Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Quirky Chick Mix

Olive is still sitting on her eggs - it's been eleven days now so only two weeks to go to see what comes out of the nest.  Wonder what will happen when you take this:
and shake it up and mix it with this:
Olive's new beau
will you get something that looks like this:

photo of a mixed breed baby chick

and maybe grow up to look like this?
photo of a mixed cochin / polish hen
I'll let you know when (and if) they hatch.  The IF is because Olive has been known to sit on infertile eggs, but since I witnessed a brief romance, I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Oh, Who Are the People in Your Neighborhood - The People that You Meet Each Day

Neighbors - who are they and what are they like?  I loved hearing the Muppets sing about their neighborhood when my children were small.  I think I liked watching The Muppets as much as they did.  And Mr. Rogers sang about neighbors too - remember?  "Would you be mine, Could you be mine, Please won't you be my neighbor".   You just can't hear these songs and not want to sing along, but let me give you fair warning.  Don't start singing them unless you want to get them stuck in your head - you'll find yourself singing them at the oddest times.

The MacMillan Dictionary's #1 definition of neighbor is "someone who lives near or next to you".   Being from a rural area most of my life, we thought that people who lived within a five mile radius were our neighbors.  We've always had good neighbors in every neighborhood we've ever lived in - people that you love spending time with and when time permits sitting on the porch rocking and talking.  Now that our neighbors are less than a block away, we've found that we really like close neighbors.  My neighbor, Ken, feeds our animals while we are away and brings us delicious tomatoes from his beautiful garden.  This week, I'm returning the favor by feeding his cats.  My neighbor Linda stops by and picks me up for Yoga classes and other community events and she recently pulled into my driveway and cried with me while she broke the news that my cat Cello had been run over by a car.  We're so fortunate to have good neighbors - you always hear horror stories of the mean old grumpy guy in the neighborhood.
Oscar the Grouch

This week the word neighbor took on a whole new meaning.  We have two wonderful couples living on each side of us at the coast.  They're both retired and we all enjoy spending time together on each others porches - the men telling their fishing stories and we women sampling each others perfumes and talking about grandchildren.  We went down last week to prepare our place for the storm and came back home before the storm came through.   They stayed, but spent the night of the storm in a hotel in a town further inland and went back the next day to check on things.  Having a key to our place, they were able to assess the damage, and called us telling us that the five or six inches of rain had caused a leak and there was water on the carpet.  She said she would turn on a fan and dry it out so the water wouldn't cause any damage.  What a nice neighbor, don't you think?

But that's not the end of the story.  When I talked to her today, she told me that her husband had been up on our roof and made some temporary fixes in case it rained again before we got back. She had continued to run a small heater and fan and got things dried up inside.  Wow!  Aren't we lucky to have such good neighbors.

Now, most people would define a good neighbor as someone who is quiet and minds his own business. But those aren't the people we go to when we need help, are they?  We go to people like Ken and like Linda and her husband Richard.  And sometimes we don't even have to ask for help - people like Jimmy and Earline just step up to the plate and do what needs to be done.  When I thanked her today, she simply said, "I know you would do it for me".  And she's right - I would.

Sometimes we forget that the people sitting beside us in church or living next door have needs.  I tend to think everyone around me has perfect lives.  As I think about God’s goodness in giving me wonderful friends and neighbors,  I'll try to think of ways I can reach out and become a better friend and neighbor myself.

And who are the people in your neighborhood? Are they simply "the people that you meet each day"?  Or are they more like my neighbors who go way beyond the definition of the word neighbor?

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Good night Irene, good night!

When I was a small child in the early '50's, we had a neighbor living on a road that ran parallel with our farm.  As the crow flies, she was probably a quarter mile away.  Irene and Charles had no children of their own, so naturally Irene gravitated toward other people's children at church every Sunday morning and I was one of those who was the object of her attention.  Our church family was just that - a family.

The song, Irene, Goodnight played by the Weavers was being played on the radio a lot back then and since we didn't own a TV, the radio was our connection to the outside world - giving us a glimpse of life outside of our little farming community. You'll find on this link several versions of the song.  Just click the highlighted text and you'll hear the original versions. The one I remember was sung by The Weavers in about 1952.  I was fascinated with the song because I thought it was about our Irene and every night before I went to bed, I would stand out in back yard belting it out hoping that our neighbor could hear it.  She would stand outside and try to hear me singing it and on still, clear nights, my voice carried through the woods and down the valley and landed at her doorsteps.  I think I was about four years old at the time.

