Monday, August 3, 2015

The Facts of Life...Backyard Version

Monday morning.  I'm on my second cup of coffee, I slept much later than I had planned, and I have to go out and pick up the mess that the raccoon made last night in the backyard.  Roy has an employee that doesn't like nature, in fact she always responds to his stories of NC with,"ugh, nature!  I don't like nature."  I like nature, the birds, butterflies and flowers but a raccoon and a snake this past week is almost making me say, ugh...nature.  Funny, this song from 1980's TV keeps going through my head,      
                             You take the good, you take the bad, 

you take them both and there you have 
The facts of life, the facts of life. 

I think while I am in a little bit of a cranky mood that I need to get out of today...but I think I will add to my list to be cranky about; bad traffic.  Really, it doesn't have to be dealt with like in Houston because just about everything I need is close by but when I have to go south of Asheville on I 26, that can put me in a cranky mood post haste or if someone I know is stuck in it...ur.....   Houston friends, it is like being on 290 with construction, but only two lanes...that never move....and when you finally get through it all, there weren't any wrecks or a "nothing to see here" type rubbernecking situation. Just lots of traffic with a steep grade.  Maybe it is more like I 10 and the Campbell curve before all the improvements on that freeway.

So here in the valley on a hill, I'm cranky this morning.  But with the bad of raccoons and a snake sighting, there is a lot of good to go with the "bad."  I had a wonderful but too short of visit with John and Paige Bolin and children.  They got stuck in the I 26 traffic but the good from that was Moose Cafe lunch.  Their visit brought such joy and the weekend weather was perfect for getting out and about.  I am so thankful they added a night to their conference to come here.  It was so exciting to hear about all that is going on with the Choir and Orchestra at Houston's First.  Sadly, they had to leave early Sunday morning for their flight but they left in 57 degree weather and Smoky Mountain Roasted Coffee in to go cups and apple cider donuts from Barber Orchards.

Choir practice was fun last night and we are singing On the Banks of the Promise Land on Sunday morning.  It's a little bit of a different arrangement only in the choir sings the verses.  Such fun!  We had a full choir yesterday morning, so vacations are wrapping up and everyone is getting back into school mode.  I think schools begin August 16th here.

Since my Black Rat Snake sighting one evening this past week, I have not seen it or any others.  Before I saw that snake, I had been standing about six inches from it.  You know I had to Google NC Black Snake and get the facts.  One article repeated this phrase, if you are fortunate enough to see a black rat snake...  What????  Anyway, yesterday I told my SS class my praise was, I didn't call our realtor and have a For Sale sign put in front of the house.  That's my usual reaction to my no action when I don't like something about our home or surrounding areas.  We did put our Katy home on the market Friday.  Roy is frustrated because he has to leave the house spotless every morning and he has to make the bed.  We are just testing the waters to see if there is any interest.

As I wrap up this post, I am watching the little finches and the butterflies.  There is a bright red cardinal in the dogwood tree.  There is a cute little chipmunk on the deck, but I am not too happy about that but...join in with me in singing...No... sing with me,

You take the good, you take the bad, 
you take them both and there you have 
The facts of life, the facts of life. 

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Still Have Carolina Brain

The day began foggy here in the valley on a hill.  There are still a lot of birds in the backyard but the butterflies are over taking them by number and it is mesmerizing to watch their wings move in graceful ballet moves as they cover several flower bushes.  I would tell you what kind of plant it was if I knew.

Yesterday turned out to be a completely different day than planned.  Since I hadn't heard from the furniture store about chair delivery, I had made plans with Vivian to go down to their campsite and spend a little time with them. Because of a couple of phone calls, I was a little later than I had planned to leave but still within the "ish" of it. I had just gathered my things when the house phone rang.  I debated whether to take the call but when the Caller ID announced it was the furniture store, I answered.  One of the chairs I had ordered had come in and they were delivering in the area, could they deliver that afternoon?  I asked Nikki if I could call her back and tried to reach Vivian...finally I just texted her and called Nikki and said yes to the delivery.  The way she talked, I thought it was the chair for the living room and I would really like to have that with company coming...but when the delivery guys got here, it was the gray chair for Roy's bonus room.  Long story short, the other chair will be here next week.  The fabric I had picked was back ordered thus adding to the time frame.  This chair was ordered in May but I am happy to buy made in America furniture and knowing it would be built to my order, it would take additional time.  If I had known it was the gray chair, I would have gone on to Girl's Day with Vivian.  It made for a long day but it was not wasted. I took care of several little things that I have needed to do since getting here and I did the all important prepare for the fall front porch sitting by getting the plaid throws we bought last year out of the packaging and into a handy dandy basket.

