Saturday, August 27, 2016

Old Faithful in a poem for Birthday of our National Parks

This week is the  100th anniversary of our National Parks, wonders of  nature reserved for all people to enjoy. I hope they last forever.

Zion National Park
I have had the good fortune to  visit the Grand Canyon and Zion National Park. I could not get enough of looking at the vast colorful formations of rock not created by man. Barry and I visited these glorious sights in the seventies and eighties, and he made many photographs I still enjoy today. Of course the  Great Smoky Mountains National Park is right  here at my door with the most peaceful and ethereal scenes one could ever wish for.

One vacation, Gay and Stu, my sister and BIL, and Barry and I flew out to Montana and rented an apartment in a  little town near one of the gates to Yellowstone National Park. For a week we visited the park every day and had the best time ever. The bison moving like a wave across the prairie grass will be forever emblazoned into my mind. The  majestic male Elk fighting in the Galatin River, deciding who would be leader of the herd, plays over and  over in my mind. It became a poem, Scene from Yellowstone's Valiant Wild, that has been published a few times. 

We had time to drive through the Great Tetons but wish we had been able to stop and enjoy that beautiful area. It was raining and cold, not a  good day for outside. We did make this photo in front of the lake with snow covered mountains behind us. Looks cold, doesn't it?

Stu is taking this picture of Barry, me and Gay
Today I am posting this poem that was published in Your Daily Poem. It is a bit of humor during this important milestone for our National Parks.


You and Me, Elsie and Old Unfaithful
                     at Yellowstone National Park

Our hands wrapped around hot chocolate cups, 
we shared a muffin  with a resident ground squirrel. 
He ran under tables and chairs in the room where a tree
grew up through the floor as we waited
for the famous geyser to erupt on schedule.

Overcast and cold, the day not meant for
sight-seeing, but we settled in with front row seats
before a giant picture-window. We didn't know the
mature lady with years of laugh lines on her face,
until Elsie took the chair beside us.

For 90 minutes she spilled out her life in cupfuls.
Chicago-born, life-long teacher, retired
to an island in Puget Sound near her only daughter.
I saw this thing this morning and it didn't show me much.
Hope it's better this time. She pulled her sweater close.

What did she expect? Predictable doesn't mean perfect.
I smiled, remembering pictures of the scalding
water shooting skyward, high into blue Montana sky.
Remembering my anticipation of the day when
you and I would be here to see this spectacle in person.

Dusk fell, rain slanted against the pane.
Straining my eyes, I spied the first short bursts
forced from the bowels of the earth. There was
no apex against cerulean sky. The geyser disappeared,
a ghost into the mist, an apparition of my imagination.

The long awaited marvel, like a candle flickered out,
left me empty as the chocolate cups, no sweetness
for the chipmunk, still hunting for some morsel.
Elsie gathered up her coat and hat, ambled off stating
Still doesn't show me much.
                            ---Glenda Council Beall







Thursday, August 25, 2016

Now taking registration for The Art of Reflection by Steven Harvey

Registration is open for a writing class at Writers Circle around the Table, Hayesville, NC with Dr. Steven Harvey, author, essayist, memoirist, and English professor retired from Young  Harris College.


Dr. Steven Harvey, nonfiction writer 
and memoirist
Fee: $45


The Art of Reflection

Using Personal Experience to Explore an Idea:  Vivian Gornick writes in The Situation and the Story that essayists and memoirists are interested in their own existence only as a means of “penetrating the situation at hand.”  They are “truth speakers” and their delight is not in self-aggrandizement but in the illumination of an idea.  We will study how nonfiction writers “penetrate the situation” to discover an idea worth living for and consider ways that we can do the same in our writing.

Students will bring in an object or a photograph of an object that means a great deal to them.  Preferably this is an object in which the meaning is not already obvious, so I would prefer that it not be a crucifix, for instance, or a wedding ring, but a different piece of jewelry—a watch for instance—or a favorite scarf , musical instrument, piece of furniture, or automobile.  Any object—or picture of such an object—will do.  We will explore the meaning of this object, learning various techniques from the writers we examine in class to amplify the idea.  The goal is to have the thematic core of an essay or a memoir—one that can be the heart of a longer work.


Students should bring the object or photo—a photo on a phone will do—as well as a laptop or pen and paper for writing.