As most of you know, Irene was the storm that was weaving a pathway of destruction on it's journey through the Atlantic.  As she approached the North Carolina beaches, she weakened instead of strenthened as had been projected.  Our place was spared - we had a leak or two, but those things can be fixed. I know that she's not been quite so kind in some of the places she's visited today, but she has lost some of her force and maybe by the time she moves northward, she'll show a little mercy there too.  I didn't realize so many of my blogging friends would be affected by her, but after reading some of the posts, I found that quite a few of you have been on pins and needles this week also.  Remember to keep all those in the path of the storm in your prayers - even as far away as Boston will feel the effects.  

When I first heard that Hurricane Irene would be heading our way, I couldn't help but go back a few years and think about a little girl singing to the top of her lungs to someone she could not see.  So I belted out a tune for the storm Irene, who except for a projected path map was just as invisible to me as the real Irene was so many years ago.  I told her "goodnight Irene, goodnight - I don't want to see you my dreams".   My voice is no longer a child's voice and is screechy, scratchy and a little off tune.  But maybe she listened - just as our neighbor listened so many years ago.

Waves as they bash a pier in Nags Head on the Outer Banks of North Carolina

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Irene - the calm before the storm

Irene is approaching the North Carolina coast and should make landfall sometime Friday night or early Saturday morning.  We're praying for it to move on off to the East, but all projections show it to be moving slightly West.  We are here at the coast getting things put inside from the decks so that no flying objects will break the glass in the windows.  No one else in our neighborhood seems to be taking it seriously, but we feel that it's better to do it and not need to than to wish we had done it and didn't.  It's so calm and beautiful here today.  The sun is shining and a gentle breeze is blowing.  It gives you a sense of complacency - like nothing could disturb anything on these beautiful beaches.  The force of mother nature is awesome though - anything can happen as we all well know.

Our place is just south of Wilmington, North Carolina.  You can go to this link to track Irene.    The Weather Channel is really giving more coverage to the NorthEast since that area doesn't usually get an impact from hurricanes, but it will hit North Carolina first during it's strongest winds.  We will be getting out of here and heading back home Friday afternoon.

Say a little prayer for everyone who will be affected by this storm.  Things can be replaced, but lives can't.  Just keep moving to the East, Irene - you're not wanted around here.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


In late June, I thought I was finished with Olive stories for good.  Olive had disappeared after a run-in with a neighbor's dog and I feared the worst.  Gone were the sweet antics of a funny looking hen that had woven her way into my heart with her eccentric ways.  I had dedicated a blog post to her - Rest in Peace, Sweet Olive.  Those of you who keep up with the Olive stories by way of my blog posts knew my joy at discovering that she was alive and well and had only been chased away and was returned by a fellow named Ed - my hero.

Since then, she has had another close call - a run-in with a chicken hawk who apparently wasn't strong enough to get her off the ground.  Her silky feathers and long necked, awkward and unbalanced body proved too much for him to hold on to.  Those two encounters traumatized sweet Olive and she hasn't let me pick her up since the last one.   The trauma had caused her to quit laying eggs so I had given up on looking her nest every day.  She had been moving her nest every few weeks anyway so it was becoming more difficult to find where her new hiding place would be. 

When we came home from the coast this past weekend, she didn't come out to greet us from under the tree cover where she always hangs out so I started checking her nesting places.  There she was - in the same corner under the eaves of the house where she patiently tried hatching out her eggs back in April.  My readers remember the hatching of only one egg - baby Rube - a bantam - who didn't belong to Olive at all but she tried to raise it as her own.  Olive was a loner at that time - never getting near enough to the roosters for any hope of having a fertile egg of her own.  That's all changed now since the hawk encounter.  She's been seeking the security of "safety in numbers" and I've witnessed some close encounters of romance with Red Breast, our eight-year old Cochin rooster. 

I was tempted to take her off the nest and get rid of the eggs when I saw that she was determined to sit them again.  Broody hens are not easy to deter - they'll sit for days without even taking a break for water or food.  But now that we've been having some cooler weather, I decided to let her find out what it's like to be a mother of her own kind.  Not that she wasn't a good mother to the little bantam - she tried her best - but I would also love to see how a cross between her beautiful Polish Hen breed and the Cochin will turn out.   Besides, she's in a safe, protected place with our protective dog sleeping close by so I'll worry about her less there than in the hen yard where all kinds of predators have bothered them in the past. 

I'm hoping I can gain her trust again someday.  Maybe the reflective time sitting on her nest will make her forget about the trauma she has experienced in the recent months.  The joy and sadness that I've experienced with my animals lately have also influenced me to distance myself emotionally from them - not wanting to be hurt again.  Cello, my tough but sweet old cat, was recently run over by a car.  Maybe I need a time for reflection too.

