Monday, August 29, 2011

A Few Things

Colt started classes at Southern Polytech again for the new year. He and his friend Bob got an apartment close to the college. He comes home on the weekends.
One weekend when he was home he went with me to Bowman's restaurant. It is a little restaurant that is out in the middle of nowhere. They have home cooking. We ordered the turkey and dressing. It was delicious.
It wouldn't be summer without a little bit of car trouble. My car started making funny noises under the dash. I rushed around trying to get my errands done and back home before it conked out on me. Smoke started coming out of the air vents. I was afraid it was going to catch on fire. I pushed the little Buick as fast as I could and cussed every slow vehicle in front of me. "Get out of the road!"
Donny and Scout had to put a new heater core in the car. It took all day. Scout and Colt put the insulation back under the dash. Did I ever tell you how wonderful it is to have two boys and a husband who can fix things? It's a good thing, too, because next Scout's car messed up.

Oh well. I'm not surprised; are you? It's always something. If nothing is happening to you, you better check. You might be dead. It looks like we're not dead yet so it's all good.
Look what we found growing on the bank beside the road. Donny says it's collard greens. I wonder how they got there. That would be a good place to have a garden if the road department didn't go down the road spraying herbicides. Keep your fingers crossed. We might have fresh collard greens soon.
This was a special surprise garden. I'm still scratching my head trying to figure out where the seeds came from.


Thursday, August 25, 2011

There's a Storm Coming

The clouds look incredible, don't they? I used my regular camera and didn't do anything to the pictures. They almost look like black and white photographs. I can see pictures in the clouds. How about you? These photographs remind me of my mother. Momma used to sing "Stormy Weather" to Scout when he was little. I can still remember his sweet clear little voice singing "Storm-y Weav-urrr" with such feeling as he sang along with her. Stormy Weather was made famous by the great black entertainer Lena Horne in the movie Panama Hattie in 1942.

"don't know why there's no sun up in the sky, stormy weather since my man and I ain't together, keeps raining all the time . . ."

"There's a storm coming." Know where that line came from? Sara Conner was at a gas station somewhere in Mexico filling up her Jeep. The old Mexican pumping the gas was interpreting what the young boy was trying to tell her, 'There's a storm coming.' That's right. It was THE TERMINATOR.

A huge storm is heading towards the east coast. Hurricane Irene has been labeled a category 3 hurricane with expected landfall around North Carolina with high winds of 115-120 miles per hour. I hope everyone is able to evacuate in time and don't come back home to  loss and destruction. My heart goes out to everyone in the path of this storm. "Run Forest, run!" Can you tell I'm on a movie quote kick tonight?

We could use some rain around here but we don't need a deluge. The ground is so dry that it won't be able to absorb the water and it will make a river around here. The grass we planted in the front yard never really took off because I haven't been watering it very much. The ground under the Magnolia trees is cracked from lack of water. We haven't gotten a good soaking rain since, when? Maybe the forth of July. I don't know but I do know that everything is drying up and the grass is going to seed. I hope we get some rain out of this storm.

I'm looking at the Weather Channel right now and it looks like we're not going to get any rain any time soon. It's not always fun to be hooked into this new technological age. You can check out the weather several days in advance. It's a bummer when the weather won't cooperate.

One time, when the boys were little, Donny and I went on vacation without checking the weather channel. We drove around until we found a motel on the beach. The desk clerk said, 'no refunds'. I asked what she meant. She told us a hurricane was headed that way and there were no refunds for the room. Donny and I paid for one night and checked in. We took the boys to the beach and played for a while. The weather was nice. Donny insisted that we get to sleep early and leave early to hurry back home ahead of the storm.

We got up after a few hours and started driving home. State Patrol officers and volunteers stopped traffic at the Florida-Alabama line. They offered shelter in that area. We decided to keep driving. Donny drove our big clunky orange van through an awful storm. We drove from Panama City and on through Alabama until we reached the Georgia state line. Then we high tailed it on home. That little vacation only lasted about 24 hours. I swore then that I would never take another vacation without watching the Weather Channel first. Coincidentally that was the year that Colt played Little League baseball on the Hurricanes team. 