Steve Harvey is a professor emeritus of English and creative writing at Young Harris College, a member of the nonfiction faculty in the Ashland University MFA program in creative writing, and a senior editor for River Teeth magazine. He is the creator of The Humble Essayist, a website designed to promote literary nonfiction. 


His most recent book is The Book of Knowledge and Wonder a memoir about coming to terms with the suicide of his mother when he was a child.


He is also the author of three books of personal essays. A Geometry of LiliesLost in Translation, and Bound for Shady Grove and edited an anthology of essays written by men on middle age called In a Dark Wood.   

He lives in the north Georgia mountains.  You can learn more about Steve and his work at his web site:  www.steven-harvey-author.com 

Send check for $45 made to Glenda Beall, 581 Chatuge Lane, Hayesville, NC 28904.  Be sure to give your name and email address.


Writers Circle site is down today. May be up tomorrow.

I am having trouble  with my Writers  Circle site:

www.glendacouncilbeall.com 






I am told it should be up and running by this time tomorrow. 5:00 p.m.

I am sorry. Contact me by email If you want information from my website about classes, etc. 
August 6, 6 - 8 p.m. Tri-County Community College - Writing Your Life Stories for Family or Publication.

Saturday, September 17, 1 - 4 p.m. with Dr. Steven Harvey at Writers Circle studio.




Monday, August 22, 2016

Are you following your dreams, your passions?

The painting above was one my sisters both liked very much. June, my older sister, fell in love with it and had it in her house for a while. Gay has this one and most of my good  paintings.


Going into the painting class the first time, I was terrified. I had never attempted to use oil paint. But the once a week class became a passion that helped my self-esteem, helped me escape from real life, as I painted in class and painted at home, constantly improving until I could see my work was good.

In the 1970's I decided to take painting lessons with a lovely lady named Verna. Little did I know how much she would change my life. I was going through a rough time.

My mother and I had been closer than most mothers and daughters. I visited her almost every day and I could talk to her about everything. My mother had suffered a ruptured aneurysm in January 1975. We had recently moved into the house we always dreamed of building. Life was supposed to be good for us, but my mother needed me and I had vowed if she recovered from the cerebral hemorrhage that almost killed her, I would care for her the rest of her life. 

When she came home from the hospital after three months, she had no short term memory. She had to re-learn who her children were. It was a determined family that would not give up on her. Gay, my younger sister came and spent a month helping get Mother settled in at home. After my sister left, I became the one responsible for Mother's care. I was on call 24/7. I learned all I could about care giving, Mother's illness, diet and her medications. The weight of her care weighed heavily on my shoulders and on my mind.

Depressed and lonely, not working out of the home, I knew I needed to do something that would take me out of my everyday life. My husband's mother was an artist and we had a  number of her paintings in our new house. For a long time, I had thought about taking painting lessons. One day I called Verna and signed up for classes.


I used a little glassed in balcony in our new house high up in the trees as my painting studio. The north light was fabulous. I could leave my canvas on my easel and work on it as I had time. I  love oils for that reason. They take a long time to dry. 

My husband Barry loved my paintings. That pleased me, having grown up in a family where I seldom heard a compliment for anything. Verna asked me to help her judge an art show. I was  overjoyed with her confidence in my ability. It was a day I'll never forget. I still have a small gift I received that day. 

During the ten years of my Mother's illness and my life as a care giver, painting was my absolute passion. I donated a painting to a charity that held a sale at the  local mall. It sold for the price I put on it and, I heard, it was the only painting sold that day. 

Mother died in 1985. I was devastated. Grieving, I felt I had failed as her care giver. Also I was lost with no purpose for my daily life.  

I turned to my writing as  therapy, pouring out all my fears, my sadness, my memories. I stopped painting. It seemed I could not paint and write. This became a period of soul-searching, of deep introspection. My sorrow took over  my life.

In 1988, my father died. I was free to leave south Georgia and we did.

When I moved to our little house in the  mountains, I gave away most of my paintings.

I met and became part of an exciting writing community. I followed my other passion that I had nurtured all my life, writing.

Lately I have entertained ideas of painting again, twenty years after giving it up. I  never lost my eye for scenes I want to paint. I see them everywhere. I often try to capture them with a camera, but have not found the satisfaction I want. 

This is one of the my photographs that hangs on my wall.

My  woods in winter - taken from my deck

I hope we do get to live more than one life. It took me so long to get the courage to follow my dreams and do what I love to do. I think it would be so unfair if, just as I get to the place I can do all these things I love, I would have to leave.

