Tuesday, February 2, 2010

My First and Last Day of Teaching

Since moving our work location last week, Mama is a little lonesome at the house, so I decided to do something that may help solve this little problem...

For over a year now she's been wanting to get a computer so that she can keep up with her sisters, children, grandchildren, friends, etc. Many times she's says she never understands all of the computer jargon we speak, so my answer to that is, "Mama, you need to take a beginner's computer class." Months ago, I showed her the class for senior citizen's over at SFCC on Saturday's, but that didn't seem to excite her. So being the wonderful daughter I am, I decided to get down on the beginner's level and teach her the basics....I mean basics like, "The mouse we will use is not a rodent, and the cursor is not someone that spouts out curse words."

Since our old business phone number was cut off from the house and original office location, our Internet service was cut off also so we no longer have DSL at home, therefore I didn't have to show her anything about getting online yet....thank goodness.

I told her how to turn the computer and monitor on, and that you DO NOT turn your computer off the same way you turned it on. I tell you this because I bent down to turn the computer on and she is following my example and pushes the same button right after me....... My cursor almost came into play. The computer I was teaching her on does not have a flat screen (yet), and she seemed to think the computer itself was all in the back part of the monitor, and not in the tower. At this point my thoughts were...boy, have I got my work cut out. I showed her when to use the right click, and when to use the left. I told her what a link was. I even told her how to get on Solitaire since she played it about 10 years ago when I had another old computer.

If she gets a computer I wanted her to know how to type a letter or document, so we went to Word. Mama knows how to type on a typewriter, but I wanted to show her basics about setting her font and font size. I gave her a sentence to type, then showed her how to underline and use bold print. At one point I told her to type something and noticed she was typing something different, and this is what she typed, "This is too difficult a thing to teach a 75 year old person." After about 30 minutes of her computer lesson, she said she was tired, so I told her to start shutting it down and she immediately went to playing Solitaire, then she shut it down.

After I got home from work yesterday, she told me she played about a dozen or more games of Solitaire, and that she still had the "swing of it." Bless her heart....if all else fails, she needs to stick with her piano playing.

Old people are proud of their grandchildren and children are proud of their parents. ~ Proverbs 17:6

Friday, January 29, 2010

A Good Change After All

Greetings from the new Williston Farm Supplies...as Minnie Pearl says it best, "I'm just so proud to be here!"

Seriously, the transition to another office location has gone well...so far. Loading and unloading my wheelchair has made me well aware of every muscle I have in my body that works. Keep in mind that for the last couple of years I've only had to travel out the back door of the house and roll myself down the sidewalk about 25 yards to work. Here's a few pictures of my office (pictures still have to be hung).

It's almost exciting coming to work in the morning knowing I have a new office to come to. I know, don't laugh...you know that's something when you look forward to going to work. I mean, when you've literally worked in a barn, it's quite different to have an office that actually has a kitchen and bathroom, let alone an office for each of us. Yes, don't laugh...when it was on our own property, we didn't have to have a bathroom facility, not when all that worked there was family...you could run right up the sidewalk into Mama's house when the need arose. Now if it was a man that had to use the restroom, Wes could get away with telling them to "pick a tree" out in back. However, when you see a lady get out of her vehicle with a distressed look and say, "Where's your bathroom?" then we'd have to make a call to Mama and tell her someone had to use the restroom and send the lady up the sidewalk to the house. Telling a lady to choose a tree might make her get back in her vehicle and head back down the road somewhere else.

For those that don't know me, close to my father's retirement he decided to start an ag business supplying fertilizer and ag chemicals to the local watermelon, peanut, and hay farmers; so from 1981 - 1996 our office was in the house with our supplies stored in everything from the barn, to a semi trailer, then to a metal building, and that's when we converted the barn into an office. Back then we were the "only kid on the block" within a 15-20 mile radius. Times have changed, competition moved in...then out....so we've now got the other competition's office building and warehouse. We weren't dying to leave the old homeplace, but we needed the extra warehouse space.

Well, today was officially our first day back in business again since the relocating...also the last day of my work week and I look forward to sleeping in tomorrow....or perhaps I'll go look for some pictures for my walls....then again, maybe I'll stay home being my aching muscles need the rest.
He gives strength to those who are tired and more power to those who are weak. ~ Isaiah 40:29

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Come Cut it Off!

I just came out to do a little more packing for our move next week and had to check my email first...then read a blog here and there. So while I have my computer on (that will be cut off for a little while next week) I'm only gonna write for a few minutes as I don't want all of this packing stuff waiting on me Monday. In these parts of Levy County, a few words coming from a Smith is rare, but I'm going to attempt to write a short blog...ha. I get started and don't know when to cut it off. This reminds me of a story I've heard tell of about my Uncle Nolan, my Daddy's oldest brother.

A particular time when Nolan was a little boy, he was eating a biscuit his mother had made a pan of. Well if you're from the South, then you know what cane syrup is. Yum...I was raised on this and knew just where my Granny Smith kept the old long-neck bottle that housed this thick, rich stuff. It was actually an old liquor bottle that they would put this stuff in. (All pictures are taken from off the Internet and are not mine, but will hopefully give you an idea of what I'm talking about.)

I know my Granny or Granddaddy didn't drink the liquor, but they obviously knew someone that did being this is the only thing I had ever seen them put it in.

Outside where they processed this, my Granddaddy had the big kettle pot, skimmer, and everything else it took to cook it during the fall/winter season when the sugar cane got ripe.

