Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Are we happy? Make today count.

“There are times in the lives of most of us when we would have given all the world to be as we were but yesterday, though that yesterday had passed over us unappreciated and unenjoyed.” --- William Edward Hartpole Lecky

Everyone wants to be happy. What makes us happy? Are we happy?
Were we happier in the past or are we happier now? Do we need to be happy? Can we live a good life without happiness?
When my husband died, I wondered if I would ever again be happy. My sadness, sorrow and grief dragged me to the deepest darkness where I could see no light anywhere. I know many people feel this way. Loss of a loved one--mother, father, child, husband, wife, siblings and even our pets can drain all joy from us.

Guilt, anger and need for revenge can steal our happiness. Jealousy is a major thief of happiness. People are killed by loved ones because of jealousy.

Lives can be ruined by all these things. For most of my life, I blamed my moods on people around me. I worried about everything that had any effect on me. My family had a huge amount of control over my life and that of my husband's when we lived so near them. Anger ruled me for years, and the anger came from my lack of or my assumption that I had no control over my life. When I gave in to my anger and erupted like a volcano my husband or one of my brothers usually felt the fire, the words that spewed like lava from my mouth. That brought on my guilt, my shame for being irrational or paranoid.

At times I wished to disappear and be invisible. How could those I loved look at me with love when I had such loathing for myself? Looking back on these times in my life, I find a deep empathy for my father. He was well-known for his bad temper, his anger that turned to rage and brought out the worst in him. Mother said he always felt such remorse when he calmed down.

"Depressed people remember sad memories better and happy people remember the happy times better." *

I often wonder if my older brothers had the same father as my younger sister and I. They remembered Daddy with love and respect. I remembered his unreasonable anger for many years even after he died at the age of 88. Was it depression that brought back those bad memories or was it anger and need for revenge that goaded me as an adult?

"Depressed people have as many good events in their lives as other people, but they only remember the bad ones." *

At one time I only remembered my bad feelings, anxiety and anger, at family gatherings. My sister remembered those gatherings with fondness and joy.

For the past few months, Gay and I emailed each other, every day, three things for which we were grateful. I think that is a wonderful exercise, and I urge you to do it with someone you like or love.
  • Today I am grateful I woke up with no pain.
  • I am grateful that I have heat in my house and I am warm.
  • I am grateful for my little dog who brings me such joy every day.
I might just take all those things for granted if I didn't write them down.

Expressing our gratefulness at the moment grounds us and makes us recognize what good we have in our lives. When we do this, we don't let the day go past unappreciated or un-enjoyed.

No one knows what tomorrow will bring. We live in a very uncertain world. But we know what we have this minute, this hour, today. I try to be grateful for today and what it brings. Write down those special moments in a journal or on your computer. I believe writing our thoughts embeds them in our minds so we can pull them up when we want to experience joy again.

Today I talked on the phone for a long time with my sister. We laughed and wondered how we got this old without even realizing it. We talked about our plans for the future, we discussed our loved ones and how we want to help them. I will list this phone call on my gratitude list.  

For those who have children, record with photos or words, those delightful things they say and do. One day you can share them and laugh about the happy times. From my brother's recordings I watched recently, emotions spilled over and I laughed as well as cried. I only remember the good things about the family get-togethers now. I am different. I am happy and at peace. I see faces of family that are gone now and wish I had the chance to speak to them again, to tell them how much I appreciated them. But those days were unappreciated at the time because we always thought we had tomorrow. We often let petty anger or jealousy stand in the way of being who we want to be.

And then there were six, taken after the death of Ray the oldest brother
I only remember the happy times with my husband. We certainly had disagreements and arguments, awful times when we hardly spoke, but I don't want to remember those times. Why should I? The happy times bring me joy and there were far more of them than the bad times.

Family photo at Easter before I was married

With age comes wisdom, and looking back with the wisdom of my years, I see so many ways I brought on my unhappiness, times I brought unhappiness to others.

If you could go back to yesteryear, what would you do differently? Could you have been a happier person or been a kinder person to those around you? Could you have saved a relationship with a sibling or friend?

If only we could pass our wisdom on to younger ones today. But will youth listen or must they learn these things from their own experience? What do you think?

