Monday, May 23, 2016

Congratulations to our Will

Families can work so well when all the members share and care about each other.  In recent years, I have been fortunate to live close to my sister Gay, my sister June and her two daughters. June passed away a few years ago, but her children and Gay and I have stayed close. 

June's oldest daughter, Lee, has a terrific son who is  graduating from high school this month.We are very  proud of him, not only because he is in the honors program and will continue in the honors program in college, but because he is one of the youngsters who has  never disappointed his parents, has a  level head on his shoulders and has respect for  his  elders. He has an outgoing personality and has good leadership qualities. He is poised and carries on a  great conversation. 

I think his  mom and dad should write a how-to book on parenting. I wonder what goals most parents have for their children. I've heard people say, "Well at least my kid has never been in jail."

Is that the  goal of raising a son these days? My parents never had a child in jail either, but they wanted more than that for their kids. None of my siblings or I were ever in trouble with the law. 

I can't say that for later generations. It seems that drugs and easy access to them is the biggest threat to raising children today. When I was growing up, we didn't  hear of dangerous drugs and certainly had no way to get any. My parents did not drink or keep alcohol in the home until my brother-in-law brought beer into our house. That would  have been around 1955, I think.

But my brothers had not been brought up with alcohol available so even after they were grown and social drinking became prevalent everywhere, only one of the four really liked it. He was the one who liked to push the envelope in other things so it was not surprising. 

My great nephew Will, the high school graduate, has a wonderful future, I think. Whatever he decides to do, he is prepared and knows he has supportive parents. I am very proud of him and his precious mother who made motherhood her top priority. I know that as this part of  her  life is over and she finds her son moving on and away from home, she will be sad. But she won't need to worry. She and Will's father have taken raising him as the most important thing in their lives. 

Like my own mother, Lee loved being a mom and enjoyed her child immensely. Now that he is a young adult, they seem to have found how to keep their close relationship. And she will not be one to call him at college all the time, but he will know that she and his dad will always be there. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Looking for Old Stones in hot south Georgia

On my recent trip down to south Georgia where I was born and lived half my life, my brother Max and I, along with two second cousins, Latrelle and Rob, visited a couple of cemeteries. One was in Pelham, Georgia where my grandfather and grandmother Robison are buried. That is also where my grandfather and grandmother Council are buried, but we were only looking for Robisons on this trip.

We arrived at Pelham Cemetery around noon and it was hot as I expected it to be. What I didn’t expect was my reaction to the heat. After only a short time while Max and my cousins stood out in the hot son discussing family,  I tried to find a place in the shade where I could sit down. There was no place. Inside the car was even warmer. I found a short stone wall and sat down hoping the dizzy feeling I was having would disappear. For a few seconds I felt I might pass out and fall right there on a grave. I leaned over and put my head down as far as I could without tipping off the wall and breathed deeply. Would they ever stop talking? How could I get them to take me out of that heat?

I called out, “Can we go now? I need to find a bathroom.”

That was as good as calling  Fire when you need Help. Everyone turned and headed for the car. The AC saved my life, or at least saved me from keeling over. I just can’t take heat anymore.We found a Hardee’s and went inside. A cold drink helped immensely.

Soon we were back on the road searching for the tiny little town of Whigham, Georgia, the birthplace of my mother and most of her family. There we would search for Providence Cemetery near Providence Baptist Church. My grandparents attended the Tired Creek Methodist Church, I think, but my great grandfather, John Monroe Robison and his wife Idella Cooper Robison are buried in Providence Cemetery. I don’t think John Monroe was a Baptist, but he is there. Between Rob’s memory and my memory of visiting there over twenty years ago, we found the old cemetery, but what a different place.

When last I was there, the graveyard was overgrown and unkempt, as though it had been forgotten.  It was a long way from the church. But on this day we found the place looking peaceful and serene surrounded by farm land and forests. Only the sound of birds broke the silence as we approached the green field with the modest grave stones.  

No one was there but the three of us. I headed to the right side where the oldest stones laid weathered and gray. Rob agreed with me that this was the area where he had seen John Monroe’s grave when he visited with our cousin Peggy many years ago. But we could not find it. We found Ida Jones Robison, the first wife of my grandfather William. We found George Jones, the father of Ida, and some others of the Jones line.

I began to wonder if we were in the right place or if somehow the stone of the one we sought had been removed. I walked down past all the Merritts and the Waldens who were also distant relatives, descendants of our John Robison, their graves newer and shinier than the one I was looking for.

