Wednesday, April 27, 2011

On the Go!

You were always ON THE GO. Still are.

You are no longer navigating HOPS OVER THE FENCE.

Now we're talking

Your life at Oxford is chock full of interesting people
and mega-doses of intellectual stimulation.

But we all know where your heart is fully planted.

Jill & the kids taken on Easter Sunday
(Can you see that she's nine months pregnant? Probably not.)

Anyway, dear son, congratulations on another birthday

. . .
as well as the upcoming DAY of BIRTH
scheduled for Friday!

Hugs, Mom


Friday, April 22, 2011

At Home in Georgia

Why did I go to Georgia?

Well, it was the warmest place I could get to for $78.

Yep. That was the cost of my flight. Scan this site regularly if you love bargain basement flying.

Then, the car was $15 a day.
Bid on PRICELINE for the Economy Class, never more than $15 on your first bid. You'll usually get the car.

When you arrive at your destination, ask for a free upgrade and they'll often give one, because they run out of the cheap cars.

Another great deal: I got a Day's Inn room in Dahlonega, Georgia for $30 flat a night.
Use and sort by price. Sometimes beats 'em but not often.

Why Dahlonega? It's at the base of the Appalachians. I'll explain what took me there in my next post.

In the meantime, see the view I got from my $30/night room.

When I opened the door and saw that amazing picture window, I squealed with delight!
Naturally, I had expected a rat hole.

The view was worth $1oo a night, even tho it was a regular Day's sort of place in every other respect.
I stayed there for the majority of my trip.

Soooo, I justified spending my last three nights in B&Bs. I selected ones that were in real plantation manors.

My first night was at "The Colonels Plantation" in Athens, Georgia.
Both the husband and wife are retired colonels. Colonel Mark took my photo just before I headed off to church.

This spread was the Fair Haven Plantation in Arnoldsville, Georgia.

What a joy to sit out on the balcony, listening to a banquet of bird songs that were completely different than Utah bird songs.

With encouragement from my generous host, I hung around for most of the day, absorbing a bit of paradise.

Holly Court Inn was my last stop in Washington, Georgia.
In this sweet town, many manors date back to the 1700s, including the first photo in this post.

I highly recommend all three of these B & Bs. They exceeded my expectations . Additionally, my hosts provided me with the fascinating histories of their homes and communities. Two of them played a role in the Civil War.

I probably look like a loner in the photo below, taken at the Washington B & B.

Actually, I wasn't alone. My host joined me at the breakfast table and we chatted about racial issues in Washington where there are approx. 2000 whites, 2000 blacks. Basically, he believes that people have learned how to get along much better than they did 50 years ago. Phil was old enough to KNOW.

Since forever, I've wanted to attend Southern African -American service, both for the unique, intense preaching style and the fervent gospel music. This trip was my opportunity! After asking around, I was led to the Springfield Baptist Church in Athens, which was established in the 1800s. Wow! What an amaaaaazing experience!!! See the church's history here.

FOR THOSE INTERESTED IN THE EXPERIENCE: I was the only Caucasian attending the Springfield Sunday service, but I was treated as a long-lost family member, hugged warmly by at least two dozen members of the congregation and the preacher himself. The music was indescribably beautiful. The call and response, praise and worship style of the traditional Negro gospel music is so full of emotion. The choir or sometimes a single vocalist started the hymns and then the congregation would sing the refrains. Many worshipers rose to their feet, swaying their arms, and even dancing in place. The minister at Springfield gave a rousing sermon. Here's a bit of the history of the "Negro Preaching Style" which perfectly describes my experience at Springfield: "The black sermon is stated in the vernacular, with inflection and timing so musical that many have compared it in style to improvised jazz. Much of the sermon is improvised. . . . This (style) is assured in part by the congregation, which answers the preacher verbally at every opportunity, creating a call-and-response pattern, which often builds to a frightening intensity." (Reference - here.)

The South isn't called the Bible belt for nothing. And there are still "Revivals" in Georgia.

I found this sign at the entrance of a cafe.

Can you read the small print which states that the Revival would be FOUR DAYS LONG?!

Most Southerners are Baptists and their churches are everywhere, but other Christian sects DO exist.

I only saw one Episcopal church and it was distinctive enough to get the street behind it named thus:

The streets in Georgia were named BEFORE developers got that honor, so they usually carry a bit of history. Like this one:

Don't know this particular bit of history, but one could venture a guess.

Vestiges of bygone times are rusting in overgrown vineyards . . .

Many of homes from the 1800s are still occupied and still show loving care.

Just about every home has a front porch with rocking chairs.

Even the not-so-nice ones:

However, there's a different genre of home, up in the "hollers" of the Appalachians:

Do you notice that the first trailer is attached to the home? They gave up the effort with the second one.

Okay. This is a crummy photo.

I got spooked because some hound dogs started barking at me just as I was taking this shot.
I drove away rather quickly, anticipating a shirtless guy with a beer can in one hand and a shotgun in the other.

There are lots of hound dogs in Georgia, because hunting is BIG.

When I saw this sign, I thought "Boar? Huh?"

Well, apparently the Conquistadors brought over boar in the 1500s and they still roam wild in Georgia.

Photo courtesy of
Possum hunting is a favorite Southern pastime and this little cafe proves it.
When I entered, I realized that I simply couldn't eat there. However, I bought an ice cream to be friendly.

