Sunday, June 28, 2015

Genealogy and Our Health

In recent weeks, I've gone back to researching family history online. In 1998, I published a family history book based on my father's family. Now I am looking at my mother's side, the Robisons, Jones and Coopers.

John Monroe Robison, seated, and his children, probably taken between 1900 and 1910

Genealogy research becomes a huge puzzle as I look for little pieces that connect people I know are my family to those with the same names or similar names. Besides census records, which are easy to see online now, I looked for  military records, pension papers, etc.

I found an application for a pension by my great grandfather, John Monroe Robison. I read all the forms connected with this request. He was 78 years  old and evidently had to have two doctors examine him and give their opinions about his health.
He applied in 1906. Two doctors said he was feeble, weak and had a mitral valve problem as well as a hernia.  A witness stated that John could not do physical work. John stated he depended on an unmarried daughter to care for him. 

The papers required him to tell his military history during the Civil War. This man served in the Confederate Infantry for three years. I found his war records in Leon County, Florida where he was discharged. On this form he says he enlisted in Bainbridge, Georgia in 1862. He came home in 1865 and continued to farm his acreage in south Georgia. But he was denied his pension because he owned land and had paid taxes on it each year. 

In 1908, he applied again. He had given his land to his children. He could no longer farm and could not pay the taxes. He contributed only $25 a  year to his  upkeep. His doctors said he was feeble, weak and had a large hernia in his right side. He also had congestive heart failure.

This was the part that caught my interest. Congestive Heart Failure. My mother had CHF, my sister had CHF, my brother has CHF. Two other brothers died suddenly from heart attacks. My mother's mother died from a sudden heart attack. Now I learn that my great grandfather had congestive heart failure. 

Will I be like my father who died from pneumonia at the age of 88? Or do I have  the  genes of my mother's family? Will I ultimately deal with heart issues that cripple and cause suffering?

Finding this  health information in my great grandfather's records intrigues me. Now I want to know more about those people I never met but who passed down their genes to  me.
That information is not as easy to find online. I will continue to search for the story of their lives, but I will be acutely interested in their health and  how they died. 

So far, my cardiologist gives me good reports on my heart health. I get checkups every year, but I'm always a little worried each time I take a stress test or even an EKG. 

We  can't change our genetic makeup, but I want to know what I might expect so I can do my best to take proper care of myself. John Robison lived in a time before the many advances in heart care. Still, he lived a  long life for the time. In today's world, with today's medical care, he might have lived much longer. My brother, who has been diagnosed with CHF, now has a pace maker and walks a mile every day. He is in his mid-eighties and says  he is doing well.

From what I can tell by reading those forms, John Robison was denied a pension again in 1908. He died in 1910. 

Saturday, June 20, 2015

The Growing Generational Divide - Do you notice it?

Silas House, author, says what I have been saying for a long time. Read his article in the NY Times

What do you think about our generational divide? Do you notice what Silas House says in his article? What can we do about it?

Friday, June 19, 2015

Some of my favorite places and favorite people I visit often

Today I am sharing some things that I find interesting or think others will like. On my sidebar I have a long list of blogs and websites that I read almost every week. I subscribe to some like Eye on the Edge. One of my favorite bloggers is DJan who, like me, writes on two personal blogs. This lady is 70 plus, which makes no difference except that she has just retired from 25 years of skydiving. She lives in the beautiful north western part of our country where she hikes regularly and lives a good life. I was drawn to her at first because, like me, she has suffered some life tragedies, but has persevered and did not let things stop her from living.

I admit it. I am drawn to women who overcome tough times to live a life of their choosing. DJan lost both of her children. I lost my husband, my parents, and four of my siblings. I know what grief is about, but I also know from talking to mothers who have lost sons and daughters that the loss of a child is extremely hard to overcome. Read the newspaper article about DJan and her record making jump.

DJan is an excellent writer who touches her readers with her honesty and open thoughts on the screen. She writes once a week on Sunday mornings. I look forward to each one.

I discovered a website by a Western NC writer of children's books and stories, Judy Pierce, who uses a white squirrel as her main character. Ozette, the squirrel, lives in Farlandia with friends. Pierces's tales for children are written the way I remember stories when I was small. She has a page on  her website of nothing but photos of the rare white squirrel. Children love her books about Ozette. Judy's website is absolutely beautiful like an old fashioned story book.