Take control of your life. Be the hero in your life story. Don't let today go by unappreciated.

* From The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

Saturday, April 14, 2018

April 15 Looms. I pay, you pay, we all pay and where does it go?

Life here in my neck of the woods looks much better this week. The sunshine brightens everything and flowers are popping out all over the place. Just last week we had a freezing couple of nights, but maybe this time we can actually believe Mother Nature. Maybe this is really the beginning of spring.

I began physical therapy for my hip pain and will have an MRI on my knee next week. I always feel better when I am proactive with a problem. With my stretches at home and the work I do at the PT office, I think I will be back to myself soon.

Today I finally completed my tax preparation and a nice accountant let me come in and get it completed late this afternoon.  I decided to use an at home program again this year. I find that it costs me about the same as using a local accountant. And since I have to do the major part of the work, collecting all the data, etc. why not just plug those numbers into my Turbo Tax form and be done with it? But it was not so easy. The accountant made me feel better when he said my return was complicated and most H & R Block folks could not do my taxes. He even said, "If you could do your taxes yourself, I'd hire you to work for me."

Every year when it is time to figure up what I owe the government, I remember what my accountant told me many years ago when both Barry and I worked and made a decent income. David said to me, "Don't complain about paying taxes. It just means you made money this year."

Yes, David, now that I don't have a good salary coming in and pay very little tax, I have to say I'd rather be paying the tax. Although we enjoy many things that our taxes pay for, we usually take them for granted. But when we see or hear what happens in countries where there are no services for the citizens, we should be thankful we have a government that tries to provide for us. I just wish I had more say in where my tax money should be spent.

I almost laugh when I hear that our government just spent a few million or a couple of billion dollars on something that seems very low on the priority list of most people. It would be nice if some of that money went to a half-way house for the homeless so they could have an address for a resume and have a place to shower and dress for job interviews. That would help them get off the streets and out of shelters. The tax money doesn't seem to trickle down to people who need it most. Maybe that is because it goes through the hands of those who don't see the need, who never went hungry or wondered where they would sleep.

I have been told by those who have all they will ever need, that they just can't see how a family could become homeless. But with so many working families living from pay check to pay check, all it takes is a serious illness, a car accident and injuries that prevent one of the parents from working. These families usually don't have an emergency fund. They don't have a savings account. I must admit I was surprised when I learned that many people who have worked for me in some capacity, had no savings at all. I have been extremely fortunate in my life. I had a family that took advantage of all opportunities that came their way and parents who knew it would take sacrifice and hard work to ever get ahead in life. But not everyone has the same kind of upbringing. Some have single mothers who can barely make enough to put food on the table or have to choose between buying groceries and paying the rent. I shudder when I think of being in that position.

I heard from friends this week about three grown men, one of them a veteran, who are living at home in their parents' basement (different parents and different basements)  because they are divorced, can't find a job that will sustain them on their own, or who are ill and need help. Many hear this and  scoff, saying they are just lazy. That is not true. Living at home with parents has not always been scorned. My older brother lived at home until he married. But he had a good job and contributed financially. If the son or daughter can afford to help with the food and other expenses, that is great, but most parents want their children to save their money and eventually get their own place.

To rent a simple apartment in my county, the renter must come up with about three thousand dollars. He must pay first and last month's rent and a deposit. The monthly rental runs from 800 - 1000 dollars a month.  The renter needs a very good job to make that kind of money and in our rural area, those jobs don't exist.

Everywhere, in every shop window, I see Now Hiring signs. But those jobs pay ten dollars an hour or less. If I had no job and could only make about $400 a week, how would I pay rent and feed a family? How could I afford a car to get to work? From the four hundred, taxes are withheld. So at the end of the month, the waitress or daily laborer takes home less than 1600 dollars a month. If 1000 dollars goes for rent, and several hundred pay for an automobile, how much is left for food and necessities of life? Often the companies hiring want part time workers.

We have a problem. We have too many working poor or men and women who work but just barely keep their heads above water financially. Ten dollar an hour jobs should be for teenagers or part time jobs for an adult who has another breadwinner in the family.

