Tuesday, May 23, 2023


 I got these little scutters before my sister passed. I thought they would cheer everyone up in the house. Who knew the person I really got them for would be gone. And so it is me being nursemaid for a raucous crowd. They slept a lot at first. Now they are comfortable. They know their morning and evening walk. They are eating in the same room with the big dogs. I never thought big dog would be used to describe my chihuahuas. 

From left to right, they are Mattie, Bella and Winnie. A trio of dachshunds just planning an escape from their enclosure. Right now they are in the dining room playing with a plastic cottage cheese container. They have dumped the plastic recyclables and apparently, the cottage cheese container is a bit better from than the soda bottles they ususally work on. 

Originally, I was getting two. Two so they could keep each other company. The man recommended the Dachshund with the yellow collar over the one with the red collar. I thought about the one with the red collar that night. I called him the next morning and asked if I could get that one too. 

The yellow and red collar pups look so much alike. Originally, it was a light brown area between the shoulders of the red collar pup that indicated it was Winnie. I had to study them fast. Mattie had a yellow collar and the other two had taken it off her. 

They look different now plus there is that personality factor. Winnie is hyper and Mattie is much calmer. Mattie is definitely a bit redder and she is slightly bigger than Winnie. The prettiest one is Bella which is a very appropriate name. Mattie has green eyes which I did not know was common for those with the Merle gene. Since I have hazel eyes, we match.

My mom called her dogs little scutters. I decided to look the word up. Scutter is used to describe active small animals. My mom is from Appalachia. They have studied the speech in that there were sections that spoke Elizabethan English. With television, I am sure that is lost now. As a child, I had hard work to get my mother to call things correctly. She would call a bra a brassiere. My 11 year old sensibilities had my work cut out. As a 13 year old, my mother called a vest a waistcoat with the pronounciation of "wesket". My sister who is ten years younger than me never heard those words from my mother. What moms will do to please their children. 

One thing from Appalachia that I love but have rarely heard is a style of singing. It is not really singing in the sense of listening to a tune. It is the singing of a story in rhyme. The singing nature is a nmemonic device to help remember a story from when oral histories were the norm. One person sings a line and then another person sings the same line back to them. This goes on for quite a long epic poem. 

There is so much lost in time. I searched youtube to see if anyone had posted one of these poems. I have a copy of one that I got at Tremont which is an educational center located in the Smoky Mountains. I will post a copy of the poem in my next post. It's a two step process. Locate the poem. Copy the poem on blogger. 

I grew up in a military town and I have always called myself Southern lite. My hometown called itself an international city in that people were from all over the country and world. As a result, I never was exposed to so many of the idiosyncrasies of the people of Appalachia or the coastal plain. I've read so many of the unique qualities they have were borne of the need to survive in the rugged environments. One thing I know is that some of the wilder tales are truly just tales. 

Sunday, May 7, 2023

Listening to the Wind

 When people die, we acknowledge they came from dust and return to dust. Well my dust is the red clay of Georgia. I grew up in a military town and my inclination when I grew up was to leave. People came and went all the time with military transfers. I left two times but returned each time. My soul is part of the Earth here. 

Thinking back to the first book I was going to write as a teenager. Somehow I was going to defend the South and people were going to get it. Except, the South is like all places. It can be a terrible, rotten place and a beautiful place. 

Now, I wonder what I really want to say.  

It is funny how time and experience changes how you view things. I lost a sister in March. It started with a backache. Three weeks later she was gone. They think she had a cancerous mass. Meanwhile a blood clot which had formed under the mass must have broken up to cause a heart attack. I was there in the hospital room when it happened. I thought she was going to throw up again. I got the nurse and she hit some button and yelled coding in the hallway.

For awhile her heart beat was there. Then it wasn't. I knew she was not going to make it. The nurse in the hallway started rubbing my back. The doctor said it had been 40 minutes. They had to stop brain damage had occurred at that point. I go back in the room and for some crazy reason start cleaning up. Picking up trash organizing the items I had brought to the room. I thought to take a load out to the car. My sister lying in the bed.