Daddy's told me many a time of watching him make it, and how he even helped to stir or skim off the top once he got big enough to do so. If you cooked it too long, it got dark and that's where the strong molasses-taste came in, but doing it "just right" produced a light golden-brown, clear, thick liquid. I like and will only turn down Aunt Jemima or the Log Cabin Maple Syrup when there is no cane syrup around. Although there are a few places within a 25 radius of Williston that make it each year, its not as popular making it the old-fashioned way as it use to be. From time to time we have a customer or two that will make a batch of syrup and let us know incase we wanted to buy a jug from him. During Daddy's last year of sickness, we had a family friend from down the road, Emory, that brought us syrup several times that his friend of family member made from up in Georgia. Both Daddy and Emory are no longer with us, but there's still a little left in that last jug that he brought to us a month or so before Daddy died.

This particular day (as I had started to say) Little Nolan grabbed the bottle of syrup and commenced to pouring it on top of his biscuit. If you aren't careful, the syrup (and about any other thick liquid you try to pour) started coming out the bottle in such a thick gush that very soon it was filling his plate and he didn't know how to tip the bottle up to make it pour into a thin stream, so he yelled, "Come cut it off! Come cut it off!" Granny or Granddaddy went over and rescued the little tike from wasting the whole bottle on one biscuit. Little kids like to do some things by themselves many times and have to learn things the hard way.

Uncle Nolan had to have help cutting it off (the syrup) as I need the same thing in trying to write a short blog. I need to learn to know how to "Cut it off!" So, I must get back to work with my packing as I don't want the following told of me...

Those who work hard make a profit, but those who only talk will be poor. ~ Proverbs 14:23

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Out With the Cold, In With the Cold

My alarm went off at 2:45 a.m. as we were planning on leaving the house at 4:00 for our first Christmas away from home in years. The first time was at the birth of my first nephew in 1974, this was also my first time seeing snow....not a good one (read about it in my blog "Purpose For Everything Under The Sun"). With the vehicle loaded, we pulled away at 4:12 and Mama, Meister, and I set out on what looked to be an "interesting" trip. Mama always says a prayer first before we leave...you never know what is lurking down the road that those prayers will get you through, or help to avoid. Two days before Christmas and we weren't sure what the traveling was going to be like going up I-75. Our first stop is in Valdosta at the Cracker Barrel...cold and around 32 freezing degrees (anything below 60 is cold for this Florida girl). To make it easier on Mama, the wheelchair tote was put on the back of my vehicle so that she wouldn't have to worry about the dog jumping out when trying to get my wheelchair...the only problem for me was getting out into an ice cold chair (that had been covered), but I survived it and got warm once inside the restaurant....then I had to go back outside in it. We stopped a few hours later south of Macon for her to walk the dog & let him go to the bathroom and smell where every other canine had marked their spot, then back on the road again. After a stop in Ellijay at Chic-fila, we made it to the house at around 1:00-1:30, got unpacked, then headed to the grocery story for this week's groceries. It was just the 2 of us then, but my brother's family would be coming for the Christmas meal, then my baby sister's crew, and part of a niece's crew would arrive on Saturday....an addition of 9 people.

The grocery store in Hayesville is huge, so by the time we reached the dairy section (last aisle), my throat was hurting from the cold inside the store. We left the store temps of what seemed to be below zero, to warm up outside in 30+ degree temps, got the car loaded back down again (but with food), headed to the house to unload, then finished the journey off with a bowl of hot vegetable beef soup mama had put up in the freezer our last trip up in October. Man it hit the spot, and my throat was no longer hurting. I couldn't wait to get in the bed and pass out. I slept like a baby.

Mama took my vehicle back into town the next day and picked up a few more items we had forgotten, plus she stopped by Dollar General for some last minute Christmas decorations since we had invited the neighbors from "up the hill" for a spaghetti supper...we wanted more of a "Christmas look" around the house. Today was a day of lounging & prepping a few things before tomorrow's meal. Mama got the little Christmas tree from the top of my closet to add to the lighted garland I wrapped around the banister. Dollar General stuff worked just fine. Meister graced the photo with his presence.

The neighbors, Rose and Herb, came for supper and the two of them reminisced about how much they missed my daddy. Herb and Daddy would go play golf from time to time before Daddy started getting sick and was able to enjoy it. The last time they were over to eat, Rose bent down to pick Meister up and it hurt his leg that he had arthritis in. He bit her on the cheek. We were hoping she wouldn't try that again, and, she even brought the subject up at the table that evening, "Do you remember the time Meister bit me?" How in the world could someone forget that? They've got a BIG dog at their house, so being around a dog was not unusual to them. After supper and some small talk, they went back home and the Christmas Eve rain started up, now making it damp and extra cold outside.

On Christmas morning instead of opening our gifts (we did this before we left Florida), we started the cooking process. We knew we could take our time with cooking as Mama had told my brother's wife a few days before that we'd probably eat mid-afternoon or so since everyone would probably have a late breakfast. I even killed time doing a few other things. That soon changed when Mama gave them a call and was told they'd be leaving Ellijay in the next half hour, ride the hour and ten minutes to get here...putting them at our place around noon! Talk about high gear...we put it in it! I had just finished snapping the beans, the sweet potatoes had been pealed, the macaroni and cheese was put together but not baked, the turkey was out of the oven but not sliced, and everything else was either cooking/baking. It was looking very slim that mama would get the sweet potato dish started anytime soon, so I told her I'd start on it (even though I'd never made it before). I basically knew what spices & ingredients would go in it, so I just started adding till I got it to the taste I thought it should be, then started baking it. It turned out really good and I was so proud. By the time they arrived, everything was ready or fixing to come out of the oven. Took all morning to prepare, and about 15-20 minutes to consume it.

