidence in herself, her embarrassment by a failed marriage that she did not see coming, and the expectations of others who, because of her family name, want her to follow traditions and be like her cousins although she is her own person.

I admire that attitude. The first time I stood up for myself and my opinions against my brothers who expected me to appear and present a program about our family history caused a major upset. I was accused of being mean and selfish, but I was standing up for myself when one of my brothers told me that the family history book I spent 10 years compiling was inaccurate. I was hurt beyond words. I had my doubts that my book had been read, but was appalled when I was told that my research on my grandparents was all wrong.

Some family members will always remember that incident as my fault. But in some ways it was my last stand for myself.

This happened after I had moved away. Would I have been as determined if I had been near my brothers? I was accused of throwing one of my brothers under the bus because he had to give the presentation. He was forced to read my book to deliver the history he had promised to provide.

I grew up, like Maria, in the shadows of brothers and other family feeling I had no voice. But it is never too late to speak up. We don't have to let others, husbands, family or community stifle us.  As long as we are of sound mind, we can control our lives. I will not move out of my home because others think I should. But when I cannot take care of myself or afford to hire help, I will consider making a move. I will not stop teaching and helping writers who need me unless I feel that I have nothing to offer. I will not end my leadership of my writers' organization until I feel that I cannot make a difference.

Visit Maria Shriver here. Read her Sunday Paper by subscribing.

Monday, June 4, 2018

The Importance of Friends

"In an earlier Blog I wrote that when I visit Senior Living Facilities, Nursing Homes, and the elderly in their homes and ask them what the one thing they would do if they could live their lives over again 90% of them respond “I would have spent more time making real friends."

This comes from a blog by Bernard Otis.

Recently I heard about a young woman who was dying from cancer. That is sad, of course, but sadder was the fact that she was estranged from her family and women from her church had to step in and become the family she needed. Someone organized a small group who took turns staying with the ill woman in her last days. She would not contact her family, so they did not know she was sick. Staying with the patient was hard for some because she became angry and bitter, and perhaps not all of those who were with her felt close enough to understand.

I know of others who have no communication with their siblings or parents and it is hard for me to fathom, but often step-brothers and sisters are not close. Divorces in families can separate the children and they grow up living on different sides of the country.

Without family, the importance of friends becomes even more vital in our lives. In today's fast-paced world, we pass and speak and say, "Let's have coffee sometime," but then we don't make the call or send the email.

How many real friends do you have? What is a real friend? To me, a real friend is one who knows my emotional scars, who has seen me at my worst and at my best. To me, a real friend is one who drops what she is doing and gets into her car to come and get me when I call because I am ill and I need someone to drive me home. She doesn't question my need. She doesn't make an excuse.

A real friend to me, is one I will think about and be concerned about when she is traveling alone or dealing with conflict in her family. I want to be there for my friend when she needs to talk about her grief or talk about the great time she had when her children, who I know by name, came to visit.

I feel fortunate that I am empathetic and can see when someone is in pain or just needs a shoulder to lean on. And I am fortunate that I have friends who are the same. All of us have those times when we are overwhelmed with despair or sadness, and we need that friend with whom we can pour out our heartfelt emotions and not be afraid they will turn away. I have that in my sister, Gay, but also in friends.

I think you would enjoy the short posts on Senior Moments with Bernard Otis. He offers us insights into ageing gracefully. I need all the help in that department that I can find.