There's a quote attributed to Jim Rohn, the philosopher / motivational speaker that says:  The walls we build around us to keep sadness out also keeps out the joy.   This is true.  Our animals do give us great joy - even though the joy is tempered with sadness when we have to let them go.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Am I my brother's keeper?

And the LORD said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother's keeper?.  Of course God knew that he had murdered his brother but He asked him anyway.  Was God just making a point?  It turns out that Cain answered God's question with a question - with a touch of arrogance and he was a liar in addition to being a murderer.  Am I my brother's keeper?  These words now symbolize the unwillingness to accept responsibility for what happens to our fellow man, or “brothers” in the broad sense of the term.

When my brother Joe suffered so many years of cancer treatments with no one to take care of him, naturally my sisters and I assumed responsibility for his care while he couldn't take care of himself.  He was our brother after all.  But how quickly would we step in to so intimately care for a stranger who had no one to care for him.  I think most of us would fall short of being our "brother's keeper" if faced with the situation of actually taking a stranger into our homes to care for them.  Nowadays, there are safety and legal issues that sometimes keep us at arms length of other people's problems.  I have been battling with those thoughts lately.  Where do you draw the line on what's helping and what's interfering?

Some of you may remember a few weeks back when I wrote about Fulton, an eighty-seven year old acquaintance we've known for a couple of years.  He sells produce at the open air market where we have our weekend business at the coast.  He doesn't live at the coast full time - just on weekends where he has a small second home.  At one time, he had many friends there, but one of the downsides of living to be so old is that you start losing friends who care about you.  He has family who cares about him back home , but they are having difficulty coming to terms with the fact that he needs more care than they are giving him.  He should not be driving - he falls asleep at the drop of a hat.  In recent months, he has gotten lost and ended up seventy miles off track from his normal way home and I suspect he may have had some small strokes in the last few months.  He forgets to eat and to stay hydrated in this incessantly hot weather we're having.  In other words, someone needs to take his keys away and make him stay home.  I know it's difficult for children of an aging parent to take on the parental role - they don't want to take away his independence. 

Saturday morning, I had quite a scare.  As soon I arrived at the market, I went over to see how Fulton was doing.  He had some customers for the grapes he brought to market, but I noticed a look of concern on the face of one of the women who was trying to buy his grapes.  I got closer and saw that he was very confused - not even knowing how to weigh the grapes on the scale.  He was just standing there with a glazed and fixed look.  I told him to sit down and I would take care of his customers.  After getting him settled down with a Gatorade, I called another friend who knows him better than I know him and asked her to bring him something to eat.  We finally determined that he had forgotten to take his medication and he had forgotten to eat breakfast.  He was insistant that he stay there until he sold all of his grapes.  I'm sure you can guess what I did?  Yes, I weighed his remaining seven pounds of grapes and  bought all of them.  You should have seen his face - he no longer had an excuse to stay.  

 By that time, we had given him something to eat and called his son back home who spoke to him and told him that they needed him at home.  As worried as I was about him driving, we hesitantly sent him on his way. His son called back later to let us know that he had made it home safely. I think his family is finally getting the picture - and I pray that they take charge of his affairs and either keep him home or make the trip with him.

It's so hard to know what's the right thing to do in a situation like that.  He falls through the cracks with Adult Protection Services since he's only a weekender at the coast.   Fulton is a kind old man who wants to continue to live his life to the fullest.  My hands are tied on what type of role I can play in being my "brother's keeper".  His family is ultimately responsible for his care, but I just wish they could make him realize it's time to relinquish some of his independence and let them take care of him.  I guess the only thing to do is to continue to call them no matter how uncomfortable it may be to let them know we are concerned about his safety and convince them that they should be too.  

Being our brother's keeper doesn't mean we have to assume responsibilty for their care, but it means we should care enough to do whatever is in our means to do.  Sometimes we have to get out of our comfort zone to do it.   But when do we cross the line?  When does our help become interference? 

