Monday, October 30, 2017

North Georgia traveling

Home from my week long Georgia mountain trip with my family.  Big fun.  I did have an elderly woman fall that left my son-in-law thinking I'd broken my neck.  Mainly bruised hip and shoulder and my elderly ego.  Good news: rest of trip I barely had to carry anything but did have to listen to cracks about pun intended.

Saw my old stomping grounds near Gainesville, Ga. Visited Babyland General, which our family helped build, due to Lucy's obsession with dolls.  She got to revisit with 3 of her living dolls.  Boys were not much interested in all the dolls.  They did want a toy...$$$.  They came away with the teeny tiniest ever baby doll inside a cabbage.  We had to scoure the area the rest of the day to make sure the tiniest Real baby wasn't trying to choke on them.

Not trip to Helen Octoberfest complete without...The big guys introducing a brother to the joys of pooping in a port-a-potty.  Thankfully I got to miss that show.  Can you say hand sanitizer? Not to mention other parts that needed sanitizing!

Leaf colors changed overnight with the cooler temps and rain. Very beautiful driving home yesterday.
DukeBoy and I used a real life folding paper map.  Drove down some country roads and cute towns to avoid Atlanta traffic and see the sights.

Oh, speaking of sights. The Richard Russell scenic highway in North Georgia is a beautiful way to get across the mountains. Make sure your brakes are good and your gas tank full.

My favorite food on our trip was the banana bread from the Sweetwater Cafe in Sautee, GA. I went there hoping to catch up with my old friend, Carolyn Wood Hayes.  She is former owner.  Sadly it didn't happen. Bread was marvelous though. If you see this Carolyn let me know. Would love to catch up.

Best cabin experience: Still Waters in Epworth, Ga.  So lovely. Wonderful hot tub, porch, beds, great for kids, creek, swing, secluded. Found on Home Away by Cody.

Best view from dining room: Dillard House.

Best hikes: Tallulah Falls and Toccoa Falls.

Best place to buy apples: Mercier Farms

Good to be home. I like having a secluded spot to read, write and type.
Peace for your day.  Clicking my red place like home.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Early retirement is Grand x 3

Still loving that Pat Conroy book with reflections from his blog. Lucy promised she'd gather my journals and publish them after my demise.  I'm not sure this was a genuine promise.  She has inherited her DukeBoy Dad's flair for the sarcasm.

It took me longer to get blogging today. Made the mistake of checking email...It was good to learn to that I won't have to spend 30 minutes ironing the napkins for Thanksgiving. I can tie them in a knot. Thanks Martha. Not a joke except the ironing part. The knot looked pretty.  Becca, if you read my wanderings please take this free tip since you are the Thanksgiving hostess.

Took the trek to Columbus yesterday to discover there are no Affordable Care Act options available to DukeBoy and me.   Sad to lose the subsidy.  I know many of you are fortunate to have coverage through work or retirement and don't struggle with the cost of health insurance.  We are fortunate that we can return to DukeBoy's previous employer, but at double the cost we were paying.  Choosing to retire before 65 has afforded us time to play with our grands before they head to school on a daily basis. It's worth  it to us to double up on our insurance payments to pay for this luxury.  Of course, it will come at the cost of making other decisions about how we spend our money.

 Some of you reading this aren't able to make these choices...I'm sorry.  $ can't replace grand #2 yelling to me from the other room before going to bathe, "Sughar, don't forget!! I love you!"  Or "Ugh, Ugh, Ugh" that grand #3 serenaded his parents with at 5 A.M. He's learning to say, "Sughar".  Smiles.  Or Grand #1 asking to go to my house and play with me while his brothers are sleeping and Paw and his Momma are cooking.  Of Course, we Can!!

Ok, I'll get off ACA but I am sad that the plans I made for retirement are sidetracked by those who don't have to buy their own insurance.

It's another gorgeous day on the Hooch.  My grands are waiting to make my day grander.

Another great pleasure I receive daily is Garrison Keillor reading to me the Writer's Almanac.
Such a wonderful voice. ( Decided to leave on the underlining because it's making me a little crazy removing it!)

