Saturday, December 23, 2006

Oh what fun it is

Fun and busy, that’s been December—a some time preceding it. I’ve been working with some great folks at The Bainbridge Post-Searchlight put some of my columns about the great folks of Southwest Georgia into a book.
We got it done!
Now is the real fun!
Last Thursday night was Downtown Christmas in Bainbridge. We all took a step back in time to the days when we met our neighbors on the Square to visit and to shop together. The weather was mellow and so were we.
Especially over in the “Book Nook” where Jim and Faye had great refreshments and lots of folks dropped by to share some memories as I signed my book, Stirring up memories all the times.
What made me smile the most was when the families who have generously shared their stories with me came by to pick up copies for the children and grandchildren.
If you’d like to share the fun of life in years gone by in Southwest Georgia, you can visit the Book Nook online and drop Jim an e-mail. He’ll be happy to send you the book.

If you’d rather contact The Post-Searchlight or me. The links are on this page. One way or the other, I’ll make sure you get a copy. Let me know how you like it!
Later today, we hit the road along with so much of America. The granddog (he's been spending his Christmas holidays with us and his favorite cat), Dotty-the-cat, the gifts, the wonderful smoked pork butt I bought from the FFA at the high school, a poinsettia or two, Bob and--will there be room for me? will head north to Atlanta. We're putting a new twist on Christmas Eve. We're looking for Santa at a Falcons game! Going to be more fun!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Harvesting and sowing

The first day of winter. A year ago I watched the season in England as I welcomed my new granddaughter. Today I am home in South Georgia enjoying a mild December. We’ve had a touch of frost—enough to take away the summer annuals, but the camellias continue to flourish as does our kumquat crop.
When I grew up in Amarillo, kumquats were a Christmas treat. Santa always left them—just a few piled into a pint strawberry basket with a few dried up leaves. What a joy to have a tree full to share with our friends.
I love to harvest them on the first day of winter. Then I plant poppy seeds that will burst in to bloom in May. What a treat—harvesting and sowing on the first day to grow long. The poppy seeds enjoy extra luck this year! Within five minutes of the time they entered the ground a soft and gentle rain began. That's a rose in bloom at my feet! A good way to spend the opening day of the season.

Back home

Lost. Been so long since I’ve posted that I feel like this little lost puppy. She showed up outside my study door in the late afternoon. She was all dressed up for Christmas; she had to belong to someone, but she surely wanted to stay at our house.
The next morning, the puppy was at the door. Bob made a sign to let passersby know we had a lost puppy. With the help of a friend she was now temporarily named Noel. No owner called but the newspaper publisher did. He asked for a picture—Noel made the front page of the webpage. We took her to the Animal Shelter (with the proviso that we’d find her a home if the owner didn’t appear). The owner did. Noel is home for Christmas.
And I am glad to be back here!

Friday, November 03, 2006

November welcomes flowers

In South Georgia we are never without flowers. Our calendar fills with blossoms.

I stepped into my yard yesterday, November 2, to find that we've welcomed the Thanksgiving month with a special blossom. The first camellia of the season. This bush is well over seventy years old. It was planted by Mr. Elcan many years ago when he was the garden's guardian. (See my early post about him.)

My kitchen garden has been ablaze with cassia for a couple of weeks. What a welcoming sight on a chilly morning. I hope it blazes away until Thanksgiving when my Houston band arrives.

I've been on the run lately, so few postings. No. No postings. I'm heading out to Austin for Story Circle affairs this morning. It's hard to leave the garden.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Harvest in Georgia

Did you look at at the huge moon floating above us last weekend? The harvest moon, the full moon closest to the autumnal equinox, is aptly named in our part of the world. Two of our largest and most spectacular crops are at full harvest time right now. The roads are fill with tractors and trucks hauling trailers full of peanuts and the air is full of the tangy aroma. Yummy! And those boiled peanuts are being sold on just about every corner.
Fields that aren't loaded with peanuts are ladened with cotton. Shining in the sunshine, a field of cotton is lovely indeed.
A few years ago, there was not a boll of cotton in our county. Now it's one of our largest crops. Here's a nearby field I snapped on the day of the Harvest Moon.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Be still, my heart