I was even so mature yesterday with Buddy.  Cats like to paw and meow at you in the night and because Buddy has trained me so well, I turn over so she can sleep on my arm. So, turn about is fair play...so while she slept yesterday I would tap her on the leg...she was not gracious in her response. I got a miffed meow.  I did that about five times yesterday because I am mature like that.  This can go on my list of mature actions with running outside and yelling squirrel not because of my ADD but due to the fact a squirrel might be sitting in one of the bird feeders.  Back to Buddy for a moment, she had been a little feisty of late in the middle of the night but on Monday night, she was feisty from the get go, so I did something new.  I picked her up, she fighting me all the way, and I put her in the hall and shut the bedroom door.  Somewhere I had read separation can be a good teacher for cats.  I let the door stay shut for twenty minutes and then I opened it.  Not too much later I hear her come into the room, jump up on the bed and lie down on her blanket at the end of the bed.

With the warmer months of summer here, I have been experiencing symptoms from heat. A whole lot of afib going on and exhaustion but not like what I have experienced before. I have been researching cardiologists in the area that deal with electrical issues of the heart and also waiting for some recommendations. I read an article on a medicine I am on and one of the side effects is a racing heart. I put in a call to the nurse at my Houston cardiologist's office and talked with him yesterday morning. I am going to start cutting back on the med that might be causing some of the problems and the exhaustion?  Well, it's funny because I never felt it the week that Emily was here and I should have.  I asked the nurse could it be I was eating more protein and eating my big meal of the day at noon?  Uh, yes...  So, I have adjusted my meals and protein accordingly this week and have not felt the crippling exhaustion.  I'm still making an appointment with a cardiologist here in the area just to have a doctor here.

And because hair can be just as important as heart issues...not really but sometimes it does feel that way emotionally, because the salon I have been going to called to let me know the stylist I have been seeing left to take a sabbatical from doing hair. I don't know but I got certain vibes when I saw her last that she was not too happy there, so maybe it is just a sabbatical from that particular salon. So once again I will see a new stylist there and by faith I am going to have to trust him with not only a cut but highlights.  Stevie, stylist and friend from Houston, has already prayed for an anointed appointment.I know I do not have some complicated style nor do I do much with my hair but I have had really bad cuts and highlights before and I really don't want to experience that again.  Hair grows and mine grows fast but really....

Last night before turning off the computer, I read my blog posts from last year, August-October. Wow, the month of August last year brought about great changes in our lives.  It was fun to read my thoughts about the house that we eventually purchased and re-read once again, about the kindness of God I experienced last year.  It made a definite change and of course reading about Vivian and Bill and Newfound Baptist Church. That was pretty sweet.  God has been so good!  Roy and I have been truly blessed by this past year.

When we returned last September to Houston, with a contract on a house, Roy often said I had Carolina brain when I wasn't paying attention or made a mistake on something so routine.  Yep, I still have Carolina brain, but it has been one of the best things for me. Excuse me, but I think I am needed on squirrel patrol.


Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Living Near Mountaintops, In a Valley But On a Hill

"Mountaintops are for views and inspiration, but fruit is grown in the valleys." - Billy Graham  A friend of mine put this quote this morning on Facebook.  It is a thought provoking quote and the following is just my thoughts after thinking through bunny trails and new experiences here in the mountains.  I am thankful that she finds good quotes to post almost everyday but today's spoke deeply to me here in the valley because so many times we equate misery, trial and troubles with the valley.

