Henry Fonda Tea Rose

Henry Fonda Tea Rose
My Special Rose

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Goodbye to My Japanese Maple

Last week, I looked through my kitchen window, and caught my breath. The morning sun focused on my huge Japanese Maple and set it afire with color. I dried the dishwater off my hands and ran for my little camera. I attempted to catch a few snapshots before the impartial sun drifted on. Although her leaves had already decorated the exhausted flower beds below, and the driveway alongside, there still remained a glorious display. It was as though she saved the best for the last, to say to me, "Remember this on cold winter days, and hold the warmth of my fire in your heart." I did something I haven't done since I was a child; I found a nearly perfect crimson leaf and pressed it with an iron between pieces of waxed paper. This is the promise that beauty will come to me again next year, but for now this tree, so generous with her loveliness, is tired and needs a long rest. This thought reminds me of a poem I wrote several years ago about the passing of Fall:

The Party's Over

The mountains wait, stone silent
for Fall to go about her business
and depart with some dignity.

For the hills are now weary
of the gaudy season's riot,
and long for Winter's housekeeping
winds to blow the crumbs of rattling,
faded leaves down to valleys below.

As a beauty longs to remove makeup
and retreat from admiration,
so, the mountains yearn to pull up
snowy blankets and sleep a dreamless
winter, having set the relentless
alarm clock of Spring.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Savoring September

It has been a while since I posted anything on my blog. August came and went so quickly, didn't it? Usually, it is so hot the whole month, I just hole up inside with air conditioning and try to survive, but this year was pleasantly cool here in the mountains. It is wonderful to open the windows and doors and sit out on the porch and see what the birds are up to. The rhododendrons bloomed out months ago, but their thick foliage has provided nests for many birds. Now that the robins have vacated their homes, other birds have seen fit to fight over sub-letting rights. The humming birds are so plentifiul at my feeder right now; the neighbors next door took their feeder down before going off on vacation, so I'm feeding their little squeakers, too. Hummers fight amongst themselves like little Japanese Kamakazi fighter pilots.
We did go camping for a few days in a very quiet campground, and I enjoyed getting down to the small creek there and trying to catch a trout. I failed to do so, but I enjoyed the peace of hearing nothing more than the water flowing by.
The little poem that follows expresses some of my feelings while I was at the creek:

At Whispering Pines

In this photo, I stand at the edge
of a small trout stream, casting line;
allowing the baited hook to drift.
The water murmurs by, unimpressed.
It only brings the fish man feeds it,
Left alone, it merely flows downstream.

Still, I look content, as water carries
my small burdens along, cleanses
the wastes of my useless worries,
clears my ears to hear it's gentle sound.
To flow downstream is it's purpose;
there is healing in a mountain stream.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Young at Heart

My children are questioning our sanity. Five years ago, we sold our home with the big yard to mow, and our 34' motorhome and moved into a pretty little cottage in a retirement community. We have been very happy here, and plan to live here until they take us out feet first. There is just one thing we have missed: Going Camping. The itch got so bad, we made the that fateful first step of "looking around" to see what was on the market. That can be compared to an alcoholic dropping in on a bar just to see if he can stick to Shirley Temples.

So, here we are with an RV again. We aren't supposed to keep a unit on our property more than a few days, so our first problem was storage. Ka-Ching $$!!
We understood that it would be best not to try to tow a car, so we TRIED find a unit small enough that we could park it almost anywhere and not have to bother with towing. That IS possible, but, if you plan to stay a week in a State Park, you naturally want to be hooked up to water and electricity, even if there is no sewer hook up. It's a pain to unhook to go to the grocery store, so you have to pack all you think you will need to cook for a week, and you get yelled at a lot by Husband, who thinks you can live off hot dogs and hamburgers in the daytime and eat out at night. That seems to make the problem go in a circle, because now we are back to unhooking and trying to find a restaurant with an extra large parking area. This is all fun, folks. I mean, we really missed all that.