I've been roaming around Tallahassee getting the lay of the land and the sense of the neighborhood. On a morning walk this sign grabbed my attention and for just a minute, my heart.
If anything were ever true!!!
Daughter Katy who is old enough to know her own mind (But that's been true since she was 5!) bought a motorcycle not to very long. And there is a long story about it that is not mine to tell. I enjoy hearing about her adventures, and, maybe, I have bragged a little bit about my daughter's bravery and independence.
Still and all, there's lots of truth in this sign. Think I should frame this picture for her Christmas present?

Thursday, September 14, 2006


Fog gauzes my vision encasing me in solitude. There is no dawn, yet light does come. I am not alone. Sister Spider emerges from grayness, my neighbor and my friend.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Ahh! Success

Ahhh! This time it worked. I've posted the pictures I couldn't get up on Friday. The cluttered bed shows the chaos I got into when I decided to clean the closet and take all my usable extras to the Swap-o-rama in Tallahassee. It was worth the mess and effort. I brought my big box, plus some garments on hangers just as others were arriving. We sorted the clothes--tops, pants, dresses, etc. In a big adjacent room, volunteers had lined up sewing machines, cutting tables and craft centers. It was wonderful. I dropped by at the end of the day, almost all of the clothes had gone to a new home. It was great to wake up on Sunday morning thinking about some of my old friends going to church or out to lunch all spiffed with their new owners. Check the links in my last post if you want to learn more about this super concept of helping each other.

The woodpecker is a frequent guest just outside my kitchen door. Right now the salvia and bottlebrush are loaded with hummingbirds filling up for their trips south. It's great to be outside right now!

Friday, September 08, 2006

Swapping around

I am a natural packrat. I hate cleaning and getting rid of, but at the same time, I love giving things away. You can image that my closet presents a real dilemma.
In 1997 we added on to our old country bungalow in part to get a big-enough closet. Were we ever success! It’s so big that in nine years, I’ve barely cleaned it. I just keep hanging things up and meaning to get to it. Of course, I’ve lost track of lots of things I love.
The closet has been looming on my mind, but the packrat part of me was winning. I say that my closet is my scrapbook—“Oh, look! I remember the night I wore this!” “Yes, that went to the open house.”
Last Saturday I saw a notice in the “Apalachee Tortoise,” a Tallahassee community newspaper, announcing a clothing swaparama. Instead of just donating clothes to who-knows-what-end, come and trade. They are going to have volunteers giving a workshop on rejuvenating old clothes—your own or someone else’s.
This was just the kick-started I needed. Monday morning I lit into the closet. Thought it would take about an hour. Ha! But I finished. Bob got in on the act. Now we have a clean and mostly empty closet. Need I add, that I found some old friends who are staying?
Now the back of the Cherokee is loaded with our usable but extra clothes. I’m ready to roll south for the trade. I’m hoping I’ll leave off and not take more on, but you never can tell.
Here the link to the Tallahassee swap .
This is one with more general information about Swap-o-ramas all over the country .

And here’ a reason I love the country town part of our life—a recent visitor at my back door.
Oh, dear. It's supposed to be a picture of a woodpecker, but blogger (or my computer) is not cooperating. I'll try to post it later.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Making ourselves at home

We’re getting used to our new weekend place in Tallahassee. Last week we celebrated our anniversary and hit some art galleries. This Friday we’ll go to a History Department party, a clothing exchange (more about that maybe tomorrow--it sounds like fun), and a Neil Simon play at the Little Theatre on Saturday.
Marti made a comment on the Pied a Tally entry suggesting that I wave a sage wand in our new “home” so that it will be filled with “good, loving experiences.” I looked down in one of the galleries and there it was a sage wand. Thanks, for the good advice, Marti.
We are falling into a routine. No matter what home I’m in, I’m an early riser. We take a couple of miles or so walk around the lovely Florida State Campus as soon as it’s light. Most of the students are still sleeping in. One of my favorite spots is this fountain in Landis Green in front of the library (of course, my favorite building). Later in the day, it will be filled with real students frolicking. About as often as not, someone will toss in a good squirt of liquid detergent. That’s why these make-believe students are enjoying a bubble bath.
After we’ve walked briskly we stop at our place and pick up Frank-the-dog who is getting old for these brisk walks. The three of us stroll down to the all-night All Saints’ Coffee House to enjoy the newspaper, coffee and a refreshing bowl of water.
The good life. (It’s not a muzzle on Frank, but a “Gentle Leader” that keeps him from tugging and saves my back. I recommend it.)