I called the funeral home. They tell me the hospital does not usually come to the room to collect someone. The nurses ask me to step out so they can get my sister together. I come in. She is in the body bag and the reality just crashes. I tell what is left and hidden of my sister I am so sorry. I get my things to leave. 

Getting on to the elevator, the nurse that coded for my sister was coming up with her breakfast. My sister had wakened me at 5 am to get the nurses to reposition her on the bed. By 6 am she was gone. The nurse gave a sad look. My mind said, "Life is for the living."  She gets off, I go down that elevator because you can enter the dining area and there is a door that goes to the parking lot. When leaving, one of the hospital security men zip up as I start to pay for my parking. I fumble for my card. I guess he had been alerted. I don't have to pay. Just hand him my parking slip. 

And now I listen to the wind. Today, there was no wind. Somedays, the wind really blows. I used to think the wind sounded like the ocean rushing through the leaves. Now I am listening for voices. I haven't heard any voices. I just think of the people I have lost and find myself straining to hear any of them. The wind is what it is.

I miss you Julia.

Wednesday, April 12, 2023

 Although I live near one of the many, many edges of the universe; I have not fallen off - yet.

A pair of Canadian Geese with three chicks in a parking lot mud puddle.

I don't know why we continue to call them Canadian Geese. They live in central GA yearround. I'm sure they honk with a Southern accent.

And yes they considered walking their three chicks across 5 lanes of a busy road. Instead, they settled on walking down the road. I had the urge to stop traffic and get them across. With a heavy heart, I got back in my car and continued about my day. I did the only thing I could. I said a little prayer for the small family. Usually, they are in huge flocks. I've seen traffic come to a standstill when a large grouping decided to cross the road. We've had a lot of rain this year.

About three weeks ago, I was lucky enough to go to a writer's conference in nearby Eatonton, Georgia. Three major writers hail from the area. They are Joel Chandler Harris, Flannery O'Conner and Alice Walker. During one lunch session, Alice Walker spoke to the group. I enjoyed looking at the crowd. Alice Walker was interesting.  I don't share her idealism in seeking world peace. 

The world is a terrible place the day we are born and a the only reason we see it so bad when we are older is experience. I was a bit streetwise from a young age. But not like some children I had taught which is a whole novel. I've also been dreadfully gullible at times. All I know is to not make expensive or life changing decisions in a hurry; and if it sounds too good to be true, it is almost never true.

There was a professional photographer there who was quite gracious in telling me I had plenty of time to get a novel out there.  He heard of a 90 year old woman who had just graduated med school. I had that balloon above my head where I voiced loudly a silent thought which was,"That is stupid." My thought is she would not be practicing long enough to be seasoned as a doctor and the other was what young person was turned down. There is a lot of competition to getting in med school. 

I googled the 90 year old med graduate. It turned out she graduated with a bachelors degree in general studies. She had started her studies in the early 1950s. The seven oldest med school graduates ranged in age from 37 to 66. The man who graduated from med school in New Jersey at 62 was not on the list. The 66 year old man graduated in Romania. I wanted to be a doctor but did not have the grades to get in due to the keen competition. So he obviously hit a sore point with me. 

I debate in telling you more about the conference or how I put my foot in my mouth and left somberly and quietly to drive home. 

It really wasn't that big a deal. I told the photographer if I was younger I would be chasing after him. From there it was downhill. He told me. He did not know that age was a problem. DIFFERENT generation is all I can say. I am not glib. He did give me a wolfie smile. I try to deflect a wee bit and mention to a younger woman, how he would be a good catch. This girl goes, I'm only 26. Again my mind is looking how to escape this awkwardness. I stifle the what the hell you mean only 26. In my day, you would have been married with four kids. I was not married or have four kids at 26, but I had been fired from a job.  