Part time workers are hard to find because men need full time jobs that pay a decent salary in order to have a home for a wife and family. And with so many single mothers trying to care for children, I think it is wonderful that, in many cases, they can get help through social services. When I hear others complain that "she knows how to play the system" I wonder if they have ever had to do what that single mother has to do in order to keep food on the table or a roof over the head of her family.

My brother had real estate in Florida. Many of his renters were single women with children. The father  was no longer involved or made so little money himself, he could do little to help. Because of HUD, these single mothers were assured their children would not be homeless. This government program paid their rent each month. My brother said the checks came in regularly. He had to meet the provisions for these homes, but he had no problem with that. The renters also had to meet requirements each month. I don't know if that program is still in place with all the changes being made now, but I hope it is.

Anyway, I wondered a bit from my taxes, didn't I? But you see where I think our taxes should be used if possible. "Give those who need it a hand up, and look up to see where they end up." This quote by Glenda Beall. Feel free to use it. (smile)

Franklin D. Roosevelt said:  "The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much, it is whether we provide enough for those who have little."

 Read more at:

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Easter Sunday

I always think of Easter as the beginning of life.

On this day we begin again, our lives, and think about what we can do with them. Tomorrow is Easter Sunday and it brings back memories of Easter when I was a child and when I was a young adult. Whether Gay and I were going to the little country church with our neighbors or waking up to find the Easter Bunny had come, Easter was a special time of the year.
I remember the cellophane covered Easter baskets beside my bed when I awoke. But I remember most the stuffed rabbits my sister and I received. One year my rabbit was really big and with the prettiest long white satin ears. Well, they were white on the inside and pink and furry on the outside. I kept that rabbit so long I took it to college with me and slept with it. It helped when I was miserable with homesickness.
Recently I found in my collection of VHS tapes, one made by my dear brother, Ray. He had recorded family gatherings for several years. At least two or three were of my nieces and nephews and their children hunting for Easter Eggs on the big front lawn in front of my parents' home. The Easter Egg hunt there became a tradition that has lasted for fifty years, I guess. I don't know if it goes on today, but I imagine it does.
Three precious little girls in Easter dresses

Mother, in her apron, stood on the front porch and watched the kids hunt eggs. Barry and his brother, Richard, stand between my brothers Hal and Rex. Looking cute in fancy overalls is Yvonne, Hal's wife.
All the little ones were dressed in their finest clothes. The girls had frilly dresses and the boys wore little suits and ties. How cute they were as they carried baskets bigger than they were while mothers tried to help them see the eggs hidden in plain sight. On Ray's recording, the third generation of Council kids repeated the actions of their mothers and fathers. But in these films Mother was not standing on the front porch watching as she had done back in the sixties. She was either sick or gone by the time these recordings were made.

Barry and I sang in the choir down in Albany and then in Hayesville Presbyterian here in the mountains. The hymns for Easter were joyful and uplifting. I can't explain that feeling, but I found myself smiling when I sang and listened to the voices around me. As Joe Perrone, Jr  says in his post this week about music, it brings back memories and takes us back to places and times we will never forget.
Hayesville Presbyterian Church in Hayesville, NC where I spent many happy hours
with good friends
I don't go to church on Easter anymore because of the flowers, the perfume and fragrances that would trigger an asthma attack or send me into a brain fog such as I suffered early this week. For four days I was in bed or on the couch, hardly strong enough to make meals for myself and feed Lexie. This was a result of sitting in a room with over twenty  people for four hours even as I enjoyed being there. All it takes is a small exposure to a chemical fragrance to make me ill. I have heard that on a Sunday morning, a church has more air pollution than any other place in America. There are very few progressive enough to ask congregations to refrain from wearing scented products to church. But in some countries and in some areas of the United States, this is done.
I learned from a good friend who is responsible for flowers in her church that she pulls the stamens out of all the lilies before putting them out. The priest was allergic to them, so that is how they eliminated the problem for him.
I will not go to church tomorrow, but I have been invited by a dear friend to have lunch with her. I will certainly enjoy that. Today another special friend and neighbor brought me some of her delicious chicken noodle soup and fresh baked banana bread. I'd say my weekend is going well.
If you are one who prays, please remember my friends, Ginny and Rob, who face surgery in the coming days. They are very dear to me.
Hope your Easter is happy and you get lots of chocolate bunnies in your basket.
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Monday, March 26, 2018

Remembering When We Were Young

Good morning. It is two- thirty in the morning and I have slept most of Sunday. Saturday we held a writing event and it was great fun, but today I am tired from helping set up the room and taking a car loaded with stuff down to the library. Now that it is over, I have a car loaded that I have to unload.
In my mind I can do anything I want to do. I forget that my body sometimes refuses to do what my mind wants. I forget that it takes longer to do the simple things I once did without thinking.