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Still smiling after all these years

We're still smiling after all these years.

How could they do it? Either set of our parents? Let a barely eighteen-year-old girl marry a nineteen-year-old boy not yet out of college and her barely started. What were they thinking?

I still wonder at them. But after 48 years, I'm glad they did it. So is Bob and so are our three kids and five grandkids! Especially the kids and grandkids!

Here's the sunny couple on a hot August morning in Amarillo, Texas. August 30, 1958. Glowing and innocent--no idea of the ups and downs, curves and dead ends the road of life had in store. They've made it this far and have great plans for continuing on the highway! (Remember after all--they grew up on Route 66--it cut right through Amarillo.)

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Another adventure--Pied a Tally

I'm having another adventure. There's no picture to go with it, because I didn't think of doing it it until about one minute ago.

I'm not sitting in my quiet workroom in Bainbridge thinking small town musings. Instead, I'm in the Florida State U. library, pecking away on my new laptop and connected to the world wirelessly.

Bob has entered the homestretch working on his dissertation. He's teaching a class as well. Since he's now a Florida resident he needs to live here, right? He has an apartment near the campus, and is a city guy.

Many of our Bainbridge pals have lake or beach houses where they head for a retreat almost every weekend. I get enough of the quiet life during the week--so the plan is that many weekends I'll join Bob for city fun. The apartment is tiny and great. The important things: it's clean, we can walk to the FSU concert halls and the Civic Center, and Frank-the-dog is welcome!

We went to a great concert benefitting WFSU public radio last night and bought VIP tickets to opening night of Tallahassee Ballet next month. This morning we walked a couple of miles around the campus, then had coffee and the newspaper at the nearby All Saints Coffee House where Frank is welcome on the patio.

A great adventure in the making in our new place.

We call it our Pied a Tally.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Home for a spell

End of summer. Start of school. Time to stay home and . . . The first thing I always do, even before I bring in the suitcase, but after I hug the dog and cat, is take a garden tour. In our humid, sultry summer days thing change a lot in a week. Almost 200-year-old long leaf pines tower over our sandy soil dropping miriad organic tidbits. Mushrooms abound. So does Spanish moss.
A granddaddy toadstool and two tiny grandbaby ones greeted me on this tour, as did a blazing rose of sharon. I paid a dollar for this bush about 10 years ago. She was supposed to be white. One of the best dollars I've ever spent!

Monday, August 14, 2006

Home again, off again

We're home, but I'm rushing out the door on another adventure. Off for a 'girl's week' on Hilton Head with a old pals and a new one. I've been gone so much that I'm yearning to be home.

Houston as usual and always was great for us. We may live in the country, but underneath we have city hearts. Mostly we have grandparent hearts and nothing can be finer than a few days of fun with a handsome, funny, wonderful five-year old grandson.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Good to get away, good to get home

We’ve been on the road—the National Road that stretches from Cumberland, Maryland across Pennsylvania to Wheeling, West Virginia. This road opened the land west of the Alleghenies to early settlers. (I think some of my great, great, great forebears, the Nordykes made the trek to Indiana along this road.) I was especially moved by the Madonna of the Trails—a statute saluting pioneer women. (One of those greats was a grandmother.)

After we got a good dose of history, we headed down to West Virginia for crisp air, lovely scenery and much loved grandchildren.