I was hot and ready to give up on my search when Latrelle called out. “Here is a Robison. Is this the one we want?”  

We gathered around the grave and read the words carved into the stone. It was our ancestor, John Monroe Robison, who served in the Confederate Army as a blacksmith. He survived the war and lived a long life.

Beside him lies his wife whose name was not spelled out. I.F. Robison is carved into the stone of Idella Frances Cooper Robison. Women were not as important as the men in the world where she worked hard and bore children, cooked and cleaned and met her husband’s needs.

John Monroe Robison in chair with his five sons and five daughters. Third from left is my grandfather, William Henry Robison

In a letter to the editor of a local newspaper, someone wrote about this large family and how important Mr. and Mrs. John Robison were to the community. The writer said he remembered the family sitting on the porch in the evenings and singing together. I am not surprised that my mother came from a musical family. She loved to sing and listen to music, especially the singing of her four sons.

Latrelle who lives in Franklin, Tennessee and Rob who lives in Arkansas, made pictures of each other at the grave sites. I’m sure they want to share them with their families who have never been to south Georgia.

It was a long day, but one I will not forget. I enjoy Rob so very much. He reminds me of my mother, open and friendly and interested in everything. My day with Latrelle, who is also a writer, could not have been more fun for me. I feel like we are old friends. Maybe there is something to this DNA thing. Perhaps our connection is strong because the same genes run through our blood. Perhaps it is because we all care about our ancestors and their life stories.

We agreed that we would get together next year at my house in North Carolina. I look forward to that time. 

Coffee with the Poets and Writers in Hayesville, NC May 18

Few people in the rest of North Carolina know that in our far west region we have a writers' colony. Each month writers gather in Murphy, Hayesville, or in Blairsville, Georgia, for literary events. The first of the month we meet for Poetry Critique group and last week we had twelve seasoned poets at the table.

Deanna Klingel and Madonna Wise at Coffee with the Poets and Writers

Mary Ricketson reading at WNO
The second Friday evening of each month, we gather in Blairsville at the Union County Community building at the beautiful golf course for our Writers' Night Out. We can eat together and sit back and enjoy a professional writer for about twenty minutes and then the floor is open for anyone to come up and read a poem or a very short prose piece. This is a social time and we get to visit with our friends.

Next week, on Wednesday morning, May 18, we meet at Moss Library in Hayesville for Coffee with the Poets and Writers. We began this program back in 2007 and I am delighted that it has continued all these years.  We have had poets as old as 90 and we have had children read for us. 

Coffee with the Poets and Writers 

This is a friendly and welcoming time to munch on a cookie and have a cup of coffee, sit back and enjoy listening to original poetry or stories.
If you are within driving distance, come and visit with us. You are invited to share your own work at our Open Mic.  

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Families are Forever

Once again we celebrated the Robison Family, my mother's family, with a reunion in Albany, Georgia. The descendants of William Henry Robison and Lula Jones Robison came together at Kamp Kirksey, a Methodist Retreat, for a great meal and great conversation. We reminisced about our loved ones who have gone on to Glory.

All of William and Lula's children have passed over, but four of us third generation cousins were there.  

I hope our younger generations enjoyed the gathering. I remember going to a Robison Reunion in Cairo, Georgia back in the early sixties. Mother insisted all her children go and, at this one, my brothers entertained. The four of them had formed The Council Brothers Quartet, and they performed around the area and on local radio.

Wish I had photos of that time. I don't, but I have a newspaper article about the event that mentions all the names of those who attended. I was in college and had no interest in extended family as I do now.

Last year we gathered on the farm down home for a gathering at the pool. My great niece, Carrie Hutchinson, who plans events including weddings for people, set us under a big tent with round tables and long white table cloths. Because it is hot outside in south Georgia in May, she had large fans blowing constantly and that made it comfortable. 

This year we met at Kamp Kirksey inside a large air conditioned dining hall. My second cousin from Arkansas, Rob Robison, came the  longest distance. My cousin, Virginia Ingebrigtsen, was the oldest attending, and the cutest and youngest was Elliot Hutchinson, my brother's great-grandson. 

I was delighted my second cousin, Latrelle, who writes romance novels under the pen name, Darcy Flynn, came down from Nashville. I spent as much time as possible talking with her. I feel as if I have known her forever, but actually, we didn't remember each other from when we met when she was a little girl. 