If you are of my generation or if you have disabilities, does it frustrate you that what once seemed an ordinary feat, now is a major effort?

I have great ideas, I'm told, but I need a company of hired help to accomplish those ideas. When I had my other half of me, he took on the physical chores and I was confident my plans would be completed. We built a bridge and a small storage house on our lot in Georgia. We even cleared the wooded lot ourselves. We were in our twenties. We could do anything! But the years go swiftly by and that energy dwindles away.

We had great vacations when we were young. I will share a poem I wrote about my first skiing trip – in fact, my only skiing trip, when we could tackle 'most anything.

I almost died from the altitude the first night I arrived, and was a little light headed the next day when everyone hit the slopes. I took lessons from the most handsome young instructor. The brochure for the resort used his picture on the front.

He was not gentle with me. In fact he laughed at my clumsy attempt at skiing. You might have seen this poem already, but it is one of my favorites because it brings back memories of that delightful trip to Colorado with Barry, my brother Rex, and his wife, Mary, so long ago.


High in Colorado    
By Glenda Council Beall
He poses, hip cocked in red and blue,
sun-glistened face of Eros turned to me,
a fledgling atop the icy slope. My
breath quickens in foolish adoration

at the sound of my name from his mouth.

Knees bent, I push on poles and slide
down to him, past him, racing for the edge.
Sit down, Glenda! My legs collapse,

long shoes shoot sidewise. I try to rise,
but can't. He twirls, zips toward me,
digs in. You know a mogul is a South
Georgia girl who falls and can't get up.

He laughs, his teeth like sparkling icicles.
Giddy Aspen air heliums my brain,
overflows my heart that dances in triple time.
He yanks me up, skims powder to the lift.

At sea level, snow dreams
melt into arrogant soap bubbles
as his smiling face yellows
on a faded brochure beneath my ski apparel.

Have a good week and I'll be back next weekend.




Monday, March 19, 2018

My Celebration of St. Patrick's Day in Roswell Georgia

When I visit Gay and Stu in Roswell, GA I always have fun. Friday evening we went to hear and see the fabulous Michael O'Neal Singers at the awesomely huge United Methodist Church. The concert, Return to Old Ireland, was all Irish music and also Irish dance by a group of girls who were cute, smart and professional. They were a joy to watch.

When more than one hundred voices sing perfectly, it sends chills down my spine. The harmony by MOS, as they are known, must take hours and hours of practice. I forgot the time and closed my eyes and listened. Several solo musicians performed with the chorus and then, about half way through the evening, a small orchestra came onstage to perform a special piece created by Mary McAuliffe, who flew in from Ireland that evening for the performance. 

She was presented with a big bouquet of flowers by Michael O'Neal, conductor.
McAuliffe was born in Cork in southern Ireland. She studied music at University College Cork. She is considered one of Ireland's leading and most performed choral composers.

So many Irish songs come from the poetry of W.B. Yeats and other poets. I like the lilting songs and love the haunting and mournful music of Ireland. 

I am a big fan of Celtic Thunder and Celtic Woman. Their shows on PBS are always recorded on my TV, and I watch them often. If you enjoy Irish music and performers, be sure to check out these groups.

Here I am with one of the original Celtic Thunder group.
Paul Byrom is a fantastic Irish Tenor 
My ancestors are Irish and English, and I wonder if I have a gene that draws me to that music and the lives of the people who live there. The Irish people suffered so badly, losing much of the entire population, during the Great Famine of 1845 - 1850, and came as immigrants to our country. They were mistreated here and longed for their homeland. I am sure many of the mournful songs are from those who missed their homeland and longed to be there. One line in Return to Old Ireland is "Oh, My Ireland, I love you still."