So, now, we have to start thinking about buying a tow car. KA-Ching $$!! In our infallible choice of good, reliable cars, we have a Pontiac Montana mini-van and a Chrysler sedan (I believe both companies are in bankruptcy) that are both non-towable. Used car dealers don't even want them on their lots. I mentioned to a dealer that I had heard about President Obama's great deal going. That's to get you to trade in your clunker for a non-polluting, gas miser car. I found out it had to be a new car, and not just ANY new car, at that, before you get the discount, and they take your creampuff away for the crusher. (I can't look!!!) Pretty soon I'll have enough material for a Country Western song.

I don't know how this will all play out, but in the meantime, after some searching, I found and bought, Ka-Ching $$ !!, a Ukelele and a self-teaching book.
I know 4 chords now, so when we are sitting in front of the campfire, burning marshmallows and and fingers, I can play, "Down by the Old Mill Stream", "Way Down Upon the Swanee River"and "Buffalo Gals, Won't you Come Out Tonight". Last night, I learned a new one, which will be my theme song: "Standin' in the Need of Prayer". There's nothing like camping to make you feel a kid again and forget your troubles, I tell you.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Why are the Bears So Hungry?

This morning, I enjoyed a great time with some bright young women, trying to teach me some more about this amazing world of blogging. I learned a few new things, but just forgot one of the basics: always SAVE your composition before you start previewing it or anything else, so, now I am having to write this all over again.
I was telling Nancy Simpson about the bear visitation here in Wesley Mountain Retirement Village, where I live. She told me about one causing a stir in Andrews, too. Now, tonight, I received an email from Nancy telling me that a young bear came right up onto her patio, which is off her dining room. Nancy said bears have been on her property before, but never come right up to her house before. All these incidents invariably involve bears tring to rob bird feeders. My next door neighbor saw the bear crossing the road in front of his house, and there in the road was his bird feeder, or the top of it, at least. The pole was bent over in his front yard.
Have we had a bumper crop of young bears this year? Or, are they just hungrier? It's still too early for the blueberries and blackberries to be ripe, so I suppose the deep woods' wild berries are not ready either. Anyone else know why the bears are so hungry and bold this year?

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Armed Forces Day, Norm's Story

Today, I especially proud of my husband, and grateful for the years he gave from those given to him by his creator in the service of his country. It was only a small reward, but I made him his favorite breakfast, waffles with sweetened strawberries and whipped cream. I suppose I should have added a few blueberries for a patriotic touch, but he knew what I was thinking.

I asked him how he felt about those years (29) he spent at the beck and call of The Commander -in-Chief, the Secretary of Defense and the Chiefs of Staff of the Air Force. In his own words:

"I was a volunteer for the US Air Force in July, 1950. I had passed the pilot entrance exams, but had to spend 18 months at Lackland AFB in San Antonio training recruits before I went to Aviation Cadets at Hondo AFB, TX. Carole and I met before Cadets thru a mutual friend in Shreveport, where she was born. We were married during my second half of Cadet training, which, I suppose was breaking the rules, but the distance between us was too great, and we were in love. It was tough til graduation in January 1953, and we looked forward to living together like normal couples, but after only six months, I was sent to Korea for a year, a lowly 2nd Lt, but I did have my pilot's wings. In Korea, I flew B-26's, completed my missions and bided my time til I could get home to Carole and our baby, Paul.
The years that followed meant many moves, a 3 year tour in Japan, and lots of time s when I was away learning to fly more advanced aircraft,, Our squadron went to McDill AFB, Fl and sat alert for three months in our B-66's during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Eventually I got to fly the plane I loved the most, the RF4C-Phantom Jet. I flew 153 missions in VietNam, got some holes in my plane a few times and spent another year away from Carole and the two sons and two daughters we had by then. I spent most of the remaining years of my AF career training new pilots in the RF4C-jets, and logged over 4,000 hrs in that plane, in addition to the the many hours teaching guys to fly the B-26, B-57, and B-66. When the kids were about all out of highschool and some in college, and I felt I had enough years for a decent pension, I retired. I love my country, my family, and my God, who took care of me, and my family, during the scary times. I would serve my country again, but fortunately I am too old now. The best years of my life have been the past 18, here in the mountains of North Georgia, and not having to leave my sweetheart, Carole."