Only thing better Comparable love affair with Sean of the South especially the videos.  Whew!

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Inspired by Pat Conroy

My morning read: A Low Country Heart by Pat Conroy. My Beach Music was signed by him during a  good-bye Talladega party in the mid 90s.  Our family was again following me to a new locale.  Pat was charming and "became the room "as Sandra, his wife, describes in her introduction to this new read. Sandra, is the sister, of Nancy, who is now one of God's saints like Pat. Nancy, provided much love and light while we were neighbors in Talladega. I have a great story about bathing a cat that occurred at Nancy's house.  Another day.  Let's just say, "I don't ever have to bathe a cat again!!"

He's inspired me to blog again because this book is a collection of his blogs.  He too wasn't enamored with technology. However,  I do have a leg up on him with journaling.  Lucy said when we were packing up my Mom's house. "I bet your Mom said every Christmas,'oh thank you, Karen, for another journal'." All the journals I'd given my Mom were neatly gathered and bereft of words except the ones I'd inscribed in my annual inspirational Merry Christmas sentiment.  I took those journals home and am currently using them for myself...I always give ones that I'd like to have. Method...When we moved Lucy recently from across town to be my neighbor...guess what? Journals with inspirational messages that were given as Christmas, birthday, congratulations gifts.  All bereft sans the page or two where she appeared to have truly tried to "get into" journaling.

While I'm typing my figures are itching to pick up my pen.  Recently my thoughts have turned to creating a library spot for my journals.  Ha.  I must have read somewhere that someone did that.  My Mom did but of course her's were empty. Most of mine are very well written perhaps even somewhat Pat Conroyish. Funny, filled with interesting antidotes that will later fill my books, right.

Perhaps the best thing about blogging is that you get to hit that publish button and others do read it. You, my blog followers, aren't the ones who approach me in Wal-mart or the halls of the nursing home and tell me that you miss my News articles.  Those accolades inspire me.

We have a new editor at the Valley Times- News. He isn't aware of what a gifted columnist I am.
Our champion challenger of all things sacred, Cy Wood, is no longer editorializing Valley life. He is the reason I'm doing my "read through the Bible in a year". He threw down the gauntlet.
 I'm in 2 Chronicles, started August 1st.  Here's your challenge...It's pretty interesting and let's you know the world does go on despite our inability to follow God's lead.

Life is grand xs 3 here on the Hooch. DukeBoy aka Paw plays with TNT everyday.  Swinging has nearly replaced car riding as a way to get these guys to nap. Luckily they are still young enough for bucket swings. It's quite sweet when their little heads finally drop into the coma of swing sleep.
Our newest sweetie is crawling and "being the room" with his charms and dimples. We have a plethora of dimples on the Hooch.

Peace for your day. Pat, I hope you have met my Dad and he's telling you some of his stories. I regret that I didn't listen as much as I could have.  Glover, DukeBoy's Dad, has some great ones too.
Thanks for the inspiration.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

August gardening in Georgia

Yes, I'm alive! and up in the night!

I got a Mac so I'm not sure if I can make this work or not. This is all supposed to be easier. We'll see??

Worked in my front garden for 3 hours yesterday. No humidity. 1 bazillion weeds pulled. Clipped seed from all my coneflowers and blanket flowers. Aggravated hummingbirds by pulling up the vine that bears their name.  It should be called smothering blanket vine. All over the place.  

Gardening like childbirth. No memory of what August was like in the past or I'd never have planted a thing.  Too sad to watch it all die because I missed a day or 3 of watering. 
Weather was perfect to garden in yesterday. Cloudy, cool, breezy. 3 wheelbarrows full of weeds to the street.  Only quit because I'd used up all my bend-overs for the day.

New neighbors make life pretty awesome on the Hooch. All my grands and their parents. Makes life easier when one brother changes his mind about spending the night. Walk across the yard and get the screamer so he can see his Paw. Never mind that it's his Sughar who is carrying him across the yard in the dark.  Also great to walk next door for butter, salad dressing or whatever thing that will make life easier at the other house. "Please buy me some bacon when you go to the store. I have a box of summer tomatoes."

