Sunday, August 31, 2008

Another Sunday

This is Southern Gothic #1-the same church as last post only on the inside.  

This is the third Sunday in a row that I've missed church.  What a week!  We spent Tuesday through today in the hospital where Darcie had surgery for a ruptured appendix; very scary!   I'm too tired to talk more about it now; maybe later.  

I was supposed to spend this past week planning out my lessons for the year, but that didn't get done in the hospital.  So instead of starting school this Wednesday, I'll try to get all  my planning done this week and start next Monday.

Darcie's tenth birthday is Tuesday.  I don't yet know what we're going to do.  She won't have the energy for much.  Her hemoglobin  is down to 9.  I've got to get some Yellow Dock Root for her to take with her iron pills.  It helps the body absorb iron better.  

I'm off to bed before my face hits this keyboard and I type all kinds of crazy things. final thing.  Thanks for all your prayers for us this past week.  Don't stop!  I'll need extra energy as I help her recuperate.  Thanks again.

Sunday, August 24, 2008


This photo is called Southern Gothic #2 and was taken at a little country church just north of us. I love anything gothic;gothic in the traditional sense. I'm not a Goth who wears black all the time and paints my face white.  I mean Gothic architecture and novels.  Anyway.....

I didn't go to church today.  Darcie is into day 8 of a stomach virus, and boy, has it been rough.  She's lost over ten pounds!  She looks like a refugee.  She's upstairs watching what we call "Sunday videos" and I'm getting ready to read Revelation of Love by Julian of Norwich.  Yeah, I'll probably have it finished before everyone else gets back from church.  More like three month!  

I love mystical writing.  Julian of Norwich wrote this classic in the fourteenth century.  Thomas Merton said of it, "There can be no doubt that Julian is the greatest of the English mystics."  Years ago I read The  Cloud of Unknowing; author unknown.  I remember really liking it.  I need to read it again.  I also want to read Evelyn Underhill's classic Mysticism.  One of my favorites in this vein is The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence.

People seem to see red when mysticism is mentioned.  I've heard it said that St. Paul was the first Christian mystic.  This is what the dictionary says about mysticism:  Any belief in the existence of realities beyond perceptual or intellectual apprehension but central to being and directly accessible by intuition.  I would amend the last few words by saying that it is directly accessible because of the work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts.  This work is what makes it possible to have direct communion with God.  Nothing we can do in and of ourselves can make this union happen.  When Christians meditate, it is on what God has revealed about Himself in Holy Scripture and how this revelation works out in our individual and corporate lives.

The mystical part is that no one can understand how this happens.  As the dictionary says, "beyond perceptual or intellectual apprehension".  The work of the Spirit is like the wind.  You can't see the wind blowing but you can see the effects it has on things.  Such is the work of the Spirit.

I don't think people should be scared of Christian mysticism.  I think they are leery of mysticism because of the prevalence of it in New Age Religion.  But just like in anything else in life, when we hear something that sends up a red flag, read, study, and determine why it's there. Could be we've been misinformed in the past.  Could be we're being misinformed in the present. We need to study to show ourselves approved unto God; rightly dividing the Word of Truth. 

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Castles in Scotland

This is a photo of Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh.  I bleached the 4x6 photo and enlarged it on my copier onto canvas.  But this isn't the subject of this post.

I'm reading a book called A Charmed Life by Liza Campbell.  It's about her childhood in Cawdor Castle in the north of Scotland.  Several years ago, my husband and I stayed a week in Scotland very close to this castle.  We toured it and many others while there.  I never get tired of seeing castles and cathedrals.

So when I saw this book in the Quality Paperback Book Club, I had to get it.  I'm a third of the way through and really liking it.

Another good one is called The Guynd-A Scottish Journal by Belinda Rathbone.  She is an American who married a Scot, moved to his ancestral home, restored it, and got divorced.  That was very disappointing.  I like happily-ever-after endings.

I love reading about people restoring homes and the millions of details involved.  I hope someday to write the saga of  building our home.  We couldn't find what we wanted plus land with it, so we build a new-old house.  But that's another post.

Next time I'll talk about staying in a Welsh castle last Spring.  They restored theirs too and wrote about it.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Grace Note

This is what I saw on my walk this morning.  We're an hour from the East Coast, and this time of year the fog blows off the ocean in the mornings creating fast moving clouds and a good breeze.  You can feel Fall in the air.  

I first felt it in July.  There's an almost imperceptible change in the air.  It's a lightness in the pressing humidity that is usually present in this part of the country at this time of the year.  That's accompanied by a gentle, but definite breeze.  The light also changes.  I don't know what causes it, but it's softer.

