Wednesday, January 17, 2018

What will spring and summer bring?

Although there is snow on the ground at my house tonight, spring will be here before we know it. January promises to be a cold, rainy, icy and snowy month here in the mountains. I have all my heating units, central, gas and a couple of heaters working tonight. Lexie wants me to go to bed where she gets under the covers and stays warm. 

But the weather will get better in a couple of months.
I am happy to be going up to Waynesville, NC to meet with the Netwest Mountain Writers on Tuesday, March 13 at 1:00 p.m. Merry Elrick, our NCWN-West Rep heads up that group which meets at the Trailhead Bakery & CafĂ©,18 N. Main Street.  Merry invites writers and people who can speak about the world of writing to their monthly meetings. I enjoy seeing and talking with writers in our region and speaking about NCWN-West. I hope we will have long time members there as well as people who want to know more about our writers organization. I have some good friends I met years ago in the Haywood County region and would love to see them when I am there.

Estelle Rice, author of fiction, poetry, personal essays

Mary Ricketson, Cherokee County rep, has taken over the monthly reading at the John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, NC. My dear friend, Estelle Rice, will join me on Wednesday, August 22, at 7:00 p.m. She and I have collaborated on a collection of poems, stories and essays about the animals we love and other creatures who share the world with us. Our book, Paws, Claws, Hooves, Feathers and Fins, will be published by the time we read at the folk school. 

I hope our local readers will put this date on their calendar and come out to hear about our book and hear Estelle read her delightful stories. 

When the book is ready, I will post information on where it can be purchased and I am sure, if you buy this book, you will get some smiles and even some laughs from it. But, you will also read some touching words, especially if you like pets or have had pets in your home. 

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Real Food found in old recipe books - a treasure I had forgotten I kept

I wanted to get this post written before the weekend was over, but I have been so busy today going through and discarding magazines, papers and books I don’t need or want. Every time I do this I discover so much interesting material I had forgotten I had.

In a closet downstairs filled with a hodge-podge* of stuff, I discovered several old recipe books with recipes that I like and plan to use. New recipe books are no fun to read. They include foreign ingredients I never heard of or fat-free and sugar free recipes using other things I am not familiar with to improve the taste.

In one of the old books I found a biscuit recipe that uses mayonnaise instead of vegetable shortening. It brought back the memory of when my niece, Lyn, stayed with me one summer and we made mayonnaise biscuits. They are very good.

When I was a young woman, our Rural Electric Association published a newsletter and many of my mother’s friends sent in recipes. I had clipped them and found them in a folder. Some of the names jumped out at me. Mattie Rossman submitted a recipe for Cherry Delight. I often heard Mother speak of Georgia Wooten. She shared her recipe for Shell Point salad, pineapple, sugar, and gelatin with a topping of nuts, coconut, grated cheese and Cool Whip.

Some of these recipe books dated back to the sixties and seventies. We ate differently then. We used real foods, not processed and boxed meals with all kinds of preservatives in them. Cakes were made from scratch using flour, not ready-made mixes that only need milk or water added to them. I became so excited about the recipes I found that I look forward to cooking again. Since Barry died, I have not had much enthusiasm for making meals. It seems such a waste of time to spend an hour in the kitchen to cook a meal that I will sit down and eat in just a few minutes.

I have already begun to cook some of my favorite things though. Just this week I cooked black-eyed peas, adding ham flavoring, green pepper, onions and garlic with a dash of red pepper flakes. I made some terrific cornbread from corn meal that came directly from a local granary in Blairsville,Georgia. I added buttermilk, salt, baking powder and a couple of eggs. It turned out so beautifully that I enjoyed it for two meals and gave Lexie a little. She loves cornbread. A true southern Chihuahua, she is. I am trying to eat gluten free right now, so cornbread is something I can eat that I enjoy. No wheat in the real thing.

But if you buy a cornmeal mix, which is what is usually found in the grocery stores, wheat flour is added to the corn meal. I can add rice flour or almond flour if I wish, but I don’t find I need it.

Real food. Fruits and vegetables are good and easy to make. Last night I cut up an apple and cooked it with a tiny bit of brown sugar and apple spice seasoning. I put a pat of butter on top and a tablespoon of orange juice in it. It was delicious!

