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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Enjoying Rabun's Baby Bruins!

Enjoying Rabun's Baby Bruins! 

In contrast to my recent Rabun ramblings and jam-packed weekend trips, this visit was much more laid-back and relaxing! I stopped at Annie's on my way in, and got the last container of pimiento cheese! WOOT! 

I followed a wild turkey up my road, unloaded my car, then settled down with a book. I glanced down just in time to see a mama bear with two cubs disappearing around the corner of my house. I only had time to snap one blurry picture of the babies! (I missed the mama bear.) 

Monday, I did some leisurely research, with the help of the Rabun County Convention and Visitor's Bureau for the overnight adult trip I'm leading to Rabun County in October. I went to Andy's Trout Farm for the first time in probably 40 years! Good memories of fishing! It surely is beautiful there! On the way back, I stopped by O'Sage, in Dillard, for some fresh and delicious local corn, apples, eggplant, tomatoes and honey!

When I got back "home," I was able to watch the mama and baby bruins exploring in my yard for several minutes before they disappeared into the forest! AMAZING! 

Low tire pressure prompted a visit to Wiley Tire & Automotive on the way to lunch with my neighbor Susie, before heading back to Fayetteville. They added air to all tires, made sure the warning light was off, and sent me on my way with no charge. 

Lunch was at Fromage  A triple salad plate, topped off with THE BEST DESSERT I CAN EVER REMEMBER! Their chocolate peanut butter pie is the perfect marriage of the two flavors! The piece was HUGE. Suzie and I split it, and there was plenty to take home for Ed and me to split again! 

Fall is definitely in the mountain air in the mornings. I am looking forward to a return visit this weekend!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Southern Hospitality at the Blue Willow Inn!

Southern Hospitality 
at the Blue Willow Inn! 

UPDATE: I am in the process of launching a new website that will be a resource for finding and sharing family traditions. Please sign up to be notified when it launches!
Thank you!

44 Belles and Beaus from First Baptist Peachtree City enjoyed a wonderful Southern Buffet today at the Blue Willow Inn in Social Circle.

There was a bountiful array of food, including a soup and salad bar, fresh Southern Vegetables and side dishes, a variety of meats and fish, breads, and desserts. (I enjoyed vegetables, soup, biscuit, dessert and sweet tea today!) Blue Willow Inn meals are "all you can eat," and some in our group went back more than once. (I won't name names!)

 Some of our group enjoying the food and each other. 

Here I am, with friends, in front of the gift shop overlooking a lovely pond.

Enjoying the breeze and the rocking chairs after lunch. Note the lemonade and lemon water for guests (cart at bottom left.)

Ted Montesano and His Magic Keyboard (phone 404-573-9080) prompted some of us to do some spontaneous "aerobic exercise" after lunch!

Ted Montesano plays "I'll Fly Away!" 

For more photos from the Blue Willow Inn Today, click HERE. 
A good time was had by all! 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

V.V.B.C Have a Little Faith by Mitch Albom (Online Book Club)

Vicarious Virtual Book Club
have a little faith by Mitch Albom (Online Book Club) 

NOTE: Spoiler alert! This is an overview of the discussion from the monthly book club meeting of the Sister Chick Book Club, Peachtree City, GA. If you intend to read this book, and don't wish to hear details about its contents, stop reading now!

Debbie Slowik was last night's facilitator. There were thirteen members present. This is the first book in a long time that everyone liked! Debbie prepared by doing a lot of internet research, and by watching videos of Mitch Albom online. Debbie shared interesting insights and discussion questions from her research. (Here are two videos from Mitch Albom's Official Youtube Channel, and a link below them for a third video.)

Mitch and Henry
Mitch with the Reb (Rabbi) and Henry (Pastor)

Link to Mitch and Henry on Today Show, the Day Before Henry Died

In Mitch's words: "His (Rabbi Albert Lewis, known as Reb) request plunges me back into the world of belief, a world I had left behind. I am drawn back to my childhood congregation and my old hometown—a suburban temple in southern New Jersey. At the same time, I am led to a poor, inner-city church in downtown Detroit—where I live now—with a hole in its roof where the rain and snow fall in. It is run by a former convict turned pastor, Henry Covington, who does his penance by taking care of the homeless.
This is a story about believing in something and the two very different men who taught me how. It took a long time to write. It took me to churches and synagogues, to the suburbs and the city, to the "us" versus "them" that divides faith around the world."