It always makes me excited the first time I feel Fall in the air.  It's my favorite season.  I love the food, the weather, the clothes, the holidays, the everything.

I've loved this summer.  I'm not ready for it to end yet, but by September I'll probably be going through my clothes and pulling out the sweaters (even though I won't be able to wear them for another month or more).  Old habits die hard, I guess.

In Tennessee, where I grew up, you could start wearing sweaters in September.  So that's when I get mine out.  In Georgia we play this game of wearing a sweater in the morning until about 10:00, taking it off until late evening, then putting it back on; maybe.  Most of the time in early Fall I only wear a sweater on principle.  It's what I did growing up, and by golly, I'll do it now!  I sweat a lot too!  It's the same game in early Spring.  Oh well, it gives me something to do!

Monday, August 18, 2008

My Garden

I took this photo at first light one winter day.  I was looking at a lot of gray and not much color.  My camera saw blue for some reason.  I was sure surprised when I got my photos back from the developer.  I love it.  It's in our backyard looking toward a big pecan tree before you get to our fields.  

When we bought our forty acres about twenty years ago, the place where we decided to put our house had been a farm many years before.  There was even an old barn and outhouse still there.  I really regret not being able to salvage either building, but the termites and time had done their work well.  

 We tore down old wire fencing from a hog pen in the area which was between the house and the field.  This left a football size area of bareness behind the house.  In what I now consider a major act of courage or stupidity, I laid out my gardens.  I collected old bricks from houses being torn down around town and laid several pathways.  I planted boxwood hedges and huge perennial beds.  I laid out an herb garden enclosed in a white picket fence.  There was only one single, tiny thing I didn't know about gardening:  YOU HAVE TO MAINTAIN IT!  I guess I thought that once it was put in and laid out, it would take care of itself.  Boy was I wrong; especially where we live.  The growing season is year round.

So, I've spent the last twenty years being frustrated and never enjoying my garden.  All I see is all the work that needs to be done and all the weeds and grass that need to be dealt with.  I now know that gardening is a daily job.  I don't like garden maintenance.  I'd much rather plan the garden, put it in, and then forget it.  In my next life, I'm going to be a landscape architect.

Anyway, as soon as it cools off a little (around October), I'm going to work outside a lot.  Child #3 has just moved back home, so I'm going to use his services in exchange for room and board. He's going to be my gardening slave.  A teenager from our church wants to earn some money for his Junior/Senior trip to Europe, so I'll hire him too for a few hours a week.  Between the three of us, we should be able to whip it back into shape.

But I'm changing some things.  Those large perennials beds far from the house are too much upkeep.  I can't keep the grass out of the beds which are edged in brick.  I'm going to let the grass retake the bed, take out the brick, dig up the perennials, and put in a hedge of roses or something similar.  I'd go with the Knockout Rose, but it's so common around here I'm tired of it.  I can keep up a bed of flowers if it's close to the house, so that's where I'm putting them.

I may redo the patio area right behind the house too.  We never use it as it is.  I can't figure out why.  I've got to do some hard thinking about that.  I'm reading a book called The Weekend Gardener which tells how to have a low-maintenance garden.  Ha!  That's funny in South Georgia.  But I'm sure I could make it more low-maintenance than it is now.

Ryan Gainey's garden was on the front of Cottage Living last month.  I've been an admirer of his gardening style for many years.  His garden is located in North Georgia; somewhere around Atlanta.  It's also open to the public, so I may pop in some day for a visit.  He inspires me.  I love everything he's ever done in his house and garden.  I also love the gardens of Williamsburg, but that's another post.  This one's getting too long!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Weekend in Tennessee

I had been looking forward to this weekend for weeks.  I LOVE going home to my parents' house.  I LOVE where I grew up.  But things didn't work out as planned.  

We left on Friday morning and made the five hour trip up there just fine.  We walked down to the pond, had a good supper of fresh-out-of-the-garden vegetables, listened to the cicadas in the trees, and watched the lightning bugs come out.  

  Two of our grown sons and one daughter-in-law went too.  There weren't enough beds to go around, so Darcie and Tyler ended up on the floor on a blow-up mattress with a hole.  By morning it was flat, and Tyler had a backache all weekend.  Then Darcie started throwing up.  People began squabbling over various and sundry things.  

