I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." - Maya Angelou

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. 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Waiting for the Cable Man

I spent today waiting at home for the cable man. Many locals have satellite TV, but I fought for almost two years with Frontier and DirectTV because they insisted I pay them hundreds of dollars I didn’t owe. I made the mistake of buying a Bundle – telephone, internet and satellite television. When my signal on the TV became so horrible and Direct TV would not repair it for weeks, I stopped paying for it. Little did I know that Frontier collected the money and they paid Direct TV. 

When I refused to pay the TV part of my bill, Frontier, not Direct TV, cut off my television service completely. I came home from a trip and found I had no television service – just a blank screen. Direct TV agreed I didn’t owe them, but they could not help me because it was Frontier that cut off my service. 

And they would not talk to each other. Frontier told me to talk to Direct TV and Dirct TV said the same. Of course no one listened to me. I did the only thing I could do. I stopped paying my bill.

I will not go into the long fight, over a year, I put up with Frontier and Direct TV, but I did not pay money I didn’t owe. I ended up calling ClarkHoward for advice. A letter to the right person and my bill was finally corrected.

Today around 4:30 the nice man who works with Windstream Cable came and pulled a new line from the street up to my house. Now I have a clear signal again. Next week, another company will come and bury that line in the ground. 


I had received a phone call, a recording, last night telling me the technician would come to my house between 8:30 a.m. and noon on Wednesday. Great, I thought. I will be able to run an errand in the afternoon. At 2:00 p.m. Wednesday, I received another recorded message telling me of an update on my service call.

“The repairman will come to your house between 8:15 and noon.” 
It was already after noon – two o’clock!

I called the company home number. Although they always ask for my telephone number, they don’t have me listed with my phone number. I don’t know what number they have on file, but it is not mine. I have told Windstream this for years now, but nothing gets changed. 

When I finally reached a live person, she was haughty and unfriendly. I asked her to just give me an idea when and if someone would be coming to fix my TV today. From the recorded calls I had received, I was not sure what to expect. When she came back to me, she said someone would be at my house before 5 p.m.

While talking with the cable repairman, I learned that he didn’t even get orders for my problem until lunch time. I waited around all morning for nothing.

Mr. Cable Man said he had five calls in my neighborhood, and he believes these problems were all caused by the strong storms we have had recently. Lightning does a job on cable reception. He told me that Windstream now belongs to someone in a southwestern state. I’m not sure which one. He has never seen his boss. His orders all come on a cell phone given to the technicians by the company. He sends his responses to them electronically, as well.


I know most of you who read this, if you live in the United States, understand this is the new normal for dealing with corporate America. In big cities, I assume many people work for such corporations. But in small town America, where small and mid-sized businesses are the life blood of the area, most of us find it abnormal to work for a faceless voice that comes to you on a cell phone and all communication is done electronically. 

I wonder how long Windstream will continue to attract customers and keep employees. With no personal interaction between management and the workers, will the employees be loyal to the owner? People work better for people they know and like and who know them, respect them and recognize them for their efforts. Studies have shown that people work more for recognition than for money. 

I hear this from others who work for large companies such as Verizon and Frontier. The men who come  to my home are just as frustrated as customers like me. They talk about how those companies have cut back on personnel, making more work, harder work, for the few who are left. These guys catch the brunt of complaints when the services promised are not provided.

It seems to me that big companies are squeezing the life out of middle class America, the working people who struggle to keep a home for their families. The CEOs get richer and richer, flying their private planes, vacationing in one of their numerous homes, while cutting their workforce as much as possible. 

I am happy the nice repairman finally got to me. Now I can watch Nashville tonight.

Do you have any thoughts on the way large companies treat us, the consumers, and the people who work for  them? Let me hear from you.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Overcoming My Fears

Now that I live alone, I treat myself by going out where someone cooks for me. Eating alone in public has never been difficult for me. I read while I eat or I watch people and store up ideas for writing. 

If I have a friend dining with me in a restaurant, I hardly notice my food. I am zeroed in on my friend’s conversation. Curiosity is the major trait that drives me. Relationships and ideas grab my interest, so I ask questions. Some have told me that is unusual, but it is normal for me. I hunger for knowledge that I can share or can use to improve my own life. Today we have numerous opportunities to learn from TV and the Internet, as well.

My reading is more for learning than for escape. Years ago I read fiction only. The wonderful stories by writers who had great imaginations took me to worlds I would never see. In those books I met men and women who took chances that I would never take. I lived vicariously through those characters. In no way could I ever accomplish what the writers had their heroines undertake, but I could pretend that I did.

