Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Talking to My Daddy!

Even when my Dad is wearing glasses, I think you can still see that twinkle in his eyes!  (And when he was a young man, he didn't wear glasses, he thinks he wore them in that  photo above just to be funny.  Yep, that sounds like him.)
When we were at the Sunflower Festival last year, he waited a while to get on this toy tractor just so I could take this photo!
This is what my Dad looks like on his real tractor! "Nothing runs like a Deere".  Daddy is plowing his field to plant peas!  (Not what we call English, they are called field peas and there is nothing better than to eat them with a big piece of Daddy's onion cornbread!)  I took this photo just a few weeks ago.   (And if you are wondering, my Dad is 87 years old!)
I took the photo of my Dad's garden sometime in early summer.  See the buckets with the sticks in them?  That is to deter the deer from his vegetables.  The deer have been hunted for so many centuries now, that it must be ingrained in them to look out for anything that looks like a gun!  And also,  Daddy just told me that he likes to splash some men's cologne around the edges of the fields.  Once again, that will deter the deer since they know from that smell that a hunter could be after them....  Why does my Dad do this?  The deer can come in and just eat so much.  He has also set up some electric fencing too but he says that he really likes to use the sticks and the men's cologne.

OKRA!  It is so wonderful when it is freshly cut from that stalk.  Before it turns into that pod of okra, it is such a pretty flower, especially against a Georgia sky!
Now, I love talking to my Dad and learning his wisdom in the garden.  I just wish you could hear him speak!  He has a North Georgia mountain dialect, and I have it too when I am speaking with him...I had to lose it when we moved to the Atlanta area as a kid, lose it or get ridiculed or beat up!  As my grandmother used to say, "I hope YOU'UNS are being good!"  
I found a video of Wendy Bagwell telling a funny story and he sounds a bit like my Dad, so much that it is why it is here and also, I think it's funny!  (I have written of Wendy Bagwell before, he was a gospel singer...Wendy Bagwell and the Sunliters!  And my Aunt Jean cut a record with him once, "When The Wagon Was New".  If anyone ever finds that record, let me know!)  Enjoy!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

"Blood Swept Lands And Seas of Red" - The Tower of London

When we read of deaths during wars, it might seem difficult to think of the great numbers of those who have died.  World War I began in 1914 and to commemorate the one hundred year since the start of the war there is an amazing display at the Tower of London which is still being completed.  The artist, Paul Cummins, has made ceramic poppies and the idea is that by November 11th (the date of the end of World War I in 1918)  there will be 888,246 poppies filling the moat around the Tower of London, one for each of the British and British Commonwealth soldiers killed in the war. He has entitled this: "Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red".

If you would like to see some amazing photos of this display, then I urge you to look at the post by Chel at Sweetbriar Dreams from England.  You may find her post just here.   Chel kindly gave me permission for this link. Thank you, Chel!

In case you might wonder why the poppy is used for remembrance for veterans, it is due to the poem written by Canadian John McCrae in World War I.  He was struck by how quickly the poppies grew around the newly dug graves at Ypres in the Flanders region of Belgium.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
      Between the crosses, row on row,

   That mark our place; and in the sky
   The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
   Loved and were loved, and now we lie
         In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
   The torch; be yours to hold it high.
   If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
         In Flanders fields.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

S.S. Leopoldville Disaster Dec. 24, 1944

Not too many people know about the sinking of the Leopoldville on Dec. 24, 1944 in the English Channel and the cover-up that followed.   I have written about it on my blog before and it is very moving to read some of the comments left on those posts, many of them from the relatives of the survivors or the relatives of the men who died from this ship.
(There, you should be able to click on that link to see my Leopoldville post.)

Allan Andrade wrote a book, "S.S. Leopoldville Disaster Dec 24, 1944" with lists of all the survivors that he could find. 
He later added new material with photographs along with a revised list of the survivors in a book entitled  "Leopoldville: A Tragedy Too Long Secret".  I have read both of these books.    If you click on this link:  you will see a list of all the men who died along with drawings by Richard Rockwell, depicting the tragedy.