A lovely French woman writes a blog Recollections of a Vagabonde, that takes me to many places, teaches me about cities and countries I've not visited with her professional photographs as well as her intelligent language. This blog is a feast for the eyes. She has been a world traveler since she was quite young and now she and her husband travel when they find a good deal, she says. She has lived in Georgia since the 1960s, but goes home to Paris as often as possible.

I discovered Vagabonde when she published one of my poems on her blog and used lovely old paintings and picture post cards in the presentation. What serendipity - she came upon a copy of my poetry book, liked a poem and found it worked well for her blog. You can find her blog listed under Links for blogs and websites on my sidebar. 

Sunday, June 14, 2015

June 14 – Flag Day and my wedding anniversary

I photographed the pictures in my wedding book and there is a glare on each one. 

June 14 is Flag Day in America. 
Barry and I were married June 14, fifty-one years ago, in the First Methodist Church in Albany, Georgia. I could not possibly forget my anniversary because flags are always flying on that day.

I remember being so nervous and anxious that I cried all morning. I could not quit crying no matter what. The more I cried the more I feared that I would be bawling my eyes out as I walked down the aisle.

Finally someone gave me a tranquilizer that calmed my jitters so I could go on with the wedding. I loved my wedding dress with the layers of lace and the mantilla over my hair. Mother and I found it in Moultrie, Georgia. On a school teacher’s salary, I had little money to spend and wondered if I would find a pretty dress, but the perfect dress was waiting for me and it had a very reasonable price tag.

My sister, Gay, was my maid of honor and Barry’s brother, Richard, was his best man. The day is still a blur to me. But once we were in the car and on our way to Gatlinburg, TN where we spent the most marvelous week, I was the happiest bride on earth.

Isn't my sister beautiful? She is helping put on the blue garter I wore. Every bride had a picture posed this way in the sixties. 

When I remember how young we were and how unprepared for marriage, the ups and downs we would face, the stresses of making ends meet on two small salaries, learning to live with someone who had habits different from mine, and getting to know the families we were now a part of, I am so grateful that my parents never interfered or tried to give us advice. We worked out our problems on our own. His parents seemed to be very happy for us, and my family had fallen for Barry early on. Why not? No one could resist him.

My sister, Gay, me, Barry and Richard Beall. Were we really that young? 
To me marriage was a commitment for life. “For better or for worse, till death do we part.” No matter how upset I became, I knew we could compromise and work things out. I never let the thought of divorce enter our conversations or enter my thoughts. 

Communication is the key to solving most disagreements, I believe. When two people love each other and want their marriage to work, if they can speak in rational terms, an agreement can be found. Each one must be willing to give 100 percent. 

Barry has been gone from me for six years, but his spirit is here all the time, in this house. Someone asked me if having his pictures around me didn’t make me sad. No, they bring me pleasure. They bring back wonderful memories. Making memories that live on when loved ones are gone is part of being human. If a photo brings tears to my eyes, that is Okay. To cry is to show the love we have for one who is gone. We can’t be afraid to feel love, to feel grief and pain. To live is to know joy and sorrow. 

In the picture above, we are dressed to leave the wedding reception at the church and start our new life together. What a life we had! If only that young girl had known what I know now, but she had to learn on her own that life will not always be as perfect as it was that day. She survived losses she thought she couldn't endure and difficulties of various kinds, but in surviving she grew stronger. She knew happiness she had never imagined she would experience. 

Sunday, June 7, 2015

What Came to me in Maureen's Writing Class

Maureen Ryan Griffin

Some of my poems, often the ones I like best, come to me in writing classes. A few years ago Maureen Ryan Griffin, author, poet and educator, taught a workshop at Writers Circle around the Table, my studio at my house. The theme of the class was food. We talked, read poems and wrote about food for three hours. What a great time we had. Maureen is such a delightful person and a great teacher. I had classes with her at John C. Campbell Folk School in years past and we have become friends over the years.

I've paid little attention to odes in my own writing, but Maureen asked us to write an ode to a favorite food.

