Words from a Reader

The “Writing Life Stories” e-mails I receive are such treasures. As soon as I see there is one in my inbox, I read it immediately. I look forward to them and never know how they will touch me. They can be interesting, informative, humorous, and/or touching.

Saturday, May 14, 2022

The Good and the Bad this Week

With my nomad lifestyle the past year, I have not yet created my deck garden. Not long enough in one place is my excuse. But, my dear friend, Joan Howard, poet, brought me these lovely peonies in this precious vase. Aren't they beautiful?

My kind helper, Anne, bought geraniums for my deck before I got back home to Hayesville, and she potted a few more flowers. 

I am so happy I have these bright spots in my life because the past week, my first week back home in the mountains has been extremely stressful.

I came home to find that my well water smelled like sulfur. When I turned on the hot water faucet, black dirty water rushed out. I turned on the hot water in my shower and it filled my tub with awful dirty water. 

I was dismayed, to say the least. I called my friend, John who helps me out of jams when I don't know what to do. He suggested I call the company that drilled my well when the old one dried up. He also said, don't drink the water. I was not about to do that. My brother-in-law told me the same thing, Don't drink the water!  Well, I am not as dumb as I look, fellows.

To make a long story shorter, I have been without drinkable water for five days. I boiled water on the stove to wash dishes and to use for cooking. When I finally found someone, a plumber, to come and see my dilemma, he said I needed a top-of-the-line chlorinating system to kill what was in my pipes and my hot water heater. He could not put it in until Friday and it would take him all day. I would be without any water for several hours. The price of this system is outrageous, but I pray that it solves my water problems. Joe, the plumber is a very caring man and is determined to get everything working right. The system is from Chem Free. 

Another stressor was the loss of my cell phone. 
I had lunch on Sunday with two dear friends at a fine restaurant in Hiawassee. On Monday I realized my phone was missing. My first thought was that it fell out of my handbag when I put it on the floor beside my chair. I called but could not get anyone at the restaurant. My friend called and could not talk to anyone. I knew they had strange hours there but I went over to see if I could find my phone. The doors were locked and I could not find anyone to ask.

Today an angel of a young man called me from my cell phone. His name is Zachery and he works at the restaurant. He said, "I found your phone Sunday after we closed and put it in the Lost and Found drawer. Today I just happened to open that drawer and saw it was still there. It was still charged so I called the number you had listed under Home. I'm sorry I didn't do this sooner but thought you might have picked it up."

I wanted to give that nice young man a big hug. I hope I can find out the name of his boss and write a note to him. 

So, all is well that ends well. 
A plumber and a caring young man made my day on Friday. I will sleep much better tonight even though Joe said I shouldn't drink water from my well for two weeks. It will take that long for the system to clean all the pipes. 

I am looking for a calm and peaceful weekend.
Readers, have you ever had to live without safe water for five days or longer? Have you ever lost your phone for days before it surfaced? 

Monday, May 9, 2022

Join me in this writing class on Tuesday evenings, 6 - 8 PM - from your own home

Pass the word!
No matter where you live, you can attend my next writing class on Zoom. Online classes help us reach writers in distant areas who cannot attend in person. 

Quote from a student:   Despite the challenges of ZOOM, my recent Creative Writing class with Glenda Beall proved valuable. Motivation, learning new things and excellent peer review far outweighed the perceived difficulties of distance learning. Hopefully, Zoom classes won’t be the new norm, but if so, know that Glenda and the students handled the shortcomings well. Class notes were emailed and students shared work and suggestions via email and Zoom. I couldn’t ask for a better outcome despite my technical aversions. M.C. Brooks

Beginning May 17 for six weeks I will teach a course on writing your life stories. The classes run weekly through June 21.

Because many work during the day, I am offering this class Tuesday evenings.  6 PM - 8 PM. Fee: $40
Email Glenda Beall - glendabeall@msn.com for instructions on how to register.

Write Your Life Stories for Your Family or for Publication:

Our life stories are a precious legacy. Putting them in writing is a gift to all who know and love us—they can be treasured and enjoyed for generations to come. Facts bring us knowledge, but stories bring us wisdom.

If you are interested in writing family/personal life stories – those significant tales of adventure, transition, love, loss, and triumph, as well as the lovely everyday moments shared with loved ones from the past or the present, come learn specific tools and techniques to retrieve and record them.

We will answer all of your questions about how to write your true life stories. Where do I begin? How can I write about my long life? Who can I include? What can I include?
Students will write a short piece each week and receive feedback from their peers. Each student receives personal attention from Glenda. This class is structured for beginning and intermediate writers.
Please pass this on to those who might be interested

Sunday, May 8, 2022

Happy Anniversary Party was party filled with love.