I passed on the Poss-umm, and chose to eat at Big Chick.
Yes, two very big chicks were frying up chickens, a more common main dish than hamburgers at "fast food" diners.

The fried chicken was a whole lot better than KFC. It was served with okra or fries, you choose.

BTW, here's a little highlight from the Big Chick's menu board:

"GIZZADS" is the Southern way of pronouncing (and spelling in this case) "gizzards".

I absolutely LOVED the dialect! Especially the way they'd say "You'll come back now!"

Another Georgia specialty is boiled peanuts. You see the boiled peanut stands along the the country roads around the state.
If you're a genuine Southerner, you eat them shell and all!

Sorry to drag you through such a long post. That's why I'm saving my Appalachian adventure for the next round.

In the meantime, two parting shots - both advertising Coke using different venues.

First in Hapeville, near Atlanta:

Finally, this one, taken near Lexington, Georgia:. Don't you love the matching red roof?

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Southern Hospitality

Not only did the churches of Lumpkin County welcome me to town of Dahlonega . . .

. . . the LOCAL RESIDENTS themselves have been giving me a pretty fine welcome, as well.

You would think I was the ONLY person from west of the Mississippi to ever go to Lumpkin County!

I've been introduced to people, right and left, as "Miss Ginger, all the way from Utah."

Southern hospitality is ALIVE and WELL, let me tell you.
I've had more supper invitation since my arrival in Georgia than I'd received in the last six months at home.
Here I'm a special commondity. A foreigner!

Yesterday, I wandered up through the Appalachian Mountains in my rental car
with the sunroof open and windows down, letting in the fresh air.

Have to say, those mountains are more like rolling hills to folks who live in the Rockies.
Quite lovely in their own right.

Little family farms and ranches dot the countryside. Lots and lots of them.

Tractors which we'd call "antiques" are still in use on these little bitty family operations.

There are plenty of really old churches up in the "hollers", like the one below.
This is Cane Creek First Baptist Church,
established in 1866.

Cane Creek's cemetary was quite fascinating.

Many of the headstones were of Confederate soldiers.

Southerners still honor those grave sites with the Confederate flag.
They also fly Confederate flags in front of their homes. The Civil War isn't quite over in Georgia.

I have been entertained by the meal options here in Georgia. Different grub than I get back home:

Today I chose the crawfish with fried pickles and I wasn't disappointed.
A meal to remember. BTW, they tossed on a mess of collard greens and okra as freebies.

These Southerners are courteous people.
Even the country hillbillies - folks who can't properly conjugate verbs - have manners that would put sophisticated Californians to shame.

That includes the children.

At the motel, a six year old introduced herself as Lila and then asked my name.
"Ginger." I said as I stooped down to meet her eye to eye.
She smiled and speaking in a thick Southern drawl, she remarked,
" That's a right purty name, Miss Ginger. It fits you cuz your a right purty lady."

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Georgia in Bloom

A $78 flight deal inspired me to catch a plane to the Deep South where the dogwoods are blooming.
Back home, my crocuses are covered by a blanket of snow . . . Grrrrr.

The greatest American story tellers came out of the South:

Mark Twain, Harper Lee, Margaret Mitchell, Fannie Flagg, Maya Angelou, Eudora Welty,
Flannery O'Conner, William Faulkner . . . and those are just the once at the top of my brain.

I decided that it's high time I get some real CONTEXT for this rich southern culture
which is vastly different from my Utah pioneer heritage.

Add to that lofty desire, it's WARM here. Like, no boots, coats or even sweaters.

I plan to tour those old plantation manors and three will provide me lodgings,
at a total outlay that's less than a modest hotel for one night in NYC.

Will I meet any granddaughers of Ms. Scarlett O'Hare at a debutante ball?

Probably not, seeing how Scarlett really came out of Margaret Mitchell's creative brain.

And, let's face it: if they did exist, they couldn't be any more luscious than my own daughters,

wh0 could've passed for Southern belles, headed off to a debutante ball.

Both Leah and Kelty wore the same lovely lavender dress, two years apart, for their high school proms.

And what a promenade they had!
As their names were read over the loudspeaker,
they dramatically descended the steps of the old county courthouse.

Mind you, all that took place in the Rockies.
Now theses gals have husbands and babies and Big Girl Lives.


Last night I dined on fried alligator.

It requires lots of chewing, let me tell you.

I decided it was the best thing I've eaten so far.

(Okay. It was my first meal.)

Hey, here's a SHOUT OUT to MJ and T who are keeping the home-fires burning.

More coming.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Spring ???

"Awake, thou wintry earth -
Fling off thy sadness!"

April hath put a spirit of youth in everything."
William Shakespeare

My Lovely Lassies responded to the seasonal shift with exhilarating enthusiasm.

The rediscovery of GRASS, even with the absence of green vibrancy, beckoned them out-of-doors.

They tossed balls, leaving their coats littered around my living room.

It seemed like SPRING was really on its way.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

This morning I woke up and here is the scene which greeted my eyes, taken from the bedroom window:

The yard which had served as a perfectly delightful playground for my lassies looked like this:

Yep. There was snow. Then sun. Then snow once again.

Below - taken @ 2 p.m. today taken from my living room window, looking south.

"April is a promise that May is bound to keep."

Well, that particular promise was definitely broken on this the 2nd day of April.
May seems like the far distant future.

Good thing my goddaughter came home for the weekend,
two lovely friends in tow.

Their laughter cheered me greatly.

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