I live in a valley, not a figurative valley of sadness, but in an actual valley but our home is on a hill.  Most of this area is valley with rambling hills and hollers and we view the mountains from a long range distance, the really high mountains are what I am talking about.  Last August as we began to look at houses in the area the first home our realtor took us to was on top of one of the smaller mountains (oxymoron) in the area.  We drove up and up and meandered on switchback roads.  Parts of these narrow mountain roads were one lane that eventually went from paved to gravel.  Yes, this flat land girl, sitting in the backseat was a tad bit nervous as we made the ascent.  Granted, once we were at the house the views were spectacular and the owners of the home had tried valiantly to open up the small home to the openness of the mountains.  Most of the property was a direct slant, downward...guess it depends on your viewpoint.  There was a modest amount of flatness to have a small garden, a small driveway and a storage area for a RV.  I shudder thinking about backing it out and down the road.  The couple were musicians and had decided to move to Nashville hoping their star would be discovered there.  I liked the house ok but it wasn't a top contender over all mainly because the downstairs reeked of cat urine but the ascent and descent played a huge role in it not being considered.  It occurred to me to have those wonderful, vast, breath taking views, it was hard work to get up and down from the bottom to the top and from the top to the bottom.  Living in that house would have to make me a better list and organizer because, believe me, you didn't want to have to make a trip back down to the store if you forgot anything...not only because of the aforementioned ascent but because the nearest grocery store was anything but near.  The song by Carole King comes to mind, "so far away...."   We visited one or two more homes located on the top of the world, looking down onto creation.  I asked what the going rate for helicopter rides was going for.  After climbing every mountain, no fording a stream, we nixed the idea of a home on top of old smoky.  Vista and view became the operating words and mantra.  You would have thought I would have remembered my one and only time of primitive camping in the Olympic Mountains in Washington State. We climbed and hiked switchbacks, nothing was level, it hurt, you knew why they had told you to pack light because every ounce in my backpack was beginning to feel like a thousand pounds.  And once we got to the top, we had to hike down into a valley to camp for the night.  My friends wanted to hike back up the mountain once we got settled so we could watch the sunset.  All I could mumble about was...isn't that where we just came from?  Aren't we going to have to hike back up tomorrow morning to get on the trail?  Believe me, I wanted nothing to do with beauty at that very moment.  It was all about soaking my feet in an alpine lake that was like 36 degrees.  

All these stories to say, mountain top experiences are overrated! Hard going up and hard going down. Give me a valley...but not a Harper Valley PTA.  I guess we have gotten the idea that valleys are sad or the place you don't want to be from Psalm 23, Psalm 84, the valley of Baca or weeping or songs like the God of the mountains is still God in the valleys.  Heck, it means if you are in a valley, you have mountains surrounding you.  So you are actually living in the mountains...just not the tops. I read the paragraphs around this quote from his book of devotions and beloved Billy is saying, we live in the valleys...that is where our work is, our happiness resides, it's where we face rejection or welcome inclusion.  It is where we look differently at the mundane and get through days.  Days, we want to be out of or days that can't seem to slow down enough.  Valleys have good news and not so good news...it is from learning in the valley how we choose to respond.  After shopping the produce stands around the area, I'm telling you, you want fruit from the valley...you want fruit that is nurtured and grown in deep soil, not the the rocky soils of the heights.  Around here, the higher you go in the mountains, the likelihood of meeting a sneaky or snapping snake..i.e poisonous expands.  Remember, the devil took Jesus to the highest peak to look down....man made peak of the temple and the highest mountain peak, made by God, but it is all mountain top-esk.  Try to live on mountain tops, the wind will age you something fierce. Our neighbor above us on our hill told me last night she is going to sell her property and home because the going up and down on our hill and most of her 8 acres is on the hill part, is getting to her as she trains her four horses.  They are going to look at property in TN that is rolling to flat, that will be easier to train the horses and less wear and tear on her physically. Give me the valley, and oh, don't fence me in.  

My friend Vivian told me when I first met her about how the mountains have protected this area throughout the years.  Yes, we still have storms and trees are blown over but watching the radar with the fierce reds of rain barreling out of the north turn to yellows and greens when they hit those mountains on the TN and NC border.  In our valley we get snow but are rarely snowed in.  The other night I was thinking about how God spoke to Moses and Elijah in the mountains but spoke to Ezekiel in the valley.  The enemies of Israel in the Bible mistakenly thought that God gave victory to Israelites in the mountains but He was not the God of the valleys.  Uh, they be thinking wrong.  And we cannot forget King Jehoshaphat in II Chronicles 20:26 and the valley of blessing. 