Gay and Stu in 2010

I could have danced all night, I could have danced all night...
Yes, a few years ago I could have danced all night, but Friday evening at the 50th-anniversary party for my sister, Gay, and her dear husband, Stu, I could not dance due to knee and hip problems, but everyone else did dance. The music was perfect for the different generations who attended. Guests arrived from many miles away - Chicago, Phoenix, Florida, and south Georgia - all to celebrate the long and happy marriage of these two beloved people.

As my readers know my family has gathered too often in the past few years for sad occasions. My brother's funeral this past February and the year before, in February, the service for his wife. 

What a joy it was to see Gay and Stu dance so beautifully to the song, Fascination. Their guests applauded as they watched the turns and graceful movements expected from a much younger couple.
Gay's dress was perfect for this dance. I hope to share a video soon.

 The older generation danced to the slower music, but as the night went on, the D.J. knew just the right music to get the younger generation on the floor. Seeing Susan's happy face as she left the dance floor brought warmth to my heart.  Her husband died too young. And she was too young to be left a widow with a son to raise alone. But she was beautiful last night as she made plans to have more fun in her life now. Another niece, a recent widow, had a good time, also, and I hope her future will brighten. 

Have you ever been in a room that was so filled with love that it seemed to permeate every inch of space amidst the enjoyment and laughter of those present? 
With many of Gay's family there and Stu's entire family who flew in from Chicago and distant lands, along with friends he grew up with from high school, from his work as public works director for the city of Roswell, Georgia, and so many others who know and love Gay and Stu, I delighted in meeting and talking with the most interesting people. One man, an 82-year-old pilot, once flew the biggest planes ever built. He invited me to come to his home and he would take me up in his plane.  Church friends didn't know their friends from work or other times and places in their lives, but before the night was over, they reached out and introduced themselves, all sharing their stories and history about the celebrated couple. 

Even the event coordinator said she had never seen such affection and happiness shared at a wedding or any other occasion. One of the waiters said he was brought to tears by the sincere words spoken that night.

I enjoyed sitting next to the pastor of Alpharetta Presbyterian Church, who I watch on TV each week. He is charismatic and has a great sense of humor. The renewal of the wedding vows was not so formal and was humorous at times with comments about their wedding in our family home in southwest Georgia fifty years ago. He reminded us all that after a short honeymoon, Stu, who was in the Navy, left for Guantanamo Bay. 
Fifty years ago, 1971, Stu and Gay were married in the living room of our family home.

Stu's nephew, Tom, gave a toast to the couple and did an outstanding job with the words written by Doug, Stu's brother who is dealing with health issues and could not speak. 
When we get photos taken at the party, I will share them on this blog. 

This is what I hope everyone who was at the party will remember: No matter your age, you can have a wonderful time and participate. People in their eighties can mingle with those under thirty and all have a great time. The only limitations are those in your mind. 

Saturday, April 23, 2022

Memories of outdoor fun

The week has flown by and here it is Friday evening. Time is slipping away so fast. I can hardly believe that the weekend is here again. The most activity I have undertaken lately is going to the pool and walking in the water for 45 minutes and potting plants on my deck.

I am not adventurous anymore. I never was one to take risks. I like to know how deep the water is before I step into it. I was married to an adventurous man, and I loved that about him. He and I would climb into his Jeep Wrangler and drive all over the mountains, down roads that were barely there, checking out places that looked forgotten. Driving up trails just to see the scenery from the top of a mountain was fun. I was never afraid because I had such trust in Barry. I knew he would get us back home safely.

When we were both in our twenties, he taught me to ride a motorcycle. We didn't have Harleys and both his and mine were second-hand. My first one was a red Honda that was very heavy. I dropped it on my foot and broke my toe. 
The broad part in front of the seat was where my little black poodle, Brandy, sat and rode with me. He would lean into turns and his long black ears flew with the wind.

Barry liked the Japanese models, Kawaski and Suzuki dirt bikes. He would speed down into a lime sink on the farm, circle around the sides a few times, and burst out over the top.  Once while taking daring chances in an area called the sand dunes in Albany, Georgia, he and his friend, John, jumped over a tall dune and Barry's bike slid out from under him. He came home with a broken collar bone.

A dirt bike similar to the ones Barry rode in the 70s.

