So not only did you teach me about writing memoir, you also taught me about reading and thinking about how others write memoir. Thank you so much!
-Rebecca

p.s. my mom now refers to me as the family "chronicler" - getting down all the family stories. How I love that title!! :)

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Sunday, April 5, 2020

CHANGES ARE COMING - WHAT WILL THEY BE?

We are told that our lives will never be the same. Some are extremely worried about the changes that will come.

Perhaps no more gathering of huge crowds, maybe people won't hug and kiss like they used to, and some say we will no longer shake hands after this virus has shaken us to our core. Will we bow when we meet as the Japanese do?

Some younger folk say the change in our lives will be worse than the virus. Really??

History will show us that our lives in this country change with almost every generation. It is not only the economy that changes, but our manners, our behavior and values change over time. Even our language changes as time goes on.

When I was young, life was far different from what we have today. It was not acceptable for a single woman to birth a baby. Divorce was not nearly so accepted as it is today. At least that was the way I remember it. Today it seems we have more divorces than marriages and in my day, couples did not live together until they married. 

Women had few rights. Only the husband was permitted to have a credit card. The wife could sign on his card, but he was always the primary card holder and her rights were limited. A woman could have her charges refused because she was not the owner of the card.

The way young people dated was far different than today. Instead of going out at 10:00 PM as they do today, we had to be home by 11:00 PM.

I have found that my lifestyle changed immensely as I grew older. Television, telephones and automobiles are all far different than they were when I was in my thirties and forties. But I have accepted these changes for the most part, even though I want to keep my landline, I don't want to be forced to text, to be on Twitter, and I refuse to be controlled by a smart phone glued to my palm.

I don't worry about the changes we will face when this deadly virus is finally under control. I only hope that the changes will make us a kinder and more understanding society. I hope the generosity displayed now will continue. Maybe the compassion for those who are in need will actually grow, and maybe we will not have so much greed among our people who have so much. Might we learn we don't have to have everything we think we want?

Wouldn't it be good if those who are paid millions of dollars would say, "Let's pay our workers more instead of giving me a raise." 

Maybe those in power will say, "We must raise the minimum wage. We must see that all those who work a forty-hour week can feed their families and pay for a roof over their heads without having to work a second or third job."

I hope that nurses and medical workers will be guaranteed better pay and that more of these important people will be trained and hired. I know from personal experience, when someone is sick in the hospital, a kind and caring nurse is the most important person in their world.

Could we possibly fix the broken health care system in the United States? We must do something soon because fewer people are going into the medical profession. This virus might make this profession more undesirable as we see  our first-line workers lacking the protection they need.

We hear from those who want to encourage us, to give us hope even if their words are lies. But the truth comes out. It usually does. The truth is that we don't know what changes lie ahead. No one knows. We do know we will have to accept them and move on, just as we have always done. 

In time this period will be a part of World History and written about in text books; the death toll, the fear and uncertainty. The heroes and the villains will be mentioned, the blame and the praise will be written. 

The coming week is supposed to be a deadly one. I hope the states that are not enforcing stay at home rules will wake up! If it is in Georgia, it can easily spread to South Carolina. Only an ignorant person thinks their area is safe unless they stop person to person contact. 

I will be home this week and weeks to come. I will do without some things because I will not go out to public places. We are told to stay away from grocery stores and pharmacies. 

I wrote in my journal this morning and I listed the things for which I am so, so grateful. I suggest everyone do that. List five things and you will be surprised at how much better you feel.

Be safe. Stay home and stay in touch with your loved ones by email or telephone.
What do you recommend for us as we self-quarantine at our homes?










Sunday, March 29, 2020

Another day at home alone because of Covid-19.

Today, March 27, was sunshine-filled, and I wanted to get out and do something outdoors. We have had rain, rain and more rain lately. It was a day for hiking, gardening and doing any kind of work outside. But I did not work outside.

Yesterday was a Computer Day.
I worked almost all day at my desk. And, I paid for it last night. Sitting too much or too long causes me such pain it is hard to sleep even after doing the stretches and exercises I am supposed to do. I need physical therapy, but can’t go now.
I have six students in my virtual writing class. I edit their work and give them instructions and comments that I hope they read and learn from. As the class proceeds, I can see what each student needs most. So they receive individual help according to what I see in their work.  We have a couple who are early beginners, and some who are about ready to publish. All of them continue to learn in my class. They are working on using dialogue in their stories, true and fictional. They are learning to use dialogue to show characterization. It is fun and interesting to read the great stories by these adult students.

