Friday, August 10, 2018

Jottings - GRITS

No, not the food that hardly anybody except a Southerner thinks IS a food! Being a born-and-bred Southerner, now of the Appalachian persuasion, I am partial to grits as a side dish to scrambled-just-right eggs, bacon, and buttered biscuits and almost any kind of jelly, jam or preserves. But the word, GRITS, all caps, is explained in the below column. I love the South and never had any desire to live elsewhere. So you can call me most anything that isn't nasty, but meant to be derogatory and I don't mind. I'm comfortable in my Southern skin and proud of my family and heritage. I certainly don't mean other places are not worthy of being proud to be from, I wish everyone the same feeling of rootedness and pride. I wrote the short piece below several years ago. I would really like to know the origin and veracity of the Grandma story.
GRITS
Since I was born and raised in rural Georgia, I guess I might be a Georgia Cracker. I’ve lived in Northeast Tennessee far longer than in my native state though so I guess I’m a Hillbilly Georgia Cracker. I like to think maybe Tennessee is in my genes. My mother used to tell us a story (probably apocryphal) about her mother, my Grandma Vera, who was supposedly born in Tennessee somewhere around Chattanooga. The family migrated to Georgia maybe around the late 1800’s or early 1900’s when Grandma was a tiny baby. Traveling along a river, perhaps the Chattahoochee, either the small family was on foot or the wagon overturned and Grandma fell into the water. Bundled up as babies were then, she was fished out safely and the journey continued. Grandma grew up and bore thirteen children of her own, my mother being the oldest. No one I’ve asked can vouch for the veracity of this story, but I like it. I love all of the USA and would like to visit more of it than I have up to now. But I’m proud of my Southern heritage (mostly) and do not wish to live anywhere else. Being female and one of a family with five GRITS, you could say I’m a Hillbilly Georgia Cracker GRITS! I like acronyms. Below are three of my favorites.
"YANKEE"
Y'all Ain't No Kin to Everybody Else
"YAARTEO"
Y'all Are All Related to Each Other
GRITS
Girls Raised in the South

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Friday Jottings-Precious Gift

Sometimes a writing prompt readily brings a subject to mind that you're eager to write about. That was the case with the below column. I wrote about the joy of being closely involved with the birth of a great-grandson, my second. Both are so dear to my heart. Unfortunately divorce happened, and affected them, but they are resilient. Through Mom's remarriage, a stable homelife, a baby sister they love and are protective of, they are thriving, doing well in school. I've just returned from a week's visit with them, so the precious gift column seemed appropriate for this week, though a day late!

Precious Gift

The writing prompt said write about what happened in your life a year ago. Easy. I became a great grandmother for the second time. A chubby boy child came into this tired old world. Before that July day I’d only seen his image on bell-shaped ultra sound screen and pictures. Still incredible to this hopelessly older generation woman, the images showed clearly that he was a boy. His tiny heart beat strong and regular on the monitors. We, his Mommy, Daddy, Grandma and I, loved him already. Since he weighed nine pounds, Mommy was very ready for him to make his appearance. Older brother, Tyler, two-years-old, not so much, though at first he didn’t pay much attention to the new baby, Connor.

Though nine pound babies are still, well, babies, they are somewhat easier to hold onto than five-six pounders. I say somewhat because not only bigger, he was and is, a strong one. Anyone holding him needed to stay alert or he would wriggle and escape. In an incredibly short time he learned if he raised his arms straight up, he could slide right down to the floor and crawl away. Let a door be left open on the other side of a room and an adult must sprint to reach it before him. If there were an Olympic baby crawling event, this child would win, hands and feet down!

Tyler had a sunny disposition as a baby and is a mostly happy toddler. Practically within days Connor was giving a wide smile to anyone who entered his field of vision, and still does. He doesn’t like to be thwarted though in his race for freedom and lets everyone within earshot know it. He didn’t really grasp his first birthday party a few days ago, but he scarfed down most of a big slice of the beautiful cake his Mommy baked. Of course, he wore much of it and a quick bath was in order before gifts could be opened. One day, he’ll understand that he was the precious gift for all of us.

sylvia@sylvianickels.com

Monday, July 23, 2018

Monday Musings-Tree Hugger

It's now several years later than when I wrote the tree hugger column. Some opinions and beliefs change as we live and learn on this road of life. But on this subject I haven't changed. I'm still a lover of trees. Though I live in the real world and know that sometimes they have to go. As when I had to have the spruce tree I loved chopped.
Those of us who travel to Johnson City and environs on a regular basis have appreciated the wider and smoother road, itself necessitated by more traffic, which necessitated loss of trees. I suppose it is the price of progress and human convenience.
As I drive the roads in this beautiful area of East Tennessee I often try to envision how it looked to Daniel Boone and the early settlers. Unending forests it was, now their remnants contained in the the National Forests around. I'm thankful there are several within easy driving distance, though must confess I seldom get to or through them.
Tree Hugger
‘Tree hugger’ is often used to describe someone in a derogatory manner. I don’t fully agree with that as I consider myself somewhat of a ‘tree hugger’ in the sense that I think trees have great value. Most people know, or should, that trees and vegetation ‘breathe’ carbon dioxide, poison to humans, and they ‘exhale’ oxygen, essential for human life. If there were no trees on earth could humans survive?
A few months ago I penned my observations on the ‘necessary evil’ of lopping off tree branches that overhang power lines. That particular instance of lopping seems to have been not necessary since most of those lopped trees have now been completely cut down in a road widening project. In the interest of fairness maybe whoever ordered the lopping didn’t know if the roadwork would proceed as quickly as it did. I’ve been surprised myself at the speed it has progressed.
As a side note, damage to the road and frequent traffic slowdowns have caused me to use the Interstate more than I did between Kingsport and Johnson City. I don’t really like to travel Interstate highways.
On a personal note I have, with reluctance, had to have a tree on my property cut down. A Norway spruce began dying about three years ago. It was a young tree when we bought the house and I loved it. I kept hoping it would come back but this year it produced not a single green needle. Looking at its barren branches grieved me. Having a tree felled is not cheap but if a storm had brought it down it could have hit a corner of my house, which would have probably cost me more. So it had to go.
I feared my two nearby crepe myrtle trees might be damaged but they escaped unscathed. A couple of sprouts are growing at their bases, which I hope to transplant later. They won’t replace the spruce but their prolific hot pink blossoms cheer me.