My goal is to write a family history similar to my Thomas Council and his descendants book, but this time I want it to be about William Henry Robison and his descendants. I hope my nieces, nephews and all the young Robison descendants will join in to help me like the Council cousins did when I started the first book. 

And in this book, the youngest of those who live now will be counted.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

If you say you are going to call, then call!

I heard a noise on my roof, and then saw leaves and twigs floating down. I hurried to the door and saw a ladder against my house. I knew who it was—a company I called last week to clean out my gutters and replace the old covers. They estimated a hefty price, but the gutters have been neglected since I became the sole decision maker around here. I agreed to the work on my house and the stand-alone garage. But my last words to the owner were: You will call me before you come, won’t you?

I distinctly remember him saying, “Of course. We’ll call you before we come over.”

So why were three men working on my roof before I even knew they were on my property? Three leaf blowers whirred like monster bees. It was 4:30 in the afternoon and I was on my way out for a 5:00 appointment. 

I had no time to prepare for this invasion. Had I known they were coming at this time, I’d have my little dog secured inside and I would have covered myself, especially my face before going outside. Dust flew like a tornado had wrapped my house in fury.

As I tried to go out to talk with the men, my dog slipped past me, and I didn’t even know it. I imagine she was curious to see what all this ruckus was about. I stood outside as far from the blowing dirt and dust as possible and screamed up to the men. No one heard me or maybe they were simply ignoring me.

I hurried back inside to put little Lexie in a safe place until I returned home around 8 p.m. That was when I found she was gone. I searched the house twice. I went outside and yelled above the leaf blower that now was blowing away the debris that had come off my roof.

“Did you see my dog?”


“My dog must have gotten out and I can’t find her. If you had called me like you said you were going to do, I’d have been ready for all this.”

Obviously he could not have cared less about my lost puppy. “What’s her name?” 

When I told him, he hollered a few times, Lexie, Lexie, and then went back to blowing the deck, the ramp, the steps and I went to my car.

I drove around our circle looking for my tiny little companion that I loved so much. No sign of her. She loves to ride with me and I knew if she saw the car, she would come running. Maybe she didn’t stay on the circle. Maybe she headed up the mountain through the woods. Would she come back? Would she know to come back?

It was after five now. I called to explain my no-show. I came home, wondering if I had locked her in a room without knowing it. She is so small and quick, I have done that before. When I miss her, I retrace my steps and open a door. There she is so happy to see me, wiggling her little body and white-tipped tail in total joy.

But, once again, I found the house was empty. Would I find her before dark? I went back to my car and started out again. This time I planned to stop at each house and ask if she had been there or had been seen. Just as I reached the bottom of my driveway I saw her, trotting happily down the street heading home. I don’t know where she had been, but I opened the car door and she popped right in. I hugged her and she gave me kisses on my nose.

I did not go back to my house. I was due at a writers’ meeting at six o’clock and it was five-thirty. I made the decision. Lexie would go with me. I’d feel far safer with her in my car than at my house with the crew working on my roof. Besides, I didn’t know what I might say to the business owner if I had to face him in the state I was in. I wanted to scream at him, and I wanted to tell him I would never hire him again.

I try to be as courteous as possible whether in a business situation or in personal contacts with people I know. If I tell you I will call before coming over, you will not be surprised to see me knocking on your door. Many of us have our pet peeves about repairmen showing up unexpected or not showing when expected. If I have to have the cable guy come out, I prepare to be home all that day, no matter what time I was given by a friendly voice two thousand miles away.

You might say that coming to my house without calling is my biggest pet peeve. I sometimes stay in my pajamas all day if I am writing or not planning to go out. I might not answer my door if someone shows up without calling first.  I like to know who is on my property and who is standing at my door before I open it.

Needless to say, the local gutter repairman will not be coming back to my house. When I came home tonight, I found his bill with the huge amount for his time tucked into my front door. I am tempted to deduct about a hundred dollars for the stress and discomfort he caused. My time is as important as his, even though I don’t make big bucks in my job.

What do you think, Readers? Do I have the right to charge him for what he put me through?

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

An Angel Named Amos

Some years ago, I wrote a personal essay about Barry and a horse named Amos. I sent this essay to a company that published anthologies on various subjects. I hoped my story would make it into a book, The Cup of Comfort for Horse Lovers edited by Colleen Sell.