Since I want to cut out wheat products, I don’t eat as many sandwiches now. The gluten free bread is just not as tasty although I found one that I can use for toast in the mornings. The brand is Canon white bread but it is not made with wheat.

Well, it is time for a snack before Lexie and I head off to bed. She has been urging me to go upstairs for a while now, so I think I will. Have a good week, readers, and stay warm if you live in the cold areas. Stay cool if you live in the hot areas. I appreciate you all.

* hodge-podge - Etymology: an altered form of hotchpotch, from Middle English hochepot "mixed stew," derived from early French hochepot (same meaning), from hochier "to shake" and pot "pot, container" : a confused mixture 

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Holidays - soon they will be over, but we have memories to keep

It is almost 2018 here in the United States, but some of you live in other places and have celebrated the coming of the New Year.

As the year ends I am concentrating on my blessings of the past twelve months. I am not going to make resolutions. I never do. I like the idea of choosing a word for the year and letting that word guide you through everything you do in the coming months. I subscribed to a site that will send me a directory to use to choose my word. I will work on that tomorrow, but tonight I am listening to the angelic voices of Celtic Woman and writing my posts for this weekend.

I have spent the holidays with my sister and brother-in-law, Gay and Stu, and it has been great. I sleep whenever I want or need to, and eat whenever I get hungry. I go to good restaurants we don't have in the mountains and experience different foods or good food that I don't give myself permission to purchase at home where I am on a frugal budget, frugal for my bank account and for my health account. I have enjoyed a two week vacation in the city. My bedroom is private and so comfortable. I look out over a pond with wildlife and woods surround the house on three sides. 

I have access to the kitchen at any time to cook or to raid the refrigerator. My hosts went away for a few days, and I had the entire place to myself. 

Today we went to see Hugh Jackman in The Greatest Showman. (Hugh is Barry's first name) It was fun, exciting and filled with uplifting music and story. He is the epitome of a great actor. He sings, dances better than anyone, and has a smile that melts the viewer. In one scene of this movie, for about one minute, his face alone expressed amazement, enjoyment, wonder and sadness - that was miraculous. His movies that I have seen are all great entertainment and show his singing and acting abilities. I would not want to see Wolverine and I think those were movies to make money which they did, but the kinds of movies I like have drama, sentiment and character at which Jackman excels. The Greatest Showman is a PG movie which I also liked. No f-words or unnecessary sex scenes. I'm glad the public is embracing this movie.

We came away feeling happy. We all need to do that this time of year when so many are fearful of what is to come. 

I also took advantage of the Downton Abbey Marathon this weekend. When I could not sleep last night, I watched several episodes and another this morning. Of course I have seen them all, but it was fun to re-visit those delightful characters again. If I could go into a time machine and visit another time and place, I would go to old England where gentility and respect prevailed. I know what I see on TV and movies is mostly fictional, but I can dream, can't I?

As we head into the next twelve months, we don't know what lies ahead, but I am holding on to my belief that good will prevail over evil. I am not a Polly Anna, but I do believe that we reap what we sow. 

When we make good moral decisions and think about the benefits to others, we make this a better world. We can look for the best when choosing people who make our laws. We can listen to the needs of those who don't have a voice in our culture. 

What can we give? We can give love, caring and concern for those who need it. I don't have money to give to all the charities that ask me for donations. But I can give encouragement, support and my time. No one can buy these things for another, but we can offer them to people we know. All around us are men and women who are suffering in some way. Perhaps they are worried about their future, their children, their parents and just need a good listener. I am not a certified counselor, but I can listen and encourage. I need that kind of person in my life and I imagine many others need that person, too.

I wish for all my readers the happiest and healthiest coming year. May your problems be small and your dreams be fulfilled, may your joys in simple things bring you laughter and love, and "May the Good Lord Take a Liking to You."

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Santa's Forest was a labor of love - for a while - when we novice Christmas Tree growers began.

Gay and I were always like two peas in a pod, always together and happy with each other. We were sisters and best friends. In the photo above, we were dressed for school. 

When Gay graduated from high school and enrolled in the University of Georgia, I transferred from Georgia State College for Women and entered UGA as a junior. We actually roomed together my senior year.

Years later after Barry and I married and Gay married Stu, he took a job in our home town. Gay and I were overjoyed. Now we could be together as much as we wanted. 