So bottom line, I need to transform my mind into thinking and knowing not all valleys are for sorrow or for sadness or for testing...although we will find plenty of that that there and on the mountain tops if we are honest. Valleys are where we live and where we demonstrate the love of Christ.  I just happen to be so blessed to actually be located in a valley where my eyes can look unto the hills and know that my help comes from the Lord.  I have the visual and I learn visually.  It would be a whole lot harder in Houston to remind myself of living in the mountains in a valley...unless I stand on a incline or decline of a freeway. I think that would not end up well, you know with all the traffic.   



Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Two Days...One Post

It is an overcast morning but the sun is breaking through the clouds.  The birds are out back eating and so is one very chunky chipmunk. The indigo buntings were back this morning and the bright blue of their feathers radiates an iridescent beauty.  Right now the little chirping sparrow couple are on the deck feeding each other little seeds.  Ah so cute!  I have grown to love the little birds, wrens, sparrows of all varieties, finches and of course the indigo bunting.

Last night I got this brilliant idea of how to watch the birds outside.  I moved the frame of the swing we bought several weeks ago through the yard, over the deck (I don't even want to share about that) and over the railing to the well shaded part of the yard on the other side...the other side I have rarely spent any time in.  Believe me after moving the stand, I was not able to move the swing and it will wait until another day...and by that I mean another day when the temps are much cooler than they were last night.  A couple of tree branches needs to be trimmed back too, but again...another day.  I told Roy last night what I did and he just laughed because over the years he has seen many...too many of my ideas that have been internalized for months, that now need to be done in a moment of time. I didn't have the heart to tell him another idea I have rumbling and bumbling through my mind of ideas. Maybe it's a good thing I am slicing and freezing peaches today.

Another big accomplishment yesterday, I finally found the screws for the Amish mirror stand.  Let's see, I have been looking for them since April.  They were not in the box of things that had been taken apart by the movers and I have no clear reason why they even took this apart.  Anyway, having a drill would have been better but by strength alone, I got it put together.  Guess I was feeling mighty strong after that and thought I could drag that swing stand all over creation.

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And now it is Tuesday morning.  I stepped away from the computer yesterday morning and did not return, except to turn if off last night.  I had a great day in getting more projects completed as well as taking in God's creation from our porches. From my view yesterday I can now identify the two squirrels that visit our yard.  The distinction is in the tails.  I also put out the little nettle seeds that all the little birds like and apparently so do the doves. There are some young cardinals visiting the bird feeder as well.  We really need to clear out the brush on our property line but in doing so, we will discourage cardinals from visiting the feeder...what a quandary. I looked at some pictures from winter at the house and determining when fall comes and things begin their journey into dormancy, what will need to be cleared away and what to keep.  Like I have written before, even the weeds here are beautiful.

I accomplished a biggie yesterday, with the use of my hiking sticks I made it down the slope of our yard, across to a less slope area and down to our apple trees.  I usually see these from a distance.  Our liberty apple tree has two apples on it and the gold rush tree none.  I was able to look at the leaves and see I need to do more watering in between rains.  I still don't understand the fast rate of evaporation here compared to living closer to sea level.  I pulled up a trash pine tree that was piggy backing from the watering and then I made the jaunt up the slope.  Actually going up was much easier.  These hiking sticks have little springs in them that give with the slopes and angles thus making it easier for these knees to traverse the yard.  For a minute I considered moving the swing to the stand but realized that would be too much of an endeavor following my hiking expedition.  I did get the new rocking chair inside the house and by the front door but Buddy came downstairs about the time I was going to put it outside and put a damper on those plans.  Instead I worked on blackberries, getting them ready to freeze for those dull winter months when only apples seem to be the fruit of choice.  Love apples but seems like such a long season until plums, peaches, blackberries and cherries.

Ah, the indigo bunting is back at the little bird feeder...really the feeder designed for little birds.  The other day I watched a cardinal try his best to get to those seeds.  A red headed house wren just joined him.

I best be about the day.  I should be hearing something today about a furniture delivery and I'm still in the Google and fix mode for the TV.  I hardly watch it but last night I wanted to see a couple of episodes of the Simpsons and the TV would not cooperate.  Oh it all worked out since an earlier bedtime seemed to fit the ticket.