Like the refugees from war torn countries today flooding into Europe and Canada, who don't want to leave their homelands, but can't live there anymore, I'm sure those Irish immigrants felt the same way. But they made America their home and reared their children in the new country. Have you read Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt? 

In time, the new country and the old country bonded. People in the United States celebrate St. Patrick's Day no matter if they don't have a drop of Irish in them. In fact, some of our countrymen dress in weird green glasses, hats, and wear shiny green ties. I saw one of them at Lucky's, the best hamburger place in Roswell, Georgia.  

But I will write about Lucky's in another post. 

Until next time, I hope you will visit me at and leave a comment at the end of this post. 

Sunday, March 11, 2018

The End of a Bad Week, the Start of a Good Weekend

A bad week ends and a great weekend begins.

When our wonderful few days of spring came and fooled us into believing it was real, I fought that thought because it is way too early for purchasing flowers and planting things in the earth. But I did have a few days when I could open my windows, turn off the heat and sit on my deck.

Surprise! Those days did not last.Cold freezing weather came back and my studio became very cold because my propane heater was not working. The pilot light was out and I assumed I had no gas in the tanks. My call to the company was not met with much hope of getting my gas tanks refilled and my heater back on this week. I turned on my small electric heater and bundled up when I worked down there.

Upstairs, I still had my central heating unit working. But not for long! One day the thermostat went completely blank and the compressor would not come on even after I hit the red reset button a number of times.This happened last weekend so I could not reach a repairman. On Monday I called and was told how busy the repairman was, but he would try to get to me as soon as he could. To make a sad and long story short, the repairman came and put in a new transformer that lasted one day. I was back with no central heat. Two days later he came back and worked three hours. He left me with the words that he had it fixed. All day I watched and listened to the unit work, but after a couple of hours I realized I was  only feeling cold air coming through the vents. I turned it off and have not had any central heat since. My calls have not been returned either. 

The small electric heater will not heat my whole house when it is freezing cold.  After my electricity went off on Thursday morning, and after a pitiful call to the gas company, my tank was filled and the nice man lit the pilot light on the gas heater. At least I had heat downstairs for my company coming Friday afternoon.

But here I am Saturday evening and I have no gas heat downstairs and no central heat upstairs. The pilot light went out on the gas heater and neither I nor my house guest can start it. My electricity was back on after about three hours on Thursday and I am so grateful for my little electric heaters both upstairs and down. Perhaps on Monday I can reach the Heating and Cooling company and maybe get the gas company to send someone to relight the pilot light.

My worst fear is that I have to buy a new compressor for my heating and cooling system and that the gas heater is broken. 

The bright star in my week is the visit from my sister and brother-in-law, Gay and Stu, and their precious little dogs. They arrived on Friday and we went out with a friend for dinner on Friday night. We had a great time, drank some champagne, and I forgot about my cold house.
Smokie, the dog I love the most after Lexie.

Saturday morning, the three of us drove over to Waynesville, NC, a lovely mountain town, to meet with friends for lunch. Again we had lots of fun and took a walk from the restaurant on Main down to the church where our friend is  Choir Director now. I have a special love for this man because he was responsible for the music at my husband's memorial service at Alpharetta Presbyterian Church in 2009. It was one of the most beautiful services I've ever seen. We handed him a list of hymns and songs Barry liked, and our friend, Joel, turned it into an outstanding medley with solos and choir participating. Barry loved music so I know he was delighted with what Joel did for him and for us who loved him.

The Presbyterian Church in Waynesville has a warm feeling with lots of wood. The piano, we were told, came from Billy Graham Ministries. The staff, including the minister, is all female except for Joel. I think I would enjoy attending that church. it was nice of Joel and his wife to give us a tour.

We made one more stop in Waynesville and that was to a doggy shop. They carry everything for dogs and people who love dogs. Gay and I each filled a small cup with dog treats for our little ones back home. We can tell that Waynesville is a dog friendly town because we saw several people walking dogs on the sidewalks. Some stores had bowls of water sitting outside their doors for dogs walking by. One sign said, "bowls of water for dogs or very short people." 

Gay and Stu

Tonight I will sleep warm with my little doggy heater, Lexie, and warmth from my electric heater that ran all day while we were gone. I am grateful to EMC for their quick service getting my power back, for Gay and Stu, and for a terrific Saturday that made up for the crappy week. 