Each year the four of us climbed into Barry's truck and drove down to Moultrie, GA and bought our Christmas trees from a Choose and Cut farm. It looked like the growers were having so much fun. Christmas music rang out over the crowds who poured into the fields and voices of children could be heard everywhere. This trip put us into the Christmas spirit and we were as happy as any of the kids we saw that day.

On one of these trips, Gay suggested we start our own Christmas Tree farm, the four of us. I immediately said no.
 "It's hard work and I don't think I can physically do it," I said. 

Barry said he didn't have time and didn't want to spend his weekends working on a farm. My sister was determined she could raise trees and if we didn't go in with her, she would do it alone. What a quandary we found ourselves involved in! I didn't want her having to do all the work alone. Besides, we had always been a good team. She assured me I would not have to do anything that was too hard for me. I finally gave in and badgered Barry until he agreed to help. But his heart was not in it. 

Little did I know just what was involved in growing trees in south Georgia. We chose five acres of the family farm and planted an acre each year. In the photo below it is February, planting time. It does get cold in south Georgia in winter. We had to order the plants and they came in bulk. Gay and I are heeling them in behind my house. They had to immediately go into the ground to keep them alive 
until we could plant them in the field. 

Barry and Stu went to their jobs every day, and Gay and I became farmers. We traveled around and talked to the experts about what trees we should plant and what kind of care they needed. We found out that the best tree to grow in our area was Virginia Pines. These trees had to be pruned twice a year to shape them like Christmas Trees. Otherwise they would grow up like any pine tree in the woods.

We had a quite an investment to make including buying a tractor from our friend, Mike Johnson, who owned a tractor company. We fell in love with our little Kubota. 

 Gay who had never driven a tractor, learned quickly. In the bottom photo Barry is on the tractor. You can tell it is cold because he has a scarf around his face and neck.

About the only part of Santa's Forest that Barry liked was driving the Kubota tractor. The horses in the back ground are our horses in a pasture in front of our house.

I am sorry to say that Barry and I finally had to sell out our share of the farm to my sister and brother-in-law. The spraying had to be done throughout the summer and I was very allergic to the pesticide. Pruning in the hot summers in south Georgia was just more than I could physically handle. But Gay was an excellent pruner. She could shape a tree the same way she could draw a dog or a horse. She had an eye for it. 

She hired teenage boys and she taught them to prune. They dealt with snakes and yellow jackets and still she brought in a great crop of trees each December. Most people did not know that she had to spray green paint on the trees before marketing them. She would be covered with green from her forehead to her boots and I was concerned about what that chemical was doing to her health.

Stu helped her on weekends, but she did the bulk of the work. Although Gay was shy, she gave talks on growing Christmas trees. I was so proud of her, and so was my father who was a farmer. He enjoyed telling people about his daughter who was a farmer.

When selling time came around, people from all around came to purchase a tree from Santa's Forest. The happy Santa on the sign Gay painted and displayed at the entrance put a smile on the faces of all who entered.

I have admired my sister for as long as I can remember. She is not a quitter, no matter how difficult the situation. When they sold the farm to my nephew, the four of us took a Princess cruise to Alaska and had the best time of our lives. 

Gay has a masters degree in Counseling. She is a person who listens and knows how to help people see what they need to do to solve a problem. Family and her friends know we can count on Gay. She has more talents than I can even imagine. An artist and a dancer at heart, she studied sculpture and created some beautiful pieces before she lost vision in one eye due to a torn retina. She studied modern dance at the university. I will post some photos of her dancing in another blog post. 

She is one of those people who will not be handed awards for this or that, but those who know her applaud her generosity and caring for others. Her drawings are in my house and homes of others. The portrait she did of my beloved horse is one of my favorite possessions. 

She is my hero for many reasons and one of them is how she took on all the work of that Christmas Tree farm with no complaint when we wimped out on her. It was her idea to do it and she did it. 
Merry Christmas, Little Sister, and thank you for keeping that Christmas Spirit going all these many years. 

