Saturday, September 24, 2016

Fall Festivities!

By the time you’re all reading this, it will be the first day of fall! Thursday, September 22nd is the day I’ve been waiting on since the first day of summer. It has been one more hotter than hot summer this year, and I for one am ready to celebrate carving pumpkins, marsh mellow roasts, laying our pine straw in all the flower beds, and smelling that brisk, clean air that always comes with the change in the seasons.

It goes from smelling like dry, hot dirt to burning leaves, and smoke-stack chimneys. I told you all a few weeks ago how everything in my yard was beginning to look tired and worn out. Well now it all just looks downright pitiful and like it all needs to be rescued and saved.

So I told my husband earlier today that next weekend we’d be trimming down the rest of the drying Lantana and Canna Lily beds, covering them all with fresh, red pine straw.  I bought some yellow mums that I’ll sit out beside our front yard swing. The same swing that will hold some pumpkins and my scarecrow boy and girl.

And before you know it, October will be here and the festivals will begin! Havana has a wonderful Pumpkin Festival every year that I’ve been to many, many times. Starting years ago with my children, then some years just with friends, and other years my husband and I take our own stroll around the streets and look at all the different activities.

They always have a little face painting booth and pumpkin decorating area set up for the smaller
children. Sidewalk sales and festivities all along the streets and shops of Havana. Several different food courts set-up and a sprinkling of independent vendors who have set-up one time booths to hawk their goodies.

All the merchants and their buildings are decorated to the nine’s with ghosts and goblins, witches and pumpkins. It’s a magical time in a magical place and if any of you have never been you should check it out – Saturday, October 8th.

The next event I always like to attend is Mule Day in Calvary Georgia! It’s always the first Saturday in November which will be November 5th this year. The first year I moved here in 98’ I was invited to attend Mule Day with a couple of my friends, Donna and Debbie Hall, who happen to be sister in laws as well. We all brought our children and I’m telling you, what I big time we all had that day!

Rows upon rows of vendor booths selling every kind of art and craft your mind could ever imagine. And the food booths – oh my grand! Whatever you could think of that you might want to eat - it was there! Live singing, a parade, little kids riding mules; just an absolute smorgasbord of activities that would have us all worn out by the end of the day.

Living in a small town, surrounded by many small towns, guarantees safe/fun to be had! Join the festivities! You’ll be glad you did!

Saturday, September 17, 2016

And I'll Gladly Stand Up!

I remember growing-up, and sitting down to eat a meal with any one of my girlfriend’s and their families, that it was automatic that everyone bowed their heads and said grace. The only mystery that ever took place was what kind of grace that would be said: a traditional grace, a spur-of-the-moment made-up grace (the best kind in my opinion), or one that sounded somewhat traditional, but like none I had ever heard before.

I also remember every day before school would start, that saying the Pledge of Allegiance was just a given. For years, most of us would recite those words not truly realizing or understanding the depth of the words being spoken. We said them, because that’s just what you did.

Today when you sit down at table to break bread with people, many times, you have no idea the religious affiliation of the person sitting next to you, their beliefs, or if even they believe at all. So “blessings” seem to fall to the wayside under the scrutiny of being unsure and not offending anyone.

Groups that gather and recite The Pledge of Allegiance are now under attack as well, and freedom of choice and speech has plopped itself dead in the center of that controversy.

I don’t know what the “right” answer is, nor do I know if there is a “right” answer. Growing-up, I was raised to think independently and make-up my own mind about how I chose to believe and live life. I was of course guided in certain directions, but I always understood those choices were mine to make.

In turn, I raised my children the very same way. Maybe even a little more so in the “speak your mind” department, but just the same, they were raised to have minds of their own based on their own formed opinions throughout their lives.

As it often happens, even though they were raised in the same house, with the same values and the same ideals, my children are very different people, but they are also very alike people. Sounds confusing I know, but that’s the perfect way to describe them.

I don’t pretend to understand the how’s or the why’s of the people who are born here, raised here, or have enjoyed the freedom’s and liberties of living here – how they cannot honor the flag and the independence and freedom it represents by standing at attention, with their hand over their heart while it waves in all its glory.

It does, in my heart of hearts, make me want to scream out, “Go somewhere else, where the living is hard, there are no true freedoms, and choices are not yours to make”. But that’s not my place – nor is it anyone elses - because we do have those freedoms of speech and choice. That was decided for all of us many years ago, and so it was written for all of us to follow.

So I end this today by shouting God Bless America – because that is MY right to freedom of speech, choice and religion – all wrapped up in one. 