I composed this in class so I didn't have much time to think about it. In my memory of what I used to enjoy and I don't get to eat anymore, I came up with fresh made butter. I buy butter in the grocery store, but it is nothing like homemade butter that my mother made. All the products we buy today have chemicals in them and they have artificial flavorings to fool us into liking them.
I miss the real thing and the memories of eating it came to me in this poem.

The title of the poem I began in the writing class is Ode to Real Butter. Of course over time I have revised and polished it. When the NC Poetry Society 2015 contest for light verse opened I decided to send this poem and see how it would be received. I didn't place, but received an Honorable Mention and the poem has been published in Pinesong an annual anthology of the NC Poetry Society which was founded in 1932. 

ODE TO REAL BUTTER                by Glenda Council Beall

No margarine or simulated spread
can match your taste, dissolving on my tongue,
spread over crisp hard rolls,
seeping into crannies of my English muffins,
melting into morning grits.

When I was a kid, you came like magic,
from milk fresh-squeezed from Jerseys,
skimmed cream, shaken in a quart jar.
Mother sang, come butter, come butter, come
butter come. Papa’s at the gate with a hot pancake.

Mother crooned, churned, and I knew
that soon the soft spread, washed
and salted, would appear in a crock,
would saturate hot biscuits on my plate.

Oh, Butter, you glow in melting glory
on my cornbread, softening my pancakes,
mixing with my sugar-free syrup.

I weep with longing for you, Butter.
You are a star. My taste buds adore you,
like a teenage girl adores that Bieber boy
with his browned - butter hair.

                -------from Pinesong, Awards 2015

I want to mention Pat Daharsh, a reader of this blog, who won first place in the Haiku contest and is published also in Pinesong. Pat has been winning competitions in national and international contests for years. Congratulations, Pat.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Keeping Old Towns Interesting

Sunday Morning Musings on Keeping Old Towns Interesting

I was a fan of Sunday Morning when North Carolinian Charles Kuralt moderated the show. I thought he was the best! But Charles Osgood has done well as his successor. I never miss it.

Today, May 31, was one of the best shows. By Design was the theme of the show and what a variety of stories on design. Savannah and Charleston were highlighted with stories about the differences and similarities of the design of these two cities. Coming from a town that destroyed many of the old buildings I knew growing up, I was delighted to hear that Charleston demands that new buildings be designed to fit with the historic architecture of the city. Of course there is controversy among those who want to build glass and metal business places and those who have the vision of the future of Charleston in mind.

We are still a fairly young country compared with most of the civilized countries of Europe. I love the look of their cities with their history told in the beauty of buildings, churches and cathedrals created hundreds, even thousands of years ago.

I saw recently an old building in my hometown, a place where I went to school when I was in fifth and sixth grade, had been left to fall into rack and ruin, and now it is too costly to restore to its original state. It will be bulldozed. That has been the norm in that town.

I support our citizens in Hayesville who volunteer to maintain our historic courthouse in the center of town on the square. The CCCRA works to acquire grants and raise funds in hope of one day making the building the centerpiece it once was and should be again. With funds the group hopes to make the upstairs, the original court room, into a community room. I feel our writing community and many other organizations will use that for events.

Downstairs the plan calls for retail stores and an information center for the area. I see this lovely old building drawing many people to this little town where people can learn about Cherokee history and life in the Appalachians as it was in the 19th century. 

We have a museum that tells these stories. It is located in the Old Jail building right off the square. An area that explains our Cherokee history has been created outside the museum. A walk down to the river takes the visitor to an Indian Mound.

On weekends during the summer, Hayesville, NC holds events with mountain music, food and handmade crafts. Next weekend we will have a huge group of antique cars surrounding the old courthouse as people come from far away to exhibit their special automobiles.

The Festival on the Square will fill the town on July 10, 11, 12. Our Netwest group will have a booth at this festival. The Clay County Progress published an article this week on what the future looks like for Hayesville.

Simple things could be done by store owners now to entice vacationers to come downtown during the week. I think something as simple as hanging baskets of ferns and flowers at the entrances of stores, shops and restaurants will make the casual visitor stop and see what is here. I know I am drawn to a town that looks cheerful and welcoming.