If it rains around here we will all be 'singing in the rain'. Sorry. I couldn't resist just one more.

 'I'll be back!'

As Always

Friday, August 19, 2011

Cash or Credit

Everybody in the USA can tell you that our country is in deep doodoo but nobody seems to really understand what that means. They want to point fingers and blame everybody but nobody wants to take responsibility for the problem. I am not an economist and I certainly don't have a good grasp of the problem but I do know what does and does not work for me.

I looked up the definition of the 'debt ceiling' and it seems to concern our total debt and the interest on that debt. This debt and the interest that is incurred affects every citizen and is reflected in the interest rates we pay on everything we buy on credit. That is why the media was screaming about the national down-grading. It forces the financial institutions to raise consumer's interest rates.

Americans live on credit. They use credit cards for everything from purchasing washers and dryers, to buying fast food at Krystal's. No wonder this country is in such deep debt. No wonder so many people lost everything when the economy hit a recession and they lost their jobs. People are living from week to week and never prepare for emergencies.

Years ago I worked in the finance business. I worked for small companies in Dalton. I worked at several different finance companies because I was part-time and there was always an opening at another finance company when I was no longer needed. I learned something while I was doing that. I saw the same people come in, time and again, wanting to borrow money. I saw a lot of the same people who had loans at other finance companies come to the new company I was working for to borrow money. They were habitual borrowers.

I watched managers and assistant managers 'chasing loans' trying to get their delinquent customers to make payments on their loans. I even saw them convince the delinquent customers to come in and renew their loan so that it would 'get off the books'. Sometimes the customer who hadn't paid anything for months or years would even get a little money back. The delinquent customer would skip away happily with his small pittance, secure in the knowledge that he had screwed the credit company. 

Sure enough, when the new loan came due, they didn't pay. Then the assistant manager had to 'chase' them again. It was a vicious cycle. I couldn't understand how that helped anyone, but the credit companies live by different rules than the rest of us. They only wanted to get the bad debt off their delinquent books and look good for corporation, whoever that is. This seemed positively ridiculous to me, since the delinquent customer wouldn't pay their debts to begin with. Why renew a loan only to go back into the bad debt list again in three or four months? It reminded my of a dog chasing it's tail. It never was going to get it.

All my life my parents drilled into my head the importance of paying your bills and staying out of debt. Working in the finance business allowed me an opportunity to see the down side of credit. Some people would borrow as little as fifty dollars for something. Then they would pay that off and come right back to borrow more. I thought that was crazy. Admittedly, fifty dollars was a lot of money back when I was young, but I couldn't believe people were so hard pressed that they couldn't save up the money. They didn't bat an eye at paying huge interest rates, though. I think interest was around eighteen percent back then. I don't know what they charge today.

I bought a new washing machine from Sears and they offered me a ten percent discount if I would put it on my Sears card. It had expired so I allowed them to sign me up for a new one. I was planning to pay it off immediately anyway. When I got the card it was at twenty five percent interest. If I had made minimum payments I would have paid several hundred dollars more than the cost of the washer. That, my friends, is a racket.

We were able to pay our house off a few years ago, right before the economy tanked. I had always paid more than the minimum payment so we could get it paid off early. While everybody else in the country was struggling and losing their jobs and their homes, we were secure in the knowledge that we had our house. We might not be able to pay our electric bill and may even have to have cable and other luxuries cut off but, at least, we had a roof over our heads. 

Donny has always let me pay the bills and make any financial decisions. He knows that I am so paranoid about debt that I will not rush into buying anything. We aren't rich but we aren't in debt, either. Whenever we have to buy something on credit, I always pay it off immediately. I don't want to be beholden to anyone. I especially don't want to pay more for anything.

It is too easy to get credit. That is why everyone is in debt. They never learn to pay off their bills and they never learn to do without. When they really are in need and are desperate, they will use credit to get by. That is like digging a hole and standing in it when you want to get out. The deeper the hole, the harder it is to get out.