I knew I had to get away from the computer, so today I cooked.
I decided to make something I could eat on for several days and use what I had in my house. One of my favorite dishes is my New Year’s Eve Black-Eyed peas. Using dried peas, I bring them to a boil for two minutes, soak them for about two hours, drain them and put them in my crock pot. Cover all with half chicken broth and half water. I add a chopped onion, half a green pepper, garlic, salt and pepper and cook until the peas are soft. 

I have been thinking for several days that I wished I had some Brunswick stew, a mix of meats, tomatoes, and vegetables. I didn’t have the canned meat on hand, so I ordered one half pound of cooked chopped pork and a half barbecued chicken from Rib Country, a great Bar-B-Q restaurant. They are now offering take out, so I called in my order and about fifteen minutes later picked it up without leaving my car. (I sanitized everything before taking inside)

I had enough pork to make a sandwich and still have plenty left. Soooo good! I love barbecue pork sandwiches. 

Next I gathered what I could find that would complete my dish. I had two cans of chopped tomatoes, an onion, catsup, barbecue sauce that came with the meat, Worcester sauce, and Tabasco sauce. I didn’t have any canned corn which the recipe calls for, but I had frozen corn. I poured out about a half cup, thawed it in the microwave, and found left over lima beans in my fridge. All of it went into the stew and boy, is it good! Lexie smelled it cooking and began begging for a bowl. Naturally, I shared with her.

This set me to thinking about my mother when I was a little girl. She did not have easy access to a super market like we have today. She bought groceries once a week at the local store, but she could always create a good meal from what she had in the kitchen. She made biscuits or cornbread for every meal. We always had eggs and milk because we lived on a farm. At times she would make gravy with eggs when she didn’t have enough for each of us to have one. The gravy over those wonderful hot biscuits along with some bacon or sausage was more than enough to fill the stomachs of her children and make everyone happy.

Perhaps at times like these when we can’t always have what we take for granted, it is good to see if we can do with less. I am going to try to make my last two rolls of paper towels last twice as long as I have in the past. Mother didn’t even have paper towels when I was a kid. I am going back to the old cookbooks from the early sixties when casseroles were in fashion. Those recipes were delicious and only called for few items.

I am ashamed that I am often wasteful, especially with paper goods. When I think of countries where people have no running water, no stove, and no bathroom, I want to cry. 

At this time, maybe we all can be more mindful of doing with what we have. We can do it. I know I can. But I will be very happy when this crisis is behind us and things are back to normal again. I wonder, will our normal ever be the same?

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Isolation Not so Bad for Some

I hope your week is going well and that you are able to stay home and away from other people.

I and some of my friends find this enforced isolation is working well for us. One of them said she loves to be able to stay up as late as she wants so she can work on her genealogy. With no meetings and no reason to leave her home, she sleeps late and has time to paint. She is a wonderful artist and has her studio set up where her living room was once. More convenient for her.

I am enjoying my time to schlep around in my pajamas half the day, cook for myself more nutritious meals, talk to family and friends on the phone, email and go online when I want. I think what we like is there is no pressure. Isn't that what being retired is supposed to be? But most of us fill our schedules, our calendars, with so many things that we are on the go all the time. 

Many people are using this time to learn something new. 
I am learning how to teach Creative Writing to six students online. I never did this before, and I am still learning every week, but my students are doing beautifully. All of them are women and three of them are mature adults. What stories they tell! 

This is hard on people like my sister who was having the time of her life dancing two or three times a week. She misses it so much. Not only was it fun for her, it was so good for health. She grew stronger and had greater endurance. I hope she can get back to it before too long.
Getting ready for the dance

It is a dangerous time for my older brother, Max, who will be 92 on March 30. He is bored and just getting over a hospital stay a few weeks ago. A caregiver comes in each day to care for his wife who has dementia. I try to call him when I know I have about an hour to spare. We have long conversations. He has a fantastic memory and I wish I could sit down with him for a couple of days and record all he has to tell me about our family before I was born.

Two of our NCWN-West critique groups are going to meet online
One is a poetry group, and the other is a prose group. As much as I grumble about all the new technology, this is one time it has been worth having. I am trying to stay off Facebook. It is a time drain, and unless I need to say something or hear from someone, I don't enjoy it.

I hope all of you are staying in and finding lots of things to do. It won't be too long, maybe, before we are back to our busy, busy selves again. 

Thanks for subscribing and for reading this blog. I would love to hear from you. Tell us what is happening in your part of the world. We care.