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Hurricane Hermine

The first time I ever experienced hurricane-like events was the first year I moved to Quincy, Florida, in late September 1998. It’s absolutely true that unless you live in a place where such events are real and have happened, you just have no idea what to expect, nor have you really ever been aware before, how those happenings effect other people.  

It was cloudy, stormy-looking and the humidity was at an all-time high that morning. I went to work, left my children at home together, ages 12 and 3 years old.  My job was 10 minutes from my home and there was power when I left for work.

As the morning progressed the sky grew darker, the wind blew harder and by 11am we were closing down and everyone was headed home. I was given all kinds of advice and instructions:
 1. Take all your chairs off your front porch - they’ll fly through your windows.
 2. Take your wind chimes down and into the house (mostly because they sound creepy when the wind      is whipping them around).
 3. Make sure you have things to eat that you don’t have to cook.
 4. Have both candles and flashlights on stand-by.

I went home, did everything everybody said, and me and my boys were ready to wait it out. We lived in an old farm house – the windows were heavy and solid. But that night, in the dark, when that wind started picking-up speed, it sounded like they were all going to burst into shatters as they rattled and creaked through the force of the storm.

As we all three sat in the middle of my bed, we talked about anything and everything trying to keep our minds off of what was happening. We still had power, so nothing is quite as scary with the power of light. But I knew at any minute that could change, so I tried to keep the level of calmness even, and the level of distraction high.

We would all end up falling asleep together, snuggled-up close and tight, and we wouldn’t know until morning that at some point, the power had been taken out, and we would wake-up to darkness, no television, or updates.

It was still pouring rain, but most of the crazy winds had stopped and that in itself was a relief. It wouldn’t be but another few hours and the power would be restored; but in the meantime, we were all relieved to be able to say, we had just made it through our first hurricane.

Today the feelings of anxiousness are much the same, but much more experienced. I left early for the grocery store, got all the staple items we needed, and a roast and fixings so that we would have cooked food for a couple of days.

The generator is ready, and all the gas tanks are full, in cans and vehicles alike; and all the other preparations are now old-school, habit and complete.

Signing off with hopes and blessings that this time next week finds us all still safe, with no residual after-effects from Hurricane Hermine.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Welcome Relief

The once green leaves are beginning to turn yellow. Their edges are no longer soft to the eyes, but instead ruffled and crispy. They are beginning to lose their strength, therefore the ground is holding as many of them as the limbs themselves.

Though autumn is not officially here, the evening breeziness is beginning to gather speed and the straw from the pines is free-falling into the streets, the bushes, and lawns everywhere.

All of my Lantana beds are beginning to look tired and worn out. The colors are fading and the legs holding the blooms are weakening and no longer seem willing to stand-up at attention for all to see.

My Gerber Daisies have long since laid-down as well, and my marigolds are not far behind them. The box that holds them is still full, but the blooms are fewer now, and they, too, look weary and ready for summer to be over.  

And I think both my husband and myself are ready for the chore of watering the ferns and plants every day to be over for a while. The shine from last spring has worn-off and standing in the heat every evening is no longer enjoyable.  

The butterflies seem scarcer and maybe it’s just my imagination, but they all seem to be fluttering more slowly as if they too, know the season of their lives is just about over.

The birds are eating more sparingly, the food seems to stay in the feeders much longer now. When spring first arrives my yard is full of cardinals galore, but now, it’s a hit and miss to catch more than one at the time perched and eating.

As I stand on my front porch and look-out over my yard, I realize with the descriptions that I have just given to you, that everything looks like I feel. I am tired. Tired of being hot, weary of standing/walking in the heat day after day, and my nerves are crisp from it all and ready for some relief.

I’m ready just like my lantana beds, to be done for the season. For the coolness to come, and for someone to cover-me-up with a straw blanket for warmth and comfort until next spring.

I’m ready for cooler mornings with less humidity. Mornings that my glasses don’t fog-up when I walk out of my house to my vehicle.

I’m ready for cooler nights so that I can sit on my front porch glider with a glass of sweet tea and have slow and easy conversations with my family without mosquito’s eating us alive.

I’m ready to enjoy grilling outside again like we did this weekend. Other than when my son grilled steaks the weekend before, I couldn’t have told you when the last time was that the grill was fired-up to cook anything. Lord, just to stand next to it felt like you were on fire yourself!

Yes I am sure ready for fall to be officially here. And I promise, you will never hear me say “I sure will be glad when it’s warm again”. Not once.