For some reason or other, within 10 minutes after consumption, everyone was ready for a nap....even sitting around the table talking had everyone yawning. My great niece, Ashlee, got a card game for Christmas, The Memory Game. I played a few hands with her and she won each time....so much for my memory. Could it be because I just turned 50? Mid-afternoon, everyone was about ready to hit the road back down to Ellijay, but first it was important to get family pictures. Going out into the cold woke everyone up for sure.
Pretty soon it was just mama and I back in a quiet house. Christmas was different this year with the rest of the family not being there, but it was memorable.
Saturday morning and it's wonderful to sleep in a few extra minutes. Looking forward to Ginger's bunch and Danielle & her two kids to get here. Oh, and lets not forget Bella...Bella's making her first long trip since her birth a few months ago.
The cutest little Shorkie I've ever laid my eyes on (also the only one). When they got here mid-afternoon, it took about as long to get Bella's belongings out as it did the rest of their stuff. Just so you don't think I'm exaggerating, here's a shot of the little canine. We weren't really sure how Meister would react. Meister stood up straight when he saw her with his tail erect and his ears thrown back as she yapped and jumped up in his face. He was a good boy and did not get upset, just tired after about 5 minutes of her bothering him and he went and laid back down.

Sunday came and went and we ended up eating leftovers from Christmas. The temps were still dropping and by Monday morning its in the mid 20's. Mama and I decided to pick up a few items at the brand new Walmart in Blairsville, so we dress appropriately and headed out in the cold. The store sits atop a high hill catching all the high winds that were blowing. When I got out into my chair, I literally yelled rolling through the parking lot into the store as the wind blew hard. The wind chills were probably in the single digits, or lower. We went our separate ways once in the store and decided to meet back at the entrance in an hour. It didn't take long to make my rounds, and 20 of those minutes were spent getting a key made...in the automotive department where the automatic sliding doors kept opening back and forth letting in a rush of the frigid air, once again reminding me of what I had waiting when we got back outside to the car. For supper that evening we ate Chili...so fitting for the cold.
Tuesday came and everyone went their separate ways for shopping. I took Mama into town to pay a bill and on the way there, I saw a neat Christmas decoration someone had added to their barn. Note the Christmas tree in the hayloft, and Santa behind the wheel of the old truck.

For supper that evening we ate at my favorite place, The Ridges...a Kodak moment.

All week we heard that snow was headed our way...the day we were to leave to go back home to Florida, also New Year's day. As far as I was concerned, it was cold enough for it to rain down icicles. I can only take so much cold, but for some reason I was excited about the cold this year, especially if we did see some flakes...it didn't have to be a lot, just a few.
Wednesday arrived and all I had heard about the last few days was the brand new little restaurant called Michaelee's. It was small and quaint, so we made reservations and met for lunch at 1:00. Although there was parking in the front and rear, the parking area for a handicapped was a disaster waiting to happen....especially when you're sticking out an additional 4 - 5 feet further from my wheelchair being on the back. I got it parked well, it was getting out of here that would be the problem...no place to turn around, looked like I would have to back out through the parking lot onto the street. Food-wise, I was talked into getting the Roman Club Panini by Logan...but I'm glad he talked me into it. They were huge, so I split mine with mama since everyone talked about the homemade desserts this place had. I sure didn't want to miss out on that... I got the Molten Lava Cake, a chocolate cake baked in a small tin that had chocolate sauce in the center of it...they heat it up, then place a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top. The others got the Pina Colada Cake...coconut cake with pineapple filling (or just the opposite as I never tasted it, just saw it), and Logan had the Snicker Bar Pie....yum. We were stuffed by the time we left there, and I was afraid I wouldn't be able to get into the vehicle...let alone back out of the parking lot. Keep in mind the temps were probably in the 30's outside, so it wasn't a summer day to take one's time. I needed to roll my own self for the exercise, but I let Logan push me to the car since the elevations out in the parking lot were so weird and so un-wheelchair friendly. I backed up and into a little space between a couple vehicles to get myself turned around so that I wouldn't have to back out onto the street....this made Mama a little nervous, but I'm a good backer-upper (I've had plenty of practice fitting into tight spaces in this chair). We sat around, read, slept, watched TV, and even played cards when we got back to the house. After a lite supper a little later, we played some more cards, then prepared for bed. The clouds were starting to move in for tomorrow's rain and we still prayed for some snow. Ginger, Erik, Peggy & Shelby were leaving tomorrow to go home, and we were wanting some before they had to leave, if possible...I didn't think that was too tall an order for God. From time to time we'd look outside, or have to let Meister out and would freeze in just that short time of opening the door to let him in and out. Still no snow. Everyone retired to their sleeping quarters, and within 10 minutes someone knocked on my bedroom door. Shelby, in a rather excited tone said, "Aunt Becky, I just wanted to let you know it's snowing outside!" I dressed as quick as I could and got back up into my chair, and by this time everyone had gone back downstairs. Mama came out of her room wondering why I was turning the lights on and unlocking the front door. Not only was it freezing, but it was pitch black. When the lights were turned on at the end of the house, I could see little snow flurries floating past the light. Sure enough--though it wasn't a whiteout--it was snow. I had to stop and thank the Lord for answering that little prayer. I was satisfied with what I saw, so I got back into my warm bed.