My heart goes out to the people in Texas.  I remember watching flood waters rise. They didn't get to my house but it was anxiety provoking wondering what if? UMCOR with the UMC church is a good place to donate money.  Our family did disaster relief in Ocean Spring, MS for them a few years ago.  They do good work. 

Returning to bed now.  Maybe I'll sleep. Grateful for a dry house. Peace.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Happy Easter

Easter eve.  If tomorrow is more beautiful my heart may burst.

Of course, this is assuming I'll get out of bed tomorrow.  10,000 steps on my Fitbit . Most of them from bending, twisting, toting and planting in my garden.  What a day to be on the Hooch.  Zero humidity...or at least it felt that way. Remember social work school. Not weather school or whatever the name of that profession is??  Visited Ponders' nursery yesterday.  Good thing I have 2 car seats in my back seat now or I'd still be digging.

Ok my big news is that I'm Sughar to three boys now.  So fun to have a snuggly baby to go with those two barely sit in your lap three- year- olds.  He is a good gas stations have been robbed, however, he only sleeps for about four hours which is pretty amazing for someone barely seven weeks old.  His brothers love him and he definitely knows when they're in the room.

Our non-flash light egg hunt with the cousins was fun.  Daylight savings time makes sunset very difficult to wait for when you are 3 and can see some of the eggs from the porch.  Sughar declared the sunset on the Hooch and time to hunt! It was my party and we can hunt if I want to! It was a good call to hunt and not wait.  Swinging with our neon glowing bracelets was more fun then carrying a flashlight and a basket and running at full tilt trying to avoid other 3 year olds.  Our cousins helped make the evening lots of fun and a sugar high was had by all.  60+ eggs later. 

T-ball, thanks to Duffey's Pest Control, is who-lare-re-us. Most of the kids on the Pirates are 3. So funny seeing them decide which way they're gonna run when they FINALLY hit the ball.  Some of them run to the infield to retrieve the ball Finally hit.  Sometimes they are the only one that has noticed it was Finally hit.  Dirt in the in-field is fascinating to 3-year-olds. 

Retired life is still good.  Lots of time to play with all 3 boys.  Sleep, read and now garden again.

Happy Easter to all of you. Prayers for peace.

Friday, December 9, 2016

First family retired Christmas for EBs

Yes, I'm still alive. Busy e ness.  You know what I mean.  I wrote this for our local paper and thought I'd share with the rest of you who take time from your Busy e ness to ready my ramblings.
Merry Christmas!

Christmas time in the small town…sat on the tool box of the old red Glover pickup last night to watch the Christmas parade go by…drank a free cup of hot chocolate from a local church…drove around looking at “holiday houses” and small town Christmas street lights…admired Baby Jesus and his family on the dry hillside in Langdale…viewed the “horsey-go-round”. While having dinner with a friend this week we discussed our love of this town, actually Valley area.  She and I live in two separate towns. We can get anywhere we want in about 10 minutes unless there’s a train-for me. We know most of the people we bank, church, shop with and we see most of them again at church . She grew up here but I didn’t.

 I first came to this Valley in the late 70s to see a boy whom I’d date a little at Alabama. His parents made me feel welcome. The youth at Lanett UMC did the same when I attended the Lay Witness Mission weekend.  Forty years after our first date we are still together, Veasey Creek was where we got engaged, and we’ll celebrate 35 years of marriage on December 20th.  We are now in our 6th month of both of us living together as retired people. “How is that working out? “The most asked question when we run into friends in Walmart, Kroger, church.

My Advent devotion this morning was how most of us keep asking God to forgive us for the same old sins. So true…retirement is about the same old sins. However, this week Donnie aka Dukeboy, has engaged in some new behaviors.  He’s been assisting in the assembly of a wooden swing set for our most precious twin grands in the world.  Today they are assembling the twisty slide. His partner in this effort, the man with the tools and experience in construction, has decided to not make a career of swing set assemble.  Dukeboy is retired and plans to stay that way.  Good thing he loves those grands which is motivating on this 32 degree day to show up and assemble the twirly slide. Prayers that it will come together beautifully. We, the family, would like to have a big reveal for the grands today.  They love their yard and have missed their play place aka construction zone.