Are you following your dreams, following your passions and doing what you most enjoy? Don't wait. Time flies so swiftly and before you know it, it is too late. I hope you are following your passion, your dream. 

Sunday, August 14, 2016

More family history from my brother

Every time I talk with my brother Max, I learn more of our family history. 

Recently he told me that he, my sister June, and my brother Ray had malaria when Max was only four years old. Malaria is a serious and sometimes fatal disease caused by a parasite that infects a certain type of mosquito which feeds on humans. People who get malaria are typically very sick with high fevers, shaking chills, and flu-like illness. 

My family lived west of downtown Albany, GA, in the southwest corner of the state. At that time that area was mostly undeveloped wetlands, and small sinkholes filled with water each summer. These holes or little ponds became stagnant water, a perfect breeding place for mosquitoes. This was typical all over the south where swampy land existed.

Some of our relatives, who saw Max as he was recovering, thought he would not live. I imagine many children died from that dread disease in the late thirties and early forties. My aunt Lillian once asked my parents why in the world they lived in Albany, the “Malaria Capital of the World.” 

The most effective antimalarial drug was quinine, a very bitter substance, made from the bark of a certain kind of tree. Max said Mother gave them a green, grainy tonic called Grove’s Chill Tonic. One of the ingredients was quinine. The original name was Grove’s Tasteless Chill Tonic and was created not as a cure, but as a preventative and relief for the chills and fever accompanying the illness. Quinine has been used for more than three centuries and until the 1930s it was the only effective malaria treatment.

Mother had great faith in Grove’s Chill Tonic. She continued to use it as her first method of treatment for everything. I came along six years later. I can still remember how I dreaded a dose of chill tonic which she gave for whatever ailed us.

“I had a little drug business in Paris, Tennessee, just barely making a living, when I got up a real invention, tasteless quinine. As a poor man and a poor boy, I conceived the idea that whoever could produce a tasteless chill tonic, his fortune was made.”—E.W. Grove

Mr. E.W. Grove built the Grove Park Inn in Asheville, NC in 1913. By this time his medicinal products had become so popular his little drug business had grown into his Paris Medicine Company. He moved to Asheville for his health and constructed a number of places besides the Grove Park Inn. The Grove name is widely known in the mountain city. A popular place  for shopping is the Grove Arcade. Wise  people invested in his products and his company. I know our family contributed to his fortune with all the bottles Mother purchased. 

Barry and I spent a weekend in Asheville at that beautiful Inn about twenty years ago, and I almost asked for a discount claiming I helped build that place.

By the 1950s malaria had been eradicated. The Communicable Disease Center was founded in 1946 and with state, local and federal cooperation, DDT, an effective insecticide discovered in 1939, was sprayed everywhere mosquitoes could breed. Now only a few pockets of malaria are found in the United States each year.

Today the CDC warns about another mosquito-borne illness, the Zika Virus.
I wonder if I should suggest they try Grove’s Chill Tonic.

Note: The chill tonic was so popular the British army made it standard issue for every soldier going off to mosquito infested lands and, by 1890, more bottles of Grove’s Tasteless Chill Tonic were sold than bottles of Coca-Cola.


Did you ever take Grove’s Chill Tonic or did your mother rely on another tonic?

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Another Hot Day but Fall will come


We are now into August and I believe summer will finally end soon. 

This has been the worst summer for me since I moved to the mountains in 1995. I mean the weather has been the worst. My life in general has been good. I am enjoying teaching writing and having instructors like Tara Lynne Groth come to Writers Circle, my studio in Hayesville, NC. Her class on August 6 filled and we had a waiting list. Of course, all the classes require lots of work from me and my own writing has suffered this summer. 

I am thinking of taking my little dog and going to a cabin in the woods for a few days since I am having some painting and work done on my stairs. Those fumes cause me to have asthma and that is no fun. 

I spent last week at the home of my sister and brother-in-law, dog-sitting. That did not turn out the way I had planned because one of their dogs became seriously ill the first day I was there. We ended up in the emergency dog hospital where she had to stay over night on IV fluids and medication. Thankfully she is doing fine now, but it was a frightening experience. I am so grateful I was with her, however, because I could not reach Gay and Stu. I knew what they would do, and they are glad I did.

Smokie was sick, but she is fine now. She is a love.

While away, I wrote a post for this blog and wanted to post it on Sunday. But I did something that made my post completely vanish, and now I can't get it back. Sometimes computers drive me nuts. If anyone knows how to find a lost post on Blogger, please let me know.