To cool off, my husband and I drove down to the Appalachia powerhouse on the Hiawassee River.  We went over eleven miles down a gravel road to get there.  The scenery was beautiful!  I wish I could bottle up the mountain smells and bring them home to Georgia.  We later floated down that river beginning at the powerhouse and ending up in Reliance, TN.  Actually, I was the transportation.  So while my husband, our son Dylan, and his bride Leigh Anne floated down the river, I meandered along the river taking photos of the  mountain scenery, old barns and houses, and horses I ran into along the way.  I had two hours before having to pick them up.  I tried my hand at watercoloring the river and mountains from the top of an overlook, but it started drizzling and my paints began to run.   I took a photo from there, so maybe I'll finish the painting when I get my photos developed.  Or not.....

I brought home some potatoes, okra, and green beans from Mama and Daddy's garden.  I can't wait to fry up some okra tomorrow night.  I'll make a pone of cornbread to go with it too.  Slice a big, red tomato and boil some ears of corn.  Ooh wee!  At's good eatin'.  There's my Tennessee accent coming out! 

Anyway, we're home now and glad and sorry to be.  I could stay up there for weeks, but we have our life here.  I wish the two could be combined.  I love them both.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Pat Conroy's Writing

I have a new favorite author, Pat Conroy.  I just finished reading Beach Music.  This book would make a great movie.  I found myself reading passages out loud to whomever would listen.  His prose is amazing.  I don't have the ability to properly describe the deliciousness and sensuality of his writing.  He writes about the South Carolina Low Country in such a way that you can feel the salty, moisture-laden air on your face and smell the marshes at low tide.  The story itself reels you in as it gradually unfolds and you find yourself swept along for a ride you don't want to end.  There's a specialness about the Low Country I can't describe. We just got back from a week in South Carolina.  While there, I noticed that one of their car tags has on it IN GOD WE TRUST.  Also, while Georgia changed its flag to be more politically correct, South Carolina still flies the Confederate flag on their state flag.  I like their style and tenacity for their heritage.

Ah, I love the South!  I love to travel but am always so glad to be home.  When we lived in California for two and a half years and I would fly into Atlanta, I was seriously tempted to kiss the ground when I stepped off the plane.  I cried every day for those two and a half years because I was so homesick for the South.  God had lessons for me to learn, but that's another post for another day.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

The Month of August

I'm starting our homeschool after Labor Day.  The rest of August is going to be spent ordering school books, planning our daily schedule, and cramming as many house projects in as possible.  I had a whole list of projects to get done this summer.  I managed to almost finish painting one kitchen chair!  I don't know why I didn't get any more done than one chair.  Pathetic!

I did get a good bit of writing and photography done. This summer has just flown by.  I never seem to get as much done as it looks like I will on paper.

One thing we talked about at the beach is how each of us handle our work.  I told Charlotte I've always admired how her and her Mom get things done so quickly.  Take curtains, for example.  If they decide that Charlotte needs new curtains, they get together and that day or the next, her whole house has new curtains; handsewn by them.  Incredible!  

Laurel and I have decided that the fun for us is in the planning.  We're natural born organizers and list makers.  She says she overthinks things way too much though, and I end up helping her with her projects.  I get more projects done than she does; probably because I start and usually finish what I've started.  But we have fun working together.  Charlotte comes over to Laurel's and together they get things done.  I'm telling you, Charlotte is a powerhouse.  She inspires us.

Another funny thing that she told me at the beach is that I wear her out!  No one has ever told me that before.  She says I'm always asking her about the deeper meaning of her actions.  She doesn't like to think much; just act.  That's why she gets things done!  I told her that she wears me out, because she's so full of energy and life.  I guess it's good that we're all so different. 

*The above photo is looking out my kitchen window at our cat Punkin.  There aren't any curtains hanging in that window for the summer.  I took the red gingham curtains and hung them in my art studio. 

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Back from the Beach

We got home yesterday afternoon from Pawley's Island, SC.  I've been asked if I had a good time.  I said, "Wait and ask me in about a week."  That'll give me time to rest and process.  I can already say now that I did have a good time somewhat.  We had some good late night conversations on the porch.  We had a good time shopping in Anthropologie one day.  It was fun sitting on the beach in the early evening watching all the children play; especially as the two baby boys toddled around naked and sandy.  I loved watching my two year old grandson talk in a very animated way to a store mannequin. I loved jumping on a bicycle and going anywhere I wanted.  I loved the early morning walks on the beach as the sun was coming up.

I regret not being able to go to the cute shops along Highway 17.  We did hit a few thrift stores, and that was fun.  It's hard to do much with six small children except feed them, dress and undress them, change diapers, and put them to bed.  Oh, and try to keep them happy during the day with popsicles and a $20 swimming pool bought out of desperation mid-week. 

