Saturday, April 12, 2014

Unsupervised Men and Other Excuses

Two months since I posted last, and all I can say is --- I've been busy with ---

1. Kitchen renovation -- If you watch HGTV about renovations, it's all true except that there are no people involved similar to or as accommodating as the Property Brothers. There is crying, frustration, and men to be supervised, micromanaged, cleaned up after, and waited on -- cuz they are either tardy or don't show up or wait days in between. Meanwhile, you are eating peanut butter sandwiches, Wendy's, or take out. The worst -- cereal in paper bowls -- ugh!!!

I'll update you on all of that later -- I'm a hair's breath from victory. TYL

 Packing David's lunch during renovation on my handy, dandy Rubbermaid table, full of what I thought I would need. I was wrong.

2. Nephew's wedding in New Orleans -- great fun, but I'm still searching for a decent photo of me. Until I find that, I'm not posting. JK. Sort of -- I'll update that soon as well.

Jazz Fest, some year, the newlyweds

3. Family History Project with my Sister --- yes, we've been gathering, she's been scanning photos and documents, and I've been typing text for a scrapbook [yes, I said scrapbook -- we bought them ten years ago in anticipation of this project, and we can't let them go to waste -- the digital generation will have to learn to turn pages physically again. I'm sure there are exercises or You Tube videos. Of course, this just means if they ended up caring. No matter -- my sister and I have had fun].

 Aunt Harriett and Aunt Eleanor, 1940, photo taken at World's Fair in New York City

4. Tallulah -- who had needed extensive discipline and therapy after the renovation. She no likey unsupervised men with tools, noise, things out of place, unsupervised men with paint brushes, trash, doors to the outside open and closed doors to her inside, did I say unsupervised men in general?

after therapy

5. Spring

I'll be back.

A shout out to a fellow, blogging friend who sent me a note to tell me I had been missed  - visit her at Simply Darlene.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

"In a tumultuous privacy of [an ice] storm..."

Early this morning, the ice dabbed at the dogwood,

and the bird man weathered the icy deck to fill his feeders,

and, [yes, he has on shorts], add hot water to the baths.
"My birds," he said.

The ice decorated the red maple

and fringed the hook for the hummingbird feeder.

The cardinals knew how beautiful they look as they hovered about the deck

and competed with the artifice of the ice.

The ice clung to the Japanese maple.

  Tallulah peered at me, the deck watcher.

Then, she came 

to see this happy fellow at his feast.

The ice storm cometh.
The cat leaveth.

Turn up the heat, will ya? My paws are cold.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Five Lights From Home

On Tuesday my day started as usual except for the “not walking.” For the last weeks, the weather here in the South has been cold, and even though I have bundled up and made some walks, when the temperature falls into the 20s and even lower with wind chill, I conclude, “Eh, I don't have to. I don't wanna.”

So, I don't.

In the early stages of a kitchen renovation, [not time for that story now], I had asked my sister early Tuesday morning to ride with me to look at two slabs of granite that David and I had narrowed down as choices for our counter tops.

At 10:00 am, my sister called and said, “It's snowing. Do you still want to go?” I, a veteran of “burn” stories on snow predictions from teaching school and wishing for a snow day, thought, “if it comes,[rolling my eyes a little], most weather reports indicated it would be 'this afternoon.'” We're used to hyped up local weather as news ---- and most of us take it with a grain of salt. No pun intended.

We headed to Kennesaw, about ten miles northeast of home.

As the snow fell outside Atlanta Stoneworks, the granite place, my sister and I took our time evaluating the two pieces of granite. We chatted up the owners, a family business, and found them charming and hilarious. As we got in the car around 11:15 to come back, she said, “Are you still meeting Celia for lunch? I wouldn't. It's getting bad out here.”

I called Celia, who was already at the restaurant, and I said, “I'm game if you are.” We chose to proceed with our lunch date. We always have trouble finding a time to get together.

After all, it couldn't be that bad – it was coming “this afternoon”; I had plenty of time.

Meanwhile, it continued to snow.

I left for the restaurant, which is located about nine miles from my house, and had a great lunch and visit with Celia. We talked books, family, books, friends in common, Downton Abbey, and books.

At 12:30, David called me on my cell and said, “I'm leaving work. How much longer for you?”

I said, “I'll leave in a few minutes.”

Thirty minutes later, I left the restaurant. I had taken a potty break since, you know, it might take me a little longer to get home.

It was snowing.

I cavalierly wished the restaurant staff a parting “I hope you get home soon” as I confidently walked to my car, looked at it covered in snow, and then saw the traffic on the main thoroughfare in front of me already jammed up. I called David, who was still sitting in traffic near our house [he works about five miles from home], and said, “I'm heading home.” He told me to stick to the main roads, and that he would see me soon.