I am taking a break from political news. I know how I will vote and don't care to hear any more of the rabble rousing, name calling and such. I can't change anyone's mind and no one can change mine. I know my values and which party supports them. That is all I really need to know at this time.

TV news brings way too much stress so I avoid it as much as possible. Isn't it interesting that old TV game shows have come to prominence lately? I think that is good, although I've never been a game show follower, because it rests the mind that has been stressed out by watching cable news all day. 

Too many retired people, especially men, sit in front of the television set all day watching the news channel that best fits their political leaning. I've been told by women that their husbands eat breakfast, take their coffee and plop down in front of the TV and stay there all day. Those people have an addiction. Years ago I knew a man who was a "news junkie." He could not wait to get off work and hurry to the nearest place he could watch cable news. 

Today I  took one more step into the 21st Century. I became a Twitter user. After the  class on social media for authors, I had help from our teacher, Tara Lynne Groth, on getting into Twitter and using it for my writing. I will not become addicted to Twitter as many do today, because I don't find it all that interesting. I'd rather read and write blog posts, but I will give Twitter a good try.

Well, I have rambled on too long. That is what happens when your carefully written and edited post flies into cyber space. 

Have a great week and live each day as if it were your last. 

Visit: www.glendacouncilbeall.com  for writing news. 

  


 



   

Friday, July 29, 2016

A Day of Rest

When life gets so busy I can't return my calls or emails, I know it is time to step back and take a day for myself to relax, read, work in my garden on my deck and sit in the rocking chair awhile. I am thinking of doing away with all flower beds in my yard except for my roses and my hostas. On a drive around my county last weekend, I yearned for some of the houses I saw that only had mulch around the  house with two or three shrubs in front. I think they are summer houses or vacation houses, but that is what I want. 

Keeping up a yard on the side of a mountain where there are no flat levels is beyond my abilities now
I remember when my  husband Barry said to me, "Don't plant things you have to water and take care of." 
When we moved here this was a vacation house and nothing was planted outside but a rosemary bush and Ivy under the outside steps. 

Now I have azaleas across the front, two forsythias on the side yard, a rose bed on the other side yard, roses and day lilies and irises, an elephant ear and one trillium plant in back beside the fenced yard. With temperatures in the  nineties day after day, I stay inside. 

Azaleas in front yard with forsythia bush beside steps. 

I love hostas. They require little extra care.

Container garden last spring. I have more this year.
On my deck I have a container garden with three geraniums, some pots with trailing ground cover plants, a tiny rose, a beautiful vinca plant and some other green plants. I can sit in my living room and enjoy all of the plants on my deck and it takes a short while to water them. I fill a watering can, step outside and give them each a drink. 

Finding anyone to come and help me in my yard is next to impossible. I have people who tell me they will come and then don't show up or when I call they won't call me back. I hear this story from people who need workers in this area. They say people don't want  to work if it is physical or outdoors. 

Harrah's put in a casino in an adjoining county and most of the people who wanted a better job or who needed a better wage, went there to  work. I'm sure those jobs are better than fast food or restaurant jobs many of them held. Almost all businesses here have help wanted signs in front windows. 

I am curious to know if they work harder for the better wages and benefits than they did in their former jobs. Of course, with more jobs available, no one is sitting home waiting for someone to call them for a day's work. They found full time jobs. 

Perhaps like the farmers, these small businesses should look for some illegal immigrants who are usually eager to take any job available. They appreciate the work and do a good job.  

Today is a rest day for me. This past week I had something to do every single day and when I was home, I was at my computer working on the Publishing Class I taught Saturday at Tri-County Community College. We had ten eager students and their experience was very diverse. One man has written a non fiction book. A woman has completed a novel based on a true story. A poet had recently published a chapbook on Create Space. All were interested in how to publish their writing and I gave them three hours of information. Still, with all the discussion, I had to  leave out some of what I  had planned to talk about.

A writer friend, Darnell Arnoult, who teaches in a college in Tennessee, said she had hoped to be a writer who was also a teacher but it seems she is a teacher who writes. I feel the same way. I enjoy teaching so much I continue to schedule classes. I  hope I  can get back to writing soon. I have projects half finished including a  poetry book and a book on pets.

My readers and friends, I hope your weekend is good and life is good to you.

Leave a comment on your writing or your thoughts on this post.

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