Another woman my age made a wee joke which saved me a bit. Then I say well the older ones have money. Then I launched into telling the 26 year old why I thought her writing was really good a second time for the day as I headed for the door. 

I have been out of the social concourse for too long. I have never liked crowds. My entire family is shy and I have accomplished a lot in not being so shy as an adult. Matter of fact, many are surprised I fight shyness in that I can be outspoken. 

I remember absent mindedly winking at a man in a department store. He was interested which was very awkward with his wife beside him. You can say what you like. But women in my age or background were discreet and you certainly did not wantomly have one night stands which I understand are more common today. People had them when I was young and about. Plus in my young adulthood, you had to consider herpes and then hell, there was AIDS. I've always admired gay men in they demanded to be accepted even with AIDS raging among them in the 80's. 

The 80's sound so long ago. I got a mediocre haircut before the conference from a hairdresser who was born about 1980. She asked me to guess her age. I warned her not to get too sensitive. I am good with ages. I could tell she had had a lot of sun exposure even though she was black. I got her age right. I subtracted 5 years from my actual guess. You have to consider someone's feelings.  I did not tell her about sun exposure but she later said she was from Panama City, FL. Who can resist the beach. 

The hairdresser was a gay woman and I told her the truth. That was such a small part of people's lives. Being gay is no one's business nor was there anything wrong with being gay. She made sure I knew where the new shop she was moving to was located. Once again that bubble over my head said, "It depends on how my hair looks when I wash it tomorrow." It did not look that hot that evening.

 My brother and I had gone to get manicure and a pedicure. The hair shop was still open when we left the nail salon and that was why we went there. I have gotten worse haircuts. So I will try her one more time and be more particular about what I want. She was so wound up I suspect something had happened to get her so talkative. Although I live in a world of silence most of the day, I prefer the woman at the nail salon who did not talk. 

My hair will grow. No biggie. Propositioning a man is no biggie. I'm just one trained for tea table talk when many consider a tea table an anachronism. I lost a tooth about a month ago. When I went to the dentist, I took the tooth out of my pocket. It was a crown. The dentist put it back in my mouth. So now I can give that wide smile I was taught by my mother. I suspect mom was trying to calm down the loud tomboy she had as a daughter. I came by it honestly. When my mother moved to Macon to work, her aunts who weren't that much older than her asked her not to tell people about driving a tractor. My grandmother was a tomboy too. 

And here lies the rub; I have considered getting a boyfriend. Being out of the game for so long, I don't know where the heck to begin. Like most things in my life, inertia will take over. In the workshop, people kept refering to what "the universe" wills. I don't know if I am that Presbyterian. All I know is it may be hard to find a good man for me. I don't want to get married. I don't want to be used. I don't want to be a sugar mama. I don't want a sugar daddy. I want them to be physically active like me. And if they are younger, they may not be retired and available. Eh, being single looks pretty good with the uncertainty. 

At the moment, I am concentrating on making a life at my house this year. The Covid lockdown was not a huge change for me. I just need to get a lot things in my life in order. Like settling my older brother's estate, then settling my mother's estate, getting rid of all the things we have accumulated  over the years. Worst of all, I am the biggest packrat of all. I try to put a few things in the garbage every Thursday. 

So I got a busy life. Not an exciting one. 

Thursday, January 12, 2023

Being Swampwise

 The small gray dog in the large dog bed is my mother's former dog. She now is mine and has joined my two primary dogs. The large black pit bull is content with the small bed. And yes, the small dog bosses her. I'm down to six dogs and both of these females are the boss dogs. The large dog is the real boss. It is funny how they meet up outside and do the dog version of a high five. 

It certainly is a new year and direction in my life. I told my siblings which live with me that none of us are making big decisions for awhile and that includes me. I've been organising some of the closets. We are fully stocked with alcohol gel, rubbing alcohol, peroxide and Gold Bond lotion.  Most of that clutter in the photo has gone to Happy Hour Service Center to use in their group homes. Now why does that part of the room still look so messy?