Saturday, April 25, 2009


Our home sits among the trees on a hillside lot. It is difficult to walk, much less grow veggies here. The flower beds put in by the former owners are filled with hostas, azaleas and lovely rhododendrons, for which I am so grateful, but I do miss a little plot of ground to grow (or attempt to grow) some things to eat. When I go to Home Depot and see the variety of flowers and blooming shrubs,, I can't resist a few annuals for the color and beauty they add. However, I still find myself wandering by the vegetables sitting in their little peat moss pots, and I want to grab a basket full. I haven't the flat area of soil, I haven't enough sun, and I've reached the age when I can't get down there on my knees and dig those planting holes. I am frustrated.

We swore we wouldn't fool with those upside down hanging tomato baskets again. But, you know, hope springs eternal, so there they are. One year they were pretty successful, but last year, a nuisance and very few tomatoes. I still feel like I have to turn my head upside down to check on them. Wrens always build a nest in the top, even though I have to pour water on them. They fly out mad as can be, but go right back in again. Ms. Wren had better luck raising her babies than I had growing those tomatoes. Not enough sun, you see.

All last week I watched for places that got some sun for a few hours each day, and I think I have found me a spot about the size of a bathtub that might work. In addition, there's about 10 feet x one foot of space in front of the iris bed. Today I bought okra, sweet bell peppers, eggplant, two bush tomatoes and a pkg of bush beans. No corn, squash, or pumpkin, for obvious reasons. If I have to crawl to plant them, I will.

Monday, April 20, 2009

More About Nancy's Class at JC Campbell Folk School

Sometimes I think I have a condition called, in pilot's jargon: "Having My Head Up and Locked", because I failed to mention one of the highlights of the week with Karen, Robyn, Ruth, Barbara and, of course, Nancy Simpson. We had special visitors on Wednesday who came to tell us about their journeys from classes with Nancy to publication of chapbooks. Brenda Kay Ledford and Glenda Barrett joined us at Orchard House for great one on one discussions about their ups and downs and all arounds in this wonderful world of writing. Happily, they read us some of their best "stuff". It is a real thrill to hear a poet read their own writing,; that is when you really know where their voice lives. Many thanks to both these lovely people for coming to inspire our class, and an extra thanks to our instructor, Nancy, for this nice surprise.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Exploring Poetry With Nancy Simpson

Last week, I had the privilege of attending a Poetry class at the John C. Campbell Folk School with Nancy Simpson as instructor. Three of us were day students, Karen Holmes, Barbara Groce, and myself. Barbara and I carpooled, and it made the long drive on winding narrow roads much more pleasant.
Mornings were spent discussing examples of lyrical, meditative and narrative poetry, and even an ancient style of poetry, the Pantoum. We read together Theodore Roethke's Journey into the interior and a selection from Mary Oliver's book Why I wake Early, called "Bone". I found Billy Collin's exerpt from his book, Picnic Lightning, called The Death of the Hat to be a fascinating example of Meditative poetry. When we began reading examples of Narrative poems, which tell a story, the two examples we studied were Bettie Sellers' , Liza's Monday and Robert Morgan's Mountain Bride. Both brought on great discussions, since their themes were mysterious and a bit scary.
After lunch, the five of us gathered in the computer lab and did our best to write examples of the type of poem we had discussed in the morning. If we managed to come up with something, Nancy led a critique session. We read our work, then passed it around for the others to make comments about. Some days we bloomed with creativity. Other days, nothing seemed to come out of my head but garble. Eventually, we all had something to read on Thursday evening to an audience that came to the Keith House to hear us. Nancy feels we were well received. No one worked harder than she did to bring out our best work.
The last day, Friday, I had to miss as I had to take Norman for a kidney stone procedure. Barbara Groce called and told me the class spent their last day talking about getting published, and Nancy gave me the materials she handed out, so that I wouldn't miss too much. It was such a worthwhile week, and meeting new friends was one of the best things about it.
I hope I have another opportunity to attend writing classes at the folk school. It's a wonderful place to be. Thanks so much to you, Nancy