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Bye, Bye, Miss American Pie - The day... my computer... died

You may not have noticed, but I haven't written a blog post in over a week -  my computer's life expectancy is nearing its end.  I know, I know, it's not fair comparing the death of my computer to such an awesome song.  The only thing remotely comparable is the line "ten years we've been on our own"- my computer and I - almost a decade with the same old faithful - and then it's not really a full ten years - only eight I think, so it's a stretch of the imagination even then.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

What's in a name? - finding yourself on Google

Have you ever typed your own name in the Google toolbar on your computer just to see what pops up?  I did it a couple of years ago and nada - nothing.  We have an unlisted phone number so I wasn't even listed in the white pages.  I felt like a nobody - I didn't exist.  Now that the search engines are reaching farther and wider, it's more likely that your name - or someone else with your name - will pop up several times when you type it into the toolbar.  My name is not a common name, so the chances of finding something about myself will be far easier than if my name were Jane Smith or Mary Jones.  There are really not a lot of Glenda's in the world and the odds of one of them marrying someone with my husband's surname are slim.  For instance, the white pages say there are only three people with my name in the U.S. and all three are in North or South Carolina.  Isn't that odd?  Maybe Glenda is a Southern name.   My name comes from my father's first name which was also his mother's maiden name - Glenn.

What made me even think about googling names was a recent genealogy quest.  You can type in a long dead relative's name and it's likely that it'll pop up on ancestry.com or some other genealogy website.  If you have a birth date to go along with it, it will narrow it down even further.  It can be frustrating if you don't know much about your family, but I'm fortunate that others in my family before me were diligent about researching our family when it was done the hard way - courthouse records.  Wouldn't the internet have made it so much easier for them?

Google and other search engines have put the world at our fingertips.  They've made the encyclopedias we pored through as children obsolete - and dictionaries - I don't even know where mine is anymore.  

Today I typed my name in Google just to see what would come up now.  Not much, but I am there.  The local papers did a "Meet your Neighbor" featuring me this summer - Lancaster News and Carolina Gateway.  Several of my blog posts show up.  A short story I wrote in a Writer's Digest contest was there.  Even a health question I asked about not being able to do a certain yoga pose showed up.  Wow!  I'm famous - or maybe it's infamous.  Even Olive is famous.  When you type in Olive and her chick Rube, several of her stories show up. 

Oops, that "Meet your Neighbor" issue has my age for all the world to see!  How do I unGoogle myself?  Oh well, no one ever said being famous would be easy.  Type your name in that Google bar - I'll bet you're famous too.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Stopping on a Whim and Simple Pleasures

When I started this blog, I had no idea what I was going to write about so I simply called it Life Happens since that covers about anything under the sun.  I figured that would give me a bit of writer's liberty, a phrase I made up - you know, like "poetic license" - a freedom to deviate from my normal writing style from post to post.  I've written about an odd assortment of things, but all of them easily fall under the category of "life happens".  It's a safe subject.  Life does just happen.  It brings us joy,  it brings us sorrow - sometimes at the same time.  It's relentless - it doesn't wait on anyone or anything - and it passes by all too quickly.

My blogs have been pretty wishy-washy at times.  Some days I write about thought provoking things - other days I try to find the funny side of life.  For a while there I wrote about road trips we made traveling the back roads of South Carolina -  throwing darts at a map, jumping in the car and making a day trip to a town that we've never been before.  We do an awful lot of riding going to and from the coast and we see places we would like to stop, but lately we've always been in a hurry and we pass by those places saying we'll do it next time.

Yesterday, on our way home, we noticed a sign that we've seen a couple of times before.  On the spur of the moment, we decided to follow the sign and we ended up at an old Victorian house for a Sunday lunch buffet.  It's called the Hagood House and it's a Bed & Breakfast right in the heart of Aynor, South Carolina.   We were in for a pleasant surprise!  You walk into the large foyer of the old house and follow the smell of food to the kitchen and dining areas.  There were no signs displaying the cost of the food anywhere and since we were already in the place, we didn't even ask.  There's three or four banquet size tables set up and several tables for four.  We sat at the end of one of the large tables and chatted with another couple at the other end.  We got there just ahead of the Sunday church crowds.

The food looked wonderful.  They had a beautiful salad bar and the buffet serving line had fried chicken, ham, mac & cheese, green beans, mashed potatoes, peas, rutabaga, fresh corn, and a few other things I can't remember.  The veggies were not the "out of the can" style that you get in so many restaurants - the macaroni and cheese was the homemade style - not a box mix.  We thought it couldn't get any better, but that was before we saw the dessert bar.  All the desserts were homemade.  There was a blueberry cream cake, banana pudding, chocolate eclair, pineapple upside down cake, and a couple more that I didn't get around to.  Oh yes, and ice cream to top it all off.   While we were eating, we could hear in another room the sweet sounds of singing - three men playing various musical instruments were singing some old fashioned gospel music and were quite good.  Now it was time to pay up.  A mere grand total of $20 for an excellent meal - well worth it!   I talked to the owner and she told me that they are open Monday through Friday for breakfast from 9 - ll a.m. and at lunch from 11 a.m. - 2 p.m. She said if we're ever driving through during those times, just give them a call thirty minutes prior to our arrival and they would have our food ready for us.  We'll definitely do it the next time we're going through.  Every Sunday they have their lunch buffet from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m.