Thursday arrived and I had to tell some of the family goodbye as they were heading back to Florida, the warm sunshine state. After they left, we did most of our packing and then the others went and spent a little money and energy at Fun World. We left a little earlier than everyone else before supper so that I could fill up with gas for the trip home tomorrow, and made a run to the dump. The temps never really got much out of the 30's on the trip this year. It was down right cold whenever we went outside....then add the rain that had been falling all day, it made it all the more colder. We were capping off our trip with our last meal at Rib Country...mouth-watering meat that is fall-off-the-bone tender. We pulled up to the restaurant and waited on Danielle and them. As we waited, a car pulled up beside us and four occupants got out. Honest to goodness, the people looked so mismatched. From my perspective, it was the mother (who looked like someone you'd bump into in the grocery store), the father, and the son or daughter. Either the son had invited his girlfriend, or the daughter had invited the boyfriend. Regardless, the two males looked as though they had stepped off the Deliverance movie set and went into the restaurant. Being it was a little early for our reservation, we sat out in the vehicle and waited on the rest of our party. After about five minutes, the young man came out and sat on the porch to smoke a cigarette and saw mama and I getting out of the vehicle. He was very nice to open the door for us. I got a bit tickled because he looked as though any minute he would pick up a jug of moonshine and dance a jig in front of us...very mountain man-ish. In this place where we stay in NC, there are lots of people that are originally from Florida, but the rest are just good ole country folks, then there are some that are from the backwoods that look as though they don't come into town much. These were backwood-looking folks. (Which reminds me of the time when Mama & Daddy were up here in NC and an emergency had arisen with my Daddy, thinking her may be having a heart attack, he had to be taken to the hospital in the city next to Warne. They didn't know what to do with Meister while Daddy was in the hospital, so someone had suggested a pet boarding place just outside of town (in the boondocks) down a little road called...Hanging Dog Road. This story would also make a good blog one day.) The people at the restaurant looked as though they may have friends that live down this road. Needless to say, I tried not to stare at them as we ordered our food, ate it, then went back home to finish any last minute packing. A little cards before bedtime, then the lights went out a little earlier since the plans were to head back home by 6:00 in the morning. Ugh...I hate to get up early.

Well, Happy New Year...it's now 2010. We leave at approximately 6:07 and head for sunny, warm Florida. The first couple of hours driving we have the roads almost to our self. Mama and I decided to stop at Cracker Barrel for breakfast and then back on the road again, as Willie Nelson would say. Everywhere we were, it was down right cold. Mama had to get out once after our breakfast stop to take the dog for a walk and do his business...of smelling where all the other dogs had made deposits and make his own. This was not the type of weather one would exactly want to get out and walk or run a dog in, but I will have to admit, Meister is a good little traveler....he just sleeps the whole time.

We arrived safely back home and...in the cold. Little did I know that for the next couple weeks (or close to it), the weather we had up in NC was just preparing me for the temps and extreme cold we again would feel in sunny, warm Florida for not just a couple days, but nearly 2 weeks. Yesterday was the first time in days that I could get by going outside without a jacket of some kind. It felt wonderful. The cold was unusual this year, but the seasons will just continue to come and go each year like clock work.

As long as the earth exists, planting and harvesting, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never stop. Genesis 8:22

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


Change....who likes change? That was one word President Obama focused on during his campaign. For some people it can be a positive or a negative experience. For some reason its been on the negative side with me lately. I've been in the process of having to make decisions that aren't the easiest to make. Partly due to competition in the workplace, our business will be moving in the next week or two to another location down the road. Yes, I'm leaving the convenience of heading out the backdoor at home and rolling down the sidewalk to the present office to work, to having to load and unload in and out of the vehicle several times a day. Except for the couple of years I lived out in Montbrook next to my sister's house, I didn't have to go too far to work at all. This time, I believe the hardest for me is leaving the place my Daddy started almost 30 years ago. So we've been cleaning out desks, drawers, filing cabinets, shelves, etc. in the past week to get ready for the big move (for me anyway).

I stop here and there and recall experiences I had with my Daddy when I'd read sales books, ledgers, papers, and other things that would have my Daddy's handwriting on it....little chicken scratch, I'd call it. All of which has sentimental value to it. I went in the house at lunch and was telling Mama of some of the things I found and couldn't finish the sentence because I'd start crying. Everywhere I look I see "fingerprints" of him. It will be much different than what I'm use to...meaning more wear and tear on the hands...that I treasure. But it'll just take some time getting use to, I'm sure. Thanks to my nephew Logan and Peg for painting my new office....finely, rather than out in the open and where everyone has to come through and disturb my poor train of thought, I'll have an office of my own!

When I went out to ride my bike today during the noon hour, I turned on my radio and heard this song by Phillips, Craig & Dean. Of all that's been going on with the cleaning out of the office and finding the sentimental things, this song really hit home. I thought of my Daddy...

Nothing To Lose:

You taught me how to ride a bike, tie my shoes and fly a kite,
How to swim, and how to fish, to see and star and make a wish.
Said its okay to make mistakes, just don't get stuck in yesterday
Forgive, forget, and move ahead, because life is what you make of it.
Now you're gone and all I have are memories I hold deep.
But if I'm quiet, I hear your voice still ringing in my ears...

Saying, "Live with no excuses, and love with no regrets,
laugh a lot and leave this life with nothing left unsaid...
Make this world a better place, don't be afraid to cry.
And when it's finally time to say goodbye,
Nothing to prove, nothing to lose, nothing to hide".

You see, life can not be measure by...the place you live, the car you drive.
The thing that counts the day you die, is who you are, and what's inside.
So tell the truth, don't ever lie...integrity at any price
Your words, your bond, your highest price...so guard it close and live your life.
So many things I learned from you, 'bout life and love and play.
But I learned more by how you lived than what I heard you say.

Saying, "Live with no excuses, and love with no regrets,
laugh a lot and leave this life with nothing left unsaid...
Make this world a better place, don't be afraid to cry.
And when it's finally time to say goodbye,
Nothing to prove, nothing to lose, nothing to hide".

Today's blog is probably the shortest one you'll get from me, but I also wanted to let you know I didn't forgot how to write (it's only been 2 months since my last one). We may go through changes in this life, pleasant and unpleasant, but I serve one that never changes...

Every good action and every perfect gift is from God. These good gifts come down from the Creator of the sun, moon, and stars, who does not change like their shifting shadows". James 1:17

Thursday, December 3, 2009

A Gulf Hammock Thanksgiving

I've been fighting a cold and congestion for the past few weeks, and it just hasn't seemed to want to shake, so as Thanksgiving week was nearing, I began to wonder if I'd be going down to the woods a few days beforehand as we always have. Well, I went...and I mentioned something on my Facebook the other day about being down there and a former classmate of mine, Scott, reacted as though he was shocked about having Internet service down in Gulf Hammock as he too remembered the days of growing up and going to the woods at Thanksgiving, and the living conditions down there. For one thing...the Internet service was coming from my phone and not DSL.