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Delightful Dorothea

This morning, "Coffee With the Poets" at Phillips and Lloyd featured Dorothea Spiegel. We who came were treated to a variety of poems from Dorothea's chapbook, "From my Desk". As Dorothea reads, you can hear the twinkle in her eye, telling you she doesn't take much in life too seriously. Her witty, insightful poems often have a little "twist" at the end, which always brings a smile, a sort of "Yes, that's so true!" moment for the listeners. One poem, however, caught me by surprise, because it revealed a passionate understanding of a man. Her man. Enjoy:
I said to myself, "How great a man!"
People listen to him, and his word is law",
and I watched you and glowed with pride,
but I carefully kept my feelings inside.
Then I saw you were a mortal man:
concerned, confused, guilt-ridden, shy,
kind-hearted, angry, hurt and proud,
and my feelings almost spoke aloud!
I asked myself, "What is a man?"
And now, my feelings all unleashed
here in your arms, at last I can
answer myself, "This is a man."
Dorothea Spiegel

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

A Moment of Reflection

Is there any season as welcome as Spring? So far, this has been as close to a traditional Spring as we have had here in the mountains in a long time. Two Springs ago, we were robbed of Georgia's famous sweet peaches, blueberries and all manner of fruit delicacies by an early false Spring, followed by a hard freeze that lasted five days. Even the lovely dogwood blossoms sagged on their branches, and beautiful hostas changed overnight to something resembling boiled cabbage. Spring last year was skimpy, so much being damaged the year before, and the drought took its toll, also. But this year, we've had these wonderful rains to bring the daffodils into glorious bloom while it was still quite cold. The rains have brought wonderful blessings of new growth, but a little sadness from time to time. Hence, my little poem:

A Small Daffodil

On my stroll back from the mailbox,
I see the much needed rain has beaten
my daffodils' faces down into the mud.

It seems unfair that a bulb waits
so many months, and dares at last
to risk all, in fickle Spring.

Yesterday, this one turned ruffled cheeks
toward Sun for warmth, and hoped
for a kiss, but gray clouds moved by.

Today, I shake off the rain, or tears, from
damaged petals, but see the broken stem.
One day to live, one heartbreak to die.

So, I tried to honor my special small daffodil.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Great News!

It is a wonderful thing to have Nancy Simpson nominate me for the Fabulous Blog Award!

As if that wasn't wonderful enough, she tells me I'm one of her Friendship Award Bloggers, too!

Is there such a thing as Wonderful Person Award? Nancy must surely be the winner. I've got to get my five, plus, now, eight more awardees lined up and notified. I'm not the swiftest blogger on the block.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

We Had Birds On our Mind

Today was special at Phillips and Lloyd's Bookstore in Hayesville, enjoying another "Coffee With the Poets." Nancy Simpson and Janice Moore were reading selections from the new book, "Poet's Guide Book to the Birds". Both talented ladies had some of their work selected for publication in this highly esteemed publication, which contains works of poet laureates and Nobel Peace Prize winners, as well. We congratulate them on this honor and look forward to owning the book and soaking up all the wonderful poetry relating to our bird friends. Most of us brought some of our own bird poems to read at Open Mike. The tiny creatures are a never ending source of inspiration and delight. Here's one I wrote one Sunday morning when I was dragging my feet getting ready for church. The big window beside our bed offered a delightful view of a robin on the ground right outside. I could see him, but he didn't know I was looking. I felt a bit like a Peeping Tom:

The Voyeur

Half-dressed, sitting on the side of the bed, I watch
the lone Robin, almost within arm's reach, scratching.
Up to his knobby knees in dew soaked grass, he turns an ear,
listening patiently for Worm to make the wrong move.

The window and tree shadow hide my common human form,
muffle my involuntary breathing, while he sets mind to task,
unaware his privacy is being invaded.
Oh, now, he looks up, but I remain still, and he
returns to his breakfast foraging.

We are here together, bird. You do not ponder
religious philosophy this Sunday morning, yet you seem content.
You are in no hurry to sing your praises, and you have all morning
to poke and piddle around, scratching and talking to yourself.
Your feathers look perfectly pressed.