Quick Container Combo

 Big, big pots of brightly colored flowers at the doorway draw my eye to a shop. The sound of mountain music coming from inside catches the ear and the eye of a visitor. Clean tables and chairs outside a coffee shop or restaurant with a spot of color in the center begs me to stop in and check out the place. Joe’s Coffee House has created a welcoming atmosphere. Coffee with the Poets meets at Joe's.

Readers, what do you think? If you are a tourist and you drive into a mountain town, what would entice you to stop and walk around the square, check out the shops, stop and get an ice cream or have lunch? 

Monday, May 25, 2015

Among those I love, all of them make me laugh.

"Among those whom I like or admire, I can find no common denominator, but among those whom I love, I can: all of them make me laugh." — W. H. Auden 

I had been driving all day. My hip hurt, my knees hurt and I just wanted to go to bed. But, more than that, I wanted to see Susan, my niece, and her son, Coy. I seldom see them long enough at family functions to really talk, and I wanted  time to spend with Coy, now a tall, handsome, young man of sixteen. Susan has a new house in Tallahassee, Florida in a lush, clean resort area. 

We spent six hours together and we talked about both serious subjects and sad ones such as the passing of Coy's dad a few months ago. The teenager sat with his two great aunts and his mom and entertained us with his guitar, his self-deprecating stories that had us laughing out loud, and his videos on You Tube he had filmed. 

This evening we all laughed and told stories of awful teachers we had endured while in school, and shared successes as well. Susan is moving on with her life after the sudden loss of her husband, after losing both her parents within three months. She said she wept recently when going down the grocery aisle where she used to buy Miracle Whip just for Don. She prefers mayonnaise to Miracle Whip. Now she will no longer need to purchase Don's Miracle Whip. She laughed at herself for crying over this simple thing, but those who have lost a beloved husband will relate to this common feeling.  I understand so well how those little things bring forth a sudden rush of emotion when you least expect it.

And then Coy told about the time his dad gave her a huge jar of mayonnaise for Christmas, because she likes it. I like it, too. We discussed how, when we were kids, we made mayonnaise sandwiches when we came in after school. Simple, funny things we discover we have in common. That happens often with family members. It draws us even closer. I look at this grown up, mature woman who runs a business every day and now raises a son alone, and I remember when she was his age. She lived next door. I often watched her walking over the pastures and down the farm road, her long hair down her back. A tall, long-legged beauty, she looked like a magazine model.

Finally, Susan, my sister and I realized we had not had dinner so Coy ordered pizza. We ate at ten o'clock at night and laughed some more. I had been so tired when I left my room to go to Susan's new house, but when I left I was completely rejuvenated. I felt wonderful. I give laughter credit for my recovery.
Susan and her son, Coy

My niece, Susan, and her son, Coy White

Barry had a knack of making me laugh even when  I didn't think I could. I laughed so hard with Susan, Gay and Coy, that I came back to my room totally relaxed and ready for sleep.

What makes you laugh? Is there someone with whom you always find yourself laughing?

Monday, May 18, 2015

Old-fashioned Writer, Deanna Klingel

Deanna K Klingel
My friend and fellow Netwest member, Deanna KIingel who lives in the beautiful mountains of western NC, began her serious writing career after she and her husband retired. She is impressive as a writer and finds publishers who love her books.

In her novels for kids and young adults, even if the main character is a child, the books appeal to adults like me. Cracks in the Ice is a terrific story centered on a young girl who has her sights set on becoming a gold winning ice skater. But this girl's family is not the traditional family we know. She is from a Mafia type of family that controls and watches over her. The book is well researched, as are all of Deanna's books, and I enjoyed learning about the world of ice skating and the world of mobsters. 

Deanna's books about Avery, a boy who lived during the War Between the States or the United States Civil War, appeal to youngsters, and are the kinds of books parents want their children reading. The reader learns history and much more when he/she enters Avery's world. 

Deanna writes a mini-blog.  I highly recommend other writers read this blog to learn from Deanna's experience as an author and to those who want to learn more about her books. 

Her most recent posts explain her writing process and the changing world of publishing and marketing today. She is not one to self-publish e-books to get them out quickly to the public.
She calls herself an old-fashioned writer because it might take years before one of her books comes out. She  works through agents and publishers and she makes sure her manuscripts are polished to perfection.