I don't blame people for wanting new things, but everyone seems to have forgotten the phrase 'keeping up with the Jones' is not a good thing. It means trying to keep up with your neighbors although you can't afford it. It used to imply someone is acting stupid and pretentious. When you live above your means you will find that you don't really belong there. I know it's a huge slap in the face but sometimes you need a good slap in the face to wake up.

I don't have a fancy house and I don't have fancy furniture. I don't have a nice new car and I don't dress like a fashionista. I just live a simple life and try to keep my bills paid. I don't want to keep up with my neighbors and I certainly don't want to impress them.

It's time to put down the plastic and start using real cold hard cash. Sometimes people seem flummoxed when I pay with cash. What's up with that? That's what that plastic credit card, or debit card, is supposed to represent: cash. Cash is King! Use it. Don't abuse it. And, for gods sake, quit digging your own grave in credit.

I know a lot of people were hurt by the economic downturn and I am not trying to belittle anyone. I only want to sound the alarm and, hopefully, rally the troops. We would all be better off if we learned not to buy things unless we could really afford them. We would be better off if we learned to save up for big ticket purchases like refrigerators or cars. We would save millions of dollars in interest fees. I wouldn't want to buy a new car that costs $20,000 dollars and pay six or eight thousand dollars extra in interest. Saving that money in the bank would earn interest, unlike financing it. Everybody used to have to save to buy something. Now anyone can buy anything with credit.

I didn't mean to insult anyone, although I probably did. I just think we need to get back to the good old days. That way we will plan for any contingency. Everybody needs to start a nest egg. I learned that when I was young.

Daddy was in the union and every few years the union would go out on strike when they were renegotiating a new contract. Sometimes Momma was the only breadwinner. She learned to save money when they were both working so that they wouldn't be empty handed when the union went on strike.

We all aren't in a union but we all have good and bad times in life. The best way to take care of ourselves and our families is to make sure to be prepared for the next emergency.  

It wouldn't hurt America if we learned to pay off our national debt and focus on  becoming a country that is solvent. We need to turn our financial revenue towards rebuilding America. They should start with the infrastructure; roads, bridges, dams, federal parks and memorials. among other things. 

We should resurrect some of the ideas Roosevelt employed in America during the greatest depression in American history. Roosevelt created jobs. We need jobs. The economy will turn around when people are able to work. The economy will improve eventually; it always does. We just need to be prepared for the next emergency like we are going through now. We've had plenty of recessions. We will have plenty more. We should become a nation that isn't riddled in debt any more, individually and as a nation.

Seriously, though, don't you love the feel of cold hard cash? I know I do. What are you going to do next time someone asks, "Cash, or credit?"

Responses are always welcome.


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Back To School

It's that time of year again. Time for Colt to head back to school. This year is going to be a little different; Colt and his roommate, Bob, moved off-campus. 

We rounded up some furniture and helped Colt take it down to Marietta over the past couple of weeks. Bob's parents were there the first time helping him put his furniture together. Bob got the big bedroom since he got there first. He brought some nice tables and lamps for the living room. Colt's contribution was a dining room table, couch and big TV. We took his bed and chairs and the rest of his necessities last weekend. The apartment looks nice. 

Colt headed back to Marietta today to begin another semester at the university. He kept coming back. I would tell him 'bye' and then go inside. He made it out of the driveway and pulled back in the other one. He said he forgot something. Next time he got down the road a little piece before he turned around for something else. He finally got gone on the third try.

I bet Colt will be so happy to be away from me and in his own apartment for a while. I'm going to miss him so much even though he's hardly ever here. He hangs out with his buddy Justin, after work. He is the boy who thought Colt was a Jew. Although he's a knucklehead, Justin is a real good friend and a likable fellow.

Scout got Colt a job with him this summer. Scout works for Bob DeGraan. Bob owns Fencing Unlimited. Fencing must really be unlimited because Scout has had steady work all throughout this recession. They work all over north Georgia. Scout's even worked in Tennessee. 

Fencing has been a learning experience for Colt. Or maybe it has been an endurance experience because Colt has worked his tail off. He and Scout look like they've been rolling in the dust by the time they get home. Colt showed me scratches and regaled me with stories of wrestling huge rolls of barb wire; trying to unwind them among the brambles, and the bushes, sometimes dragging them uphill. Scout enjoyed working with Colt and showing him that he could outwork him. 