One summer, in the seventies, we went on vacation to a place called Seven Devils in Boone, NC. The little ski resort was nothing but a lodge and a rundown ski lift at that time. We rented a tiny little rustic cabin. It was the first time we had ever taken our bikes with us. At that time I was uneasy on the mountain curves. We rode our bikes up and down the paved roads and I loved it. That was how I stopped being afraid of the curvy roads. One day Barry, looking for adventure, suggested we ride down the mountainside on a fire road. It was overgrown, had limbs laying across it, and was difficult riding, but I stayed right with him, wrestling that bike all the way down to the bottom. He was so proud of me that he couldn't stop telling folks how well I had ridden on that awful trail. 

I am grateful that I met and married a man who pushed me to try new and difficult things. For a number of years, we trailered our bikes down to St. Joe Paper Company and rode their land near Panama City, Florida. On one of those trips our friend, Helen broke her arm. We were miles from civilization, but she managed to get her bike back to the trailer. That ended our ride for that day. Her husband, Graydon, who loved to ride with Barry, took her to the hospital. Helen and Graydon developed a love for bikes because of us and we all rode together when we could.

The early years of our marriage were filled with outdoor activities. We fished, rode dirt bikes, and rode horses. So long ago, but in my memories, it was only yesterday.

Are you a daredevil, adventurous? Do you like to take risks? Tell me about them here. 

Sunday, April 17, 2022

Easter Sunday then and now

Today has been just like any day here in my place in the city. 

My family members went to church, some for two services because they sing in the choir. I don't go to church because churches are the most air polluted places on Easter and most holidays. With all the lilies and all the perfume and cologne that is worn, I would have an attack.  My bronchial tubes would spasm and I could not breathe. But, I can watch the same service tonight when I tune in to the Alpharetta Presbyterian Church on YouTube. 

The pastor just returned from Ireland where he and his wife visited their daughter. Although fully vaccinated, the pastor caught COVID. He said he had very mild symptoms. He is back with us now and I look forward to hearing him speak.

I look back on my childhood when my mother made sure I never missed attending church on Easter. Gay and I always had new dresses and dress-up shoes to wear. The church we attended was called Beulah Methodist and was located on the edge of a pine forest on a dirt road in Worth County. I enjoyed Sunday School because I liked our teachers, but I hated having to sit through a sermon by a big red-faced man in the pulpit. I can't remember ever hearing a preacher who spoke in a normal voice. They all yelled at us. They slammed their hands, and the bible sometimes, on the lectern. I wondered why the preachers were so angry at all the people who came to church. I knew I had not done anything bad, at least nothing that shouting-man knew about. 

I often tuned out the preacher and focused on a bird singing outside or a wasp that had come in through the open windows. It buzzed around the ceiling and, at times, was right over the preacher. I almost laughed out loud when I imagined what would happen if that wasp dropped down on the angry man's head. 

Lisa, Lee, and Lyn, my little nieces
absolutely adorable

I looked forward to the Easter Egg hunt held after church. Gay and I and the other girls were not dressed for climbing through the long grass and over downed pine limbs. We had no nice smooth lawn at the church. The front yard was dirt, not a blade of grass, so the eggs had to be hidden in the woods. Gay and I were very young, maybe four and six, and I was a little more assertive than my little sister. I held her hand and pulled her along with me, but there was a neighbor boy a little older than I who always found the most eggs. He crowed about it. I wanted to smash his basket against a tree. But we knew we had another Easter Egg hunt when we got home.

The hunting was much better there and we had no competition. We had awakened to find pretty pastel baskets beside our beds. A chocolate rabbit nestled in the green fake grass. Our hunt was over quickly and then all the family gathered for dinner around the big dining table. With four older brothers there, Mother prepared a huge meal. She was amazing in the kitchen. We always had homemade biscuits which she rolled out by hand, several vegetables, pork roast or roast beef, mashed potatoes, and gravy. Everyone drank sweet iced tea except Daddy who drank from his large cup of coffee with milk at every meal.  

Easter was always a time for the family to gather at Mother and Daddy's house even after we were all grown. Eventually, we had to add more tables as my siblings' families grew. The Easter Egg hunts became a ritual with all my nieces and nephews. While they hunted on the front lawn, we adults stood on the front porch and watched. Memories of those times will forever be stamped in my mind. The family was important to my parents and to all of us in my generation. I think it is still important to most of my nieces and nephews, some who are now grandparents. 

Mother in her apron on the far left with other family members on the porch, all of whom are gone now.

I hope you, my readers, have had a wonderful day wherever you are. I hope that Easter heralds Spring is coming soon to my area.

Leave a comment or send an email if you have memories of Easters past. I love to hear from you.

Friday, April 15, 2022

City Girl? Country Girl?