Deanna's books should be in all libraries and in the schools. Parents don't have to worry about their child reading a Deanna Klingel book. She will not use offensive language. She likes her books to impart a lesson to the reader without being preachy.

Visit Deanna online and read one of her books. If you have young people in your family, Deanna's books made great gifts. 

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Spring in the mountains

In 1975 we built our dream house on the farm in Dougherty County Georgia. In 1995, we moved to North Carolina and left our beautiful home. We bought a small vacation house as an interim place to live until we sold our house in Georgia. We didn't expect to still be in the vacation house twenty years later. Although we did some remodeling, the little place here in the mountains is not nearly as comfortable and nice as the house we built down south. But we both loved the location and decided not to buy another bigger, nicer house. We decided the deck on this house was worth the price we paid for it.
Today I am sharing some photos of spring at my place. The first one is taken from my upper deck looking west.

From my upper deck looking west. This is side yard. Many dogwood trees reside in my yard.

Part of my container garden. See my front yard behind the banister.

 One corner of my deck is for my container garden. Pansies have done really well in this cool weather.
 I fill my spaces with geraniums each spring and summer. They are easy to grow and make me smile.

These red azaleas are the first thing you see when you enter my driveway. They have outdone themselves this year.

Looking down on my front yard from my upper deck. My driveway circles a heart shaped area. My heart is open to you when you come up to my house, to my studio, Writers Circle around the Table.  I hope to see you here one day.Red Azaleals; from the upper deck

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Grandmothers - I didn't know them until now.

Today is Mother’s Day. I read that the lady who promoted this special day for mothers came to regret it. She hated that it turned into a commercial day for retailers and not what she had hoped it would be.

In this post, I want to explore the lives of mothers that I never knew – my grandmothers. My mother’s mother had a typical old fashioned name, Malula Jones. It was shortened to Lula and that is what she was called most of her life. If not for a tragedy that befell Lula’s sister cousin, Ida, Lula would not have been my grandmother.

My grandfather, William Henry Robison first married Lula’s cousin sister. While pregnant she fell and lost her life and the baby. 

Soon after, William married her sister cousin, Malula Jones, and she birthed ten children, three boys and five girls. One of those girls was my mother, Lois, who named me Glenda Lou, after her beloved mother. 

My aunt Mildred once said to my mother, “You shouldn't name your child after Mama. She can’t ever live up to that name.”

I was exceedingly proud when Mother told me shortly before she died that I had never disappointed her, and I had lived up to my grandmother’s name. I just wish her name had not been Lula because I hated that name. When, after researching the Robison family line, I found out she had actually been named Malula, I was greatly relieved. How awful if my name had been Glenda Malula.

See the photo below of William Henry and Malula (Lula) Jones Robison.

My father’s mother was an exceedingly hardy woman who also raised a big family, ten children. Her oldest son died when he was fifteen years old. She worked on the farm after her marriage for almost twenty years. Her name was Sarah Brock, but nicknamed Sallie. Born in Leon County, Tallahassee, Florida she married Tom Council in 1877 or 1878, and they farmed land given to Tom by his father, John Cecil Council in Wakulla County Florida.

My grandmother, Sallie, had already lived a difficult life before she met Tom. Her parents died when she was a small child.  Sallie was placed in the home of a wealthy Jewish couple who adored her and wanted to adopt her. When she was a baby, the couple carried her and protected her so well they would not let her feet touch the ground. Sallie would have grown up with loving parents who gave her all the luxuries of life. But she had a step brother, Alonzo White, who heard of the couple’s intention to adopt the little girl. As he was her next of kin, he took the child and gave her to his aunt who already had a large family and little wealth. Sallie’s life became drudgery after that.

Having worked hard growing up, Sallie was used to persevering in tough times. Her youngest child, my father, Coy Lee, was born in 1900 around the time the industrialists from up north began building factories in the south where labor was cheap.  Sallie and Tom moved their family to the little town of Pelham, Georgia when Coy was a small boy. Tom and his older sons packed two covered wagons pulled by horses and the family walked most of the way of the two-day trip from Crawfordville, Florida.