It's important that Colt learns manual labor if he is going to be in charge of construction management when he graduates. There is nothing worse than a boss who doesn't understand his employees because he has never worked. Book learning is good and important, but understanding every aspect of a job is invaluable. The best way to learn how something works is to learn to do the job. You can't learn everything in books. 

Donny complains about some designs the draftsmen give him because they don't work. Sometimes the blueprints are wrong and the draftsmen have to redraw them. He thinks, if they had to help build the machines, they would understand their designs better. Some designs won't work. If the blueprints are wrong they have to tear down whatever they just built and redo it. That's not easy when you have to cut metal with a blowtorch. 

I believe Colt will be a better boss and understand his job better if he learns good, honest, hard work. That's why I encourage Colt to work with Scout when he can.

We pick on Colt and give him a hard time but we are so proud of him. He's a fine young man and lots of fun to be around. That's why I'm going to miss him so much.


Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Gift

. . . or the shining, or whatever you want to call it, can come in different forms but the presentiment isn't always clear until after the fact, sometimes not even then. The messages can come in the form of a dream. Other times they can be nagging little voices in your head. They can come in broad daylight or the dead of night. I don't know how we get premonitions or cryptic messages but I do know they are real.

My grandmother and aunt had dreams that were eerily prophetic. My grandmother tried to warn my uncle about having a wreck. He was a truck driver. She told him about her dream. She said her mother came for him in her dream. Then she proceeded to describe the scene of the wreck. My uncle wouldn't listen. My aunt had a dream about her grandmother, my grandmother's mother,  coming for her husband, too. My grandmother had cautioned Jimmy the day before he died but he still died.

I dreamed about my cousin dying and the date of her death was emblazoned in my mind until right before the date and suddenly I forgot all about it. When she died I realized the significance of the date. I've had a few ominous dreams before, but never a live encounter until a friend died and I had an eerie encounter with him that I will never forget.

My husband, Gary, and I went on vacation at Daytona Beach. We were walking on the boardwalk when I saw a tall guy leaning up against the rail talking to a bunch of girls and guys standing around him. I told Gary that it looked like Joel Driggers, and I was dragging him over there to talk to him. Gary knew Joel from Dalton High School and he kept saying 'that's not Joel' but I wouldn't listen and kept getting closer and closer. I got within a few feet of the guy before I realized that Gary was right and it wasn't really Joel. It certainly did look like him until I got upon him! That was long before cell phones so I didn't talk to anyone until I got home. The minute we got home from vacation my mother came to meet us and told me that Joel had killed himself. I will always believe that Joel wanted to say goodbye and that is how he did it. I saw him about the same time he died. So, that is my ghost story.

I've never had a good premonition like winning the lottery on anything cool like that. My dreams are usually vague and mysterious, full of symbolism. The encounter on the boardwalk was truly strange and a once in a lifetime experience. It was even better than a dream. It was real and I was awake

As Always

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Now and Then












Summer is fading fast. You can really tell it in the garden. What had been strong and beautiful is drying up and wilting on the vine. August is such a bitter-sweet month.

As Always

Thursday, August 4, 2011

What's This

I've been complaining for years about the state of the standard cooking potato, whether it's a Russet or an Idaho. To me, a 'tater's a 'tater. If I can boil it, bake it, fry it, or nuke it I'm happy. What I haven't been happy with is the state of my potatoes.

Several years ago I would find little black spots in my potatoes. I kept trying to figure out what was causing the little black spots but couldn't figure it out. I hadn't ever seen anything like it. Over the years I saw it from time to time. Finally, one time, I saw a little stick of wood in the middle of the potato and realized it was a dirty tooth pick. I was shocked and revolved. How disgusting! Some filthy sorry excuse of a person, who could have been riddled with disease, decided to stick a filthy splinter of germy wood into a potato to corrupt the crop. The person had no regard for the fruit of his labor, or respect for his employer, much less the people who eat the potatoes. It finally made sense.