Thursday, March 19, 2020

JUST ONE PERSON IS ALL IT TAKES - SEE HOW IT IS DONE!

Coronavirus is just twenty miles away from me now. A woman came down from New York where the virus is rampant at this time. She attended a Contra Dance at the John C. Campbell Folk School. Now she has been diagnosed with Covid-19 and we have no idea how many people she exposed at that dance or the staff at the folk school.

I wish they had closed the doors there earlier, but so many in this area thought that if the president didn't think it was serious, it was crazy to take all these measures like avoiding large crowds. How long did it take for the government to finally say, stop gathering in groups? Remember it was said that this was just a Democratic Party hoax? I saw that on TV and was shocked. 

We should have been prepared and certainly prepared earlier than we were.
So, people kept having parties, going to dances, gathering in bars, and in businesses.  This is from my most recent post:

Some say there is no need to be concerned. They go about their business paying no attention to warnings to use sanitizer, practice social distances, wash their hands, etc. Even if someone is young and is not likely to die from this virus, he can spread the disease to others, to someone like me who is not young and doesn't have their immune system. The secret to stopping a disease such as COVID-19 is keeping it from spreading. But young people are still gathering at bars, drinking and dancing, and how many are spreading this virus that might seem to only be a cold?

I chastised a man I know on Facebook because he was making light of the seriousness of this virus. He didn't see why people should close their business since no one here had been diagnosed and besides, only old people were dying from this. I told him that I was one of the high risk people and my life was just as important to me as his was to him. Now, we see that ignoring the warnings has brought this deadly virus here to our area.

In my hometown two people died because someone from Atlanta came down there to a funeral. I imagine that those who died were older people. The carrier was sent back to an Atlanta hospital, but twenty-three people are sick in Albany, GA. Just one person can spread this virus and you don't know who that person might be. I have many family members in Albany, GA. Now I worry that they might carry it to my brother who is a high risk. 

Stay home. Self-isolate and enjoy some alone time, some quiet. Today I worked around my house doing things I have put off for a while. I edited a story by one of my students. I went to Walgreen's and picked up a prescription at the window, went to the ATM at the bank, and back home. I was not exposed to anyone and I used gloves and sanitized my hands after.

If I get sick with this virus, it won't be because I ignored the warnings. I hope all of you are obeying the rules, doing more than you are told to do to protect yourself.






Sunday, March 15, 2020

Coronavirus caused a national emergency and some hoarding

On Friday, March 13, the nation was declared in a National Emergency due to the Coronavirus which has been named a pandemic because it is affecting and killing people all over the globe.

I am in the high risk group so I am extremely careful about where I go and what I do.  I have been called a germaphobe for some years now. Because my immune system is not the best, I carry my home-made sanitizer, alcohol and water in a spray bottle. I use it liberally and all the time. I don't have OCD, but I am careful.

At a restaurant today, I read the menu and gave my order, then sprayed my hands. After my meal, I handed my card to the waiter. When he returned with it, I put it away and sprayed my hands again. Overkill? Maybe, but I don't want to take a chance on getting sick.

When I get into my car I spray my steering wheel, gear shift and keys as well as my hands. At home I wash my hands carefully and for twenty seconds or longer.

At home in the coming week, I will isolate myself. I have food and what I need in my freezer, my pantry and refrigerator, so I hope there will be no need to go out.

The local community college where I just began teaching a weekly writing course is now closed. My local librarian at Moss Memorial Library in Hayesville, NC called to let me know that all events that were planned for March have been cancelled and that includes an afternoon writing class on dialogue set for March 26. I will soon be contacting those who have registered and sent their fees. We will postpone the class or cancel, depending on the instructor and those who planned to attend.

When I first heard about the panic and how people were buying loads of toilet paper and paper towels, I could not understand. But, today my niece reminded me that many of those mothers were planning for four or five people home all day every day as businesses closed and schools closed. And no one can say how long this will last. Some were shopping for parents or elderly grandparents who must stay home to protect themselves.

I worry about my older brother who was just hospitalized with severe respiratory illness and heart failure. I worry about my dear cousin who lives in an assisted living facility down in south Georgia. She is in her nineties and has heart problems. I wonder what precautions are being taken there.

Some say there is no need to be concerned. They go about their business paying no attention to warnings to use sanitizer, practice social distances, wash their hands, etc. Even if someone is young and is not likely to die from this virus, he can spread the disease to others, to someone like me who is not young and doesn't have their immune system. The secret to stopping a disease such as COVID-19 is keeping it from spreading. But young people are still gathering at bars, drinking and dancing, and how many are spreading this virus that might seem to only be a cold?