I think I am officially a part-time resident of Roswell, Georgia. 
I now have a primary care physician here and I like him. Already he has made a difference in my health. Today I began a four-week schedule of physical therapy. I have joined a gym and I go there once a week to walk in the water at the pool. 

Tonight I realized I am truly learning to live as a city person. I called and ordered dinner for myself, drove over in the dark of night, and picked it up. I don't like to drive at night, and driving in the city at night is a little scary with all the traffic and bright lights in my eyes. But I made it and did not get lost.

If you live in a city or have lived in a city, you probably smile at my being concerned about going out at night and bringing home my dinner. But I have always lived a rural life and I love it. I can drive all over Clay County NC day or night with no qualms. And when we complain about the traffic it is because the summer people have arrived for a few months. I might have to wait a few minutes before I can drive out on Highway 64 and head to Hayesville five miles down the road. I admit, I don't drive at night much anymore even in North Carolina, because my vision is not so good. Here in Roswell, I ride with my sister or her husband driving. My car sits in the yard covered with pollen most of the time. 

But this week I decided to get out and do some things on my own. The exciting part of that is I have begun my deck garden here like the one I have at home. The shocker is how expensive everything is in the city. But I forgot that as I potted plants and got my hands really dirty again.

Got my hummingbird feeder up but so far no one has visited

I saw these cute little birds that hang on my pots and love the owl and the cardinal.

As you can see, a lovely little lake lies beyond my deck. Today the ducks were loud and flapping away.

Lexie loves our deck and is very happy to be outside when I am working with the plants.

In the big blue pot is an azalea with some creeping jenny at the base of it. It will be pretty. 
The yellow flower claims to be a pollinator and will entice birds, bees, and butterflies.

Although I plan to go back to Hayesville for most of the summer months, I will come back here often to visit, see my doctor and spend time in my comfortable apartment. I am so fortunate! Gay has a housekeeper come every couple of weeks and she cleans my place as well. In Hayesville, it has become very hard for me to find help. Wish I could do all my housework as I once did, but sadly I have to depend on others for the hard stuff.

Her is another of my poems for you. 

Gardening Then and Now, July 2015

                 By Glenda Council Beall 

Once tall azaleas sprawled
across my ground, pinks, whites
and lavenders. Outside my door,
blue hydrangeas bloomed.

Gardenias’ fragrance filled
my yard space, sent me back
in time to bell-shaped skirts,
verandahs in a fantasy southland.

Today I water red geraniums,
pink petunias in pots stacked
and spread across my porch perched
above tree limbs decorated with yellow
finches, Carolina wrens, and blue buntings.

I watch tomato vines, squash blossoms,
a spineless melon plant climb up wire cages.
No longer do I wipe sweat, kneel on hard soil,
bend to dig in dirt, and pray the deer don’t eat

my seedlings. From my easy chair, I observe
my favorite things in my container garden—hovering
hummingbirds, butterflies, and squirrels. I smile
as a doe and two young fawns pass by below.

Monday, April 11, 2022

Meet poet, Kenneth Chamlee

I am introducing you to a poet you might not know. His name is Kenneth Chamlee. He lives in western North Carolina and has been writing poetry for a long time. I heard his name from Nancy Simpson and Katherine Stripling Byer when I first moved to the region in 1995. We will have him as guest on Mountain Wordsmiths in May. I look forward to hearing him read and talk about poetry.

I read some of his blog posts today. This one I will share with you. 

Choose Your Words Carefully
How important it is to do that whether writing a poem, a story, a review, or in communication with others. Words matter.

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

April is Poetry Month


Voices Of The Night : A Psalm Of Life

Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
    Life is but an empty dream! — 
  For the soul is dead that slumbers,
    And things are not what they seem.

  Life is real! Life is earnest!
    And the grave is not its goal;
  Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
    Was not spoken of the soul.

There are many new, modern poets today and I read many of them, but I still enjoy these poems by the poets I read when I was in school.  

Monday, April 4, 2022

What is Wrong with Me?

Depression profoundly affects people throughout the world. A February 2017 report from the World Health Organization stated that depression is the leading cause of disability in the world, affecting more than 300 million people worldwide. 
It also showed an 18 percent increase between 2005 and 2015 in the number of people living with depression, the majority of whom are young people, elderly people, and women.
January 2019 I am at the beach on vacation. We visited the Pat Conroy center.
Life was good.

None of us are the same as we were in 2019.
We went through the most trying time of our lives when the pandemic hit us. I was flying high in January and February of 2020 until I fell victim to the coronavirus, COVID 19 before anyone knew there was a name for this sickness that would spread all over the entire planet, killing so many people.