I can imagine a bunch of migrant workers resting after a day of toil and pain in the backbreaking job of bending all day in the boiling sun scratching out potatoes from the soil. They probably sit their bags of potatoes together to be loaded. It would be easy to pierce a few sticks of dirty tooth picks into potatoes every day before they are picked up from the fields. Someone like that would have to be trying to rot the potato, I guess.

I have been having a new problem with the potatoes I have been buying recently. I've bought a total of three bags of potatoes with something awful wrong with them. I think it is some kind of blight but you can't tell there is anything wrong with them until you cut them open. They look fine on the outside but they have big black spots inside. I guess you could say they look like they have an inky dark spot throughout the potatoes. 

I was upset when I bought the first bag of potatoes but I used the ones that weren't bad and threw away the bad. By the time I bought my second bag of potatoes from the same roadside stand, I told the ladies about the bad potatoes. They said nobody else had mentioned them. I bought more potatoes after those which were good so I thought, 'okay, that's good'. I picked up the last bag of that brand of potatoes the other day. 

I was peeling potatoes for dinner when I saw the same rotten, nasty looking potatoes. I cut another potato and saw a bigger bad place in it. The whole bag was probably diseased. I took them up to the roadside stand to show them to the two ladies who were there. I cut one open in front of them and it had a little black spot. I wondered if it could be a toothpick blemish.

One lady told me that another customer mentioned the potatoes being bad besides me. They told me they would like to have the potatoes to show their boss. I readily agreed. I didn't want them. They offered me another bag of potatoes and I said I'd pass, thank you. I didn't want any more potatoes from there. One lady got a bag of Dole potatoes and said they weren't the same brand so they should be fine. I thanked them and came home.

I read and hear about this gene splicing and animal-plant hybrids all the time. I got to thinking what if these nasty toothpicks have some germ or something that could mutate. That's just creepy. What do you think?

b a d  ' t a t e r ' s

g o o d  ' t a t e r ' s


As Always
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Chow Baby!

Monday, August 1, 2011


Hi Yall!
I can't believe it's already August. August is a two edged sword. It is the heart of summer and also the time when the final hurrah begins. Before long the leaves will start turning colors and falling off the trees. It will be a gradual process that most people don't even notice but I've become finely attuned to the phenomenon because it seems to always start around my birthday. As much as I love summer, I dread this time of year because I know it will soon be over. I love the sunlight in summertime. Fall and winter seems to sap my energy and excitement because of the muted sunshine.

I only remember having one birthday party when I was little. We were still living behind Hale's house. That was the name of our landlord. I couldn't have been very old. I can remember my cousins came to play with me and share some cake and ice cream. We played in the backyard and swung on my swing set.

One time Daddy was going to repaint my swing set so he used marine paint he had for painting his old wooden boat. He left the lid off the can and the paint brushes, too. It was bright blue. I couldn't resist it. When he went inside I decided to paint the swing set for myself. I started painting the legs of the swing set and painted as high as I could reach. I thought I was doing a pretty good job but, when Daddy and Momma caught me, I realized I had gotten just about as much paint on myself as I did on the swing set. It was sticky and hard to remove.

Momma and Daddy got gasoline and made me strip down to my panties. I stood on the back porch in my underwear while they used rags to scrub me with gasoline to get the paint off. It didn't take long for the gas to start burning me and I began begging and pleading with them to let me go and let me take a bath. I danced around screaming as they scrubbed more vigorously. It seemed to take forever before they were willing to let me go so I could run into the house and jump into the shower. That's probably the only time I ever begged for a bath. I bet I was the first blue Smurf in the world. From then on I left enamel paint alone. I don't remember if Daddy ever finished painting my swing set but I know I didn't help. I had enough of painting.

We moved away from Hale's house the summer I turned eight. I will always remember the little house in the woods fondly, but I will never forget my gas bath. Stay away from enamel paint. Just consider it a word from the wise. Oh yeah, and don't leave open paint around kids.

Tommie Lyn, Pat, Myra, Nancy, Nancy, Brenda, Chris, Randy, Jonnie Bell, Glo, Blake, Bob, Justin, Cole, Jerry, and to me

Susan and Bob

Steve Hammontree, Donna Shoates

As Always
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