Hope your coming week is filled with things you can be grateful for and that the good times out-number the bad.


Monday, March 5, 2018

Talk to your older relatives before they are gone. They have great stories.

Sunday is almost over and I am just getting to my computer. I hope you all had a great day. The sun shone here, and it was a nice break from all the rain.

I gave myself permission (yes, sometimes I have to do that) to while away my afternoon watching a movie on Netflix. I kind of napped some, too.

Tonight is the big Oscar’s night on TV and I am not big on watching award shows. Tomorrow all the shows will encapsulate the most interesting moments and that leaves me with more time tonight.
I do have a little interest however in this year’s show. The woman I most admire these days is Jane Fonda.  

She is 80 and looks like she is thirty. Just this afternoon, as I was going through boxes, I pulled out one of Jane’s exercise tapes. I couldn’t do those exercises when I bought it and surely could not do it now. So it will go with all those other useless things I am ridding myself of and I won’t look back.

I not only admire Jane Fonda for keeping herself fit, but she has not given into ageing or the presumptions we Americans have about ageing. 

She is still working and stars in a television show, Grace and Frankie on Netflix. She keeps herself relevant to the times. Isn’t that what all of us want as we age? Not to be forgotten or to become invisible, but to be listened to and contacted when we can make a difference.

So many times I see younger people with an older relative or parent, and they never listen to the older person nor do they ask for his input. The younger ones talk loud and laugh and make so much noise that the older person can’t be heard. They show no respect nor interest in wisdom that could be important to them in the future.

My father used to leave the dinner table when my grown brothers began telling their stories. We all laughed, and everyone talked loudly. He would go into his bedroom and watch television or read. Some of us criticized him for doing so, but I understand him better now that I am near the age he was then. He was left out of the conversation completely, and had difficulty hearing and understanding. Mother sat there and smiled, but I am sure now that she was not understanding everything either.

As we get older most of us prefer smaller groups and being with people whom we can exchange ideas and opinions. Our hearing becomes impaired, and our voices are not always as strong as those who are younger. When older people have difficulty hearing they can become isolated and shut themselves away from the world.

I urge anyone who has a parent still living to go to them and ask them to tell you about their youth. You must be genuinely interested, however, or you will not pay attention. I think it is best to ask detailed questions to get your relative thinking about a time or a place that will provoke more memories. If possible use a small recorder so you don't forget important details.

I often ask my older brother, almost 89 now, to tell me about our family before I was born. I learn the most surprising things.
Two of my Council cousins - she is over 100 years old.
Most of my writing classes are designed for writers who want to share their life stories. I am amazed at the lives my students tell about in their memoirs. We all have unique stories, and they will not be told unless we tell them. In the coming months I will be teaching again and I look forward to hearing more of those interesting tales.

Have you written any stories about your life that others would find interesting and unique?

Other similar posts. Birthdays, What to Celebrate

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Is everything OK? Haven't seen a blog post lately.

It always makes me happy when someone emails and says, "Is everything Ok? I haven't seen a new post on your blog lately."
It doesn't make me happy that my life is so busy I am not keeping up with this blog. I am trying to be as punctual as my blogger friend, DJan, who writes faithfully every single Sunday morning. But lately the days are running past and into each other and I can't keep my head above water.

As usual, I over-scheduled myself for spring this year. I was excited to get back to teaching, but I forgot that this is also tax time and I must get all that done. I also forgot that often I must take a long nap in the afternoon to refresh me for five or six more hours of work.

The job of program coordinator for NC Writers' Network West is supposed to be twenty hours a month, part time, but I am positive that I spend more hours than that answering emails, sending email announcements, supporting our members in their own endeavors and staying in touch with our county reps. I love it all and just wish my body was as strong as my mind.

Also I am working very hard to get a book ready for publication. My friend, Estelle Rice, writer and poet, is my collaborator for a book about our pets and other creatures. It is going to be a fun read and we will include pictures, but it seems that every time I think we have it ready, something comes up and there is more work to do. Estelle said today, "Isn't this fun?" I said, "No, I am sick of this book."