When I received the acceptance letter, I was overjoyed. I knew this book would be widely read as were all the The Cup of Comfort books. It was published in 2008. Little did I know that my husband would die in 2009.

My story was about Barry and how he became deeply depressed after he had heart surgery. That was not unusual, I learned, but I could not find a way to bring back the man I knew and loved. While he was recuperating, trapped at home with nothing to do all day, I saw the sadness that slowly sapped his enjoyment of life.  

We had both had horses at one time and loved riding until Barry found he loved golf more. But he could not play golf while healing. I did not want him to do anything but take it easy and get well. Barry, however, had a different idea in mind. 

My story in Cup of Comfort for Horse Lovers is inspiring and touching. In the book, the title was changed to An Angel Named Amos, and rightfully so. Barry was pleased to be the subject of a published story. 

The book is out of print now, but used copies of it are practically free on Amazon. It can be purchased for your Kindle. I think you can get a used paperback for just the cost of shipping. 

Click on the link above and get yourself a copy. All the stories in the book are uplifting and interesting, whether or not you love horses. I'd love for you to read how Amos changed our lives.

I'd appreciate your thoughts on my story and on the book.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Creativity is Exciting

We are all creative in some way. Housewives create ways to make their work easier, whether it is folding clothes or cooking. I find myself being creative in making my life easier now that my hands don’t work as well as they once did, and it is harder to climb stairs. Where once I could bound up and down steps with or without something in my arms, I now keep a basket at the head of the stairs. When I find something needs to go down, I put it in the basket. On my next trip down, I’ll hook the handle of the basket over one arm and go down while keeping one hand on the banister.

Creative cooking comes to me naturally as that was the way my mother cooked. She created her own recipes and dishes she made for her family. She read the daily newspapers and took note of ideas from columns by professionals. She found ways to use those ideas to make our lives better. I never knew anyone who was as creative as she when she had to stretch what was on hand to feed six people.

Fairmont Hotels have become creative in finding ways to sustain bees by having beekeepers set up hives on the hotel roof tops in big cities. What an ingenious way to save our bees and to provide honey for the hotel dining rooms and even their bars. For a number of years we have been warned that honey bees were going to become extinct. They are essential to our livelihood. Creative minds can find answers to most problems if given the opportunity or when given a challenge.

Wasted Creativity

What makes me sad is the waste of creative minds when they are turned to dishonest and criminal behavior. Every day we hear of people who create ways to steal our identities, to steal money and cause havoc with society. We have seen movies where crooks scheme and use their creativity to rob jewelry stores, hijack planes, and bring horrible disaster down on the world.

If only this creativity were used to bring about a better world. If those who use their minds to cause harm would turn that same effort to find a cure for diseases that kill our children and ruin our lives, to bring good into the world, to help rather than to hurt. I think children with limited education often  turn their creativity toward harmful pursuits. Better education and mentoring could turn the tide for them and  for us. 

Today I heard that some of the top people in Silicon Valley are thinking of putting their keen creative abilities to search for other beings out there in space. They are thought of as the top minds that solve problems in today’s world. Look what they have done in just a few years. I have no doubt they could find any alien beings if there are any.

Meanwhile, we ordinary folk go on day after day using our creative minds to write, to build, to repair, to expand, to invent, to make better, to care for, to protect, to teach, to make safe, and on and on. When I hear someone say to me, I’m not creative at all, I remind them they create when they make a sandwich. How many ways can we make a sandwich. Do we use lettuce? What kind? What condiments? Do we use cheese or something else?
My brothers. Rex Council is second from right.
I remind them they use their creativeness when they find a better way to do something in their work or at home. My brother, Rex, never went to college, but he invented a  number of products used on our farm and later at Hercules Bumpers, our family manufacturing plant. He was a  natural engineer, I think, and amazed us all with his ability to see ways to solve problems.

Do you think of yourself as creative?  

Sunday, April 10, 2016

An old friend at the Folk School

Years ago, I met a lovely young woman, Karen Hurtubise, a massage therapist at the time. As with many healers I've met, Karen's sweet, loving personality is evident in her smile when she greets you. I'm sure she is an Empath, one who feels deeply and is overly sensitive to the world around her. 

I met Karen in a writing class I taught. I found that she had not come to learn to write, but to bring an older lady, a friend of hers, who had arthritis in her hands, but was set on writing her life stories for her family. I think Karen did much of the writing for her. A very generous person, Karen drove this woman to class each week. I realized quickly that I liked and admired Karen Hurtubise.