We decided we want to go back sometime and stay for the night.  Take a look at their website. The rooms are beautiful and the food is out of this world.  Give them a try sometime if you're ever in the town of Aynor. http://www.thehagoodhouseinn.com/  I'll guarantee that you won't leave hungry.

It's the little things that give us pleasure in life - sometime we just have to stop long enough to savor them.  When good things are happening in your life, write about it and share your joy.  It makes life a little more fun for all of us.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Warm Embraces or Photo Faces?

Last week , my post was about how we can get a glimpse into a stranger's life by blogging - we can immediately be reading what someone in Japan wrote only seconds before.  That post led me to think about how amazing it is that technology has allowed us to show things we love to our friends all over the world in a matter of seconds.  When my first daughter was born in Germany in 1968, it was at least two weeks before her grandparents here in the states were able to get a glimpse of her from pictures we had to take and develop and then send home to the States.  We didn't have a phone, so it was days before they even knew she was born.  Now when a baby is born, just a simple click of the camera on your cell phone allows friends and family to see the baby seconds after it is born.  It allows us to capture sweet moments with our children and send them immediately to grandparents.
My granddaughters several years back
My grandson's first day of school.

I can blog about Olive, my sweet little polish hen, and people on the other side of the earth can see her the minute I post her photo. 

I don't have to leave the comforts of my home to have a new book at my fingertips by downloading one to my e-reader - in just a matter of seconds.  I can do my Christmas shopping with a touch of my fingertips - which I really did last year.  A friend of mine skypes her daughter in Hawaii and feels like she's had a nice face to face visit with her, albeit, without the hugs that should go along with a visit.   But she does get to see her, see where she lives, see how she lives and can determine how she really is by looking into her eyes - something you can't do by reading a letter.  It brings the world closer.

I'm sure all of you who use the social media Facebook have had similar experiences to mine - connecting to friends you haven't seen or heard from in years.  It's so easy to maintain friendships now.  You know how when you change jobs and vow that you'll stay in contact with each other, but somehow you drift apart?  It happens to all of us.   Then if you want to renew that friendship later, you have to try to find a phone number, make the initial first contact, arrange for a meeting date and place and try very hard to work at continuing the friendship again.  I recently connected to some high school friends and a former workplace friend on Facebook.  After commenting back and forth with them,  reading their profiles and seeing their lives through their photos, you tend to pick up on where you left off much easier than awkward first meetings.  You can make a lunch date by simply posting on their "wall" and you already know a lot about them before you actually meet face to face.

With my crazy schedule, I don't get to visit with my sisters as much as I would like, but because of email contact, I know that one of them had new windows installed in her house this week and another left today on a mission trip.  I know that a niece has retired recently, built a home in Belize and is now moving there.  I have seen the progress of her house being built and I will be chatting with her on Facebook weekly.  I can easily keep up with my nephew and his family in Myrtle Beach and have enjoyed watching through photos as he has become a grandfather himself.  I am hoping to get my nieces and nephews who live on the west coast to join our family on Facebook so we can keep our relationships growing.

I remember how hard my parents worked at maintaining contact with friends and family far away.  Maybe that's the problem about my generation and the generations following mine.  We haven't worked hard enough to keep in contact with those we love.  We're depending on social media to be a substitute for a visit.  We're missing out on warm embraces and handshakes, drinking sweet iced tea on porches, sharing family meals together and the  important eye contact that is the glue to holding us together.  I think of the sweet memories I have of visiting a relative we kids called the "laughing woman",  visits with relatives in the NC mountains drinking in the cool, fresh air, and family meals served around overflowing outside tables of mouthwatering food - and I get nostalgic for the good old days before technology.  Will we fondly remember our Facebook chats?  Will a photo album be a viable substitute for holding a newborn baby in our arms?  Will the email "letters" survive like the sweet handwritten love letters we sometimes find hidden away in our attics?

Technology has opened up new worlds for me.  It's given so many of us a voice that we didn't have before. It's a wonderful thing that we've made contacts that we would have never made without it.   But we shouldn't get complacent about the "technology contact" we have with each other.  I think all of us should work a little harder at holding on to the tried and true methods that worked for our parents - handshakes, hugs and physically being in the lives of those we love.  What do you think?