Gay has always loved Christmas. As girls we decorated Mother's tree and her house. Once married Gay put all her talents into making her own house a Christmas delight. Above is one of her trees from a few years ago. This year I have already been there and she has done an even better job of making their house a joy to visit.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

How We Face Change Makes a Difference

Do not fear what may happen tomorrow. The same everlasting Father who cares for you today will take care of you then and every day.  He will either shield you from suffering or will give you unfailing strength to bear it.                              St. Francis de Sales

This is an excerpt from a prayer sent to me when a loved one died. I think it is good to remember that when we have hardships, we can't blame ourselves, give up on ourselves, or become a victim, but look at them as changes in our lives that we must face and hope that we can accept these changes no matter how difficult, and move on to become stronger. 

We learn to find a way around the boulders in our path. We can't sit down on the trail and give up. We can't curl up and wait for someone to rescue us. A hard blow might knock us down, and we might need some time to get our breathe again, to focus on where we are headed, but while we hope for rescue, we work tirelessly to make our way through the pitfalls and over the walls that would imprison us. 

We aren't likely to learn much from being rescued by others. We learn from our own efforts to save ourselves, what works for us and what does not. Some say failures are necessary for us to be successful.

Changes in life will come, but we can adapt, and we must adapt to them if we want to live a fulfilling life.

When I was a teenager, I had an overwhelming fear that my mother would die. That stayed with me through adulthood. When she died at the age of 80, I still had that fear and thought I could not live without her in my life. Learning to go on was extremely difficult for me, but I did and grew stronger once I knew I could. Since her death and my father's death, I lost three brothers and one sister, people I dearly loved. I miss them every day. 

The hardest loss was the death of my husband in 2009. But I knew I had to go on living and somehow make a fulfilling life for myself. Accepting the many changes brought about by his death brought out the tiger in me. I could not and would not let his passing make me weak or needy. Anger filled me up and brought out negativity that I didn't realize lurked inside me. 

I turned to those who had been through my experience. I read blogs and books by people who had lost children, lost husbands and wives and those who had suffered other losses. Their pain was no different from mine. These writers had overcome their fury and accepted the difference in their lives. That was how I learned that change is not always easy, but when we accept that we can't return to what was, we can go on and make the best of our lives. We make new goals and find new purpose.

Do not look forward in fear to the changes in life; rather look to them with full hope as they arise.

The above is also from the prayer by St. Francis de Sales. Even if you are not a believer, these words hold true.

I found that the changes taking place in my health as I grow older depressed me and caused me to wonder if I could continue with my work - writing, teaching and leading our writers group. As I searched for answers from therapists, doctors and others, I felt like giving up. I feared I would become bedridden due to the pain I suffered every day.

However, I know that people must take responsibility for their health as well as all aspects of life. So I have not given up, but reached out to others for advice, researched methods of treating my problems, and now I look forward to teaching a writing class in March and hosting writers and poets at my studio in the coming year.  

Be at peace and put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginations.

Until next time, embrace the changes in your life, they are inevitable.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Monday, a day for learning some things, but a bad drive home

My drive home from Roswell, GA yesterday took six hours instead of two. I knew it would be a bit longer as I had a doctor's appointment that would take about 1 1/2 hours. Lexie was with me.

We left my sister's at 1:00 p.m.. That gave me time to fill up my tank before I reached Hwy 575 in Woodstock, GA. Once I pulled onto the ramp I noticed the traffic was bad. Little did I know that up ahead an accident would make my short trip to Canton, GA almost an hour long.

I needed to call about my appointment, but my cell phone would not charge. It was dead. I made it to the appointment 30 minutes late. When I left the office, I walked Lexie a bit and then put her in the car. I did not notice that I had left a window open. I removed her leash and she immediately found the open window. Out she flew and out I flew to try to catch her before she ran into the traffic. Three others joined in my chase but Lexie was not coming to any of us. We spent what seemed like ages trying to catch her but she ran far down the road behind the office building. I thought she would not ever be found once she disappeared from my view. I jumped into my car and headed around the buildings to the road where I could see her. But when I got to the area where I had seen her she was not there. I drove on down the road and finally turned around.

That was when I met one of the people helping me search. "She is in Robin's office. She came back to the parking lot and he has her."

Thanks to Robin, a man with a small dog on a leash, I have my runner back home. She followed his dog into his office and he closed the door. 

By then I was hungry and needed to find a Verizon store to fix my phone. Lucky the man at the store opened my phone, took out the battery, rubbed it and blew into the cavity where it fits, then put the battery back in. He placed my phone, an old flip phone which I love, into his charger and it lit up. By then it was nearly five o'clock and I was a long way from home. So I stopped and had ribs for dinner.