Grandma would say the Devil is sitting on my lap, keeping
me idle, watching you, Robin-what do you think?
Oh, I prefer to believe the Creator gave this gift of you to me.
What? Listen, I cannot watch you longer. I must heed the call of husband,
who waits, with motor running, to whisk me off to sermon and song,
where I shall be tormented by self-righteous underwear and pinch-toe shoes.

Good bye, bird--I envy you!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

How to Cure a Cold

Sundays are always beseiged by little Devil gremlins around my house. They simply don't appear on other mornings, and I haven't found their hiding places, though I suspect there's one in every room. The alarm doesn't always go off on Sunday mornings, and I know I wind and set that little Baby Ben every night. I've never had a zipper break except on Sunday, or poked my thumb through my last pair of pantyhose except when trying to get dressed for church. I suppose that I shouldn't have been surprised when my throat started feeling scratchy as I sat in the choir loft this past Sunday.
At least I didn't sneeze during the service, while we were being videoed. The silent Rhino virus was well at work by the middle of the afternoon, and I just had to face the impending misery. It had started snowing big time, but nothing was sticking, so when it slowed to a halt, I sent Norm out for cold remedies. Luckily, we are very close to town. In fact, some Saturday mornings he wakes up feeling like Tarzan, and wants to go out and gettum our breakfast. He strikes out to buy one Bacon, Egg, and Cheese Croissant, one Plain Egg Croissant, one small French Toast Sticks and one medium Tater Tots, and returns in less than 10 minutes. So, I don't feel too badly about sending him to the drug store five minutes from here.
There on the kitchen bar I lined up my Airborne tablets, Mucinex, Tylenol, Riccola Cough Drops, Vicks Vaporub and green tea bags. Somehow I put soup and sandwiches on the table, but my heart was not in it. By nightfall, I am wrapped up in quilts like a doodle bug thoroughly medicated and thoroughly miserable. Eight times out of ten, I get bronchitis with a cold, and I am allergic to so many antibiotics that I really do hate to catch one.. Meantime, ole Norm is not feeling so hot, himself. His knees are arthritic, so I am worried about him, too. He's complaining of a dull pain in his right side. We had this discussion: "One of us has to stay well so we can take care of the one who's not!". It's not funny, but we laughed, anyway.
Monday, I awakened to discover the Rhino had his big foot on my chest, or, at least it felt that way until I got up and hacked and coughed and spit til I felt some relief. Norm's had a rough night, too, so we tried to figure out what to do about him. He called his regular doctor, who was out of the office on Mondays. He had an appt Tuesday with a new orthopedic man he hadn't seen before, so I figured he might at least get some relief with his arthritis. The other pain we didn't understand. I almost got dressed, but my housecoat is so warm and cozy, I just pulled some corduroy trousers up underneath it and kept my legs warm. I continued with my OTC meds and added stewed prunes. Norm's appetite is poor and he is running a low grade fever. He's looking around for pain medication.
This morning, Norm had his appt with his bone man, and he shot some good stuff in both knees, which I hope will help. This Doctor advised him to get in touch with his regular Doctor about the pain in the side. Unbelievably, I was feeling some better this morning, so while he was gone I actually ran the vaccum and tidied up a bit. After our lunch, Norm called to try to get an appointment with his regular Doctor. No luck--no afternoon office hours! So, first thing in the morning, Norm's going over to his office and park himself in his waiting room until he has to see him. He's always been so healthy, and this depresses him. Tarzan hates getting older. He keeps saying, "I never thought I'd be like this--I'm not worth a damn!"
Oh, my dear, you are so wrong! Somehow, I am going to put my miserable cold on hold and devote my time to getting you better! I've never had a 3 day cold before, but that's all the time I can allow for this one. God willing, I'll be the one that's well enough to take care of the one that's not!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Love Stuff

Perhaps Valentine's Day has just been dreamed up to put a lot of money in the coffers of the Greeting Card companies, but, with all the gloom and doom news we keep hearing, it IS kind of nice to take even one day to celebrate love. One way or another, every human being needs and wants love, and even when we lose in the game, the Bard says, "It is better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all."