Friday, July 20, 2018

Jottings from the Past - Priorities

Tho I wrote this piece some time ago, it still applies to my life.The two 'p's of a writer's life - priorities and procrastination. Yours truly is a casebook example of both! When I really get into something I must force myself to stop when something else just must be done. Laundry? But I still have a pair of pants clean enough to wear again. Cook something because I'm hungry? That's why God made sandwiches! Ah well, I'm still here trying to determine what has the highest priority.
Priority Paralysis
Is priority paralysis a symptom of modern life? Surely not. Was life so regimented in the past that people knew exactly what to do, when to do it? I can’t believe it. Farmers surely had to choose sometimes whether to plow the back forty or mend the roof before threatened rain. In today’s world, we have so many choices that sometimes we feel unable to make a choice. At least I do. The biggest reason I have a problem with choices is that I tend to over-extend
myself. As a result I am pulled in a dozen directions on how to spend my allotted twenty-four hours per day. Maybe I’m paying for my past sin of criticizing people who spend hours watching mindless sitcoms on television or at the computer playing games.
Now I spend hours doing volunteer work on the computer that I would rather be using to polish or create a piece of my own writing. I enjoy doing the things I do, updating websites, answering email questions and sending out announcements, searching for speakers. Most likely if I wasn’t doing things for others I would find way less productive ways to procrastinate. Writers are experts at procrastination, after all. The only thing that motivates writers, sometimes, is a deadline.
The thought crosses my mind that I’d better keep learning new things and attempting to create as long as I can. Because it’s pretty likely the years ahead of me are not as lengthy as the ones behind me. When you’re teaching yourself, the learning curve can be quite steep though – and time consuming.
On the plus side, since I’m retired from a regular job I can set my own hours, for work and sleep. So I tend to stay up late, very late sometimes. If these columns were time-stamped most of them would reveal that they were written in the wee hours. My friends know this, unfortunately telemarketers don’t and wouldn’t care if they did, so friends don’t call too early in the morning. But even if I’ve been up all night, I welcome hearing from friends. They inspire and encourage me and very often they break my logjam of priority paralysis.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Jottings from the Past

Welcome to Friday's Jottings from the Past on Post Oak Chronicles.
I'm going to do my best to do a different one every Friday. We'll see how long that lasts, knowing full well what a procrastinator I am.
I was encouraged to do this by a new/not-so-new friend who presented a program last week at a local writers group meeting. Meaning I'd met her once a year for several years at a writers conference. Her name might be Donna and she might be a professor at King College in Bristol, Tennessee! If you see this, thank you again, Donna!
She talked about blogs and posting regularly on them being such a chore. During lunch I mentioned to her that I wrote a short chatty, family-friendly column that lasted four years for a small local weekly (no longer published) a few years ago. She told me I had a veritable backlog of blog posts! And she was right.
So I'm going to start off with posting one of those with maybe a few comments on Fridays. And also that I'm changing the appearance of the blog, still working on that. Tune in next week, it might be entirely different!
This first Friday's Jottings is a column I did on inspiring people, of which there are many in this old world, believe it or not.

Inspiring people
aren't necessarily famous or prominent. They can be, but aside from a various sized circle of personal friends and acquaintances, well-known people inspire at a distance, you might say. However all of us, I hope, know people who inspire in our own circles. Either because they are the doers of inspiring deeds or just by keeping on putting one foot in front of the other in spite of being hindered by obstacles we might feel would have put us down.
We all probably know people for whom illness has been an obstacle. Once I knew a woman, a neighbor, who became paralyzed from the waist down after an automobile accident several years before I met her. Afterward she was confined to her bed for the rest of her life. She had been engaged but broke it off, refusing to allow her fiance to be bound to a disabled woman. She worked daily from her bed, providing the only telephone answering service in town. Her life inspired able as well as disabled people in much the same way that Joni Erickson Tada, paralyzed in a diving accident at eighteen.
Others also do their inspiring deeds out of the public eye. One person I know is generous with her time and talent for preparing delicious food for others’ special occasions, weddings, anniversary celebrations, etc. Another spends little of her money on herself. She gives monthly not only to members of her family but to other individuals around her with fewer resources, to an organization that helps injured returning soldiers. People like these are my inspiration.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Spring!

Spring, almost, again! For me, in more ways than one. The winter has been long and gray, as far as writing goes. But personally there were some real high points. A new edition of my book, Disguise for Death, released by Wild Rose Press in December, was gratifying. But the major blessing was being able to spend a week with my precious great grandsons in North Carolina through the Christmas holidays. Their great grandmother on their mother's side, who lives next door to them, graciously invited me to stay in her home so I would be close by and not have to pay a hotel bill. I promised to send her some of my books, which I finally got done this week.
Unseasonably warm weather in East Tennessee caused jonquils and Bradford pear trees to display their spring finery early. Since the temperature has dropped and even snow flurries reported, maybe other spring blossoms will wait until their proper time to show!
The sunshine hinting of spring to come did lift my spirits so I've become somewhat less of a sloth. Who knows, maybe I'll even get back to being productive?