Sometimes the best part of a good trip is getting back. Particularly with the garden putting on one of it’s best shows. The lily is a volunteer stretching toward the sky just outside my bedroom. The cleomes festoon the front (and almost recovered) flowerbed with sparkle and pizzazz.
We’re on the road again tomorrow to see the Houston tribe. I’m the excited owner of a new wi-fi laptop—if I can find a coffee shop, I can keep on posting!

See you from Houston.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

By the side of the road

Small town living is great, but sometimes these former Houstonians need a city fix. For us, it’s easy—run the forty or so miles down the road and visit Tallahassee, Florida. Home to the state capitol and two big universities, Florida State and Florida A&M, there’s always something going on. A play, a concert, a great meal, and of course, lots of shopping. For Texans—Tallahassee is like Austin in the late 50s and the 60s. ‘Bout as close to perfect as you can get—it’s even set on rolling hills.
One of the best parts of the Tallahassee ramble is the trip home. Right at the Georgia/Florida state line there’s usually a cluster of entrepreneurial vendors. Shrimp “straight off my cousin’s boat this morning,” great fresh vegetables and fruits, “picked an hour ago at Mama’s.” And that great North Florida-South Georgia delicacy, boiled peanuts.
That’s right. Green (they’ve got to be green) peanuts boiled in their shells and then sacked up for good eating.
When we first moved her a new friend gave me the recipe—cover the green peanuts with water in a big soup pot. Add ‘way too much salt and boil ‘em ‘way too long. They’ll be perfect.
Believe her, they will.
I’ve labored in the kitchen over fancy appetizers, and then on a whimsy put a bowl of boiled peanuts on the porch. (They need to be served outside because of the slimy shell problem!)
Guess what! Every man at the party—and most of the women—are on the porch gobbling peanuts. Forget the paté and the smoked oysters. They know what is good!

I'm going to be playing with grandchildren for a bit, so I may not post for a few days. But I'll be back soon!

A local tradition--buying a couple of bags (or more) of just-out-of-the-pot boiled peanuts on the Georgia-Florida State Line. (US Highway 27 North)

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Daisies bounce back

Seems like the daisies keep popping up in my posts. Here they are again. What’s left of them!
If I’m recounting the good times of small town living, then I have to hit on some not-so-good ones as well.
My daisies were devastated on Independence Day—right in front of the flag I’d shown so proudly waving that morning. We were in the yard mid afternoon admiring the flowers and feeling the heat when we heard and felt a shattering jolt. Clearly a collision in the fairly busy street in front of the house. I ran for the phone while Bob ran for the sound. A truck had apparently run a stop sign and plowed up the embankment and across my flowerbed.
By the time I was out the door with 911 on the line, Bob was heading for our car. “He left!” He called “I’m going after him.”
Things calmed down. Bob did find the truck—badly damaged. The police came. The alleged miscreant who’d been doing early celebrating in a “borrowed” vehicle was apprehended. Things are almost back to normal.
Not quite. We’re still nursing the wounded garden. Bob rebuilt the bank and replanted the antique lilies and the precious daisies. I babied my treasured Pink Pet roses. The surviving daisies dipped in the summer breeze and assuring us that things will be fine!

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

July 4, Independence Day

Happy Independence Day!

Early morning on July 4, 2006. Bainbridge Georgia

Do I have a nose for news? Yesterday I shared the fireworks tent sponsored by the Penecostal Church here. Today the stand and the pastor are front page news in the Post Searchlight. Check it out at While you're there, check out my column by hitting the "stirringupmemories" link--it's two under the obituaries. If that doesn't work, go to, read the column and enjoy some Bainbridge views.

P.S. best seller at the fireworks stand is "Pyromaniac"!

Monday, July 03, 2006

The big bang!

The weekend before Independence Day, it’s no surprise to wheel into a parking lot and find a big tent filled with fireworks in Bainbridge or across the country.
I was, however, taken with the sponsor of this tent load of bangs and sparkles—The First United Pentecostal Church!
Tomorrow, if I go in search of the Big Bang! I know who can take care of me!