 How did I find out about it?  When I worked as a travel agent, one of the army veterans came in to arrange his military reunion and told me that he had survived the sinking of the Leopoldville and that I wouldn't have heard about it because it had been kept top secret for over 50 years.  That army vet's name was W. S. Connor. He told me that there was a book about it but somehow, his name was not listed as one of the survivors.  The author, Allen Andrade, was kind enough to inform me that Mr. Connor's name was now listed in his second book and I am very grateful that this is so.

"Forgotten by many, remembered by few", that is the quote from Clive Clessler about this may read an article about it here.

In Allen Andrade's introduction to his book, he tells us that in research for a book he was planning to write he found that in one American business, over 700 employees served in the military during World War II.  (The Oneida Company).  Thirty two of them were killed.  One of them, was an orphan who celebrated his 20th birthday on board the Leopoldville on Dec. 1, 1944.  He perished in the tragedy.  His name was Staff Sergeant Benjamin J. Blaskowski and it is to his memory that this book is dedicated. 

The ship was torpedoed and sank just five miles off the coast of Cherbourg, France.
There are so many personal stories and I found them to be so moving that I have found it very difficult to write a post about this book.  Like the story about Mr. Louis Zamperini, it is my hope that one day, someone will make a movie about this true story.  There was a documentary about the Leopoldville which was on the History Channel here in the USA and there is also a monument to the memory of the men, one here in Georgia and also, one in Florida.  I hope to visit both of them one day and when I do, I will show you the photos and will mention the men from the Leopoldville again.
I will never forget them.

Monday, August 18, 2014

George Ballas, Inventor of the Weed-Eater

You are just one thought away from an invention that could be very useful to the world!   For instance, the weed-eater was invented by George Ballas in Houston, Texas in 1971.  How did he get the idea?  He took his car through an automatic car wash and as he watched the large round brushes against his car, it gave him an idea.  He went home and attached some fishing lines to a tin can and hooked it up to a lawn edger.  After failing to get toolmakers to invest any capital for his invention. he came up with the money himself.  By 1977, the company was worth $80 million.

Like most inventors, this man had his regular day job. George Ballas owned a large dance studio in Houston with over 100 instructors.  His son Corky Ballas is a ballroom dancer and has won several Latin dance championship titles.  George's grandson, Mark Ballas, is a name that you might know from "Dances With The Stars"! 
George Ballas died in 2011 at the age of 85.  I wonder what it would have been like for him to see his invention become so commonly used by millions. And all of that came from his observation of watching those brushes in an automatic car wash .Of course, the idea itself is wonderful, but you must follow through and invent something!   Do that for me, would you?  Thank you! And the world will thank you too!  And hey, if you make money from it too, I would not begrudge you that either! 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Panola Mountain, Arabia Mountain, And Stone Mountain-Love For All Three

We love to walk the trails at Panola Mountain, Arabia Mountain and Stone Mountain as much as we can.  Arabia and Panola Mountains are closer to us, so you will see more photos of those two...but I love all three!

Peaceful to gaze upon Lake Alexander, at Panola Mountain State Park

Old Barn At Panola Mountain State Park...the Lake Loop Trail goes right through it!

Dayflowers At Arabia Mountain...see the star shaped leaves at the bottom? They will be Yellow Daisies!

So much to see on these mountains, but don't forget to look up! The clouds can be amazing too...