Debbie pointed out that in most every interview, Mitch Albom mentioned two things. One: Mitch was very overwhelmed when his Rabbi asked Mitch to do his eulogy. Two: Babies enter the world with their fists clinched, thinking they can grab hold of everything. However, we die with our hands open, because we know we can't take anything with us. She felt that those two things must have been very significant to the author. One of the video clips above illustrates the second. 

In Mitch's mind, Reb, his Rabbi, as a "Man of God," was only slightly lower than God in spiritual significance. Reb was the only Rabbi Mitch ever had. When Mitch moved away, he retained membership in his childhood  Synagogue. Mitch continued to travel home each year for the High Holy Days. Mitch maintained his traditions, but gradually was distanced from his childhood faith. Mitch had married a Christian, and they celebrated holidays from both traditions, but the rituals they observed didn't have deep meaning for Mitch.

Mitch was drawn to Reb's joy and peace, observing that "he didn't know many people at peace." Mitch was intrigued by Reb's "always celebrating what Reb called 'our beautiful faith.' "

We discussed reasons why Reb may have asked Mitch to do his eulogy. Several admitted to thoughts that Reb might have wanted Mitch to do it to boost Reb's status, because Mitch was famous, but that was given little credence, because of Reb's unpretentiousness. More people believed that Reb wanted to bring Mitch back to his faith, and Reb knew that Mitch's influence and involvement in Reb's service would impact lots more people in a positive way than having someone less well known deliver the eulogy.

Sister Chick Book Club members who read early versions of this book, did not know that Henry Covington had died. It was a revelation to a number of people that a chapter with Henry's farewell and eulogy were added as an Epilogue in the paperback version which many of us had read. 

Everyone loved Henry's miraculous victory over a life of drugs and crime, and how he lived out his faith by helping others who were "down and out," struggling with poverty, homelessness, drugs, etc. We discussed the validity of Mitch's skepticism about Henry's sincerity, and how Henry's steadfastness earned Mitch's respect. 

Reb's wisdom, humor, and dedication to family and congregants appealed to everyone in our group. Debbie mentioned many of Reb's significant thoughts, and others jumped in with their favorites, as well. 

Favorite quotes from the book:

“Faith is about doing. You are how you act, not just how you believe” 

"It's the blending of the different notes that makes the music." 

"The secret to satisfied and be grateful." 

“It is far more comforting to think God listened and said no, than to think that nobody’s out there”

"Lord, I've done x amount of good stuff on earth. I have tried to follow your teachings and to pass them on. I have loved my family, I've been part of a community. And I have been, I think, fairly good to people.
So, Heavenly Father, for all this, what is my reward?
And what do you think God will say? ...
He'll say, 'Reward? What reward? That's what you were supposed to do!'"

"When you come to the end, that's where God begins."
It gives you a peaceful feeling.

“You're a man of God, too, everyone is.” 

"my answer here, too, is yes, there is something. But friends, I'm sorry. Now that I know, I can't even tell you"

"If you could pack for heaven, this was how you'd do it, touch everything, take nothing."

"I think people expect too much from marriage today" he said. "They expect perfection. Every moment should be a bliss. That´s TV or movies. But that is not the human experience. Like Sarah says, twenty good minutes here, forty good minutes there, it adds up to something beautiful. The trick is when things aren´t so great, you don´t junk the whole thing. It´s okay to have an argument. It´s okay that the other one nudges you a little, bothers you a little. It´s part of being close to someone. But the joy you get from the sam closeness - when you watch your children, whan you wake up and smile at each other - that, as our tradition teaches us, is a blessing. People forget that. Why do they forget it? Because the word "commitment" has lost its meaning. I´m old enough to remember when it used to be positive. A committed person was someone to be admired. He was loyal and steady. Now a commitment is something you avoid. You don´t want to tie yourself down."

"The most inspirational man I knew only reached his potential by helping a child reach his."

That kind of love- the kind you realise you already have by the life you’ve created together- that’s the kind that lasts.