Like most people, I used to live with fear of failure. Shame ruled my life. I could not bear the shame of failing. I craved approval of my family and my peers. Often it seemed that everyone was watching to see my mistakes. I felt guilty because I was timid, shy and not courageous. It was a vicious cycle. Shame, guilt, shame, guilt. Much is being written lately about those feelings we all experience. Lois Hollis, a new friend, is publishing a book on that subject. 

Somewhere along the way of life, I overcame my shyness and stepped out bravely realizing that all of us have something that looms larger than we think we can handle. I cannot say I never give in to fear, but I work at rising above it. I took a risk when I opened Writers Circle, the studio in my home. But it was worth it. 

When I graduated from college, I lived at home in the same bedroom I had shared with my sister. When I left home it was to marry Barry. I never lived alone until my husband died in 2009. I have overcome the challenges that almost overwhelmed me those first few years. It took great effort and risk-taking to reach the place where I can say I am happy being alone.

What are your fears? What fears have you overcome?


Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Dana Wildsmith reading and singing - makes you laugh and sing with her



Delightful writer, Dana Wildsmith from Bethlehem, Georgia loves to sing as well as she loves to write. See her on this video. 


A reviewer says of her poetry book, A GOOD HAND,
"Great read on simple joys of life including seasons, dogs, and community. Dana has a true voice that sings, on and off the page!"


BACK TO ABNORMAL: SURVIVING WITH AN OLD FARM IN THE NEW SOUTH:

I purchased the book directly from Dana when she read at Writers' Night Out in Blairsville, GA, and I'm so glad I did. While it's true that it's theme is that of preserving, and not destroying, I honed in on Dana's wise advice to aspiring writers like me. I aspire to write about my family history and make it interesting to folks who don't know us. In Dana's words, like, "... Writers write to figure out the why of what is.", I found considerable insight into why I want to write, as well as how to go about it. I recommend the book as a writing handbook as well as a treatise on how to take care of our earth. Thank you to Dana for her sage advice. --- Ellen Schofield

A reviewer says of her poetry book, A GOOD HAND,

"Great read on simple joys of life including seasons, dogs, and community. Dana has a true voice that sings, on and off the page!"

The intertwined essays in BACK TO ABNORMAL: SURVIVING WITH AN OLD FARM IN THE NEW SOUTH spin out from author Dana Wildsmith's daily life on an old farm in the foothills of the north Georgia mountains, to the regional world of the ESL classes she teaches, to the national scope of her work as a writer and a teacher of creative writing.

The chapters read like a string of summer front-porch evenings with the author - talking about her past, her work on the farm, the people she lives among, and the eternal puzzle of how to make sure her time on this spot of earth continues whole, healthy and life-sustaining.

Environmental writer Jeff Biggers calls BACK TO ABNORMAL "a testimony to what we risk to lose."

Philip Lee Williams, a Georgia Author of the Year, says, "The rural world needs all the friends it can get, and it has here found the champion it deserves."

Writer & teacher Darnell Arnoult says BACK TO ABNORMAL is "a sharp and compassionate anthem and prophetic elegy to the pastoral standing ground against the hungry and devouring teeth of suburban sprawl." www.MotesBooks.com ~

Register for Dana's writing class, Words are All We Have, at Writers Circle on April 25, Saturday 10 - 1:00, by calling 828-389-4441 or emailing glendabeall@msn.com

Print the registration form found at www.glendacouncilbeall.blogspot.com 
Mail with your check to address provided.


Sunday, April 12, 2015

Preparing food for someone is the ultimate expression of love.

I never thought of that until I  heard Michael Pollen say it. This made me understand why I was always upset when I made a good dinner for Barry and he let it get cold or, worse, said he wasn’t hungry. I thought it was because I had labored in the kitchen and he was unappreciative of my efforts. Well, maybe that was part of it, but I also planned to eat this meal.

Maybe why I was furious with him was because I was showing him my love and he didn’t get it. I didn’t get it. I cooked dishes I knew he enjoyed. I wanted to please him and show him my love. Sadly, I could have made him a peanut butter sandwich and he would have been happy.

This idea takes me back to my mother who cooked three meals every day. We had eggs, bacon, grits and homemade biscuits every morning that I can remember. The eggs came from the nests in the barn. The bacon, in the early years, came from hogs raised on our farm. Mother stood at the counter and rolled out the biscuits by hand until she filled a large cookie sheet. I wonder how she knew how many flaky, ready-for-homemade-butter delights would come from that mound of sticky dough. Sometimes when Gay and I were little girls, she would make “baby biscuits” for us.

As soon as breakfast dishes were done, Mother began preparing dinner which was our mid-day meal. In summer my brothers were home and, with my father, worked in the fields. Mother felt such empathy for all of them and said she was grateful that she didn’t have to work outside as her mother and her older sisters had done. Daddy never wanted or expected her to do man’s work on the farm.

