Sunday, September 27, 2009

Water, Water Everywhere

By now you've probably heard about the flooding in the Atlanta area. Here's how it was for us.

On Tuesday, the 15th, we got a little rain...less than 1/2". Our assistant pastor called and wanted to know if Jerry would be available the next day to help a lady in the parish who had to move some of her belongings from a storage facility in Decatur to her home here in Covington. He said he'd be glad to help. I went with him. So that was Wednesday, the 16th. I checked before we left home and it looked like there were a few green spots showing up on the radar, but I thought we would probably be able to get there, load up, and get back without too much trouble. With all of our drought years over the past decade or so, we're used to seeing blips on the radar that dry up before they get here. There was our open pick-up truck and one other -- also open -- and we loaded most of her things. It started raining lightly just as we were finishing packing. On the way home -- almost ALL the way home -- it rained as hard as it possibly could. Everything got pretty well soaked. I felt awful for her. I'm not sure how much of it she was able to save. She did have a fairly new mattress and box spring that had to go to the dump the next day. The person with the other truck went back the next day and helped her get the rest of it...but it rained that day as well. Still -- she was very grateful for the help.

Each of those days we got a little over an inch of rain at our house, but on the west and north sides of Atlanta they were getting much more than that. On Saturday morning we had planned to get up early and go encourage Jodi and Savannah as they participated in a one-mile fun run at their church. Since lightning is the only weather that will postpone a race, they ran in the rain. And we got there just in time to see them come it. We got another inch 1.1" at our house that day, but the deluges continued on the other side of Atlanta.

The system that was bringing all the rain was still around and we got just a 1/4" on Sunday. But by Monday afternoon things were getting serious. Some of the rivers and creeks in our area were under flash flood watches and warnings due to the run-off coming down from the north of Atlanta where there had already been flooding. Then on Monday afternoon we got about 3-1/2" of rain in about 90 minutes. Now we were one of the counties in serious trouble, too.

On Tuesday morning, Jerry and I were headed over to Covington. When we got to the bridge over the Yellow River -- about 4 miles from our house -- we were shocked to see how high the water was under the bridge. I asked him to turn and go down my friend, Amelia's, road. She lives just a short way beyond the river. Her house, as well as her father's and one of her daughters', are all on the left side of her road and well back and up the hill. On the right side of the road is usually a beautiful lake that is also their property. There is an earthen dam between the river and their lake. When we turned onto her road, we were surprised to see that the water was already over the road and rising. It was nearing the top of the earthen dam. And as we stood there with her and some of her family, we watched it rise over that dam and just keep coming. We were there about 10:30 in the morning and she said that when they left for work about 7:30, there was no water on the road. This little gazebo is on a walkway that goes from the shore of their lake to a small cottage on an island. Usually the gazebo is 5 feet above the water. Later in the afternoon, she said, the water was flowing through this gazebo and half of the walkway had been washed away. She said the lowest parts of the fence along side the road were under water, as well. She estimated that the water level inside the cabin was probably about 4 feet. She told us that in the 33 years she has lived in that house, she has never seen it like this.
Still, she and her family realize how blessed they were to still have their homes and each other. There are so many in our area that have lost so much more than that. It was amazing to see the power of nature close up and it is heartbreaking to see what it can do. But our thoughts and prayers are with so many of our neighbors as they begin the struggle to rebuild their lives.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Childhood Memories With Paste on Them

No...I'm not talking about eating paste in kindergarten. Not even talking about sniffing glue. I'm talking about wallpaper!

Recently, as we were tearing apart the living room and getting ready to do a major remodel, I was taking things out. The grand kids came over and were shocked. Standing there with their little jaws dropping open they asked, "Nanny! What are you doing???" I told them I was taking everything out of the room so daddy could build us a new fireplace and do some other work in the room. I told them it would all be different.

The decor at that time was largely a collection I had built of antique toys. I had even found a wallpaper border that had antique toys on it. I never realized the kids had paid attention to any of it except a few toys that they liked to play with. But when I told them the room was changing, Savannah said sadly, "But Nanny...I won't see the horse any more." I realized she had not only noticed the horse on the wallpaper border, but had become fond of him. Not too surprising, because she loves horses. She had just never mentioned it before.
Jerry thought I was crazy when I told him I remembered the wallpaper on my bedroom walls when I was in my youth bed. I told him it had children on teeter totters, etc. and it was in shades of pink and had vertical stripes. He gave me a stranger than normal look. And I also remembered that when Jessica was little she came out into the kitchen one day after getting dressed and said something like, "Ta-da!". I asked her why the enthusiasm, and she said she was dressed just like (and I forget the name she gave me). When I asked who that was, she led me to her bedroom and pointed to one of the several children on her wallpaper. She had named them all and made them her friends.

I realized then that those wallpaper memories are kind of special. So when we were stripping the wallpaper, I was very careful to remove a section of the border that had the horse on it. I put it in a frame and gave it to Savannah and told her she can now see the horse any time she wants. She was really delighted...and in thanking me, added, "And you got the dog, too!".

Monday, September 14, 2009


re-treat (ri tret') n. 1 a withdrawal, as from danger 2 a safe, quiet place 3 a period of seclusion, esp. for spiritual renewal.