As a child and going to the camp (and we aren't talking a bunch of tents), most of the time we usually stayed during Thanksgiving week at our old cabin (and I do mean old) because on Thanksgiving day, there was a time of fellowship in which what seemed like half of our small community of Williston would gather to enjoy a feast set up down at Fugate Camp, in which everyone brought a covered dish of some kind, and the meat would be any or everything from turkey to...bear? I say that because someone told me one year that I had put a piece of bear meat on my plate while going through the food line...? I have no clue if they were telling the truth or not, all I recall about it was that it was dark meat and slightly on the tough side. We had to take our clean water in igloo containers and drink the water out of a "community" tin cup because you didn't want to drink the water from the creek due to it being brackish water, and stunk to the high heavens. It looks like extremely dark tea. Bathrooms or port-a-potties did not exist, unless you call the outhouse your bathroom (forget tubs and showers at our place either). It was a chore to get up during the night to go to the bathroom...you'd literally have to grab a flashlight, a roll of toilet paper, socks, shoes, and a warm jacket. For years our outhouse was out in the middle of our camp, had a hole cut in a bench, and as time went on someone placed a toilet seat on top of the hole which really "modernized" it. A few years later, they did move the outhouse a little further back into the woods....then we were scared the varmints would "get us"....but as the commercial says it best, when the "gotta go, gotta go" strikes...then you gotta go.

When the family continued to grow and after I had my accident in 1981, rolling around from one camp to the other in a wheelchair made things very difficult...mud, holes, tree roots and rocks big enough to flip my chair if I wasn't going extremely slow and watched where I was going. Thus another camp location was erected (still at Camp C) when Daddy and his brother, Okra, purchased some land from the Whitehurst family and a couple cabins were built, one for Okra's and one for our (Wesley's) family....incidentally this was where a gator hole was once upon a time, then they brought in fill dirt and built up the land. We modernized things a bit more and we now have running water (still too nasty to drink for me), but charcoal filters were put in so that we could at least wash dishes and shower in the water. After a week of using this water, your fingernails are nasty-looking and one can't wait to get home to take a shower from all the showers you've had to take down there. And, your hair smells like smoke from sitting out at the campfire each day/evening. But hey, this is a female giving the description...men can live like beasts and it not bother them. That's my version of modern-day camping. Daddy's cabin was built by Buddy and Hugo (and whoever else they got to help them), and a ramp and walkway was built around the entire front and north side of the cabin, which leads down to the creek...making it much more convenient for me.

Originally there were 4 bedrooms built, but in later years, they closed the front screened porch in and made 2 more bedrooms out of it. We've slept as many as 20-25 people in there at a time. Our cabin has always had a "damp" feel to it due to the fact it sits over some of the creek, especially at high tide.

The Monday before Thanksgiving arrives, and I'd already made up my mind I didn't feel like going to the camp on the next day because I was still not feeling well, and sitting out in the night air around the fire at night might worsen a cold and the congestion I had. On Tuesday I still didn't feel up to a Wednesday trip, so my plans were to take mama in on Thanksgiving being she hasn't felt too much like staying during Thanksgiving week ever since Daddy had passed away a couple years earlier. He was so much a part of her's (and our) trips down there...it's still a little hard on her. Wednesday morning I got up with the same game plan, but mama "thought" I needed to go down there....I didn't know if she was planning a party or what, I just knew she wanted me to go down there. The rain came down in buckets the day before and that morning and it didn't look like it was ever going to quit. Getting around and in and out of the rain with a wheelchair is not my idea of a good time. Everything in the world seemed to happen to make things harder to get my stuff together, but I picked up my niece (her husband & 2 boys were already down there), and off we went. We were told some good soul had grated the road going in a few days earlier, making it a little better (haha), but the rain had turned it all around and only worsened it. Slip-sliding in the mud, and potholes the size of Texas. Upon arrival, all my servants emptied my vehicle and I took what I could carry inside. After putting my load of stuff in the cabin, and so thankful that the rain had stopped, I went out to where everyone sat around the fire. After a delicious supper of fried venison and fried turkey breast (killed earlier that day), I was already feeling better, attitude-wise. After supper, it was card time and my nephews (Tyler and Logan) taught me and another nephew, Andy, a new game of Uno called Firehouse Uno...it was fun, only I didn't like getting my tail beat. About a dozen of us stayed down there that evening, and 9 others went out. Ginger and Erik took my vehicle back to Williston for my mother to have something to bring down the next day, on Thanksgiving. When I had first arrived at camp and other than taking my bags inside, I had never taken the time to unload my bags and noticed several things I had forgot to pack...one being my deodorant and toothbrush...but hey, someone always has some extras in the bathroom, and I also have a toothbrush I leave down there, so I really didn't worry.

The next morning, we all ate a small breakfast of Pillsbury canned cinnamon and orange rolls, then everyone starts preparing their different dishes for lunch, when the rest of the family and friends would be down. I was excited that our long-time friend Maria Sresovich was going to be coming with Ginger and Erik for lunch.

