Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Ode to Aphids

You've come here to do battle
my little aphid fiends,
but in the end I'll getcha
by any mortal means.

In pow'dry fine white armies
you chew my plants to shreds.
Where are the winged predators
you nasty critters dread?

Those ladybugs have flown away
their plant-lice meal untouched.
I'm forced to fight with chemicals
and other toxic stuff.

I march out to my garden
with several cans of DEET
But then I stop. Consid'ring,
that all bugs gotta eat.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Food, Friends and a Fire Truck

Imagine the look of wonder and surprise on the faces of the neighborhood kids when they saw a big red fire truck roll up the street on a sunny Saturday afternoon. The children dropped their cans of silly string and Super Soakers long enough to watch the giant vehicle stop and park alongside a gathering of their parents and friends at the mid-May Ivey Chase Spring Block Party in Stone Creek.

Soon, three representatives of the LCFR (Lowndes County Fire Rescue) opened the truck's shiny red doors and hopped out to join the folks, as special guests at the neighborhood picnic.While the grown-ups wandered over to admire the array of high-tech equipment, children climbed aboard to get a good view of the dials, hoses, jump seats, and gear.

Tommy Crump, Sergeant on Duty, stacked his bunker gear on the tarmac in the at-the-ready position for everyone to see. When not in use, these clothes are turned inside out so a firefighter can quickly step into them and pull them on. Did you know that a firefighter must be able to get into his or her gear--including air tank and mask--in two minutes, in order to be certified?

"We love to meet and greet the community and let the people get a glimpse of our world. This way we can show them what we do in different situations," said Sgt. Crump.

"Often times we visit to educate and impress the children, but it's the adults who seem to enjoy it even more." Over the next hour, the firemen fielded lots of questions from the crowd and enjoyed discussing how they use specialized training and equipment to help the community.

"Being a firefighter involves a personal commitment to service that comes from the heart," said Joe Brown. Often, these teams are your first line of defense. They will even respond to EMS calls if no ambulance is available. "Sometimes, the action is non-stop. Whether it's putting out a fire or just helping grandpa back into bed, we do whatever we can to be of assistance," added Jeff Fitch. "Thank you for allowing us to come out to serve our customers."

After the getting a close-up look at the fire truck, everyone gathered to enjoy burgers and hot dogs hot off the grill and an assortment of homemade appetizers and desserts.

Making new friends with Lowndes County Firemen and checking out their mighty red truck was the highlight of the day.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Milltown Murals of Lakeland, GA

Once a year on the first Saturday in April, Lakeland,Georgia (formerly known as Milltown c. 1925) holds the Milltown Murals Motorcade. Here, vintage vehicles line up on Main Street for a dazzling two-hour parade through the streets of town. Drivers and spectators alike enjoy the old cars, refreshments, music, and games for the children.

After the crowd disperses and the last of the antique cars chug out of town, the dust settles and visitors are free to browse more than thirty murals painted on the walls of its historic downtown buildings. These images, with their life-size characters, depict the activities and actual people who lived in rural Georgia during the 1920s.

Artwork, like the gathering of folks in front of the Post Office, and the steam locomotive, cover the entire broadside of a building. Smaller ones, like the sepia-toned women, are only several feet square.
Outside of the doctor's office a man comforts a young fellow with a skinned knee.

Is that George Burns standing in front of the white chapel?

Children's facial expressions are well represented in the paintings; frowns, boredom, happy smiles.

Ralph Waldrop and Billy Love of Columbia, South Carolina began painting the murals in 1998. Each one is accompanied by a plaque describing the scene and the characters. Look for the display with a QR code so you can scan it with a QR reader to take the audio tour.

Stop by the Visitors Center located at 8 South Valdosta Road, for a map to learn more about the location of the individual paintings. Lakeland is the county seat of Lanier County in Southeast Georgia. Set your GPS and c'mon down. This community loves company, and the outdoor show never closes.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Madison, on Georgia's Antebellum Trail

One hour east of Atlanta lies the historic town of Madison, where Antebellum mansions and Southern charm thrive. Pick up a map at the Welcome Center in the town square and begin your own journey down the Antebellum trail. Start at Heritage Hall, located in one of the oldest and largest of the National Historic Districts, and current headquarters for Madison's Historical Society. (Stop #4 of 46 on the architecture walking/driving tour.) This 1811 home was built by Dr. Elijah Jones, who was a physician for the Confederacy.  

He set up his surgery in one of the back rooms of the house, after the Yankee General Sherman's Army burned his downtown office, on their march to the sea. You can browse through the doctor's medical books and equipment. Did you know that in those days, medical school lasted only one year? After that, young physicians learned by doing, under the supervision of older practitioners.