This is a time when we should all think about ourselves, but we must also think about our neighbors, our friends and even strangers. No matter how divided we are on politics and other matters, this is the time for everyone to work together to stop the spread of this dangerous disease. 

A friend told me about someone, who is older, and has found that two of her fifteen clients were exposed to a person with the virus. These two clients were in her office just days ago and did not know at the time they had been exposed. Now she will quarantine herself and pray that she doesn't come down with it and that she has not passed it on to others.

It seems that often this virus has been spread at church, especially in church choirs. My sister and brother-in-law sing in their church choir and were happy to hear that the church has suspended services for this Sunday. I know I would not attend church at this time because it is impossible to keep the social distance needed to protect yourself.

This reminds me of a family story.
Back in the 1920s, many of my aunts and uncles moved from north Florida to Tampa, St. Petersburg and surrounding area. That part of Florida was booming. My uncle Charley was a young man who was trying to earn a good living so he could get married and start his family. He made his way down to Palmetto, Florida where his sister, Oleo (Oley)and her husband, had begun a business. They hired Charley to work in their butcher shop.

No one was prepared for what was coming. Charley became ill and was diagnosed with smallpox, a deadly disease with no cure. It has been eradicated today with the smallpox vaccination which I remember having when I was in first grade.

Thousands of people died from smallpox. Charley was quarantined, and with no home of his own, he lived in a barn and his sister brought his food to him there. The good news was that Charley survived. But Oleo and Willie's butcher shop did not. Because Charley worked there and had smallpox, health authorities closed the store. No one was allowed inside, not even the owners. The meat spoiled and everything Oleo and Willie owned was lost.

That was only one of the many challenges that faced Oleo in her life. But those stories are for another time.  

I hope you, my readers and friends, will be safe and unharmed from this virus. Don't panic, but do be careful and come back here next week. Tell me what is on your mind in the comment section below.



Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Will the younger generation change our food industry in the United States? We can only hope!

I read a post by Jayne Jaudon Ferrer tonight and I like her subject matter. Her three grown sons have actually made changes in the way Jayne eats. She is amazed that her kids, who were raised on Pop Tarts and sugary cereal, now eat organic foods and buy from people they know instead of shopping from the big name stores. Her thirty-something young men are health conscious.

http://commagoddess.blogspot.com/2013/12/the-return-of-generation-gapin-grocery.html

I related to much of this article, but I don't have children who influence my eating habits. I learned from my mother to eat natural fresh foods, so I cook. Tonight I cooked squash that I will have tomorrow and later this week. 

Rarely do I eat processed foods. I shop the perimeter of the store for the most part, but I do have to purchase coffee. I was happy to read this week that a couple of cups of coffee each day is good for me.

I can't eat red meat now without suffering for it. So, I eat chicken, fish, beans and eggs, lots of eggs. I cook Brussel sprouts and asparagus which I did not eat when I was young.

Sadly the food we grow now is not good because of the depleted minerals in the ground. Every day I learn more about the disaster we have in this country regarding our food. And, I am more thankful that I grew up on a farm with good food every single day.

The only cereal we ate growing up on the farm was grits which we ate with eggs.     

   

Dr. Mark Hyman, The Doctor's Farmacy podcast, is on a crusade to make our government, as well as all of us, aware of how we are killing ourselves with the unhealthy food available to us.

I was shocked to hear him say that we throw away 40 percent of the food we purchase. Imagine bringing in your groceries and throwing forty percent into the garbage. People in other countries do so much better with food waste. In some countries there are machines that change food waste into products that farmers use. They don't have landfills heaped with all the spoiled food we throw out. As you know, food in the landfills create methane gas that helps create the warming of the atmosphere. Climate Change!

When I hear Dr. Hyman talk about what we Americans do that is so harmful to ourselves and our earth, I want to call him and say How can I help? Give me a job!

Perhaps what upsets me most is hearing Dr. Hyman talk about the research he has done and found our own representatives in Congress hamper the FDA and other departments that were designed to protect us, the American taxpayers. 

The big food manufacturers hold our government hostage with their lobbyists. When the manufacturers donate huge sums of money to the politicians, our elected men and women tell FDA they will cut funding if any programs reflect badly on those large corporations. 

Think about the cereal makers. The sugar industry is an example. You won't see any government banning of any sugar products or putting warnings on products with sugar because the sugar industry is so strong and so rich, they buy our representatives off. No matter that children of today are being diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes at an alarming rate. 