I did get to spend some time taking photos with a 1970's Polaroid camera and manipulating them.  I'll try to post some on here soon.  I also found inspiration in a book called Altered Books.  I hope to try this soon.  Maybe I'll make one to commemorate this beach trip.

So, even though it wasn't very restful, I'm glad I went.  Would I do it again?  Yes, but not anytime soon!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Beach Noise

The beach is a very noisy place.  At least inhabited ones are.  In addition to the never ending crash of the surf, you have birds squawking and cicadas screaming out their harsh night calls.  I like these sounds.  They are God's instruments playing together in His never-ending symphony (I've been reading too much Pat Conroy).

The sounds I despise are the hundreds of air conditioners going around the clock in the August heat on a Southern island.  I also hate the cars going by on the main highway a few streets over.

With all the noises outside, you would think people would turn off all unnecessary electric and electronic disturbances.  But no, on my beach walk this morning I estimate that around ninety percent of people I passed walking or jogging were talking on their cell phones or listening to their I-pods.  You'd think people would get tired of so much noise and want to listen to nature's songs instead, but they don't.  And  I don't understand it.

Monday, August 4, 2008


I'm off to the beach for a week with my nine-year-old, Laurel and her three little ones under six, and our friend Charlotte and her three under five.  Am I crazy?  I'll let you know on Saturday.

The ride up here took six hours, because we stopped at Target for two hours and lunch.  I slept and rested almost all day yesterday.  Laurel asked me what's wrong with me?  She doesn't understand, because her temperament is different from mine.  

I'm an introvert who needs as much quiet as I do people time; maybe more.  So listening to Josh Groban and our four kids for six hours in the car about did  me in.  I'm back to normal now on Monday morning.  

Charlotte is all into typing people's personalities.  So when we say or do something she says, "Oh you did that because you're a feeler/thinker, etc."  I should be an expert on my own temperament and everyone else's before the week is out!

Yesterday, her oldest did something she shouldn't have, and I got onto her for it.  Charlotte said, "Oh I just had a flashback from my own childhood."  I just laughed.  For those of you who don't know us, I met Charlotte when she was two years old and a Shirley Temple look alike.  So here I am correcting her child who looks like her clone.  It's really weird for me; but good.  We're really good friends, because we've spent her whole life knowing each other.  I feel really blessed to have her and her family in my life.

And according to her, her husband and I have the same personality type which is only shared by 1% of the population.  I always knew I was special!  Now everyone knows!

Friday, August 1, 2008


July was a good month for my photography.  The photo on bottom was accepted in a juried show at our local art center.  It's called Virginia Morning and was taken at Williamsburg at sunup.  Another one accepted at that same show is the one above Virginia Morning called Coosawattee at Dawn.  I took it while on one of my vacations alone in the North Georgia Mountains near Ellijay.  It doesn't exactly look like this one.  I had it printed in sepia and then handtinted it.  I hope they sell!

A friend of mine came in Tuesday while I was working at the Gallery and bought three of my framed photographs for her office.   They were having a grand opening that afternoon.  She wanted photos of Europe, so I sold her the Austrian Monk, which has been posted previously, La Pensione, which you can find above, and The Eiffel Tower at Night.  I don't have that one scanned into my computer yet.

The La Pensione was taken in Florence, Italy. I was looking for Italian laundry and came upon this place close to the Boboli Gardens.  I imagine it being a place similar to where Lucy and Cousin Charlotte stayed in A Room with a View.   

Finally, on the very top  is a photo called Harbuck, Tennessee.  That little concrete block building has quite a history. Many times it has been what people in Tennessee call "a beer joint". The translation, for all you non-Tennessee people, is a package store.  When this photo was taken it had been transformed into a sort of bait shop.  I found it ironic that the former package store  has a new life with the Ten Commandments posted outside.  

This photo was accepted into a juried show in a neighboring town about 45 minutes away.  The theme is called Contextualized and is about the written word in art.  I submitted five different photos in which words played a role.  This is the one they picked.

July was  busy and profitable, but I'm glad it's over.  Tomorrow we're heading to Pawley's Island, SC for a week.  I hope to do some watercoloring with pencils while I'm there.  I'm laying aside my photography and writing for a week to concentrate on something else I want to pursue; watercolor.  Hope I come back with something frameable.  If I do, I'm sure it will go on Laurel's new landscape wall!  Maybe I'll go ahead and give her the quilt too!