If you'd like to visit more scenes of Bainbridge, visit my website--

Saturday, July 01, 2006

July 1 gift

When my neighbor offered old-fashioned lillies in exchange for daisies, I was happy to make the trade, but I felt fairly sure I was getting more of my "Professor Elcan" pinks.
It seemed appropriate that their new home be in the front bed, right beside the daisies.
The Elcan flowers burst into a pink symphony last week. The new ones did nothing. Maybe they don't bloom the first year, I thought.
But this morning as I pulled up from my early morning gym class, a flash caught my eye. The bright, almost red gleem of the new residents, splendid in the July sun. From now on, they will be known as the "Carolyn lillies."

If you'd like to know more about Bainbridge and my garden, visit me at!

Friday, June 30, 2006

Small town living

Seemed like every child in Bainbridge was packed into the assembly room at the Library to meet some visiting animals. The guest Eagle Owl wasn’t interested in his audience; he had those big eyes glued to the snakes, the stars of the next act. They looked a lot like lunch to him!

I was born and raised in a small city (Amarillo, Texas) and raised my family in a huge one (Houston). Most days I feel that I’m a city girl to the bone and I can’t fathom that I’ve ended up spending a major chunk of my adult life living the small town life. I begin my day with the New York Times—online, we can’t get home delivery. I wince when I hear about the Houston Grand Opera or Atlanta’s Alliance Theater.
Then I have a day like yesterday. I left my house a little past eleven to check out the animal show at the Library. It was the only time all day that I had a problem parking, and I didn’t mind at all. Every one of those cars jamming the parking lot had brought at least one child, probably more to the library not only to see the animals but to head home with two, or three, or four books to read.
I left the library and ran by the Sweet Spot, a just opened boutique and bakery, owned by the Sweet family, to pick up a dozen peanut brittle chocolate cookies (six chocolate, six white chocolate) for my pals at the Post-Searchlight where I have a bi-weekly column. It still wasn’t time for my lunch date, so I dropped in the fabric shop sure I wouldn’t find the cheesecloth I needed for a cooking experiment. (More about that later—if it works.) Janet stopped and thought. From behind several bolts of net, lace and other fancy fabrics—here was the cheesecloth. 89 cent a yard. I took three yards and talked to Janet about my daisies and her upcoming trip to Greece. She’ll close the shop for a week, but that’s fine. All of her customers know about the journey.
I dropped the cookies at the paper and met my lunch date. We walked to Café Perk right across the street from the Courthouse. I had a chef salad and mega iced coffee. My bill added up to under $8. An hour later I waved good-bye to my pal and popped into the Courthouse Annex to vote absentee since we’ll be gone on Election Day. That took about ten minutes. I was the only one there. Two voting clerks made sure things went smoothly. I needed some ingredients for my cooking adventure. I trundled out the mile or so to a supermarket on my way home.
Just before 2:00, I pulled into my driveway ready for a writing afternoon! Image doing all of that in a little over two hours in NYC, Houston or Amarillo!
There’s something to be said for small town life!

If you'd like to see some more scenes of Bainbridge, go to my webpage, and click on Bainbridge. It's a work in progress!
More on small town living in the next few days.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Professor Elcan's lillies

One day it is a patch of twenty shades of green nestling under the century and a half old first-growth long leaf pines and the ten year old cedar that once was our Christmas tree. Then one early morning, I take my cup of coffee out for a stroll in the morning cool, and suddenly find the blaze of pink.
There's been a a blaze of pink under those whispering pines for (we think) over 70 years. Professor Elan (see yesterday's post) was a vigorous gardner and his efforts still glow forth in many ways, especially in these lillies.
I asked his daughter, who grew up in this house and who has been beyond generous in helping me learning the its history, when her dad planted the lillies. She shook her head. They've always been there.
Standing among them I almost see the good professor, trowel in hand putting in lillies, probably a housewarming gift from a friend's garden, on a lazy evening in the summer of 1933.
In 19 years I've divided these beauties only once. I shared my ( and Professor Elcan's) bounty with friends and neighbors all over town. Pink blaze is every where!
My local gardening friends call these 'crinum lillies.' I'd love to know if there is another name.
A note on our home. It has a name, given by the Elcan family, Whispering Pines. Bob resisted keeping the name because it seemed ordinary and trite to him--until we spent a few evenings in the porch swing on the big, shady front porch not talking but listening. He came around. Whispering Pines is the perfect name.
Here are Professor Elcan's lillies with a swipe of blue salvia in the early morning hours of this day.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Coming up daisies