For two weeks I was very sick and almost called 911 one night at the beginning of the illness. My breathing was shallow and I began to wheeze. I thought I was having a bad allergy attack at first, but when I didn't get better, the next day I went to the Urgent Care center where I was diagnosed with a fever and an upper respiratory infection.

I was so sick that my neighbors would only come as far as my front door and hand me food. They were afraid they would catch what I had. A week later I went to see my primary care doctor. She said I didn't have an upper respiratory infection and antibiotics would do me no good. "You have a virus," she said.

The next month we knew what that virus was and how dangerous it was. I had the same symptoms we all heard were attributed to COVID -- loss of taste and smell, heaviness in my chest, and extreme fatigue and fever. 

Around that same time, my brother, who lived hundreds of miles away, was admitted to the hospital and diagnosed with pneumonia. He was on a ventilator for several days. I was told he also had a heart attack, but that was never verified to me. As months passed we learned his tests showed he had recovered from COVID. But his health was ruined for good. In and out of the hospital, this man who had walked for two miles every day at the age of 90, could barely make it to the mailbox and back. All during 2020 and 2021, I listened to him and wanted so much to help him. I felt helpless since I was so far from him. In February his wife died. I could not go to the funeral but it was live-streamed and I wrote some words about Salita that were read at the service. Now my dear brother was grieving as well as doing all he could to help improve his health.

I worried about him, as I sat at home in isolation for fear of catching the virus again. I lost interest in my writing but found that teaching was good for my mental state.  I didn't see my friends and the days were empty and lonely. I felt my moods grow darker and my body grow weaker. The healthy person I once was a couple of years ago, the person who was always positive and energized, found she wanted to just stay in bed and watch movies. I forced myself to teach because the interaction with my wonderful students gave me a reason to get up every day. 

I was excited as my apartment at my sister's house became real and I could leave my isolation in the mountains and move into the lovely place in Roswell. I could have meals with my family, go out to restaurants with them and eat outside. Just the interaction with other people helped me come alive again. 

Meanwhile, my brother continued to be in and out of the hospital. I fretted because I could not be there to help take care of him. His phone calls became sadder and sadder. I almost dreaded picking up the phone when I knew it was my sweet brother because I felt so helpless.

But the worst was yet to come. In January of 2022, I caught COVID again. I had taken my shots and felt that I was not going to get sick, but this horrible virus had other plans. I was afraid. I felt really sick and I knew it was worse than the normal issues I dealt with. With the help of my sister, my niece, and my BIL, I made it through and in three days I was out of bed.
While still recovering, I heard the bad news. My brother had died only one month away from his 93rd birthday.

I am still grieving his passing and miss him more than my sister does because I talked with him so often and I knew his struggles and his sorrow. When I am alone and think about him and how much he wanted to live, I can't hold back the tears. 

I am not the same person I was a couple of years ago and guess I never will be again. You would not be able to tell just by looking at me, that I am depressed and in mourning. Since that first bout with COVID, my physical health has declined. I have heard this same complaint from others in my generation. My calendar is now filled with doctor appointments not writing events or classes. 

Still, I plan to make a deck garden here in Roswell. I look forward to having some flowering plants outside along with hummingbird feeders hanging overhead. Right now the pollen is covering everything and when I swept it away, I began sneezing like crazy. My car sits outside here and it is wrapped in a coat of yellow.

I am slowly furnishing my apartment with little things and today I bought a bookcase. That will help with my clutter here. At present, my stuff is all over every surface to be found. I can't find anything unless I go through piles of paper on my desk. I am grateful to be with my sister and Stu, her husband. They are thoughtful and kind, but I am sometimes too irritable and unpleasant. I don't mean to be, but I have a reason, I learned. Depression and mourning the loss of a loved one, struggling with chronic pain every day, it just sometimes becomes too much. 

Now you know what is wrong with me. How about you? Are you the same as you were in 2019? How has your life changed? Is it better in some ways and worse in others? Do you ever feel depressed? Leave a comment or email me at glendabeall@msn.com. 

Here are a few symptoms of depression:

A depression diagnosis is made when at least five of the following symptoms occur nearly every day for at least two weeks:

  • Depressed mood
  • Loss of pleasure in all or most activities
  • Significant weight change or change in appetite
  • Change in sleep
  • Change in activity
  • Fatigue or loss of energy
  • Diminished concentration
  • Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
  • Thoughts of suicide

To diagnose major depression, either depressed mood or loss of pleasure in activities must be one of the symptoms.