"There was a sermon where he brought a squash and a piece of wood, then slammed each with a knife to show that things which grow quickly are often more easily destroyed than those which take a long time"

"But I realized something as I drove home that night: that I am neither better nor smarter, only luckier.  And I should be ashamed of thinking I knew everything, because you can know the whole world and still feel lost in it.  So many people are in pain - no matter how smart or accomplished - they cry, they yearn, they hurt.  But instead of looking down on things, they look up, which is where I should have been looking, too.  Because when the world quiets to the sound of your own breathing, we all want the same things: comfort, love, and a peaceful heart."

"God sings, we hum along, and there are many melodies, but it's all one song - one same, wonderful, human song."

"After the Israelites safely crossed the Red Sea, the Egyptians chased after them and were drowned. God's angels wanted to celebrate the enemy's demise. 
God saw this and grew angry. He said, in essence, 'Stop celebrating. For they are my children,too."  

"I am in love with hope"

A couple of people, including Debbie, our moderator, had have a little faith more than once, and said they got even more out of it a second time. I can certainly believe that, as I was reviewing the book for this blog entry. This is a book I will continue to recommend. It's a very quick, but profound read. 

Thanks, Debbie! Any comments? Y'all just jump right in!  

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

V.V.B.C. (Online Book Club) Sarah's Key Movie Review

Vicarious Virtual Book Club
Online Book Club
Sarah's Key--The Movie

I'd like to recommend the movie, (and the book,) Sarah's Key, by Tatiana de Rosnay. It portrays a little known chapter in Paris' history. Some of the members of our Sister Chicks Book Club went to Atlanta today, to see Sarah's Key, since we had previously read the book as one of our monthly book selections. I rate it an 8 out of 10.

I thought the movie rendition of the book was wonderful. The director and producer did a great job translating the book to film. The actors did a good job. Often, movies don't capture books to my satisfaction. This movie surpassed my expectations.

We all liked the movie, and afterward had a brief discussion about why the movie isn't in many theaters. The conclusion we came to is because it is partially subtitled. There was a lot of English spoken, since the main female character, present day, is American. However, since the story takes place in France, there are portions of subtitled French dialogue. There was not too much subtitling, so it was easy to follow.

The story revolves around the movie's namesake, Sarah, a Jewish girl living in Paris with her family during World War II. This is a fictionalized account of events that took place in Paris in July of 1942. The underlying story is about the government of France, and the French police, collaborating with the Germans in rounding up Jews during World War II, to send them to camps. The Vel' d'Hiv was an indoor cycle track in Paris. Approximately 7,500 men, women, and children were taken from their homes and held in the Vel' d'Hiv for five days without adequate water, medical, or bathroom facilities. Sarah and her family were among them.

The fate of Sarah and her home form the framework of the story. The movie moves very effectively back and forth between the present and the past. Go see Sarah's Key, and let me know what you think!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Relishing Rabun! (Rabun County, GA)

Relishing Rabun!

On my way into Clayton (in Rabun County, GA), I stopped at my “go to” place for caffeine (Coca-cola, never coffee!), bathroom breaks, and wi-fi: Micky D’s (McDonalds!) Then, I picked up the August issue of Georgia Mountain Laurel magazine, at the magazine’s office in downtown Clayton. (You can now read the magazine online by clicking HERE. )

I’d seen an article in the Georgia Mountain Laurel’s online version about the Orianne Society, which is an organization dedicated to conserving reptiles and amphibians in the wild. Having never heard of them, I called to see if they are open Saturdays. Upon finding they are not, I stopped briefly by their organization’s headquarters on 441, across from the United Community Bank. I spoke with some very nice people, and saw several venomous snakes, a venomous Gila Monster, a tortoise, and a majestic Eastern Indigo snake, which is listed as “threatened.”

I called Annie’s at Alley’s in Lakemont to see what time they closed, and to make sure they had some pimiento cheese. I slid in, just before 5, to pick up bread and pimiento cheese. I don’t care much for hot and spicy foods, but Annie’s pimiento cheese has a nice “kick,” and is almost addictive! All their sandwiches and soups are good, as well. Annie’s is now open on Sunday afternoons, starting at noon!
Be sure to try the pimiento cheese!
While having a snack at home, and enjoying the long-range view of the beautiful mountains of Rabun County and beyond, I happened to look behind me, and saw a baby bear, about the size of our puppies, playing in the grass! I’m estimating it was about 30 pounds. (Our property adjoins National Forest land, and has bountiful wildlife trails crossing it.)

Baby Bear!