I hope my readers will listen to the interview with Dr. Hyman by Dr. Peter Attia. It is eye-opening and it makes me angry.

Greed is the cause of most of the illness our country. Greed by people who could make a difference if they truly cared. Ignorance is also the problem. Those in Washington don't bother to read or listen to people like Mark Hyman, M.D., director of the Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine. He is working on that, thank goodness.

If you watch or listen to the interview, please let me know what you think. Leave a comment or send an email: gcbmountaingirl@gmail.com


 
 

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Dancing through life

Sunday, Feb. 23, is my sister's birthday. We celebrated her birthday Saturday at lunch with old friends, Richard and Linda.

My sister, Gay, has found the fountain of youth and it is ---DANCING!
Look at her here, looking so young. I have not seen her as happy in many, many years. She is in better health, physically, has more strength and endurance. She has inspired me to move more.

Gay has loved to dance as long as I can remember. She was always the best dancer in our group when she was a teen. In college, she majored in dance and was a member of the University Modern Dance Club. She even took a class with the famous dancer Martha Graham when she spent a summer in Connecticut at a dance camp. She taught dance at one time and was a part of the Albany Ballet before she moved out to California. Few people realize how much she loved to dance. But she gave it up and only the past year did she decide to go back to dancing again.

She was always a better dancer than the men she dated and never quite found one who was as good as she was. So now she dances with professional dancers two or three times each week and is on cloud nine. The people at Alpharetta Arthur Murray love her because she makes every new person who comes in feel welcome and comfortable. The owners have thanked her for this effort. I tell her they should be paying her to come instead of her paying for classes there.

The best thing is her husband encourages her to have fun and enjoy this wonderful life she has discovered in her third act. He has gone to a few classes and parties with her.

She recently asked me, "Glenda, when did I start to dance and how did I learn to dance?" I can't answer that. It seems she was always dancing.

Happy Birthday, Gay! Dance, dance, dance!
With her two beloved pups, Smokie and Sunny. They make her happy, too.



Sunday, February 9, 2020

Who do you love?

We are not going to heal our divide with more hate, anger, and name-slinging. We are not going to heal by firing our enemies, shaming, belittling, or being cold, hard, and mean. Love is the only thing that softens the heart. It is the only thing that softens rage, and yet it is the hardest gift to bestow on those who push our buttons—be they in our families or in our political spaces

This is a quote from Maria Shriver's Sunday Paper which I follow. Today I learned that she had and loved a horse, just like I did. Another reason I relate to her writing, I think. I hope she represents most of the women in the world, especially in our country. The women I know do love others even if they don't go to the same church, vote the same party or pull for the same teams. I learned to love people of a different race when I had been raised in a culture that said I should not.

I am fortunate that I have known great love in my long life
Even those times when I didn't recognize it, I had love.  First from my mother, then from my sisters, and especially from Barry, my soul-mate. 

Love is about the way someone looks at you. It's about the way someone talks to you. It's about their tone, especially when they disagree with you. Love is about showing up and caring, even when it’s hard.

I don't think I was easy to love when I was a kid. I was often moody and down. But Mother loved me, cared for me in my worst times. Gay, my sister, loved me, and I know that was not always easy. She, the even-tempered, fun-loving and kind person, put up with my moods, my ups and downs, and always stood by me.
The Council sisters, June in front, Glenda and Gay.
June, my older sister had an unconditional love for me that I wonder at today. From the time I was a little girl, she was my hero. She made things better for me -- in my family and at school. She was my voice when I did not know I had a voice. She put me on her list of those she loved and cared for. When I was accused of behaving badly, she would not accept it. She stood down my brothers and my father even though it drained her emotionally, and she cried when alone in her room. I saw that same behavior when she felt her children were maligned. She was a bear when those she loved were in trouble and she was not afraid to stand tall and fight. That is what love is. 

In this month of Love with Valentine's Day approaching, I wish we all would think of loving others as best we can, even if we don't agree or have differences. 