My car windows were covered in snow and a kind of icy slush, and as I backed out, I couldn't see that well. I cranked up the max defroster on turbo and pulled from the parking lot. I took a right on a lightly congested road, but as I headed south and home, traffic began to thicken.

Snow continued to fall, and as if someone had yelled “Fire,” cars began to enter the main roads of my route home. I drove about one mile – and then – the gridlock became real.

In my car on a side road near Barrett Parkway, I sat and inched forward, and I waited. Waited. Waited. Waited. Waited. On the car's digital clock, it turned from 1:45 to 2:15 to 2:45.

Meanwhile, David called. It had taken him 45 minutes to get home, and he had heard the news and knew that road conditions and traffic had turned bad quickly.

“Where are you?”

Me: I'm trying to get on Barrett Parkway. It's stacked up. I mean like I've never seen it.
David: Just stay the course. Listen to the radio.

I rarely turn on the radio, but I did – I turned to our local News station WSB and began to hear the horror stories of Atlanta's snowy, traffic mess. Their advice “stay where you are.” I was in my car in front of a car dealership. Didn't seem like a “stay where you are” kind of place. Holiday Inn. No. Testosterone. More cars. Yes.  So, I stayed exactly where I was. 

In my car. On the road.

I was still fifteen cars from turning onto Barrett Parkway, and Barrett Parkway was a parking lot.

The Southern courtesy and politeness of allowing people to pull out from a business in front of you, or with their blinker flashing in front of you to change lanes, or even leave space for a person who needed to turn left into the opposite directions was still intact.

Everyone wanted to get home. We were all in the same situation.

My sister reminded me I had my camera -- I took this picture after five o'clock and on my fourth hour.

At 3:00, I made a right onto Barrett Parkway and began what would be another six and a half hour trip to get home.

Every fifteen minutes, David, worried and frantic, called me to check on me. He couldn't believe it when I told him that I hadn't moved since he called last. As the hours passed and I moved at the rate of a mile an hour, I told him the landmarks I saw. I'm in front of the Wells Fargo. Carrabba's. Car Max. The church.

I set small goals:

I'll be home at 6.
Only fifteen more light changes, and I'll cross this intersection.
If I can just get to the next light.
Five lights from home.
I'll be home at 7. 8. 9. Please 9.

The situation was in God's hands. David and friends of mine prayed for me. I had plenty of gas. My body went into Survivor Mode – I didn't have to go to the bathroom. I wasn't hungry. I wasn't scared. No one slid around me. My car was warm. The time passed. The people in the cars around me were all on good behavior. David kept telling me that he would walk to meet me. Enveloped in love and prayer, I felt strong – and knew that everyone in the cars around me was suffering in the same way. Misery loves company, and I had it. :-)

 This is Barrett Parkway near Old 41. 

Also near 0ld 41- I'm about three miles from home.

At one point, this guy pulled up next to me. 
I was like, really? Snakes?
Don't slide into me, Satan.

 I should have taken pictures of this early on to show how slowly we moved.
 5:40 PM, Trip counter 44.9.

 6:30 PM, Trip counter 45.3.
 8:36 PM, 47.6 trip counter
After this shot, I was over it. LOL.

We kept inching forward.

I knew that it was a time thing. I would eventually make it home.

At one point, the traffic didn't move for almost an hour. A tractor trailer had gotten stuck on a small incline, and a car had stalled in a lane beside it. The mass of cars in the three lanes eventually figured out how to get around it.

We crept on.

When I finally turned into my subdivision at 9:25 PM, my car made it almost to my house. We live on a hill, and I gassed it to make it, but it didn't. David came out to meet me, and we moved the car to the bottom of the hill. Others in my neighborhood who lived near me had left their cars too parked in all kinds of ways on the incline.

I thank God for my safe return.

Today, the neighbors met with shovels on that hill in our “hood “ and together we scraped away the ice and snow so that the abandoned cars could be moved to the safety of garages and driveways. A sense of community and camaraderie reigned.

We each had our travel stories of how long it took to get home, and even though mine was one of the longest for some reason, we couldn't top the stories that have been all over the news of people who spent the night on the side of the road, had been on the road for 17 hours, or walked miles in flip flops, or delivered a baby on the side of I-285.

My nephew Andrew, who just took a job with 911, asked my sister after hearing my story: “What on Earth was Aunt Harriett doing out in this mess? She's retired.”

Good question, Andrew.

And, none of your beeswax. :-)

ETA: My friend Margaret Kirkland sent me this ...

Friday, January 17, 2014

Time Flies, and Fruit Flies Like a Banana

Who has time to blog? Not I. I've been busy with it all.

What is it?

I have no clue, but I've been doing stuff.

Christmas came and went.