My friends, Jean Jones, and her daughters, Kelly and Shannon arrived about 9 p.m. for the weekend. We caught up, and then had a “midnight snack,” which included more of Annie’s pimiento cheese!

First thing Saturday morning, I saw a beautiful sunrise! When everyone else got up, we watched wild turkeys and deer. Hoping for another bear sighting. No luck! We went to Tiger Food Mart and split a biscuit and cookies, to hold us till lunch. Tiger Food Mart is where I get my "sweet tea" caffeine fixes! (Sweet Treats and Antiques was closed for vacation. I was disappointed, since that is my favorite dessert place!
My "Mountain Cathedral" (with thanks to Dan Fogelberg for the term.)

Next on my regular agenda: Goats on the Roof. Shannon and Kelly earned their Goat Ranger Stickers by feeding the goats. Kids of all ages enjoy feeding goats!
Kelly and Me

The Jones Girls with a Goat Friend!

We crossed over into South Carolina, to go to the Chattooga Wild and Scenic River. We walked down to watch rafters and kayakers at Bull Sluice. Jean and the girls walked down to the beach and rafting put-in point. We worked up an appetite for lunch at the Dillard House, which was our next stop! I can't believe we forgot to take pictures there! Shannon went crazy over the Butternut Squash Souffle and biscuits!

Bull Sluice Rapids on the Chattooga Wild and Scenic River

After lunch, we stopped by Sylvan Falls Mill for some freshly ground cornmeal. I bought blue cornmeal to try! We continued on to the lake in Black Rock State Park, where we walked off some of our lunch, on the mile-long trail around the lake. I enjoyed taking wild flower photos.
Sylvan Falls Mill Grinding Machinery

Lake and walking trail in Black Rock State Park

We stopped in at the Foxfire Gift Shop, where I saw my friend, Laurie Brunson Altieri. Laurie is back with Foxfire, after living in Virginia for 35 years. She was one of the "Foxfire kids" in the 70's, and worked for Foxfire after college for a couple of years, too. Laurie is a great story-teller, and I know she’s an asset in her new job! She really whetted our appetite for a tour of Foxfire’s 22 reconstructed historic buildings! We didn’t have time to complete the self-guided tour Saturday, but I can’t wait to go back to explore some more!

We finished our day with some "rest and relaxation:" reading, napping, hot tubbing, and wildlife sightings! Everyone decided to turn in early, in anticipation of another fabulous day in Rabun County!

Sunday morning, Jean awakened me a little after 6:30 with these exciting words: “There’s a bear outside!” I jumped up, handed Jean my camera, and told her I’d go tell Kelly and Shannon. We saw a fabulous sunrise, and watched a fairly large male bear exploring our yard for almost an hour!
"The morning sun is shining like a red rubber ball...." From a song by Cyrkle.
It was really redder than it looks!

Medium Sized Male Bear 
After the bear left, since we were all wide awake, we decided to head out for breakfast at the Cupboard Café in Dillard. We all enjoyed our bountiful breakfasts, and were glad to have started our day early!

On our way from breakfast to Wal-Mart for some necessities, Jean spotted a sign for The Kudzu Factory in Mountain City. We were intrigued, so we stopped. We enjoyed the artistry of Joleen Oh’s and Cleve Phillip’a woven pine needle and kudzu creations. We sampled white chocolate Kudzu Candy and I bought some kudzu blossom jelly, which I love! Joleen and her mother also make beautiful cards out of kudzu paper!

Joleen let us in to the Promenade Arts and Craft Mall in Mountain City, located behind the Kudzu Factory, so we could peruse the wonderful treasures inside. The Promenade is located in Mrs. Rodgers’ warehouse, which for many years housed a mail order craft kit business. While I was growing up, Mrs. Rodgers was my grandparent’s neighbor across Johnson Street.  

After Wal-Mart, we visited one of Rabun County’s many waterfalls for some photo opportunities. After Shannon got into the falls, I got in with her! Then, Kelly and Jean joined in the fun!

The “Jones Girls” got to see bears twice on Sunday, and after they left, I got to see TWO baby bears with a male bear! I was stunned by how quickly baby bears can climb trees! What a blessing to be able to see such magnificent creatures in the wild!
TWO baby bears!

Here is a link to a previous blog about Rabun County, showcasing some of the MANY reasons I loved Rabun County as a child and why I love living here part-time!