When I I drove into my driveway long after dark, I was tired and weary. I brought in only the basic things I needed and then brought in Lexie. She is on my black list at this time and she is getting no special love. We are definitely going to enroll in an obedience class very soon.

She knows she was bad and she has some work to do to make up for giving me cardiac arrest.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Hope  your Thanksgiving was wonderful. Mine was great. I spent the day with my sister and we were invited to the home of my niece,  Lee and her husband, Dave, where he cooked the most beautiful and delicious turkey you ever saw. Dave enjoys cooking and every time we go there, Dave cooks. All of us chipped in and furnished side dishes to the turkey. I made my usual cornbread dressing and gravy. Lee made a scrumptious broccoli casserole. Gay, my sister, made an old fashioned lemon meringue pie and roasted vegetables. Dave made green beans and mashed potatoes as well.

You can imagine how stuffed we were when we finished. It was one of the nicest days I have had lately. Lee and Dave's grown-up son, Will, was home from college, sporting a mustache. I looked at this fine young man and remember when he was born and how loved and wanted he was. His parents are so proud of him and I am proud of him as well. He will be twenty very soon. Gay and I were happy he spent the entire time with us, but he did have his phone and a football game on TV. I'm sure that helped.

I am grateful for my loved ones who include me in their holidays. I will never stop feeling guilty for how Barry and I stopped going up to his Mother's house for Christmas when she became too old to drive down to our house in south Georgia. Young people get so busy with their lives they don't think about older relatives. We were ignorant of what she needed, but now I know what her life was like. She lived alone and we were five hours away. She never complained or asked for anything. Helen Beall was an independent woman right up to the day she died.

I think the problem might be in how you raise your kids. Because she was so independent and never asked anything of her sons, they didn't think about her needs. She had no daughters. My mother had four sons, but I don't think they would have skipped something they wanted to do in order to drive five hours to spend time with her, especially after she lost her short term memory and could  not carry on a normal conversation with them. When some of my brothers came out to visit with Mother and Daddy,  they went into the room with my father and watched sports. Their wives spent the afternoon with my mother.

A son is a son 'til he takes a  wife. A daughter is a daughter all of her life. (Irish saying)

Sounds like I am  putting down men, but I am not. Some men are totally devoted to ailing parents. I think my nephew, Will, will always be there for his parents. He is a compassionate person even at twenty. We have to guide young people in the way they should go so they understand the needs of the  elderly or ill and not be so self-centered or afraid of dealing with the possible loss of a parent that they ignore them completely.

Another fine man who is there for his mother when she needs him is my nephew, Jon. He has also been very good to me. When he comes to my house he immediately asks what can he do for me. He insists on taking care of anything I need while he is visiting. So there are men who see when they are needed even if no one asks them.

I thought it was interesting that my father, when he was in his eighties and made the decision to stop driving, told his sons that they were to drive him to his doctor visits and look after him. He said to  them, "Glenda took care of  your mother, now you can take care of me." And they did as well as they could. One of them was with him in the hospital room late at night when he suffered a  respiratory arrest. Another brother was with  him late at night when he died.

Maybe men do better at taking care of men and women do better taking care of women. What do you think? I know I would not have been comfortable caring for my father if he needed long term care. We never had a close relationship.

However, as  I  told some of my  nephews when their father was very ill, "The Council family takes care of parents when they are old or ill." Family is important to us and I am glad I have dear family that loves me and that I love. I am very fortunate. I know that is not true for everyone. This Thanksgiving, I  am most grateful for family and also for my little Lexie who brings me much joy.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Women finally found their voices

You can’t escape it. It is the only thing that has bumped Trump off the news.

 It should be top news as many women have come forward to out the power-driven men who have assaulted and abused women for so many years.

When I was a young woman, we had to fend for ourselves the best way we could. We never thought of telling anyone because no one seemed to think it was a big deal. Young women in my own family spoke of how our family chiropractor touched them inappropriately and one said he kissed her. I was shocked that he went so far with them, but I had to admit that his hands touched my backside far more than was necessary. I was bothered by it, but did not know what to do. I felt awkward saying anything to him, and I knew he would act innocent as if it were an accident. When the subject came up at a family gathering, and the girls were irate, the men all laughed as though it was nothing to be concerned about. They really did not feel it was wrong. 