If I had let our differences stop my love for my brothers and my father, I would have forsaken the joy of being with them when they told stories, sang songs, and teased me beyond what was fun. One of my sweet brothers, Rex, passed away on Valentine's Day, 2009. This holiday never ceases to remind me of him and how close we became as adults. I know he loved me, and we certainly had different political beliefs. He saw the world through eyes that had seen pain, that had sacrificed for his family, and he felt he had damaged them to save himself from drowning in unhappiness. He was generous to me and to Barry. We knew his love and we loved him dearly.
Council Brothers, from left back row. Hal Council, Max Council.
Front row from left: Rex Council and Ray Council - young men in the 1950s
In today's world when the word love is thrown around so recklessly, I try to use it only for those times I really mean it. I love my neighbors, Marsha and Alice. They are so generous and caring to me. How could I not love them? I love my dear friends Mike and Estelle who are always there for me when I want a friend to listen and help me through the tough times. I am not obligated to love them. They are not my blood relatives, but they are more a part of my life than some of my family now.  

Two people who have been in my life for forty years have changed in many ways from the couple I met so long ago. At times I miss the man and woman I enjoyed back when we were young. To me, they seem more rigid, more judgmental now, but I know they are good, kind and loving people, and I love them. I am grateful they have been in my life all these years, through sickness and in health. I am happy to see them on occasions such as celebrating Gay's birthday this month. I disagree with them on certain things now, but that doesn't change the fact that we care deeply for each other.  We try to avoid the subjects that bring about tension when we are together. Why waste the precious time we have together?
I think there is a country song, You can't make new old friends. I want to hang on to my old friends.

I wish for all who read my writing here that you have love in your life, and you give love to those around you. 
Don't judge people who differ from you, but give them understanding and reach out with love, not anger or hatred, resentment or revenge. 
I believe that fear has driven us apart in this country. We are taught to be afraid by what we hear and see on television, especially the news channels. 
If we are afraid of our neighbor, we will not know when he is in need, and will not help him. 
If he is afraid of us, we might suffer needlessly because he won't know and reach out to us .
Don't let fear run your life. It is the enemy of freedom. 

Have a lovely Valentine's Day, and remember those who are elderly and those who have no special person in their lives. Remember your parents, if you still have them, and remember the teachers, the people who have helped you become who you are today. Show some love to the young people who need to know they matter. Send them a note to show you care. Let's use this Valentine's Day to show love in every way to the people in our lives.





Sunday, February 2, 2020

A Forced Week of Rest

For a week now, I have been "a shut-in" with an upper respiratory infection. After three days of feeling miserable, I went to see a doctor who prescribed a broad spectrum antibiotic and today I feel it is working.

What to do when you feel too bad to work, to even wash dishes or cook?
I slept and binge watched TV. More great series made in New Zealand, Australia, Nova Scotia, and I fell in love with all of them. The language and gentle people in these series are just what I need to help me relax and de-stress.

I don't like most of the American TV now. A few regular shows I record, like The Resident, New Amsterdam, Grey's Anatomy, Blue Bloods and Masterpiece Theater, but I dislike crime shows and sci-fi programs. I don't care for today's comedies and really can't stand reality shows. 

I have completely quit all the News channels except PBS and I don't watch that every day. This is all part of my new life style. I want to do more things I enjoy, things that bring me joy. I began reading Little Women for the umptenth time and started researching Louisa May Alcott. That book and the movie made in the late forties had a big influence on my life. June Allyson played Jo March and I fell in love with both of them.

I wrote a poem this past week, and felt like making some changes in my house -- moving pictures from one room to another, putting away some things that have been taking space for a long time, making notes for future writing projects, and worked on scheduling NCWN-West readings for the year. All this between long naps and watching TV. 

Monday I will rejoin the outside world.


Friday, January 24, 2020

A Visit with Old Friends from Long Ago

Winter with sunshine and a visit with old friends.

In 1990, I took a part-time job with the district manager of State Farm Insurance. She was the first female to hold that position. She had been an accomplished business woman already, but this job was a challenge because of her gender and all the agents under her were men. Her husband, Harvey, was my age and he and I graduated from high school together.

Twila seemed happy to have me, and I was delighted to work for her. After my school teaching years were done, I held several part-time jobs and enjoyed working for my brother-in-law, Stu, who was  managing an office of an engineering firm in Albany, GA, my hometown. 

I liked office work and especially liked using the computer. I was in for a shock when I found out that Twila's office had no computer. I was expected to use an electric typewriter. The job required completing forms, usually in triplicate, and sitting right in front of her desk. I might not have taken the job had I realized the pressure I would feel each time I made a mistake with her watching my every move. I am glad I didn't know, because the five years I spent with Twila were some of the best.  I learned an essential lesson while working for this intelligent woman, something that changed my life in many ways. I learned that it was Okay to make a mistake. It was not the end of the world. I was a perfectionist. In my family making a mistake was unforgivable and unforgettable. At least it seemed that way to me. I put more pressure on myself than anyone else ever did.