Today I read on the folk school blog page that she is Nature Studies, Gardening, and Soap-making Resident Artist at the John C. Campbell Folk School. What a great position for her. She loves herbs, plants, flowers and all of nature. She and John, her husband, had a raspberry farm at one time. They grow turmeric now. I have to try this fresh herb and the seasoning paste she makes.

To read more about Karen's interesting story, click on this link.

Karen and John with their dogs and Karen in a class at JCCFS

Saturday, April 9, 2016

The Big C - No matter what you call it, you finally have to own it.

Sharon Bray has written a powerful post on her blog: Writing Through Cancer 

I'll never forget the moment I heard the doctor tell Barry and me that my husband had cancer. I felt the young man was cavalier, uncaring, until he asked, didn't you already know? He thought, because I was there in the office with Barry, that we had already been told.

Barry Beall

In the post from the blog Writing Through Cancer, the blogger writes about how doctors feel when they must give that bad news. She also writes about the patient's feelings and suggests to us to write about when we first heard those words, you have cancer. 

Although I was not the patient when I heard those words, I was one half of the patient, the man I'd shared my life with for 45 years. Nothing can prepare you for those three words. The fear that rises inside you is unstoppable. Even if you are reassured, "This is the best kind of cancer you can have. It is treatable," you catch your breath and begin to worry about the outcome. 

We fear that word, that disease above almost any, because not only is it often terminal, the treatment practically destroys our bodies. 

I watched my brother, Ray, in his last year of suffering. His eyes spoke first of the sadness inside him. His eyes had shown the defeat from the the first. He did everything short of chemo to keep going and get well, but he had been told he only had three years. I think he believed that, so in three years, he died. 

Before his diagnosis. He was happy. Such a good and sweet man.

The day he came to my house with Gail, his wife, and told me he had something serious to talk about with me, I immediately felt a big heavy rock settle in my stomach. I had no idea he was sick until he said he had multiple myeloma, and then explained what it was and the prognosis. The doctor had told him he could expect to live three years if he did not take chemo.  

As we often do, I have tried to look back and find the good things that happened during those three years. Because he reused to take chemo, he was able to travel. He visited China. He didn't give up. He visited me on several occasions, alone, so we had opportunities to really talk with no interruptions. I treasure those times. I had always loved and enjoyed him, but he was next to oldest of the seven of us. I was next to youngest. I realized during those visits, he had confidence in me, believed in me and felt I would help hold the family together as he had done for many, many years. 

I have faced the fear of having cancer. More than once, I've had to have second mammograms to be sure there was no tumor. The morning I awoke to find a large bump on the side of my breast, I almost panicked. I was at the doctor's office before he opened his doors. It was a benign cyst, thankfully. Another time I found a small lump and doctors said it was so small we would just watch it.

Well, that is fine for the doctor to do - watch it. But after a month, I was in the hospital having it removed. It, too, was benign, but I slept much better knowing it was gone. 

Barry and I often referred to that awful illness as the Big C as if we could avoid it by not giving it a real name. You know, like not naming the stray cat so it would not really be your cat. I have a friend who feeds two stray cats, but doesn't claim them.

The Big C creeps in when we don't know it is there, and when it is found out, it seems to jump from behind the curtains dressed in the most fearsome costume, one that brings chills to our hearts, and ripples up and down our spines.

If you have never had to hear the words, you have cancer, I hope you never do. If you have heard those words, and I know some of my readers have, I pray that you overcome it, fight it as hard as you can, look for the best doctors, and hospitals for your kind of cancer. Strides have been made in the medical world today that can prolong life and even put cancer in remission. Some people, like my brother, Rex, who had a slow growing cancer, go on with life and die of another disease or illness.

The post by Sharon Bray made me pause and think about the doctors who give this diagnosis over and over and how they must feel when they do. It helps me feel empathy for the men and women in white coats who tried to help us during Barry's fight for his life. 

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

While I had time at the beginning  of this year, I am got back to doing genealogy research. I joined Ancestry again last year and find it frustrating as do many others. My friend, Mary Mike Keller, a genealogist who is amazing in all she knows about using the Internet for research, says they have not  made her work easier.

I have been looking for information on a cousin who was killed during World War II. I found his picture in a high school year book. I found him in the 1940 Census at home with his parents. He was seventeen years old.