I hear that all authors feel that way by the time the book is done. "There are no good writers, only good re-writers." So we go over and over and find errors or see a better way to write a sentence or change the organization of the stories and poems. The book has been edited by other people twice and by us three or four times.

To my readers who have missed my blog posts, I hope you don't leave me or forget me. I hope to get back on schedule very soon. Meanwhile, if you live near my town, and if you want to learn to write better or start writing, contact Lisa Long at Tri-County-Community College and sign up for my class there beginning March 5, 5:30 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.. Every Monday for four weeks we will meet and learn and have fun doing it. Visit to see my writing schedule and how to register.

Some of my writing students from a class at TCCC in 2015

Lexie is curled in a little ball beside me and it is late. Tomorrow is another busy day and I am blessed to have plans and opportunities awaiting me.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

My Immigrant Ancestors

While talking with a friend today we discovered our ancestors came to this country in the seventeen and eighteen hundreds from England, Ireland and Scotland. So many of us in the deep south descend from those pioneers who migrated down through North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Alabama. Just as in present day, people migrated in groups or families. Besides the Councils who came down from NC, the Poseys and Pelts, the Boyettes and my mother's Robison, Jones and Coopers also migrated south.

Around 1850, after the native Americans were pushed out of north Florida, the land which now belonged to the Federal Government, sold for as little as $1.25 an acre. Now I understand how my great grandfather, John Cecil Council came to own so much land.

I find members of the Robison (Robinson) family in Wakulla County, Florida. Larkin Robison, believed to be brother to John Monroe Robison, is buried in   
Woodville Cemetery in Leon County, Florida.

I am digging bones again now that I have downloaded Legacy 9, supposed to be the most popular genealogy program out there today. I plan to take a couple of classes with Larry Van Horn who writes a column for our local paper and who is the predominant family historian in this area. His expertise extends to all the digital records and histories found online.

When I began exploring family roots in the seventies and eighties, I traveled around south Georgia perusing old records, files, and cemeteries. I bought books about early families in North Carolina and Virginia where the first John Council stepped off a ship.

Seventeenth Century Isle of Wight County Virginia by John Bennett Boddie is filled with information including names like John Council, his son Hardy Council and their descendants. Many of the residents here came before the Pilgrims landed in Plymouth.

Boddie explains the difference in his use of Puritan and Pilgrim. "The Brownist Movement (Separatist Movement)was an original defection from the English Church and favored separation from that body. There is a definite parallel between two of its offspring, viz: The Ancient Church formed in London in 1592, removed to Holland in 1597, whose remnants in 1618 migrated to Virginia - though most of them died enroute; and the Separatist or Pilgrim Church which in 1607-8 escaped to Holland and in 1620 embarked for Virginia but landed in Plymouth....the two groups then had much in common and history shows that the Rev. John Robinson, at different times served both of them."

Could that John Robinson be an ancestor of mine?  Robinson and Robison seem to be interchangeable on many records of that time.

Before Isle of Wight county became such, it was home to several tribes of native born groups including the Warascoyak and the Nansemonds. This was the James River region. The first white settlers who came were the Puritans, who came over from Holland after breaking from the church in England.

Boddie gives a couple of chapters to explaining the forces of the church and how they played out in forming Isle of Wight County, Virginia. Of  course many fights with the local Indians caused death to those early settlers. Boddie uses written records of the time to tell this story of the history of Isle of Wight County.

Boddie offers proof that men from Isle of Wight County were among the first settlers in North Carolina. So the migration began to move south.

In a chapter on Land Grants 1674-1705 I find other names in my family lines: Council, Jones and Robinson. In Land Grants 1628-1674, I see a Justinian Cooper. Could he be an ancestor to my Samuel Cooper line which I traced back to South Carolina?

John Council is named in a Deed Book in 1697. In May of 1775, Joshua Council was name to a County Committee of Safety. Was this man related to John Cecil Council born in 1833 in Alabama?

As a genealogy enthusiast, finding these surnames and the dates when they lived in Virginia  is like finding pieces of a jig saw puzzle and trying to find their place among all the other pieces. It is addictive and keeps me up at night. What intrigues me is how many of the names in Boddie's book are also found in the 1800 census records in Georgia, Alabama and Florida where my known ancestors lived.