Sunday, July 26, 2015

A Weeks Worth of Catching Up

Hello blog!  Do you remember me?  Let's see if I can write down this past week's fun.  It won't be a difficult thing especially as I drink some southern pecan coffee from the coffee shop in Waynesville.

 This past week has been such a fun and busy week.  Emily came into town Monday night and she got a royal country welcome, no electricity here at the house.  I had made dinner and planned for us to eat at home but we changed our minds midstream and went for Mexican food.  Good thing, you know, because the electricity was out.  Our area had several bad storms come through.  In fact, I got stuck in one and missed my turn because it was impossible to see with such heavy rain.  Once we were here, I pulled out the flashlights and candles.  I had also bought for such a time as this, a solar light and it lit up the room rather nicely.  The electricity came on after about an hour and life in the 21st century went on as we know it.

Emily and I were busy everyday and we were good to include nap time most afternoons.  We didn't even get to some of the major things to do around here but we are fine with that because she will be back.  On Wednesday, Emily, Vivian and I went to high tea at the Inn on the Biltmore Estate.  Such fun and such delicious food.  After being sufficiently filled with tea and little tasties, we drove around the estate.  On Tuesday we had seen a huge tree, over a hundred years old tree, toppled over by the wind and storm.  By Wednesday, all that was left was the huge stump with the tree roots sticking out. We also took Emily on a ride though the country around where we live.  There is just so much beauty to take in.  I never tire of seeing the mountains and the canvas of the sky.  We went to Waynesville on Thursday with the intent of driving the back roads over to the Pretty Place in the afternoon but the rains came once again and we went to plan B.  Plan B was a good plan too.  Of course you have to see Mast General Store and then we went to the Hazelwood area for lunch and some shopping.  That is when the heavens opened and while eating decided that we would head back home once we finished up in Waynesville.  Friday, we went to the Amish Store and had lunch at The Farmers Daughter.  There are no words, only food.  We were seated near a large church group, so we piggy backed on their prayers for lunch.  We stopped at Lowe's on our way home and picked up the rocking chair I had bought and assembled.  On Friday evening we knew we would be going to a singing, so of course we napped for strength.  I really napped hard and woke up kind of wondering where I was, that is how hard I slept.

Friday night, the 17th annual Singing by Simple Faith.  Simple Faith is a gospel group that travels all over this region and beyond.  Our contractor sings in the group and the Primitive Quartet were the special guests.  This year, it was also a fund raiser for Desiree Brown, the daughter of a singer in Simple Faith.  In March she had a traumatic brain injury and the insurance money for rehab for the year has run out.  There were all kinds of concession stands to help raise money and a raffle for gift baskets after the love offering had been taken.  To begin the evening, Jonathan Sluder called all the men to the front of the stage to pray for the evening...he asked a man to start the prayer...in perfect choreography, the men knelt in prayer and they all prayed out loud.  It was a heavenly sound and I am probably saying that because I am in love with the voices of NC men with southern accents.  I'm in love with the voices...that's all.  Anyway, after that time, the singing began and a young man made his way to the front of the stage, he was crying at the Lord's touch...some of those big country men gathered around him and started talking and then praying with him.  Wow!  Powerful!  Yet, so poignant. The music and worship, so God honoring and the fact that it was all blue grass country gospel was icing on the cake for me.  I just saw on Facebook that over $22,000.00 was raised Friday night.

Saturday, Emily and I eased into the day.  We had Amish Cinnamon Raisin toast with Amish churned butter.  Emily got her things together and I did my usual squirrel lady thing by chasing off the squirrels among other useful and productive things.  We ate lunch at Moose Cafe and we headed to the airport.  On Saturdays you have to take in account all the traffic, so I got her there early but in true equalization, the time she waited I was in traffic on I 26 going back toward Asheville.  There wasn't a wreck or anything...just bumper to bumper traffic.  I did stop at Target and Fresh Market while I made my way home.  I had a delicious dinner of leftover gas station pizza and an Amish fried pie.  Got caught up with things around here and got to grab a few minutes of conversation with a friend.  I was ready for sleep but Buddy had other ideas and woke me up every hour on the hour.  Thus, I stayed home from church this morning.  I have witnessed God's creation from my back porch.  Watching butterflies, birds and yes...that darn squirrel.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Saturday Morning Chit Chat

Good Saturday morning!  It is a beautiful sunshiny morning.  We had a reprieve from the heat this week but yesterday, it began heating up once again.  High 80's not unbearable at all but it is good knowing that in a month in a half or so, it will start feeling cooler again and we will actually experience autumn.