I know that he was killed flying an airplane over the Gulf of Mexico by what is called “friendly fire” meaning his plane was shot down by American forces. How did that happen, no one knows. At the time he was killed, Henry Robison was married and his wife was pregnant.

Henry never saw his little boy. His son, named after his father, never knew his dad. He was raised by a good man, his stepfather, who was the only dad he knew.

I decided to see what I could find online about my young cousin Henry Robison, the son of Mother’s oldest brother Avon Robison. The young man serving in the Army Air Force, was killed and his body never found. Although his father walked the beach daily crying as the search for his son went on, he was never given any explanation as to what happened. For the rest of his life and that of his wife, Lela, their tiny house was a shell where sorrow’s shroud wrapped all who entered and permeated each thought and act of Avon and Lela.

I visited them with my mother when I was a child, and I still see the older couple with tears on their cheeks when they talked about their son.  Their sense of hopelessness was so profound that even a child like me felt the stabbing pain of their loss. Henry’s photographs wearing his uniform hung on every wall, and I remember how handsome he was.

Henry had a sister and I often wondered how she must have felt after her brother was killed. The mourning never ended in that house.  But I believe from what I have found in my research that the sister was married before young Henry was killed.

I asked Mary Mike where I might find more information about Henry. She sent me to a place online that had him listed as casualty not in a battle. He was a lieutenant. I thought that spoke well of the boy since he couldn’t have been in service very long. The information Mary Mike sent me reported his death in June 1946.

That little boy who was born after his father was shot down, is now a man in his seventies, retired professor with a PhD. He had a successful and outstanding career. His research has been published in many papers and books. He is highly regarded in his field of Science. He grew up with two half-brothers he loved and has a family of his own. But lately he has wanted to know more about his biological father’s family which is also my family.

At one time he pursued an effort to learn what the government had in their files pertaining to his father’s death. He was sent reports but most of the text was blacked out. He learned no more than what Avon had been told. Even after all these years, he was unable to get the true story of what happened that awful day.

I am told that with Henry’s serial number, which I now have, his son, Rob can write and perhaps get more information than he had before.
Aunt Mildred and Aunt Red (Earline) We miss them.

Rob has taken a keen interest in learning more about his Robison ancestors, and I plan to work with him and share all I have gathered over the years. When he comes down to Georgia to visit this spring, I plan to meet him and we will talk to all the people still living who knew his grandparents and perhaps even his father.

I am enjoying learning more and more about my mother’s side of the family. I am family historian and I want to write about the Robison history as I did the Council history in my book, Profiles and Pedigrees, Thomas Charles Council and his Descendants. Mary Mike said she has been reading my book and found the stories in the book extremely interesting. I was delighted that she liked it. She is writing her own family history which will include famous people from many countries and hundreds of years ago. Her descendants will have a book to treasure for generations to come.
We descendants of William Henry and Malula Jones Robison will gather in May in Albany, GA. If any of my readers are relatives, you can contact me for more information about the reunion.
Most  of our large family a few years ago down in south Georgia

Monday, April 4, 2016

I must apologize

I feel I should apologize to my readers. 
For the past month my posts have not been up to par, I’m afraid.  But neither have I.

On February 22, a hose, connecting my dishwasher to an outside drain under the sink, popped during the night while the dishwasher was running. My kitchen flooded ruining my floor and a section of my cabinets. 

That began a month of stress, illness, and sleeplessness for me. I am slowly getting back to normal.

I chose to stay downstairs in my basement  studio where I have a refrigerator and a microwave, a toaster but no sink or stove, while the mitigation took place in my kitchen. Looking back, I wish I had rented a cabin nearby. 

I had no time to prepare for what lay ahead. I was asked to remove everything on my kitchen counter tops right away while sheets of  plastic were hung around the kitchen to try to contain the dust, etc. that was already flying into the air from the huge blowers used to dry up the water.

Looking back, I know I should not have been upstairs at all while those fans were going, but I had no one to help me at that time. Breathing in the debris that was exposed when the floor was taken up and the cabinet was taken out sent me to bed in pain and with respiratory illness.

Three days went by while the blowers loudly did their work. I could not reach my pantry, my refrigerator or even my laundry room. 

The congestion in my head and chest was so bad a woman in the grocery store said she thought I should go to the emergency room. My doctor prescribed antibiotics when I was finally  able to get to her office.

“Love is the longing for the half of ourselves we have lost."