I remember when I attended business functions with my husband; some of the men made sexual advances toward me and made me quite uncomfortable. One old man actually crawled under the banquet table and was touching my legs until I made my husband aware of it. Seems the old lecher was doing that to all the women. Again, he was laughed at and I am sure felt no shame. 

Recently I have heard more and more from women who have been assaulted, or groped in school by boys who felt perfectly within their rights to grab a girl inappropriately against her will. One was pressured to have sex with the boss. She quit her job because of his behavior. I was more dismayed when I learned that someone close to me was kissed by a man she admired, her high school teacher she had respected. 

While I was in college a freshman girl, who had low self-esteem, was gang-raped by boys at a fraternity. She did not report it because she had been drinking and felt she would not be believed. She left school soon after and we did not hear from her again. Looking back now, I hope she found someone to talk to about this horrible thing. I hope she found some help.

Women and girls have endured this type of treatment at the hands of boys and men forever and our culture just accepted it as normal. Many of the men who are now being accused never felt their behavior was wrong. Pinching a girl's behind was not considered wrong. If you ever watched Mad Men, the TV show, you can see what was accepted back in those days.

I have always heard the expression, "She slept her way to the top." It seems that was what Harvey Weinstein told women they must do if they wanted to become a star.  

In the last thirty years as women began to use the same foul language in the work place and tried to act like the men, I think some men took this to mean anything goes even gross sexual conduct.  I am not blaming the victims, but perhaps men have been given the wrong message by some.

Sadly some men who were not perpetual sexual deviants are now being accused of unwanted advances that they never felt were inappropriate. Some sexual comments toward a woman were considered complimentary, not harassment, by men of my generation. In fact, I don't consider it harassment to tell a woman she is pretty or that she looks good. We might be intelligent but still we like to know someone thinks we are good-looking. 

I think the worst behavior is when older men prey on young girls or when they use their power over a woman to coerce her into having sex with them. A young single mother who needs a job to feed her kids can more easily be forced against her will than someone who can just tell her boss where to go and walk out. I was told by a young woman that the man she worked for tried to coerce her into having sex. He was well-known in the community. When she balked he said he would fire her. She said she would tell people about him. He laughed and said, "Nobody will believe you."

Some generations ago something happened to many men in America. They forgot to grow up, to become responsible. Some of my husband's friends acted like they were still in college although they were married and holding down good jobs. These men in their thirties drank to excess and used drugs. They cheated on their wives and thought nothing about it. Their behavior was immature, I thought. 

Men in my father’s generation took on the mantle of fatherhood and manhood and followed the values they had learned from the generation before them. When I think of my uncles, I don’t remember any of them making lewd remarks in front of women or acting macho to impress others. They were men I admired. 

I hope the women coming forth and women sticking together to finally tell about the powerful men who sexually harass and assault them will not be a momentary blip on the conscious of the United States of America. I hope this will be a moment that educates all men; that awakens men with daughters, wives, and mothers and makes this a personal issue. Then these men might grow up and become the men I knew in my father’s generation.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Feeling the Love at the CMA Awards

The CMA awards tonight were touching and heartwarming to me. I am not usually a fan of award shows and I can’t remember when I watched the CMA awards all the way through, but tonight there was something about all of the performers.

I love that Garth Brooks, who recently came out of retirement, was given the entertainer of the year award. I love that all the famous singers on the front row know all the words to every song sung on stage and they sang along. 

I love that older singers like Reba McIntire were there and performed and are given respect they deserve. And that Alan Jackson was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. Seems not long ago he was one of the new stars. His music is like the old country music I grew up with when my brothers tuned the radio to the Grand Ole Opry coming out of Nashville, TN. Jackson sang two songs on the show, and I was familiar with them. I liked that. It was evident that the audience of stars and fans loved him.

I know country music changed when New York producers and agents moved into town, and older country music stars were pushed aside. But tonight’s CMA show gave me the feeling that the performers made a big effort to show diversity, and they asked for love and kindness to all people.

Although they were cautioned not to talk about politics or the horrors of the mass killings, they managed to show the grief and sadness we all feel for the victims.
 "Carrie Underwood gave an exquisite performance of Christian hymn "Softly and Tenderly" at the 51st Annual Country Music Association Awards on Wednesday night (Nov. 8), as the show's "In Memoriam" video tribute played in the background." 
This almost brought me to tears. She did a fantastic job singing this touching song and all those pictures behind her made a huge impact.