This has been a fun week and it is just building toward another fun week when Emily gets here on Monday.  So enjoyed Rebecca's visit on Monday this week and then Tuesday picking up the new Harper Lee book.  Wednesday was a relaxing day and Thursday evening was our Sunday School party at our teacher's farm.  Wow!  They have beautiful pastoral views accompanied by long range mountain views.  There's a fishing pond and red barns...huge trees, one of which had an inviting swing attached to a limb.  There were about nineteen of us in attendance and let me tell you, everyone of them is a good cook.  Gale fixed delicious pork chops and corn on the cob.  There was homemade mac and cheese, baked beans, squash casserole, scalloped potatoes, a Mexican salad that was awesome and slaw.  There were other things too and some pretty nice looking desserts.  I brought a blackberry pie, from the berries I picked.  We all ate out on the deck, enjoying the conversations and the laughter, and of course the beautiful scenery.  Several of us walked toward and down to the pond...Velda and I walked toward the pond and realized the walk back would be an uphill one, so we stopped halfway...you know for safety sake.  It was such a fun evening.

Yesterday, I had an 11:45 haircut appointment.  I left here a little early to have breakfast at the Corner Kitchen thus securing an ever so difficult to find parking place there in Biltmore Village.  I tried the waffles this time at Corner Kitchen and they were really good.  Then I went across the street to a very dangerous shop...at least to me...Origami Ink. Yes, a shop filled with pens, cards and stationery. Oh, and they had some beautiful jewelry, even some reasonably priced.  I resisted temptation and didn't go upstairs to look but I did come home with some note cards that are made the old fashioned way.  I also made a brief perusal of Williams Sonoma before going over to the salon.  I got brave and went with a shorter cut.  It's not like I haven't had a short haircut before, but it has been a while. Since I was in the area, I made a quick stop at Target and Barnes and Noble before heading home.  Once at home a little nap was in order.  Vivian texted me to let me know she had some green beans, home grown tomatoes and cucumber for me.  She had cooked the green beans already.  Now that is a good friend.  I went over to pick them up and enjoyed getting caught up with her.  She is recovering very nicely from her surgery.  Praise the Lord!  When I got home, I fixed a little bowl of green beans as a before bedtime snack.  Mmmm....good and southern-y.

Roy found out yesterday that we are getting a 2016 Tundra because Toyota has already stopped with the 2015 production.  And, the dealership is giving it to us at the same price we had agreed on.  We are more than happy about that.

Yesterday Roy met with our real estate agent about listing our home in Rancho De Five. He has some work to do this weekend.  There has been a lot of pictures going back and forth between us asking me do you want this or should I store this?  I think in terms of, will it fit here and if not, he can take it to  KCM. His main focus will be on the laundry room and getting things off the floor in our closet.  That is mainly his stuff on the floor, so that is good. Our Katy home is such a niche home, so we will see if it will get much traffic.

Just another confirmation that our family on my father's side does not age well this week.  My brother had heard that our great aunt Amy has become confused and very hurtful with her words, angry. Man, she was the hope I held onto that she would go against the grain of later year meanness and change.  Years ago at my grandparents house, she pulled me aside and while looking at my grandmother and father she said, break the chain...don't go that way.  The hair stylist yesterday was telling me about a book she is reading...about training your brain not to go to the negative.  The book describes our brain having the natural inclination to go negative and we have to work to find the positive.  I told her the Bible speaks to that as well, but she wasn't too interested in that.  Who knows about my father's side of the family?  But, I am going to fight going that same way tooth and nail.  The later part of life didn't end well for any of them and it is looking that way for my father.  