(Sorry Maria, but for some reason, I can't get the image to go larger)

Maria and Ginger incidentally had grown up together and after viewing some Thanksgiving pictures another long time friend (John) had posted from earlier years of Thanksgivings, she was looking forward to seeing how we celebrate Thanksgiving, "Gulf Hammock" Style. After I finished putting together my macaroni and cheese, I went to my room to get dressed, after that I put on my "face" and headed to the bathroom to brush my teeth and look for the deodorant....and here's what I found:

My first thought...what in the world? No Degree, no Right Guard, no anything...? I have to put on a deodorant scent that attracts deer or keeps them from smelling me? If that wasn't bad enough, someone had thrown my toothbrush away and replaced it with who knows who's toothbrush...so, I just grabbed "whoevers" toothbrush and used it. A community toothbrush...it reminds me of what I read the other day....you know a redneck invented the toothbrush....anyone else would have named it a teethbrush. :)

When I got in to my room, I looked and found some perfume to disguise the Hunter's Specialties Deodorant, so the next best thing I found tucked away in my toiletries bag was a sample perfume I like to have to keep from having to take a whole entire bottle of cologne anywhere. Price-wise, they don't give perfume/cologne away these days...surely it would counteract the other scent. So I used a little Sensuous, by Estee Lauder....the name itself is quite a contrast from the HSD.

I had to wet the back of my hair down a little from the bed head and borrowed Anneil's hair dryer to blow it dry. I left mine at home because with all the females that go down there, someone usually has a hair dryer to use. The airflow was so powerful, I probably would have been better off letting it air dry. I said, "Anneil, this airflow is so weak. How can you stand this each time you blow your hair dry?" She told me she thought it was powerful, but noticed lately every time she uses it, it smells like something burning. Hmmm...I can't imagine why.... When I took the back of it off and cleaned the lint from it, I was shocked. I've enclosed a picture with the amount of lint I could get from it with the tweezers I had, and there was about this much still left in it. It's compared to the size of a finger ring. I think Anneil needs a hair dryer for Christmas...

The noon hour arrived and to sample the different dishes would be impossible without filling your plate to overflowing with all of the food. Trust me, everything I ate was delicious, no room for seconds. It's always so fun to get to see kinfolk we don't usually get to see but once a year...and taste their dishes too!

In closing, we've all got so much to be thankful for and we need to have a grateful heart more than one day or month out of the year. I need to take a dose of my own medicine too, because that doesn't come easy. Easier said than done. I could have stayed home and had a miserable Thanksgiving, after all, its no fun being sick....especially away from home. As Christians, we are commanded to be thankful. Two particular verses I leave with you that doesn't exactly sound like a suggestion. The Apostle Paul wrote this to the church at Colosse when in chapter 3:15 it says: "Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful." In chapter 4: 2 says to "Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful."

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Smoky Mountain Fever...Again

I just returned from a trip to the mountains last week, and thought I'd write about it and give you a little taste of how it went while it's still fresh on my mind.

Bright and early Thursday morning at 3:45 my alarm went off....ughh....that's so early, but that's how long it takes for me to get my stuff together and ready to leave promptly at 5:00. Following along with my niece Danielle, riding with her were her two children, Hadley and Hagen, and her mother/my sister, Anneil. We set sail and arrived in Valdosta for breakfast at Cracker Barrel, there the 5 of us enjoyed a good meal to start the trip off; I was needing coffee really bad anyway as I could feel my eyes getting very heavy an hour before we stopped. When we left Cracker Barrel, Hadley decided to ride with me since I had been riding by myself...so, she brought everything but the kitchen sink with her. Since my vehicle isn't loaded like most all of the new SUV's & vans, she even brought her portable DVD player. I know why they've equipped the vehicles with them nowdays...so that you don't have to hear the kids ask hundreds of times on trips, "When will we be there?" Hadley only did that the last couple of hours of the trip up there; she didn't like watching the movie too long, so she got her dry-erase board out and we played hangman. Yes, driving and playing hangman... She kept the board in her lap of course, but I had to keep looking over from time to time and guess a letter....never got hung either. I have found someone that talks about as much as her grandmother, Beba...aka Anneil. Stopped and filled up around Macon and Hagen came alive and wondered why he couldn't ride with Aunt Becky also, I got his picture while filling up...

We met Wes and my sister-in-law Darlene at the Walmart parking lot in Ellijay since I had a few things to give him that he had asked me to bring up (they had left 3 days earlier than I), we followed them over to Chick-fil-a and had a quick bite, then headed up to mama's place in Warne where she and Meister (our dog) awaited us. My niece, Brooke, and her mother (and another sister of mine) Pam, were on their way up from Cumming and bringing the two kids, Camden and Kinsley. Kinsley's another one that talks about as much as her Aunt Anneil.... In other words, this was not going to be a quiet trip. The temps were cool out, so the big pot of homemade vegetable beef soup my mother had had simmering all day really hit the spot.

Day 2/Friday: Instead of my alarm, I was awakened by the sound of a particular child that learned to whisper around a jackhammer in use. Kinsley informed us all when she arrived that Thursday afternoon that, "I've been sick with a cold." Every time you saw her, she had a Kleenex in her hand. Now her brother Camden is a different story, a little boy with few words...which may be because his little sister does all the talking. He was so looking forward to his cousins, Cade and Coye to get there, and they were to arrive around noon or so with their mother Aubrey (my niece) and Aubrey's younger sister, Chelsea. Both were riding up with their father, Greg. We stayed around the house this day (because we were tired from the trip up), so in between watching TV, we sat out on the front porch and took in the beautiful view-but drab colors- in anticipation of eating and celebrating my Mama's 75th birthday at a really nice restaurant down in Hiawassee, GA called The Oaks...a part of The Ridges Resort.

It was flooding outside when we got to The Oaks, but the evening turned out well until we got our bills.

Day 3, Saturday: Game day, and in between everyone going here and there, we stayed close to home. Mama and I went to the grocery store and purchased stuff for tomorrow's lunch...Sunday lunch at Mema's....a regular each week, only this time the location had changed. We had the DISH man come by to replace a couple of receivers, and he left us in a bind. A cold front was moving in today, but unfortunately he left some snow on the downstairs TV that was not fun to play in. He told me he could come back later that afternoon when he got a few more tools, but I was afraid he would leave us without a TV to view the Gator/Mississippi State game...so he said he would come back the first part of the week. The menu would be BBQ tonight, so we loaded up and headed down to what we thought was pretty early (5:30) to Rib Country and it was packed. We waited in line for 45 minutes, then finally got seated in time to inhale our food and rush home for the football game....another nail-biting game, but the Gator's pulled through....thank the Lord, cause I'm not big on watching games like that with FSU fans.