 I took no photos because we all look the same except for Lukas! the grand phew, who is a little past the age of one. He is bi-lingual, crawls like a dervish, and opens any unattended cabinet in a sixty mile radius. 

I actually don't know why I didn't take photos -- it's probably because others have better cameras -- Bryan, my brother Hunter, and I was too busy being entertaining. Except not.

We did the usual -- ate, played games, ate some more, worked puzzles,  and stared at our, hand- held electronics.
FTR: I don't really have a hand-held electronic. I stared though.

The puzzling level met insanity as they completed five puzzles in five days. 
Manic times!!!!!
We [they] had mad games of  Bootlegger, Telephone Pictionary, Quiddler, and Quirkle. We [I?] about busted a gut playing Telephone Pictionary because my brother Kenneth can't draw, and he made the clue of Petticoat Junction look like "when worlds collide." It's also hard if one is "culturally illiterate" as I was with  "Furbie." I was like -- what is a Furbie? I still don't know what it is, and I refuse to file it in my very full hard drive of a brain.

I wish I had saved some of those drawings; they were hilarious.
My nephew James drew a mean Iron Curtain btw. :-)

We had our photo made, minus brother-in-law Ralph, and the number of twenty- two seems kind of daunting. Every time we get together, I think of how proud my parents would be to know that we have kept this tradition alive for over sixty years. 

 the cousins with the "others"

 the whole clan -- and the Fab Four
Little 'phew at the bottom...

While hanging out during Andrew and Kayla's wedding in September, my nephew Glenn, the Georgia Tech student, almost grad [May 2014], came up with this clever but crazy numbering system for the family .

 We [someone -- Angie and Kayla] came up with the idea of a t-shirt  and -- "Welcome to the Family -- please take a number"  became the mantra.
{at least it's polite}

I'm number four, btw.

Now it's the middle of January.
Time flies, and fruit flies like a banana.

ETA: My sister and I have taken on this huge project. We [she really] are in the process of scanning all of the family photos. The collection belonged mainly to my mother's family, her parents and sisters, but also included those taken by my parents ....

We have some cool old ones --

My maternal grandparents, Will and Mima [Jemima], back row left;
 bottom left -- Aunt Eleanor, Aunt Ava, and unknown suitor.
circa 1938

Margaret, Mother, Sally, Kenneth, and me, circa 1984.
My sister and I obviously in competition for biggest hair.
 I won. Bwha.

Good blogs to come -- I've got picture material.

Oh, and my nephew Chapman? He had my name for Christmas, and he took my blogs from the last six years that are about my family and made them into a book. It was such a sweet gift, and he spent so much time laying it out and getting it perfectly done. Love him for that!!!!

 That's all I got.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

It's that time of year ..

for Tallulah to toss the reindeer from the mantel.
David and I arranged the decorations for Christmas on Sunday, and Tallulah lurked with her usual suspicious self as she eyed the tree, the mantle, and the wreaths with disdain.

Then, when the mantle is complete, she hops to it -- because she can,

finds the loathsome, red reindeer with 1999 on its left antler, and
then waits.

Monday morning --- 1999 red reindeer lies four hoofs up on the dining room floor.
Yes, it's officially Christmas.

Saturday, November 23, 2013


Novembers in Georgia always can be characterized with the color gray. Of course, there are sometimes bright colorful sunny days, more like October, and then there can be frigid days more representative of January, but mostly Georgia, November days are full of gray.

In the fall of 1963, one of my two, distinct memories of fourth grade was suffering from a type of childhood anxiety, perhaps brought on by my mother's returning to work – a type of separation fear. Scared of all kinds of things that I thought could happen without my mother's being there, I'd wake up on school morning with a “tummy ache” and tell my parents that I did not want to go to school.

 The blogger and her sister in Falls Church, Virginia, summer 1963

My parents did not let us stay out of school with such a flimsy and un-diagnosed malaise, but they were concerned about the frequency of my complaints and took turns, if they could, of helping by walking me to school on those days. Other times since they both worked, they elicited the help of close neighbor Pat Gable, whose daughter Marcie was my best friend, to help me get over those hurdles as once I got to school, they both knew I seem to adjust and be fine.

One morning, I dressed, sick at my stomach, but delayed by my illness, and left late to go to school. I pretended that I had gone, but instead,  hid in a neighbor's yard, let some time pass,  and returned to Pat's house and told her that “I had been sent home.” Pat kept me at her house until my parents got home from work. Since it was discovered somehow that I hadn't shown up at school at all, had told a bold face lie, of course, I was punished accordingly, but they were concerned about this new development in my well-being.

At one point, they considered enrolling me in the school district where Daddy was employed, and perhaps this pushed me to work through that anxiety. I just know I suffered a lot the first months of the fall of 1963, but somehow managed to overcome that anxiety and that problem did not return for the rest of my elementary school years.