Some asked that we all come together and change things in our country. I didn't see the first of the show when some jokes were evidently made about our present state of politics by Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley, hosts of the show.

For the first time in a long time, I enjoyed the music on this show. It was not all about tight jeans and sexy outfits so much as it was about getting back to the roots of country music and the values country folk usually grow up with. I might begin to tune in a country station on my Serious Radio sometimes. As a viewer, I felt the love those singers and musicians felt for each other and for their fans.

After the show I picked up a poetry book that was near by, Fluent in Rivers by Kathleen Brewin Lewis, and opened it to this poem that also made me feel warm inside.

Collusion on the Middle Provo

He knows it is my first time
so he is patient, leading me
down the path to the riverbed,
through meadows of red clover,
lamb’s ears, saffron yarrow.

He stands me amid the stones
in the river’s rush, places
the rod in my hand, covers
my hand with his, talks of technique:
how to cast, mend, hook, reel.
And so I unfurl, over and over again,
until I feel what he means:
the tug and tear of a fish on the line.

Let the line run when the fish jerks,
He coaches. Reel it smoothly in as the fish tires.
And when the trout rises, he laughs,
congratulates me, scoops
my fish into his net,
tells me I’m a natural.

He says to wet my hands
in the bracing current, then cup them
while he unhooks, lifts, puts the trout
in touch with me.

I want to press my lips to her,
she is so marvelous, pulsing, sleek
against my palms; instead I bend
and whisper, so he can’t hear me,
that I’m sorry for hurting her
and I wish her well.

I turn my back to him,
lower her into the glistening river
that snatches, bears her away.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Round Robin Reading at Coffee with the Poets and Writers on Wednesday, November 15, 10:30 AM.

Joan Gage is hosting our Coffee with the Poets and Writers for the rest of this year. She has come up with a different program this month. 

Round Robin Reading with Poets and Prose writers at Coffee with the Poets and Writers at the Moss Memorial Library, Hayesville, NC, Wednesday ,November 15, 2017

On November 15th, 2017, at 10:30 AM, the North Carolina Writers’ Network-West will host Coffee with the Poets and Writers at the Moss Memorial Library in Hayesville, NC. The event will be round-robin style, with several members reading from their works for approximately 40 minutes. Members will include: Glenda Council Beall, Joan Ellen Gage, Bob Grove, Joan M. Howard, Mary Ricketson, and Carroll Taylor. 

After the member readings, guest attendees will be invited to read their work. All open Mic readings will be approximately 3 minutes. 

Coffee and cookies will be provided, and the public is invited. For more information, please contact Joan Ellen Gage at 828-389-3733.

If you live in Clay or Cherokee Counties in North Carolina or Towns or Union Counties in Georgia, please join us for the Open Mic readings. You can bring something to read or just come and listen.

We love guests. After the meeting we often go to a local restaurant to have lunch. Join us.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

My brother and nephew, entertainers and comedians

A concert and dinner with my brother Max, his son Gabe, and my sister and her husband Stu, made my weekend so much fun.
Gay Moring, Max Council, Glenda Beall
In my family Max is  known for his humor and his son Gabe is following in his father's footsteps. We all met in Cartersville, GA for dinner at Table 20 just off Main Street. We had an hour and thirty minutes before the concert began at the Grant theater just a few steps down the street. A train runs through the town and we were all stuck waiting for the longest one I've seen in years but we arrived at about the same time. Max and Gabe drove up from south Georgia. Gay, Stu and I from Roswell, GA where I was spending a few days.

We laughed like school kids at the hilarious stories Max told us about his sons working at the family business, Hercules Bumpers, in Pelham, GA. Gabe told us that being the boss's son was no picnic. He was handed the dirtiest and toughest job in the plant when he was a young man working in summer before going to college. I had not heard these stories and fell in love with my nephew's knack for holding forth like his father and having his listeners practically rolling on the floor. 

Glenda, Max, Gabe and Gay
I don't see Gabe and Max as often as I'd like. Max is eighty-eight years old. His devoted son enjoys his father, and they spend every Sunday afternoon driving to small towns and through the countryside, visiting sites they have heard about but have not taken in before.