Today, I had a reunion with Twila and Harvey at Fatz Restaurant in Blairsville, Georgia. We had so much to talk about that we were still talking as we walked out the door two hours after we sat down to eat. We agreed we can't wait so long to see each other again. We need a full weekend, I think, to run out of subjects or just run down. Have you ever had that happen to you?

I was only supposed to work from 8:30 AM until 2:00 PM. five days a week, but my half days were not long enough to complete my work. Part of the problem was we talked too much. When Twila was not there, it was easier to get my work done.

It was not unusual for us to go to lunch together and then take some time to go shopping before we returned to the office. We enjoyed being together then just as we did today. It was fun to work for Twila.

She often said she was lucky when she hired me because she got two for one. That first year Barry hooked up the new computer in her new office, and he helped me with downloading the software for State Farm business. He was the computer person anytime we had a problem.

Twila didn't know beans about the computer as it was a very new part of her work. I had been working with computers for some time before joining her office, so it was not that hard for me to learn the State Farm programs. It doesn't seem so long ago, but it was eons ago when you think of how much new technology has become a daily part of our lives.

Twila was a generous and caring employer. It was hard for me to think of her as my boss sometimes, because we were such good friends. She gave me one of the nicest gifts I ever received. She made reservations for Barry and me in Savannah, Georgia at a wonderful bed and breakfast right on the square in the historic district. She also gave us dinner at one of the best restaurants in the city.
It was a trip I will always remember. I have been to that lovely city by the sea many times since then, but the long weekend with Barry at the bed and breakfast will linger in my memory the rest of my days.

Twila and Harvey ( I am not using their last names because I haven't asked them if I could) are dear people and long time friends. It was especially nice today to begin this new year by seeing them and recalling cherished memories.

Tonight I was cleaning out emails from an old address I don't use anymore. I opened a folder from August 2009. I cried as I read the sweet and beautiful letters from family and friends who knew Barry and loved him. Some of those writers are gone now. I am so glad I have those letters in my computer. Each one brought back a memory, and some brought back many memories.

That is what life is about.  Making memories we hold dear all the days of our lives. 




Monday, January 20, 2020

Getting off the fast track this year

For years now, society has been compelled to stay busy, working constantly, at home and at the office.

We hear ourselves reciting a litany of what we accomplished today or this week. We go, go, go all the time as if we are on a treadmill and must keep going faster and faster, doing more and more.

On Social Media, we see our peers posting about all they do. I was caught up on that track myself. I didn't realize what I was doing to my health. After all, I only did what I wanted to do. But I will not be given a crown in glory for what I accomplished today. My reward was the feeling of pride in myself for having done something. However, my life doesn't need to be measured by the items completed on my to-do list.

Although I like to write the end to a long-planned task and I enjoy my work for NCWN-West,  I have planned my life with three days each week set aside just for me to do only what pleases me. If I want to read or watch a movie or talk for an hour on the phone, I will not feel guilty or pressured. On some of these days I plan to spend time with friends and family.

I will never complete all that I need to do in my house. I accept that. I can be happy with my stuff scattered about on my dining table, my upstairs office and downstairs in my studio. I accept that my unique manner of disorganization is mine, and I can work with it. 

All weekend I have been home alone, with Lexie to keep me company
I enjoyed the peace and quiet, the free and easy lifestyle now becoming mine. Monday is a holiday here in the USA, so my weekend is extended. I might not dress to go out at all. I can eat whenever I want and sleep when I want with nothing to interrupt me.

I watched two Sunday TV shows. I am caught up in a series on a streaming channel and I watch some of that every day.

I can't seem to make my new Lenova laptop work the way I need. With so many new "options" in every program, I hope to turn off those I will never use. Part of my free time is spent educating myself on new technology. I love to learn, but this is more than I bargained for.

I no longer have cable TV.
 My local television shows are now coming into my house on the Internet. Sad to say, Internet does not work well here in the mountains. I have had to buy enhancers to help bring a signal for my television sets. I had to purchase an Amazon Fire Stick for my Roku TV, and then I had to install it. Although I have worked with it for several hours, it is not working as it should. I will figure out what to do sooner or later.  (Oh, how I miss Barry. He would have had it working with no problem at all.)