But she never stopped working at her job – feeding her family. She barely had time to make the beds and pickup around the house before she went to the garden to pick peas, butter-beans, or cut okra for the next meal. Once she had gathered the ingredients she had to make them ready to cook. Corn had to be shucked, peas and beans shelled and okra cut in little pieces. Tomatoes were peeled and sliced.

One of my favorite dishes my mother made was what I call South Georgia vegetable soup. The shelled peas and butterbeans went into a large pot along with okra cut into small slices. She added fresh tomatoes and corn cut off the cob. The soup came straight from the garden. She seasoned the pot with a piece of salt pork. She added black pepper and salt to taste. That was it and I salivate when I remember how good that was with her scrumptious cornbread made from basic corn meal, eggs, milk, baking soda and salt.

Of course soup alone was not enough to fill five working men. With that soup she would have ham or pork chops, mashed potatoes, and fried okra cooked and smashed into a soft mass seasoned perfectly. I have never mastered that dish. Because some of the family preferred biscuits to cornbread, she also made another batch of them. She didn’t have to put away left-overs. There were none.
She watched us eat and, I realize now, she joyed in the love she had spread on the table for us. What greater expression of her love for her family than to spend hours every day preparing that which we must have to live, to function and thrive in life?

When I was a young girl, I wondered how she could be so pleasant and happy. I thought she had a hard life. She seldom had nice things, or traveled, or met new and interesting people. She never had a day off.
Today I had an Aha moment when I heard Michael Pollen, the author, speak. She was doing what she wanted to do – cooking for her family. And that is why, at the age of seventy, after the aneurysm damaged her memory and she was not allowed to cook for Daddy and herself, she seemed sad and disappointed. Thankfully, Barbara, the housekeeper and helper, asked Mother to teach her to make biscuits, potato salad and other favorite dishes, and Mother could tell her. The memories from years ago surfaced. Soon Barbara was claiming my mother’s recipes as her own.

I didn’t learn to cook like Mother although I called her often for advice right after I married. Mother didn’t cook from recipes. She created her own and kept them in her head. Today I can do that, too. Some of my favorite dishes are my own creation.  But I don’t write it down so I seldom cook that dish again in the same way. 

Did you ever think that cooking was a  way of showing your love or is it just another chore?

Saturday, April 11, 2015

A Poem for My Brother

I was thinking  of my oldest brother, Ray Council, today. He died several years ago from complications of multiple myeloma, a  cancer that forms in the plasma cells. He fought it for three years. I'll never forget the day he and his wife, Gail, came to my house and told me they had some bad news. I couldn't believe it. He was the rock in our family. His bravery touched me. He never showed one bit of self pity. 

He was diagnosed too soon after his retirement. He and Gail had made plans to travel and enjoy life. I wanted him to have time and freedom to play, have fun, since he had always worked hard even as a young boy. He chose not to take chemotherapy that would ruin his quality of life. He had planned to go to China, and they did before he was too sick to make the trip. 


I moved to North Carolina, and he came up every summer for the festival on the square. We had wonderful visits with other family members who joined us. He became a big fan of a local group, Butternut Creek and Friends, and wanted to see them perform when he came up from south Georgia.

The times I cherish most are those trips he made, alone, to see me. We spent hours talking, sharing and planning my role in our family business when he was no longer here. Although I had worked with him in many capacities through the years, I'd not known how much trust he had in my abilities. 

I wrote a poem during the last days of  his life. I want to share it with my readers.

Early Morning Hope
                    for Ray

Fog like a band of cotton
obliterates the lake.
Gunmetal faces of mountains
float against a pale sky.
Naked arms of December trees
fade into the ashen scene.

Winter's late this year.
In the front yard, a red oak
clings tenaciously to leaves
that should have fallen long ago.

You still hang on, hairless,
face puffed from steroids
arms and legs, bones barely covered.
You question, wanting good news,
knowing you can only borrow time.

The clouds lift. We see more clearly
the silvery blue water on Lake Chatuge.
Truth hits us square in the eyes. 

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Solitude on Easter Sunday with only the Squirrels and Birds

True solitude is found in the wild places, where one is without human obligation.
One’s inner voices become audible. One feels the attraction of one’s most intimate sources.
In consequence, one responds more clearly to other lives. The more coherent one becomes within oneself as a creature, the more fully one enters into the communion of all creatures.
                                                                                                                    ---   Wendell  Berry
Wendell Berry (Photograph: Guy Mendes)


These words by Wendell Berry remind me of my father who said, “I’m closer to God when I walk on my land on Sundays than I have ever been in a church.”