Day 4, Sunday: Got up and read my bible & devotions, then had my coffee and a small breakfast with family. This alone feels funny, because at home (except for when we were children) we never eat breakfast together just because getting ready for work puts me in the kitchen at a different time than when mama is in there. That's one thing we do in the mountains, most everyone of the grownups are up and about and we usually eat breakfast together, whether it's cereal...a sweet roll...or one mama has prepared of sausage or bacon, eggs, grits & toast. Afterwards, the breakfast dishes were cleaned up, then I prepared a big pan of macaroni and cheese to bake later for lunch...to be served with roast beef, rice and gravy, fresh turnips, fresh green beans & potatoes, rolls, sweet tea and homemade peach cobbler for dessert. Very filling. After lunch we sat out on the porch awhile (like pigs basking in the sunshine), and then got ready for the first half of the crew to head back on the road for home. Took a few snapshots of the families...it use to be you had to face into the sun for your best snapshots, so I just told everyone to close their eyes and on the count of 3, look at me to keep from being blinded by the sun that was shining so brightly this day. It was still cold even with it shining.

After we said our goodbyes, we decided to ride in to Hiawassee. Hagen was now the only kid with 4 grownups, and to keep him from being sad they told him they'd get him something from Fred's Dollar Store...he liked it so much that he fell asleep before we got there, so me & Anneil sat out in the vehicle while they went inside. With it being cool, Anneil thought it'd be a good time to go to this nice little coffee shop for some of their specialty coffees...Pumpkin Spiced Latte's...well, that's all we got to enjoy of them were the thoughts of it, because it was closed on Sunday. Went home instead and had a cup of coffee from Mr. Maxwell's House. We had a Chinese stir-fry for supper.

Day 5, Monday: We headed back down into Georgia about an hour or so to Wes and Darlene's today, since Wes told Mama he would grill something for her birthday. I wish I could describe to you the ride into his place, but take it from the horse's mouth...it was treacherous if you aren't use to it....and that I wasn't it. The house is 2 story and has a creek running in the front of it. You can enter in and park at creek-level, but then you have to go up about 15 steps or so...I didn't want to be pulled up those steps, let alone put everyone through pulling me up them as it would probably rupture their backs. So...Wes has a back entry that brings you in on the top level (main floor) of the house. I didn't take a picture of the drive from the top down since I was driving, and Mama was too scared to open her eyes to take a snapshot as you come down it, so I took a picture from that level looking up, which doesn't do it any justice. (If you're interested, take a look at Annie Whitehurst' Blog Post http://dumptrucks-babies-and-everything-else.blogspot.com/ and check out her (Oct) Leaf Looking 2009 post. In this she shows one particular picture of a driveway when her and her family went on a little walk through the woods when they were up there the week before. The rest of her blogs are great to read also.) My first picture is of the driveway looking upward (and trust me, it looks like a piece of cake). The rest of the pictures were in or around the house, and looking down at the creek view. It's so odd how just an hour away the terrain can change to where you think you're out west with the tall aspens..only they had plenty of tall hemlocks, a type of evergreen tree.

Wes had been marinating the meat all morning and put them on the grill while I was there and it turned out sooo good...moist and tender meat to go with the sides and dessert Darlene had prepared. Cherry-glazed pork tenderloin, apricot-glazed chicken wings, twice-baked potatoes, baked beans, spring mixed tossed salad with balsamic vinaigrette dressing and homemade apple tarts with vanilla bean ice cream and hot caramel sauce on top.

We were in no shape to eat anything once we got back to the Mama's house, but drank a cup of coffee for warmth. Overall it was a good day. Time is starting to click on by and it will be Friday before we know it.

Day 6, Tuesday: Stayed around the house today since it started raining, and Anneil and Danielle went to a few shops in Hiawaseee. The Dish man came back to try and correct his mistakes of whatever he did on the weekend...he blamed it on the TV-which was working fine before he ever came. Some men....can't own up to saying they don't know what they're doing sometimes. We had leftovers tonight from Sunday's meal to try to clear out the refrigerator before the end of the week.

Day 7, Wednesday: Woke up to clearer skies today...no rain, but plenty of clouds scattered about. It looked as though we were riding in an airplane up amongst the clouds. After filling up with fuel, we headed over to Franklin NC today and spent a little more money in a couple of stores. The ride over that way is always so pretty with colors because you're going into a higher elevation, which is usually a few days ahead of Warne in color. The closer we got, you could tell they had already reached their peek, probably over the weekend, but I got a few snapshots anyway.

We shopped a little bit, then ended up at Big Lots before leaving Franklin and at one point in the store came upon some lazy stragglers.

Got home and rested up a little while then decided to treat the last remaining of us to The Oaks for a last meal together as tomorrow Anneil, Danielle, and Hagen would leave to go back to Florida. It gets sad as everyone starts to leave...we all said we'd like to just move up there...such a relaxed atmosphere, no one gets in a hurry...it's just plain fun. So...off we head to The Oaks, and this time we have a much smaller crowd in tow (which was the only reason I treated), and we're not having to fight getting in and out of the rain. We all tried a different dish tonight, and I started us off with the baked brie cheese and crackers for an appetizer, then I got the fresh pecan-encrusted mountain trout with the side of spring salad, seasonal vegetables , garlic mashed potatoes, and homemade bread. You can't resist their homemade desserts, so we (Anneil and I) decided on the Cherries Jubilee...and with fresh apples in season, Mama decided to get their apple pie la mode, but changed her mind and decided to get the same thing we got....especially since me nor Mama had ever tried it. Anneil was describing the flaming cherries in a syrup with vanilla bean ice cream served atop a crepe. I've seen some of their little S'Mores for Two come out with the little fire going, so I'm looking forward to this dessert they rave over. To get the flame I know you've got to add the cooking wine and I know the fire burns off the alcohol, so I don't feel as though I'm consuming any alcohol to try to get intoxicated in anyway... Our waitress brings out two flaming desserts and sets mine and Mama's down at the table and goes back to retrieve Anneil's. Before the fire/flame goes out I decide to get a picture of it (which you cannot even tell there is a flame because it is so low due to the AC vent blowing on it).