They built a house with a large wrap-around porch just outside the village where houses were provided for workers.Tom's family didn't want to live in Mr. Hand's village. The house they built is still standing I believe. 

Although his family happily settled in and all went to work for J.L. Hand who owned the mill there, Tom did not like that life. He left Sallie alone with the unmarried children who were still at home and he went back to the farm.

Sallie often opened her house to boarders who needed a place to sleep and eat. That helped her make ends meet. Twice a year, her husband came up from Florida with a wagon loaded with cured meat and vegetables she could can for the winter. By 1910, Tom was ill and unable to continue to farm alone. He came to live and be cared for by Sallie. 

In 1911, April 18, Tom died and left Sallie a widow at the age of 49. She probably still had five children who were not married and lived at home. The three girls, ages 13 – 19, worked every day and gave their wages to their mother. My father, who loved his mother so dearly, was the last to leave the nest. No matter where he worked, he always sent part of his pay check to his mother back in Pelham.

Read more about the Council family in Profiles and Pedigrees, Tom Council and his Descendants 1858 - 1911 by Glenda Council Beall

For the last ten years of her life, Sallie lived with some of her children in Florida where they had made homes for themselves. She lived seventeen years as a widow and raised her children with good moral values, pride in themselves and with excellent work ethics.
I’ve heard that she was a “hard-shell” Baptist, whatever that means. I believe she lived by the Ten Commandments and my father, who grew up without his father, echoed his mother’s lessons. He taught by example what he had learned at her knee. He always tried to be fair in his business dealings. He believed in honesty in his work and his personal life. 

Family Photo - Sallie is on back row between two of her sons, Coy and Charlie. Little ones are her grandchildren.

Sallie was also known for her sense of humor. She loved playing tricks on her kids, finding ways to scare them. Then she laughed heartily at their reactions. I wish I had known her. I believe I would have liked her. I hope she would have liked me.

The two grandmothers I know the most about, Lula Jones Robison and Sallie Brock Council, are perfect examples of strong, resilient women of the early twentieth century. I am not surprised that my mother inherited those qualities. My sisters and some of my older cousins also have those traits. Without ever laying eyes on my grandmothers, I learned the values they respected. 

My mother, Lois Robison Council, holds the crown for the most loving and giving parent I have ever known. Because I had the best example of what a mother should be, I feel sad for anyone who did not have that kind of relationship. If the world was left to good mothers to run, I feel sure we would all live in a better, more peaceful world.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Cleaning Out the Office

I am happy that I can come into my office and work at my computer tonight without feeling overwhelmed by all the clutter that had accumulated over the past year.

With help from a great organizer and de-clutterer, I emptied about ten boxes and threw out three garbage bags of papers. We shredded more and have more to shred in the coming days. Sarah, a nurse, took one of her free days to dig me out.

Going through things always is bitter-sweet for me. One box we opened had contents of Barry's desk drawer. I was glad that Sarah was as careful of his things as I was and neither of us threw away much of what he had used in his every day life. When I found anything written in his hand writing, I still could not let it go. We agreed. One day when I am no longer here, someone will toss all of this and it won't matter anymore. But for now, he is so much a part of me and this house. His things belong here with my own.

We gathered up old cell phones and chargers that probably go to nothing I have here now and put them in a bag for recycling. We took some things I never use, but just don't want to get rid of yet, down to the basement storage room. We worked for five hours and emptied all the boxes, but my day bed in the office is covered with paper items that I still have to look at and decide what to keep and what to discard in the coming days. 

A few containers we emptied today. I hope I don't fill them again.

I am tired and my head hurts, but it is such a relief to pare down and try to cut the clutter as much as I possibly can. Sarah plans to check on me and remind me to complete this big job we started today. But right now, I am going to bed.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Sculpture by Gay Moring

I took the liberty of photographing some of my sister's sculpture
This is one of the most beautiful. Gay was a modern dancer in college. She has done the most wonderful pet portraits for me and for others. She sings  and has a lovely voice.
She was blessed with many talents, one of them is caring for others. 

Below, the nude bronze woman is another of Gay's works. My photo doesn't do it justice.             , 

This bust of a child's head sits in her living room and I enjoy it when I go to visit. She did all these from working with models.