In the dining room, pull up a chair beside the large oval mahogany table, set with hand painted china, and listen to the docent's story of how gentlemen dinner guests would enjoy after-dinner cigars and port in the dining room, while the ladies retreated to the drawing room beyond the carved wooden pocket doors, for tea.
Marvel at the toys and furniture in the childrens' bedroom, including a tiny china tea set, a 200-year-old doll, and a miniature bicycle. There's even a topsy-turvy doll lying on a toddler's bed.
Did you know that diamond engagement rings were rare in the early 1800's. If a young woman was lucky enough to receive one, she could check to see if the gem was real by making scratch marks with it on glass. Visitors can still see these etchings on several of the house's window panes.

Visitors can tour this charming city by either walking or driving. There's a map of the mile-and-a-half route that will guide you through the historic district and downtown areas. In town, you can shop at any of the 200 antique vendors and specialty stores, dine at one of the dozen downtown restaurants, or stay at one of the local bed and breakfasts, or luxury inns.

Madison's Welcome Center is located on the square at 115 E. Jefferson Street. Open every day until late afternoon. Call 800-709-7406 or visit Heritage Hall is open Monday through Saturday form 11 - 4, Sunday 1:30 - 4:30, available for private events.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Nashville's Parthenon

Can't make it to Greece this summer? If your heart is set on seeing the Parthenon, consider touring the full-scale replica of the temple, in Nashville, Tennessee.

Once inside, stand at the foot of a 42-foot tall statue of Athena, gilded with eight pounds of gold. In her right hand sits the goddess of victory, Nike. Though tiny in comparison, she stands over six feet tall. Athena's left hand rests on the rim of a fifteen-foot high shield.

Wander to the far wall and stand before enormous 24-foot high bronze doors. On the opposite wall you can see casts of the original pediment statues. You might be surprised by the daubs and splashes of color throughout the building. Keep your camera handy to capture images, but on the second floor and outside only.

Set in beautiful Centennial Park, two miles west of downtown Nashville, the Parthenon was first built in 1897 to commemorate 100 years of Tennessee statehood. This temporary structure was later replaced with a permanent one in 1931. Since reopening, it has attracted thousands of visitors from all over the world.

Whether you're visiting Vanderbilt University, coming into Nashville for the music or food, don't miss strolling the Parthenon galleries, exhibits and walking trails that make this city the "Athens of the South."

The Parthenon is open Tuesday through Saturday from 9:00 - 4:30 and on Sunday from 12:30 - 4:30. Admission is $6 for adults and $4 for children (4 - 17). For more information call 615-880-2265.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Block Party

A cool, rainy spring blew eastward out of town, taking with it most of the mosquitoes and gnats, and leaving in its wake clear skies and a warming sun - finally!

It was time to invite the neighbors, a few extra friends along with an assortment of local children, and throw a block party.

Out came the giant-sized BBQ filled with smokin' charcoal - big enough to grill dozens of hot dogs and burgers at once. Coolers filled with ice popped up here and there.

There were 4 large tables laden with an assortment of homemade appetizers and desserts, buns and condiments.

 The guests' first stop was the card table to pick up a hand printed nametag - which helped when trying to remember 40 or so names at once. It was also the station where the kids could get their faces painted - most choosing a flower, a dolphin or colorful bird.
And it was easy to spot in the middle of the cul-de-sac as it was the one decorated with shiny helium balloons.

Everybody brought their own chair, a beverage or two and a side dish.

While the children played an assortment of outdoor games and made sidewalk chalk drawings, the adults sat and talked or strolled around and got to know each other better. 

Some folks had never met; some hadn't spoken to each other for years; others had just moved in.

Everybody had a great time, and there's talk of a repeat party in October.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Restful Ryokan

Ryokan is a traditional country inn typically found in the picturesque countryside of Japan. Here, guests will feel like they are taking in journey back in time to experience life in the Edo period of Japan (1603-1868). It's a celebration of the art and culture of that period.

 Visitors will experience first hand many traditional customs including a tea ceremony, wearing a yukata (cotton robe) and sleeping on a futon that is laid on a floor covered with straw tatami mats. In order to preserve the delicate mats, one is expected to remove their shoes before entering the room.

The ryokan serves dinner in kaiseki ryori style cuisine, which is a meal consisting of more than 20 small dishes that are beautifully arranged and brought to the table at the same time.

 Perhaps the best luxury involves soaking in a relaxing onsen filled with water from a nearby hot spring. These baths can be private or communal, but in either case the water is very hot and guests are expected to wash and rinse their body at a shower station before entering the onsen. Once the visitor gets used to the steaming hot temperature it becomes so relaxing that it's difficult to leave.

Every detail at a ryokan is meticulously arranged for the comfort and satisfaction of the guest, from the exquisite rooms, gardens and baths to the visually pleasing and sophisticated cuisine.

It may be that the best time to immerse yourself in the calming, luxurious  elegance of a ryokan is in winter where the traditional architecture blends into the beauty and simplicity of nature.