Like Berry, my father loved the earth. He loved turning the rich dirt in spring and planting seeds that would one day produce plants that provided food for his family. My father enjoyed solitude. He could sit for hours, when he was older, in his chair out of the sun by the garage or in the shade of the 300 year-old oak tree beside our house.

I used to wonder what he was thinking about all that time he sat, smoking his cigarettes and gazing into space. He said once that at night when he had trouble falling asleep, he “made up” stories and that  helped him to drift off. He read western books by authors like Louis L'Amour and said those were the kinds of stories he created in his mind. I wonder if he might have become a writer if he had been afforded an education. 

Some people thought my father was not a believer because he did not attend church, but he once told me that he prayed every night that God would let him live until his children were all grown up and married. His father died when he was only ten years old. He was raised by a staunch Baptist mother.
My father also prayed to live as long as my mother needed him. He believed in prayer, and I like to think that when he walked over the pastures and through the woods on his farm, he communed with his God in a way that most of us could not understand. I feel sure he was thankful for his children and his wife whose love and support kept him persevering through hard times.

The minister at his funeral said it did not matter that he was not a member of a church. “Many good people don’t go to church. And I know your daddy was a good man.”

I  miss going to church, especially on Easter Sunday. I belong to a small Presbyterian church but have not attended in many years. A church on Sunday morning fills with more air pollution than any place in town. All the women and most of the men wear some kind of fragrance, perfume or cologne. The fumes from those chemicals used to make those scents saturate the air and I, having sensitivity to those chemicals, develop a serious breathing problem.

On Easter, many churches decorate with lilies across the altar. I would not last ten minutes in the sanctuary even if I am wearing my charcoal mask. In some states where the public is more conscious of the danger of these chemicals, churches have banned the wearing of  perfume. How nice it would be if the ladies and gentlemen in my little church, where Barry and I sang in the choir for many years, decided to become a forerunner in this effort to educate their members to the dangers of chemically scented products.

In the meantime, I will take time tomorrow, Easter, to sit on the sunlit porch high in the woods where birds and squirrels flit and scamper and, like my father, commune with nature and the wonder of this world I am so fortunate to inhabit. The air will be clean, crisp, and cool, and I will enjoy the solitude.
Happy Easter to all.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Old Age is a treasure-house of history - share it.

While reading The Gift of Years by Joan Chittister, I found a section I want to share with you.The Gift of Years: Growing Older Gracefully
“Old age is a  treasure-house of history – personal history, family history, national history, world history. But what do we do with everything an older generation knows in a culture that does not seek answers from that generation? Every elder in every community is a living story for the people to whom he or she will someday leave the Earth to guide as good, as better, than they did in their own time.
Family tales have always been the parables one generation handed down to the next to tell us who we are and where we came from. Funeral rituals, the interment of ancestors, became the art form that preserved the values and ideals of the past in special ways. Meant to remind the clan of their connections in both life and death, funerals were a tribal event. Telling the stories of those who passed away made the family the bridge to both past and future.
Even in our own times, in the not so distant past, the deceased were laid out in the family homes. But while it was prayer time for the soul of the dead in the parlor, in the rest of the house it was story- telling time for the living….In those moments children learned the history of their parents’ own childhood. Most of all, the young came to realize what stood to be lost forever in one last breath if the next generation did not take responsibility for maintaining it.”

 I encourage people to  write or record their living history, their story, even though the younger generation is not now interested in our stories. One day they will realize that our stories are their stories and they will wish they had listened. They will read our stories.

Recently a man told me he wants to write his parents’ story, but they are both gone and so were others who knew them.  He has no oral history or written history of his mother and father.

I spent ten years researching and writing a family history book. I published the book in 1998. Some of my siblings never read the book. Some of their children did read the book and found it interesting. After all these years my last living brother has been reading the book. 

I am happy I was able to record the stories of my grandparents on my father’s line and the lives of his ten children. Often it is not until a parent or loved one dies that the children begin to long for more knowledge about that person’s life. I can’t begin to count how many times I've heard the words, “I wish I had asked my mother or my father about what their lives were like when they were growing up.”

One man told me he doesn't have family and is not sure for whom he would write his life story. I responded that he has friends and extended family he is not close to now that would like to read his story someday. Our stories have value to future generations. As elders we pass on the family history to  those who will carry on where we leave off. 

As a genealogist, I know the thrill of finding written information about an ancestor or distant relative when searching my family tree. To find a book written by one of them would be like discovering a gold mine. I have no children, but I have a family with many, many stories that I hope to record for those who will want to read them one day.

Here are a few titles: The Day My Father was a Hero, Frog Gigging with my Brothers, The Council Brothers go to Dallas,  Pop-up Camping across the USA, and others. 

Do you have some unusual family stories you can share with others? Give us some titles to  ponder.