Don't worry, little flower, I will always remember to look out for you!  This has the enchanting name of "butterfly pea".  (Photo taken on trail at Arabia Mountain, beside Arabia Lake.)
At one time, there were houses at Stone Mountain, this is a remaining chimney which is on one of the trails at Stone Mountain.  You can often see stone chimneys like this in the South and I remember thinking, as a kid, why don't they just make the house of the same stone they used for the chimneys?
I would think that this stone is from Stone Mountain itself, since we are just steps away from it here!
Rock on!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Green Braselton and the Braselton Familly

Green Braselton died this past Saturday.  He was a true Southern gentleman and he lived to be 100 years old.  If you read his obituary in our local newspaper you will also be rewarded by seeing his photo.  You may read the obituary from the Rockdale Citizen here.  I am happy to tell you that I had the pleasure of speaking with Mr. Braselton over the past 14 years or so and you could not ask to meet a finer man.  I love this line from his obituary, " He had many friends and he loved them all". And I also love that he called his wife, "The Babe"!
When I first met him, and he told me his name, I teased him a bit about his name, asking if he owned the town by the same name.  "Well...."  was his modest reply, and of course, I knew that meant that he was too polite to tell me the background of his family so I had to do a bit of background reading...

For me, the story of his family sounds like a wonderful outline for a historical novel.
In 1876, William Harrison Braselton, who was a poor dirt farmer, married Susan Hosch, the daughter of a rich plantation owner.  Braselton built a house on 786 acres that he purchased that was just north of the Hosch Plantation.  Harrison and Susan Braselton had three sons, William Henry, Green and John.  In 1887, John, the youngest son of William and Susan, began selling goods to the workers on the farm out of a small 6ft by 6ft building. (He was only 8 years old!)  Later, the business expanded and his two older brothers joined him.  This business became known as the Braselton Brothers Store and was a well respected and much loved business.  The company was one of the first to extend customer credit and to have the most up to date goods.  The business grew and grew and they built a beautiful brick building covering over 70,000 square feet in 1904. These three brothers, or the Three B's, as they were called, were ahead of their time...their store was almost one stop shopping...departments for clothing, food, furniture, toys, hardware, linens, housewares, gifts, and there was also room for the local bank!
You might notice that the middle brother was named Green, so I believe that Mr. Green Braselton who was born in 1914 would be his son.  I find this kind of family history quite interesting and I find it especially fascinating since I met this man and liked him very much. It makes me see why this business was so very popular.  I am sure that the brothers were just as charming and gracious as I found Mr. Green Braselton to be.  Honestly, can't you just see this become a best-selling book or very popular movie?

Monday, August 11, 2014

We Have Lost A Very Funny Man-Robin Williams

A little girl was talking to her teacher about whales. The teacher said it was physically impossible for a whale to swallow a human because even though it was a very large mammal its throat was very small. The little girl stated that Jonah was swallowed by a whale. Irritated, the teacher reiterated that a whale could not swallow a human. The little girl said, "When I get to heaven, I will ask Jonah". The teacher asked, "What if Jonah went to hell?".  The little girl replied, "Then you ask him."

As far as I know, Robin Williams never told this joke, but he might have, it sounds like him.  It's funny and it make me laugh.
Robin Williams died today and very sad to say, it seems that it was a suicide.  I just spoke with my son and Christopher remembers the movies from his childhood...Aladdin, Hook, and Jumanji...all very much loved and fondly remembered.

Does anyone else remember that Robin Williams was raised as an Episcopalian?  He once listed the Top Ten Reasons To Be Episcopalian.  I found it for you...

10. No snake handling.
9. You can believe in dinosaurs.
8. Male and female God created them; male and female we ordain them.
7. You don't have to check your brains at the door.
6. Pew aerobics.
5. Church year is color-coded.
4. Free wine on Sunday.
3. All of the pageantry - none of the guilt.
2. You don't have to know how to swim to get baptized.

And the Number One reason to be an Episcopalian:
1. No matter what you believe, there's bound to be at least one other Episcopalian who agrees with you

"Wherever there are four Episcopalians, there is bound to be a fifth".
(Sorry, couldn't resist telling you one last joke about Episcopalians...I am sure that Robin must have told that one!) 
And just one more joke from Robin... I found this on the BBC!
In England, if you commit a crime, the police don't have a gun and you don't have a gun.  If you commit a crime, the police will say, "Stop or I'll say stop again."
My thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends.  May he rest in the peace of the Lord.