Hmmm... I went to a quilters and scrapbookers retreat this weekend. But according to Webster, I wonder why we call it that. We do withdraw...but not from danger. As a group we withdraw from the duties, responsibilities, and loved ones in our lives that interrupt our pursuit of our creative hobbies and make accomplishing things difficult. As for it being a safe, quiet place. Well, let's just say it's very safe. We go to the Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center in Mansfield, GA. They have a huge, wonderful facility on 6,400 acres of natural wooded beauty. They have motel-style rooms and a large conference room where we can set up tables, ironing boards, a huge food spread and still have plenty of room to spread out and work. The quiet part of this definition, however, doesn't quite fit. There is no TV reception out there, but they have a big-screen TV that we can play DVDs on. We also bring our portable music and I'm still singing all the songs from Mama Mia in my head today. Definition 3 doesn't quite fit, either. Rather than it being a period of seclusion, we invite lots of good friends. This time 20 of us "retreated" to this wilderness together.

There were a few special things about the relationships of the group this time. Jodi and I almost always are there together. Me with my quilting friends, and her with her scrapbooking buddies. This time a good friend and one of the Batty Babes, Liz, who hasn't been to one of these in a very long time not only came along, but brought her daughter, Ellen, who is a scrapbooker, too. So we had two mother-daughter pairs. What's more fun than spending your weekend with your friends AND one of your grown daughters? Well...maybe the answer to that is spending it with a sister who is also a good friend. Another of the Batty Babes, Deanna, retired and moved to Charlotte, NC last year. She comes down to visit often and especially when we have something like this going on. This time she brought along a very good friend, Ilona, who also happens to be one of her sisters. Ilona lives in Columbia, SC, so they met up along the way and rode down together. We all enjoyed meeting Ilona and having her with us.

We were also glad to share some part of the weekend with a very good friend that most of us hadn't seen in a long while. Becky has been a nurturing care-giver for her husband, Robert, who has been battling pancreatic cancer for the past two years or so. He lost his gallant fight quite recently and went home to she was able to come and share the love of good friends and the soul-nourishing time for creativity.

But you can never find a time that meets everybody's schedule, so we missed a couple of the "regulars". Ardis never misses, but she was off on a great anniversary trip with her husband. And Pam was able to only squeeze out a couple of hours from a weekend filled with working and caring for her mother who is having some health problems. All in all, I would have to say that I agree with most everyone who said, "This was the best one yet! When can we do it again?"

Monday, September 7, 2009

Late Bloomers

While visiting in Florida several years ago, I fell in love with bougainvilleas. They are native to that climate and grow as large bushes in the ground. But we can't grow them that way in Georgia. I was very excited to see some small ones in pots in my local Lowe's this spring. They need lots of sun and something to climb up on. So I brought one home and got very busy making just the right spot on the corner of the front porch for it. I got a plant stand and raised a larger pot to rail height. I had Jerry run some fishing line to the top of the porch rail for it to climb on. And I watered it and watched it and waited...and waited...and waited. I was imagining a porch corner filled with these wonderful showy flowers. But the few flowers that were on it fell off and were replaced only by leaves. It was a healthy looking plant...but no flowers. And what good is a bougainvillea that has no flowers???

Finally, one day we were fertilizing things in the yard and Jerry had a little bit left. He asked what else need some and I told him to just put it in that pot. appears it was hungry! I thought there was enough food in the pots they come in plus the potting soil I had added to it -- but I was wrong. After that it started to produce the beautiful flowers I had looked for all summer. And now I am enjoying it immensely every time I go out on the front porch. Note to self: feed it!!!

Also...fairly late in the summer we were walking through Lowe's (we spend a lot of time at Lowe's) and they had these cute little pots of seeds for kids to grow. At only $1 each, I figured they'd be good to put in the grand kids' surprise boxes. We got a sunflower for Savannah and a pumpkin vine for Emery. Emery protested a little when we talked about planting his because he said it wasn't Halloween yet. His expectations are even higher than mine. But we planted the seeds in their little cups and put them in the window and then transplanted the little shoots into the ground. Since these children live in a world of instant gratification, they kinda lost interest for a while. But they were happy recently to see how their plants were coming along. Savannah was eating a cookie when we walked out to see the plants and she felt moved to share part of her cookie with her sunflower. I guess she realizes what Nanny doesn't.....plants need to eat, too!!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

An Annual Recharging

I went to the Women of Faith conference in Atlanta last weekend with the girls and few of their friends. It was inspiring, as always. The Worship Team starts off with such wonderful praise music that it gets your heart and mind aligned right away. Other music this year was provided by Stephen Curtis Chapman on Friday night and Mandisa on Saturday. Both shared not only their awesome singing talents and songs, but their very personal stories of struggle and heartache. All of the usual, wonderful speakers shared their stories as well. And the common thread through all the laughter and tears was their pain and their challenges. We all face some kind of hardship at times during our lives and these tender people are not afraid to get up in front of millions of others and share their stories. But it would be truly depressing if that's all they had in common and their attitude was one of "woe is me". They sure wouldn't draw huge crowds every weekend, would they? But that's not where it ends. All of our favorite speakers were there: Patsy Clairmont, Luci Swindoll, Sheila Walsh, Marilyn Meberg, and new this year was Lisa Whelchel (from the Facts of Life TV show). These women have a lot in common. They are all very talented speakers. They make you laugh and cry and have you totally engrossed the whole time they're speaking. As I've said, they've all had difficulties and they're not afraid or ashamed to admit to that. But the most important thing they have in common...and the thing they share most graciously with all of their strong faith in a living, loving God. In telling of their worst times, they can also tell how their relationship with God got them through it. And more than got them through...but made them better and stronger for it. This is always such an opportunity to have our faith recharged, and I encourage you to attend one of these conferences if you haven't done so before.