Thursday, July 16, 2015

Books, Friends and Blackberries

Like most avid readers I have been waiting for Go Set A Watchman to be released.  Last summer the news of a long ago manuscript as the precursor to Kill a Mockingbird was all the literary talk both professionally and for those of us who love to read.  For many years, I reread the TKAM every summer and I would have done so this time but I don't think it made it in all the books that we brought up to North Carolina.  So when the local bookstore took reservations for the book, I signed up.  Then I read the first chapter on WSJ and settled into that prose that I have loved for so long.  I started a blog post about reading the first chapter but didn't go back to it when I read a NYT review. Lots of people upset about Jem but most were upset about Atticus.  He was not the fine lawyer for civil rights he was a southern racist.  Of course most know the story that the editor told Harper Lee to write from the children's point of view and go back in time.  Harper worked on the story and after several years, the finished product was TKAM.  The beloved book by everyone and then the movie was made and the rest is history.  The screenplay was one of Horton Foote's finest efforts.  And then Harper Lee went on to help Truman Capote with interviews and notes for In Cold Blood and she never published another book.  Many blamed her older sister who died several years ago, while others hoped against hope she had manuscripts to be published upon her death.  As the years went by many made a pilgrimage to Monroeville Alabama, where the Lee's lived and the fictionalized Maycomb was based upon.

After reading the review, I didn't know if I still wanted to read the book but decided a Yankee wasn't going to define what I should or should not read.  So on Tuesday, I picked up my copy and brought it home.  I didn't want to start reading it right away but when the electricity went off several times due to storms in the area, the book was a good diversion Tuesday night.  I was hooked!  Even though professionals have come out to say if this was a manuscript from anyone today, it would never be published.  I don't run in those circles...so what do I know?   This afternoon I began reading again and found it difficult to put down, even in the midst of the shocking revelations.  I wondered if anyone who reviewed the book had read any of the unofficial biographies on Harper Lee.  It wasn't made a secret that Atticus or I mean Mr. Lee kind of had those leanings.

These past few days as I have read GSAW and pondered over the narrative I've questioned myself, why is TKAM one of my favorite books and movie?  I think part of me is enamored with a father who loved his children and while not extravagant in things, he was extravagant with time.  But, thinking through this I think I liked the book because Scout or Jean Louise was a character I could totally identify with.  She loved to run and play ball.  She was up for a physical challenge. She got to wear coveralls and play with the boys.  Being dressed up made her fidgety and she would rather read or play than play tea party or dolls.  That was me growing up and somewhat today.  Don't get me wrong, I like being a girl but I can do without teas and small talk and trying to keep up with so n so.  I like nice clothes but I really like them to be comfortable and of course I love gathering with friends, but let the conversation be uplifting and meaningful and a whole lot of fun.  When I started wearing makeup, other than in junior high because who knows what they are doing in junior high school, I pretty much am a put it on, rarely check it during the day kind of girl.  My car mirrors on the sun visor have probably been used ten times total.  I don't look at myself before getting out of the car usually.  I should have done so yesterday because I went to Weaverville looking pretty basic, doing nothing to my hair and half finished makeup.  ADD once again kicked in and at first I was kind of upset with me, but really....I went through the drive through at the bank and WalMart.  Case closed.  Never been a sit at the table after eating and pull out a compact and smear powder on my face and apply lipstick at the table.  For one reason, my mother told me it was rude to do that and for another that was just one more thing to carry in my purse...a mirror.  So, unfortunately, my liking TKAM had nothing to do with high ideals, it had more to do with finally finding a character in a book that I would want to be friends with.  Now reading about grown up Jean Louise, I think I would still want to be friends but since I can lean closely to a cynical side, we probably couldn't hang out together very often.

Had a fabulous visit with Rebecca R this week.  She was in the area visiting friends and came over to spend a night.  We saw some sights, ate at Moose Cafe, went to a couple of antique shops and spent some time after 5:00 at Antler Hill Village.  We drove back in the midst of a coming storm.  The wind here howls a little louder probably due to all the trees.  Limbs of all sizes were dislodged on our route home.  The sky kept turning an angrier gray as we came closer to home.  We made it back safely but it rained throughout the night and into the early afternoon.  Rebecca had purchased her Biltmore House ticket for Tuesday.  I rarely go to the house anymore, don't have the stamina for it, so we said our goodbyes after breakfast and she headed to the estate.

Because it was 76 degrees out yesterday, I trimmed some tree branches and pulled some weeds.  I even ended up picking about a cup of blackberries from the side of the driveway.  The ones at the front of the property have played out...thankfully, so I wasn't tempted to go down there and look.  I told Roy I need to get into picking shape for next years blackberry season.

Nancy's Monablog