It looks like it will take more of my time to get the hang of this new system. I can only work on it for short periods of time before I get stressed. My goal is to stay as calm and stress-free as possible. With my newfound lifestyle, I am sleeping better and longer each night. I am cleaning out my Inbox and throwing away most of the paper that comes in my mailbox each day. For a long time, I have been drowning in paper. Political, charities, and retail envelopes. Now it goes into the trash before I open it. What a waste of money and paper!

This week I plan to work on genealogy and family history. I will also meet old friends one day for a long lunch. It will be fun to catch up. Life is good.

Most important, probably, is my determinination to move more.
Just moving around during the day instead of sitting too long is essential to my good health.

In the book, The Blue Zones, the author tells about why the people in these zones live longer than we do and they are healthier. They move all day long in their daily lives. They live much as my parents lived on the farm in the twentieth century. 

Blue Zone inhabitants are social people.
The author says we should have at least seven people in our lives we can call on at any given time. Everyone who knows me will tell you I love people and being with people is uplifting for me. Social interaction increases endorphins, I guess. 

The people in the Blue Zones don't try to live to be 100 years old. They don't go on diets, or go to the gym. In their daily lives, they walk almost everywhere. They eat simply and burn calories. We can climb stairs, walk to work or ride a bike instead of driving everywhere, and that could help us live longer. 

I can do what is best for me in my own environment. That is my plan for 2020 and beyond. I made my Vision Board for this year. I found that is a great way to accomplish goals. But, I will work some, play some and relax more. No more should do, needs to, and must do now. No more pushing myself and blaming myself when I don't make deadlines. Unless it is a matter of life and death, I will do my best, but if I am late, it is not the end of the world.

Time is our most important commodity. We can't buy it, borrow it, or bring it back once it is gone. I hope to make the most of every minute I have. I want to spend time with my loved ones, friends and family. I will call them and see them on my open days if they are available. I don't want to say, as I have often done in the past, "I wish I had called her, or gone to see her" when I am sending flowers for her funeral. 

How
is your stress level? Do you feel you need to slow down, take more Me Time and enjoy a simpler life? 


See you next week and thanks for stopping by.






Sunday, January 19, 2020

Home for a wedding and visit with family

The holidays are over and I am back home. I had a great time with family at Christmas and down in south Georgia where I attended the wedding of one of my great nephews, Colby, the grandson of my brother, Max. The wedding was held at the First Baptist Church in Camilla, Georgia, the hometown  of Kathryn Stripling Byer, my friend, and the first woman poet laureate of North Carolina. My parents grew up in Pelham, Georgia which is in the same county.

The wedding was touching as the bride and groom had written their vows and spoke them to each other instead of the pastor saying the typical words spoken at most weddings. 

It was fun to see all my nephews dressed so nicely in their formal clothes. I usually see them in jeans or shorts. Saturday, the day of the event, was beautiful, but that evening turned cold. The reception, held at the old Shackleford house, a landmark, in Albany was overflowing with guests and many of the younger ones were outside dancing. Not liking crowds, I went outside in the cold, had someone bring me a chair and enjoyed talking with the handsome men in my family. I truly enjoyed the evening.



I had not been back to my hometown for a while and it is always surprising to see what has changed there. We had a good dinner on Friday night at a new restaurant, The Flint, in old downtown. We all hope this is the beginning of the city rising from the ashes.The owners came over, welcomed us and invited us to tour the large facility. With my hip and knee problems, I stayed in my seat and visited with another nephew's lovely girlfriend. She told me about Terry HoYum Yum sauce made there in Albany. She is CFO of the company. I'm sorry I didn't get some sauce to bring home.

But I did pick up some May Haw Jelly, one of my favorite foods when I was a child. Mother made the jelly every year from the tiny red berries that only grow in that area. I even found some syrup made from sugar cane which I can't get up here in the mountains. When I was a kid, I went with Mother to the cane grindings in our community each fall. We drank cane juice and always came home with lots of cane syrup. But here in the super market, I can only find maple syrup, and many brands made with corn syrup and artificial flavors. The popular syrup made in this area is sorghum syrup, but it is too strong for me.

I will share a few photos I made at the wedding. I am not the greatest photographer, but these are OK.

Groom, Colby Council,  with his lovely bride outdoors at the reception

Gay and Stu, having fun. Gay held my wine and my purse so I could take photo.
 She was very cold all evening, wore her coat, so you didn't see the beautiful dress she wore.

Glenda and Gay, great aunts of the groom

Three of my generation were present. My brother, Max, Gay and me. I missed my brothers and sister who are no longer with us. It was particularly sad when Max came in and walked down the aisle alone because his wife is ill and could not be there with him for their grandson's wedding.