We are a land of immigrants.
All the Councils, Joneses and Coopers as well as the Robisons, Robinsons and Poseys and Bealls came here from England, France, Holland, Ireland and Scotland in the days when white people fought the Indians for the land. With all the talk of immigration today, it is hard to think of my family as immigrants because they came so long ago, but still they came here to find a better life for themselves and their families just as do the people who come today.

I know we must be careful to monitor everyone in order to protect us from terrorists, but we are still the land of the free and that is what drives people to try to live here. Freedom which we all cherish is what many now want to deny anyone who is brown or black or comes from Africa. We have what we want here and we want to turn others away from sharing our land of the free.

Immigrants who come here from impoverished regions will take any job, usually, just to be able to live in this great country. Many wealthy people work undocumented people and pay them small wages, and those workers don't complain. They sometimes do the work no one else will do just so they can be here. Some are treated like slaves. Those same wealthy people pretend to be angered about illegal immigration when they are fostering the process.

In recent years I have met Americans who are first and second generation descendants of immigrants. They are so glad their grandparents came to this country, worked very hard to raise and educate their families. I feel that I have been ignorant of the whole matter of immigration most of my life because my family and people I knew growing up were descendants of those who fought in the war for our independence from England.

I assumed that most people in this country, other than Native Americans, had the same family backgrounds. Now I realize that our country is full of recent immigrants who are making a huge difference in our culture, a difference that many don't like and don't want. People with my kind of  ancestry are often afraid that darker skinned people will prevail and change us in a way they won't like. Well, it has already happened. Our popular music today is not what I grew up listening to and the food we eat is not what I grew up eating. The traditions we followed a few generations ago have changed in many households and in many communities, but is that so bad?  

Most young people embrace the changes and accept people for who they are and not the color of their skin. However, there are always those who hate anyone who is different. I have hope that as time passes we can all accept the changes in our culture and look for the good it brings us, not the bad.

If my ancestors had not wanted a better life for themselves and their families and if they had not braved the hardships to get here back in the seventeenth century,  what would my life have been like? They broke all kinds of laws to  build a country where freedom of religion and freedom of speech could be guaranteed. And now we have Americans who want to curb freedom of religion if it is not what they believe.

I hope the immigration laws can soon be worked out so that those who have been here most of their lives can be given a path to stay and work. I hope they can also be made so that those who want to come here don't have to wait for ten years to gain citizenship. Surely compassionate men and women in our government can put themselves in the places of the people affected by our laws and make the right decision. 

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Travel to India - If you want to go, read this travelogue by Nanine Case who went there alone and documented it with photos and stories.

A travel blog by Nanine Case about an unusual visit to  India

Recently I answered my home phone and someone asked a name I  knew, but it was not someone at my house. I politely said, "She doesn't live here. You have the wrong number."
The caller did not respond as most people would. She did not hang up, but began telling me why she was calling this woman. She had an old newspaper clipping with a heading that said Ronda B. was teaching a class on Create Space and the caller wanted to see if Ronda would teach her how to use this program to publish a book.

The caller, Nanine Case, and I talked for over an hour. She is a most interesting person who has written a historical novel. She writes a travel blog and she is an excellent photographer. I don't remember when I have enjoyed a conversation so much with a complete stranger.

The mystery of the wrong number was uncovered when she said she found the number on the article listed as where to call regarding the class. Of course, that number was my number because Ronda was to instruct a class at my writing studio.

After our long talk on the phone Nanine and I both were delighted that the wrong number ended up in our meeting and finding we had much in common. I was able to answer many questions she had about writing and publishing and gave her the names of others in the area who might be of help to her.

We will meet one day and sit face to face. We will continue our discussion about writing and many other topics. Meanwhile, I visited her blog. What a beautiful site. I read all of her  posts about her unusual trip to India. The accompanying photographs put me right there with all the sights and  sounds, the food and the smells. I hope you will click on

To take the trip from the beginning, the reader will have to scroll backward from the present post to find when Nanine makes the decision to go on this trip 1n 2013.  

Let me know what  you think by leaving a comment. 
Don't forget to follow me by leaving your email address in the space on the side bar of this blog.  You will not get any emails from me other than the posts which I write once a week. 

You can read more about my writing and my upcoming classes at 

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