My new retirement behaviors are…vacationed for a week with girlfriends, gave up gardening due to the drought, did grow lettuce in my pots out front which is probably frozen this morning, called about piano lessons…no teacher yet, trekked to Tuscaloosa twice for football games…this is one more than we usually attend. (We picked a good year to go twice.  Roll Tide.)

While I write this I’m looking around my house at my Santas and Baby Jesus Boys.  It always make me smile to unpack them.  Lugging the boxes up the steps is not as entertaining.  I walked four miles last Friday carrying boxes back and forth.  It was such fun though to see the grands looking at each one and asking to hold them.  I do have a “holdable” group.  My prayers for you this Christmas are that you are part of a holdable group that keeps you smiling and enjoying the warmth and love of this season. Peace from the Valley…and West Point, Lanett and…..

Friday, August 5, 2016

Discoveries from the retired folks

Yes, we are still retired.  We don’t have paying jobs anymore. What are we doing with our time? Mainly playing. It is a time of discovery.  Discovering things such as…do not take twin two year old boys to find Dory. She is still lost as far as I’m concerned.  However, I was able to find a small shoe, a bobo (pacifier), and my dignity…it too was under the theatre seats.  It was near the area I crawled around with my phone light trying to locate the afore mentioned objects. A lady sitting near the area was very nice and offered to help me instead of calling the police to report a weirdo crawling near her leg in a dark theatre.

 On that same trip we discovered there are booster seats located outside theatre doors.  These are what evidently keeps children from being swallowed by the thwonging flip up seats.  We once served a church that had theatre seats…the mother of these two boys was also once swallowed by a thwonging theatre seat.  Hers was during a hymn in the worship service so her screams were muffled…the lights were also on… Note to self.  It is much easier to extract a distraught toddler from a thwonged theatre seat in the light…this might have caused the FIRST shoe loss. Perhaps the reason that we didn’t see the booster seats were #1 toddler on hip, #2popcorn bucket in hand, #3large purse containing toddler cups, 2 of the most expensive bottled waters ever,  snack cups, boot-legged reasonably priced chocolate, bobos, wipes, cell phone with flashlight, lots of cash for discount theatre day #4other toddler on Dukeboy hip, #5 dimly lit hallways designed for people with younger eyes. I neglected to mention that we noticed the seats when other people were carrying them in for their young children…we had lots of time to notice because the previews which are usually 20 minutes long were 30 minutes…are you kidding me?  Do these movie planners have toddlers?

We thought we had this theatre thing locked up… we’d had lunch at a burger joint with a playground. A massive, wonderful playground. Get them tired before a relaxing movie.  All I can think of though is “Where’s the Beef?” I’ve never been to a chain restaurant where they were “out of beef”.  Chicken is good there though.  Did I say wonderful playground?  Actually massive is the best description.  Dukeboy went up top and I stayed on the ground.  Next time I’m taking the top.  Did I mention this was a MASSIVE playground? It must have eight slides!!! On all four sides, and a fort underneath.  God is merciful though. The only other children there left shortly before after our arrival.  Their parents probably were beef eaters. I enjoy other kids too but when you are trying to eyeball Two Two-year- olds it’s much easier when you only have those two to choose from.  Did I also mention this was July and I was sweating profusely after all that fun on the MASSIVE playground?  Time for a cool relaxing movie, ha!

We also discovered since retirement some of the best entertainment is in our own backyard. This news is for another day.  Thanks to all of you who attended Dukeboy’s last sermon and retirement party.  We had friends from every church we’ve served. Wonderful food and lots of well wishes. It was a great day to start retirement.

Karen Erwin-Brown is a retired preacher’s wife, retired therapist, and full-time Sughar of twin two year-olds. She lives on the Chattahoochee with her retired preacher.