After my mother became a widow for the 2nd time, I was comforting her to the best of my ability, and she said something that has really stayed with me: "Not only do you grieve for them, you suddenly realize you're not number one with anyone anymore." She went on with her life, of course, and had lots of love from her children, siblings and extended family, but I knew none of us could give her that special love she missed. That wonderful, mysterious, thing called love between two people that can be immortal, or, sadly, sometimes disappear like a vapor.

Here is a poem I gave to my husband on our 47th anniversary. Almost 10 years later, it still seems to say how much I value being number one with him:

Anniversary Song

We've kept our promises, spoken
or unspoken
in the language life mates adopt.
As birds who commit to mate and nest,
and wait patiently for cheep and sign
to reveal again the reason
for promises made and kept.

And, old love, tried and true, is
our fountain of youth, allowing
love filtered eyes to rest gently,
seeing else but the half that fits
perfectly to each separate,
incomplete soul.

Now, when bluebird calls his mate
in tones soft and scarely heard,
I think of you, my love, and promises
you've whispered to my heart,
and, you must hear my heart's reply:
"You are my life, as long as I live."


Friday, February 6, 2009

Three Little Words

It occurred to me as I was enjoying an eggplant sandwich today, that words can be compared to eggplants. You either love them, or you get along nicely with as little of them as possible. For instance, I find it very difficult to simply write, "Love Carole"on any sort of greeting card. If I begin to just add a little note, I start out writing normally, then seeing I'm running out of room, begin making my words smaller and smaller, and usually end up writing up and down and around the edges and on the back. When my youngest daughter was in elementary school, she told me one day how she hated to take the "excuse" notes I wrote to school. She said her teacher always put mine last. I fixed that teacher. The next one said, "She weren't there. She were sick." Let her think what she would.

My best friend, Ginny, solved her Christmas card problem. (I don't think she likes eggplant) She orders cards early and has the family name printed below the greeting. She doesn't even initial them. She hands them off to her attorney husband, who hands them off to his secretary, and she runs them through the office postage meter. Done! However, Ginny has kept every little note or poem I have sent her over the many years of our friendship. She does put little three-word messages on my birthday cards: "I miss you" or "I love you". They certainly suffice.

Then, on the way home from Gainesville last week, my husband and I were chatting happily; going slow in the traffic around Cleveland. I remember we were enjoying a debate about whether sour cream cake donuts were superior to glazed raised donuts. My eyes came to rest on a torn cardboard sign nailed to a creosote fence post. Three little words and a phone number were scrawled there in dark pencil: "I Need Work". They spoke volumes. I have grieved for that man and felt utter frustration ever since. I know he is just one of so many that are in this terrible situation. I keep thinking that this person probably has children, and how much those kids would enjoy a bagful of donuts--most any kind.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

The House of Cards

Several weeks ago, I mentioned a poem I had written about 4 years ago. There was a very small old house just off Hwy 129N that had so much character. I didn't know it had an occupant until one Spring day I saw this bent over little woman watering her front porch plants. She was quite old, and wore the old fashioned sun bonnet and apron so typical of mountain women. I was inspired to put something down on paper to remember the woman, and the little house she lived in. I'm so glad I did, because she died less than a year later. The little house was pushed down and removed. It was replaced with a vinyl sided mobile home. Nothing to write about there!
This poem was published in A Sense of Place, New South Poetry Chapbook.


There is a tiny house that sits askew
in silent patience, holding out, holding on.
Winter paints ugliness on its bleak, leaning timbers,
no smoke curl charms the view or adds warmth;
I wonder how it can stand.

Inside, a very old woman waits, rocking
to a song with no words or music, remembering.
Neither joyful or sad, she numbly endures
the repetition of years and seasons.

If she lives till Spring, she will emerge
one day, much like her tulips, urged by the warmth.
Her gnarled hands will bring out rusty coffee cans,
watering every living thing, tearing away dry vines,
exposing new shoots to sun and rain.

She will be about her garden till Autumn frosts
shrivel the blossoms, and chill her ancient bones.
Then, she will shut the door of her tiny fortress,
remaining unseen, like the tubers now sleeping
in her garden, caring little for passing strangers
who gape and wonder how the little house still stands.

Carole R. Thompson