As I finish taking the picture the lady is bringing Anneil's and setting it down, and I look over at Mama, who has just bit into her dessert and I wanted to see her reaction of, "ummmmm good." I did not see this reaction, but a "look to kill" in which she rolled her eyes as if to silently say, "This is some wicked alcohol-tasting-cherry-something." (You've got to know this place, it's not a roached-infested greasy spoon, but a very nice, fresh, chef-prepared establishment that would probably be the nicest place in this area.) So, I knew by that she tasted alcohol...and I took a bite of mine and you'd have thought someone tripped and spilled a whole bottle of rubbing alcohol into my bowl. As long as I ate a cherry alone, or the ice cream, I didn't taste it....but never got to enjoy the crepe part because it was soaked in the liquid also. The lady kept trying to light it, but it wouldn't stay lit. Needless to say, we got a good laugh about our dessert...but Mama was fit to be tied. On the way home, we rode by a little place on the mountain next to us (Mt. Pisgah, but different than the Mt. Pisgah next to Cold Mountain which is where the movie was made) that the last few years daddy was alive would "most of the time" and at the "right time" of the evening (as the sun was going down), it wasn't unusual to see deer grazing. We didn't see any, so we turned around in someone's field and going by the same place we had just ridden by 1 minute before, it now had a couple doe's out there. They looked up and just stared at us, then continued eating. I went ahead and told Anneil and them goodbye tonight as they would be leaving at 5 a.m. in the morning and I didn't want to wake up to tell them then.

Day 8, Thursday: The next crew got off and it was just Mama and I left at the house, so we did what cleaning was needed and stayed around the house today. I don't know why, but I don't mind cleaning my bathroom & bedroom (as much) up there as I do here. On our way to eat supper that evening, we left early enough to go take a load of garbage to the dump, then went the backway and through one of the golf courses in to Hiawassee and saw some trees that were just turning colors.

We ate at Daniel's Steak House, a place that Mama and Daddy use to love to eat at when they would come up because they always had a delicious buffet. Unfortunately, the management must have changed hands because our meal was nothing to write home about. I had a young man wait on us that really got on my nerves for one thing, he seemed to be a little too cool...or so he thought. We made our way to the salad bar, then to the main entree which was fried chicken, and that I must say that was really good...but that's all I can say as the rest of the stuff was fresh alright....fresh out of the can or frozen bag. The desserts (that came with our meal) looked as though my little niece had prepared it. Coconut Cake with Hershey's Syrup drizzled all over it....and something that looked as though they were trying to make a chocolate delight with a layer of crushed up cookies, canned pudding with Cool Whip...then someone spilled Hershey's chocolate syrup all over that. It was pitiful. I told Mama we needed to mark that place off of our "top list of places to eat while in the mountains". I'm sorry, but I think my Mama's good cooking has spoiled us all. We rode up on the mountain again this evening to see if we could see any deer and did not, but found a beautiful sunset instead.

Day 9, Friday: We left at 7:30 a.m. and thank the Lord there was no fog, but a beautiful sunrise.

We first stopped off in Blue Ridge to try out a new Apple Warehouse, Mercier's. Wow....they not only have the fresh-picked apples, but a deli-bakery with to-die-for fresh pastries of every kind...apple fritters (flat, but the size of a 8' pizza), butter-pecan fritters, apple-cinnamon bread, fried apple pies, etc. We were loaded when we left there...Mama and our dog in one vehicle and me in the other. It's difficult at times to have another car to keep up with, but I led us southward and toward home. Of course you'd know as we were coming into Atlanta at 10:30 in the morning, it was bumper-to-bumper due to an accident...that of which I never saw, and right in the heart of Atlanta it started raining...which brought back flashbacks from last year's trip. The further south we got around Macon on, the traffic started getting worse as there were many cars that flew around me as though I was a turtle....all decked out with their Georgia Bulldog banners and flags flapping. We pulled off in Cordele to try and find a Chick-fil-a, but there was none to be found, so we moved on the down the road a little more. It was funny, but within 15 minutes, a Chick-fil-a SUV pulling a U-Haul came around us...I figured it may have been heading to the Georgia/Florida game. Our 8 hour trip turned into 10 hours again, and we arrived in Williston around 5:30. Always nice to get away, but wonderful to get back home. I got unpacked, and I was in the bed around 8:00.

There's something about getting away to the mountains that just does something for me on the inside. It always makes me wonder why so many important things in the Bible took place on top of a mountain....God gave Moses the Ten Commandments on top of Mt. Sinai...one specific time the devil tried to tempt Jesus was while he was up on a mountain, he showed him all of the splendor one can see from on top of it...and Jesus got away from everyone and went up on a mountain to pray before he made one of the biggest decisions he made while he walked on this earth, the choosing of his 12 disciples. Just being in the mountains or on one makes you see things a little differently...makes my problems sure seem smaller when you see the size of them (mountains) and know that if God created them by just speaking the word, he can also speak to the seemingly mountain-size problems in my life and help me through them, or remove them. So if you've never been there, you don't know what you're missing....its well worth the trip though.