Recently they visited the home of Gene Talmadge, former governor of Georgia back in the forties. Gabe said Max enthralled the staff with his memories of Mr. Talmadge's reign. The controversial politician was known as the red-suspendered man because he always wore them. Max, who has an unbelievable memory, sang the jingle used in Talmadge's campaign. The staff was so delighted with my brother, they said they might call him to tell his stories to visitors at the old Talmadge home. My father did not like Gene Talmadge and after reading about him, I understand.

Hearing Max speak tonight reminded me that the oral history of our families often disappear when our loved ones are gone. We should take advantage of folks like my brother and record his  memories.

I talk with  Max often on the phone and Gabe and I email, but that doesn't take the place of a good visit like we had the night of the concert. The love between sisters and brothers is a special thing that overcomes all the anger or frustration created in a lifetime of family. No matter how upset we become at times, we never forget that we have a tie that lasts and heals those difficult times. Max is the brother I have had the most fights with and loved the best when I was a  child.

He has many faults as do I, but he was a wonderful brother to two little girls. He has always been the one in our family that made us all laugh. He is also an artist, a singer, a songwriter, and a poet. His song lyrics are touching and beautiful, as were songs back in the forties and fifties.

He loved our mother deeply and wrote a sweet and clever poem for her one Mother's Day. It was framed and hung on the wall until her death. He is a good sport and is not afraid to make fun of himself.  Max is the last one of my four brothers still with us. He misses the three that are gone like I would miss Gay if she were not here. The four of them were inseparable. They talked every day. I know he has days when he  wishes he could call on of them.

When he is no longer here to  tell his tales, he will have left them in the good hands of his  son, Gabe. So generations to come will hear the family stories even if they aren't written down.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Are you a Robison? Are you a Cooper or a Jones?

These are some of the lines in my mother's family. Mother was Georgia Lois Robison. Her father was William Henry Robison. His father was John Monroe Robison.

In researching my genealogy which I really enjoy when I have the time, I found my Mother's last name spelled in many, many different ways. Even today, her uncle Oliver's family spells it wrong.

Census records and other records from the past 100 years or more, have Robison spelled wrong:: Robinson, Roberson, Robertson, Robeson, Robson, and on and on.

From my research I find that the Robisons, my family line, come from Ireland. I am sure that today I could find all the names above in Ireland. But I have not gone back that far in research. has become a big disappointment to me. I find tons of mistakes because people just simply copy what others put on their family tree. They don't find sources for their names. They seem to believe anything they see.

I have seen an entire family listed for my grandfather John Monroe Robison that is wrong. I know John Monroe had a brother named Larkin and another brother, William. My research shows that Larkin and William lived in Florida not far from my father's family, the Councils. All three Robisons enlisted in the Confederate army in Leon County Florida.

The confusion comes when the tomb stones have the spelling of the last name wrong. Or Find a Grave has the spelling and other information wrong. Family Search says they cannot change an error when I contacted them about some mistakes they have on their site about my own family.

Although it took me ten years to write my Council family history, I corroborated my information. Too many new genealogists are not patient and don't want to do real research. They jump to the information that is close to what they want to believe.

Sometimes our sources can be wrong. The Pelham newspaper had an obit for my father's brother-in-law, Willie Gilreath which said he was buried in the Pelham cemetery but no one can find his grave. We know he had family in Tennessee but seems no one can find his grave there either.

Often in our research, we dig up bones no one wants to know about. Some of my cousins were shocked to find their grandfather's mother was not who they thought. A son was born out of wedlock and he was raised by the married sister in the family, not his biological mother. Today those things are not that unusual but in the early twentieth century, it was hush-hush. In my book, that was one mistake I didn't know about and so a family of descendants are listed incorrectly.

I am not looking for those kinds of things when I am researching. I am more interested in the history of the people. If I am related to the first Robison to enter this country, I want to know who he is and where he came from.
John Monroe Robison in chair surrounded by his children

Cousins and brother looking at graves in Providence Cemetery where
John Monroe Robison is buried

According to my DNA sent in to Ancestry, all my family comes from England, Ireland and that part of Europe. And they came to this country in the 1600s and 1700s. I'd sure like to know who those early guys were and what they did..

Do you, my readers, enjoy genealogy or digging up bones?