I've been packing up my mother's clothes. She has a lot of nice stuff. We were huge bargain hounds and stocked. When I retired, I felt ashamed at how many clothes I had bought. Of course all of it was at terrific prices, black slacks and the like. I did give away a great deal. I will be donating many more. We have more than we need. I'm just not ready. Plus my mother wore a smaller size and I have been losing weight. 

I made some boiled cookies over the holidays and it has put a craving on me for more. So I am resisting the urge to make more and hopefully this will lessen my desire to eat them. In a nutshell, this is why I have sworn off sugar before. One thing I know about having Diabetes 2 is that a sign of it being out of whack is craving sweets. In the past I have just eaten what I craved in that I would usually lose my taste for it. But I have a doctor's appointment soon and I have no idea what my A1c number is. 

During November, I had a hectic schedule with my mom in the hospital. I spent the night at the hospital to manage my mother's fears and sometimes the workers waking her up at 3 am to do labs. There was one who suggested I hold my mother down while she drew blood. I declined her offer. 

The young nurse who was in charge asked me why not since my mother had dementia. I said nothing to her. But when I gathered my thoughts, my ideas for the perfect answer would have been "how about gently waking my mother up and gently telling her what you need and instead of  flipping on the lights and grabbing my mother's arm within seconds of entering the room". Like my mother, I am reluctant to give life to harsh thoughts. The next night the same nurse met me in the hallway and told me I could stop any treatment of my mother during the night. I did not tell her my thoughts which were "You are damn right about that." Some thoughts don't take a lot of time.

By December, my mom was in hospice. I told her she never had to go to the hospital again. I was lucky in being able to hire a woman that my mother liked to sit with her during the day so I could tend to the others and have a little break. I have no idea what I ate. I did take most of my meds. Time had a life of it's own. 

From what I have read, carrying the gene for Diabetes 2 has to do with an adaptation for tolerating cold. After being diagnosed, I realised my dad had three siblings who had diabetes. I don't know that I could have totally prevented the disease. My two older brothers have had diabetes and they maintained a normal weight their entire life. I could write a book on what I shoulda, coulda. But not making boiled cookies is a good restart.

The irony is I can easily skip breakfast, pick at the serious food I prepare and love vegetables. Depending on the time of day, I can resist cake and the like. But late at night, bring on the chips or more likely saltine crackers. I feel fortunate that I can afford vegetables to eat. I may get my ducks in a row and start a reasonably sized garden. 

In the beginning I could control my diabetes with not eating and moving more. Now, I go out and work hard, get hot and my blood sugar is high. That is aggravating. I have always liked working in the yard. Oh well, I have been pretty good since the first of the year. Hopefully that will be enough. It is humiliating telling the doctor. Well, I have been irresponsible and took care of my health like a errant teenager. When my sister had a stroke, I ate a pack of peanut m&m candies every night for supper. At the doctors, they bragged on how good my A1c was. Maybe I will get lucky this time.  

2022 was filled with death for me. Many people I knew passed. On January 9th, 2023 Dick Flood who was known by many school children as Okefenokee Joe passed. He was 90 and his leaving made me think of my mother. He entered the VA hospital in Augusta in late November where he stayed until his passing.

I was lucky in getting to know Dick Flood. I knew him on an acquaintance level. I first saw Okefenokee Joe during a school program. I was in my mid-thirties. I remember the story he shared where his worst bite was from a woman. At the time, I thought a woman had actually bit him. Later, I learned it was from a divorce. He had been married several times. He never liked anyone to describe snakes as sneaky. Snakes weren't sneaky, people were.

One thing he always taught children was to be swampwise. This is a program that has been shared on Georgia Public Television. The program has been well watched. And like many creatives, he never made any money off of it. I did notice he had written a book so I ordered it.

This is the link to the video.

Swampwise - Okefenokee Joe



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