My fourth grade teacher was Mrs.Gibson, a middle-aged dark haired woman who had taught fourth grade at Perkerson Elementary for decades. Kind but formidable, she challenged her students to memorize passages of historical documents, poems, and state capitals, do long division, study the battles of the Civil War, diagram sentences, and read. We respectfully loved her and tried not to draw attention to ourselves with any type of overt misbehavior. We stealthily passed notes, drew boy's names on our palms with ink, and whispered only when we were sure of no discovery.

Early in the afternoon of November, 22, 1963, we sat in Mrs. Gibson's class waiting for the school day to be over. It was Friday, Thanksgiving holidays were just around the corner, and we were itching for the weekend. We stared at the minute hand on the big black and white clock on the wall and listened as it loudly ticked off the seconds.  As we tapped our pencils, fidgeted in our wooden, shellacked top school desks, and pretended to complete whatever assignment Mrs. Gibson had given, the door opened and Van Wing, a seventh grader and audio visual aide in the library, swung opened the classroom door and blurted out, “President Kennedy has been shot.” I don't know if he was supposed to deliver something to our classroom, how he knew this information, or what, but he announced it with confidence to our fourth grade classroom as if he had been sent on this errand. Perhaps, he had -- as this was way before televisions were in school rooms  -- all we had were film projectors, record players, and the occasional radio.

Immediately the classroom buzzed, my friend Jackie, oblivious to the rules of democracy, leaned over and whispered to me, “If he dies, will Richard Nixon be president now?”, and a shocked Mrs. Gibson shooed Van back to his job and restored the class to order as best she could.

Van,who lived directly behind us on Bader Avenue, had a reputation for being wild, but even Mrs. Gibson knew that Van wouldn't be bold enough to make that kind of announcement without it being based on good information. The rest of that school day, the little  time that was left, is a blur to me.   It was 2:00 Atlanta time when President Kennedy died in Dallas --- we had probably only forty-five more minutes of academics.

The Atlanta Journal and Constitution papers wishing to get out the latest news delayed its evening printing. My brothers both had paper routes, and since they had to wait for the late delivery, arrived home way after dark, exhausted, but having sold out of all their extra papers, a highly unusual occurrence.


The weight of what had happened began to settle in our home. Normally a boisterous bunch, egging each other on, fighting, and getting on each other's nerves, each of us tried to process the news – I can only imagine the difference in how we reacted – my oldest brother Hunter a ninth grader, Margaret a seventh grader, and Kenneth a fifth grader – we were in such different places of maturity.

My parents, who were strict about television viewing, allowed the small set in our den to run constantly with the coverage. We stayed up late, all huddled about the screen like it gave off heat, and watched President Kennedy's body returned to Washington by plane and noted the grisly image of the dark stains on Jackie Kennedy's suit – even in black and white it frightened me.

Greatly affected by it all, I worried that assassins ran free and one waited in the bushes outside my house to kill me or someone I loved. I lay awake that night playing the day's events over and over in my memory – something I would do for months to come.

On Saturday morning, I played with my friends outside --- an overcast but not cold, gray day --- we rode our bikes, played games, and occasionally referenced the American tragedy;  in our childhood minds, we tried to figure out what it could mean for our lives -- our president being shot and killed.
On Sunday, while we attended church, Jack Ruby shot Lee Harvey Oswald. We heard the news on the radio on our ride home, and my parents turned to the television news coverage. That grainy black and white tumultuous and chaotic filmed scene played over and over until it was pretty much etched in my mind. That night I worried about who would be killed next. It was a scary time.

My childhood world had been shattered, and my parents knowing that the event had historical significance, called me in from outside to watch any coverage of the events leading up to his funeral. The scenes of the long lines outside the capitol as his body lay in state, the cortege and the flag draped wagon taking his body to the cathedral for the funeral, and then it again as it carried his body to Arlington Cemetery to be interred – that rider-less horse leading the way.

When the magazines of Life, Look, and Newsweek arrived in the mail in the days afterward, the color pictures of Jackie Kennedy's blood spattered pink suit made me queasy, but with my morbid curiosity aroused, I stared at frozen image after frozen image of those tragic days.

Those were sad, gray days of November, and the pall of what happened weighed on the upcoming holidays for that year including Christmas.

Kenneth, Margaret, the blogger, and Hunter, Lynchburg, Virginia, Christmas 1963

For me, the year 1963 will always dredge up that time of upheaval in my childhood when I felt like something firm, something perfect, something safe had slipped away.

Thankful when the calendar date changed to 1964,  I quit scribbling the month, numbered day, and 1963, at the top of my school papers, and I knew we would forge ahead --- somehow leaving those troublesome days and memories behind us. But, we did and we didn't.