I missed Barry more than I have in six years. How I wished he was here to help me make decisions, oversee the entire situation and just let me rest and get well.  But that was not the case.

First thing in the morning I am asked what I  want to do about my kitchen; repair the cabinets that were damaged, replace the section of cabinets where the damage was done, try to  match the ones already there, put in all new cabinets and new counter tops? I couldn’t think. I did not know how much my insurance would cover. I didn’t know if I could simply order cabinets and have them put in within a few days or if I had to have a cabinet company make new ones.

I have adjusted fairly well to living alone and keeping up a house and yard with a minimum of paid help. But it is not easy. I had a partner beside me for forty-five years, and he always took up the slack. When our well went dry, I went away for three days and he stayed in the house while a new well was drilled. Whatever problem occurred or new work that had to be done on the house, he was the one who hired the workmen. He and I would discuss any decisions that must be made. But now I must make decisions about things I don’t always understand.

I was fortunate that Paul who owns A-Perfect Clean took out the flooring and put in new, took out the old cabinets and removed counter tops so that, after three weeks, custom made cabinets, just on one section of the kitchen, could be installed.

My greatest fear from the flooding was mildew or mold behind the remaining cabinets, but I am assured that they are dry and have been painted with anti-mold chemicals.

With the paint, the flying debris from the blowers and stress of being displaced from my home, I could hardly manage my daily existence.

So that is the reason I must apologize for my blog posts in the past month.

I am grateful to a friend who helped me set up downstairs with necessary items, another friend who moved my computer downstairs and another friend who offered a dog-friendly house where I spent one night. During the first week, I drove to my sister’s house where she cared for me so well, I felt like facing the mess at home when I got back.

I hate being dependent on others, but am having to accept that I need help more than I did a few years ago. My doctor said this kind of change in our lifestyle often brings on illness. Our bodies don’t deal with this kind of stress so well.

Now that I am back to my stove, my pantry and my laundry room, I feel normal again. I also love the new drawers that house serving pieces and storage containers. I can see exactly what I have and I don’t have to stand on my head to reach it.

Have you ever gone through a sudden emergency situation like this? I’d like to  hear about it. Hope you managed better than I did.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Why we southerners sound like we do

A writer friend, Don Long, sent me a link to the most interesting post about southern accents. I say accents because we don't all speak with the same voice. We are the only part of the United States that sound anything like our Mother tongue, the accent of the Old Country.

Once a friend of my sister's came to visit from Chicago. When he heard my niece's southern accent, which is hardly an accent at all, he automatically assumed she was dumb, ignorant or uneducated. But after speaking with her for a few minutes he was impressed that she was an English major and had earned a PhD. 

A classmate at the John C. Campbell Folk School said he had to make a confession and at the end of our weekend together, he apologized for his past thinking. His teacher in the Midwest had told him that southern people talked slowly because they all went barefoot, got worms in their feet and that affected the way they spoke.

My college roommate, an educated daughter of a colonial in the army, told me she was surprised when she came to Georgia to go to college. She expected us to all be wearing overalls and going barefoot.

This is not old ways of thinking, I am afraid. Today's Television shows about southern people portray us all as dumb, slovenly, and ignorant. I can't imagine why any person from the south would watch those kinds of shows and help build their ratings. They simply add to the stereotype that brands all of us to the rest of the world. 

Just as all homeless people are assumed to be drunks and addicts, those of us who open our eyes, educate ourselves by reading and listening to experts, know that families with small children are living in cars and shelters. Men who work every day at jobs that pay so little they cannot save enough to pay rent sleep in shelters, and single mothers with small children who can't afford child care therefore can't work -- all fall into the homeless sector. Most homeless families are single mothers with children and most of the children are under the age of six.

I am told by someone who works with a homeless shelter in Atlanta, that the majority of the residents work every day. Their job pays such low wages, they can't get ahead to pay the first and last month on a room or an apartment. At ten dollars an hour, one can barely live. 

I wondered from my subject of southern accents, but I think the larger point here is judging without knowing the facts. How many times do we look at someone and develop an opinion about them before we know anything about who they really are? 

Whether it is the way they talk, how they dress or where they live, I try to withhold my judgement until I know the person and their character. I have been judged because of my southern accent. A man who is now a friend, once said he didn't like me because of my accent. He assumed I was not too smart. That was what he had been taught. He grew up in Pennsylvania. To me he has a heavy brogue himself, but I enjoyed hearing him talk even though he sounded far different from me.