In one of my earliest postings to this blog I showed a lonely daisy bravely blooming on a January-bare bank. Now in summer-verdant June a host of her daisy sisters brighten that same bank. They are a welcoming sight to all who pass.
The lillies blooming with the daisies are friendship flowers from the gardens of neighbors. Some came in exchange for some of the daisy sisters.
Our yellow and white vernacular bungelow is in the background. I've lived in it for 19 years and loved every minute and every inch of it. I didn't know what vernacular meant as an architectural term until someone told me that it is a house that more-or-less happens. This house certainly did.
It began as a "four-square" farm house around 1910. (A four-square house is perfectly square with four identical rooms.) In 1933, the local school superintendent, Professor Elcan, purchased the house. It was in the center of a citrus grove. He made substantial changes adding several rooms and the big front porch. If you climb up in my attic you will find the roof of the original house, shingles and all. In 1997, when we'd been here for ten years, we added a bedroom wing that retains the 1933 appearance.
While the Elcans lived in the house, the citrus grove slowly disappeared. A cow named Beauty lived in the back yard. Professor and Mrs. Elcan were enthusiastic gardeners. We still enjoy the azaleas and lillies that they planted over seventy years ago! The side yard has returned to wildness through the years but occasionally as I ramble through it I run across a border or a blossom to remind me that this spot has been a loved home for many years by many people.
I've lived here now almost as long as the Elcans did, but locally it's still known as the Elcan Place. Probably always will be.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Downtown on the square

As in many small towns, community life in Bainbridge centers around our downtown square. We’re a little different. Our courthouse does not dominate this town center. It is on the corner across the street. The square is a park complete with a gazebo/bandstand, lovely flowers, memorials, a cannon and the almost requisite Confederate soldier. Oh, and a goldfish pond.
It’s where we gather on Christmas Eve to listen to the Bainbridge Brass Band and join our neighbors in singing carols, where the high schoolers promenade before the big Prom, where we have our annual Artsfest Saturday morning.
This year on Flag Day we gathered again to welcome National Guard members home from Iraq, listen to one of our favorite daughters sing patriotic songs and share our lunch.
Small town living at its very best.

Monday, April 10, 2006

What a difference a week makes--

Just a week later. A few old granddaddy pecan trees are still holding off; the rest have join into the general welcome and adorned themselves with spring finery!

We've been off in Atlanta celebrating the fresh season with a troop of grandchildren. Lots of ways to have fun in Atlanta--from the world's greatest, and largest, aquarium to hockey (go Thrashers!), the zoo (the Pandos love Pandas!) and a backyard waterfight. Somethings never change.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Is spring here?

The town is blooming and the countryside is not far behind. Wisteria is everywhere. It must be spring. Maybe not! Local lore says that it is not spring until the pecans leaf out. The bottle brush and wisteria, the Carolina silver bell and dianthus say "Welcome!" The pecans are still thinking about it.

Foolin' around in April

What better way to spend a Saturday that just happens to be April 1, than hanging out on the Flint River--doing not much of anything?

Catch a crow taking in the view. Watch families at play. For lunch--fried catfish at a picnic table. (the crow got the French fries!)

It's a great place for a book--or a nap!

Friday, March 31, 2006

March is frolicking out like a lamb. We have mid-80s sunshine and mild breezes. It was so lovely at noon, we couldn’t stay inside to have our fast-food salad. We headed to the beautiful Flint River and soaked in spring from the banks. Experienced an unexpected bit of togetherness as well. Our sack contained two salads, two packages of dressing, but only one fork. So we took turns. The joys of married life.
The pink azaleas have bid farewell; the white ones are still lovely. The dogwoods snow showers of blossoms onto to greening lawns. Most lovely this week is the elegant Carolina Silver Bell.