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November 2008
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January 2009

December 2008

Knitting: project three

I'm still enjoying knitting, though I haven't really challenged myself in a while. This is my third project: a scarf for R. I'm making the organic cotton man scarf from not martha.

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I tried to get the same color yarn she used, but I couldn't find it for sale anywhere that had it for a price I was willing to pay, so I got the sage color from Catnip Yarns on ebay.

Once I finish this scarf (72 inches - it's taking me forever! I must be a very slow knitter), I am going to try a pair of socks. I'm not sure if I'm ready for socks yet, but I take comfort in the fact that youtube has tons of knitting videos there.

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I really love watching these things take shape - even if only scarf-shaped. It takes me a while, but there's a slow, delicious thrill in making something so very usable with your own hands.


Rust is pretty

I didn't know a rusty old tractor could be so colorful.

V and I were outside, meandering in the yard, when she headed for the old tractor and climbed up to sit in the seat.

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After working tirelessly for several minutes trying to convince her to let me take a few photos of her actually looking at the camera,

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I gave up and went to work on the rest of the tractor.

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I think I could take a thousand pictures of this tractor and still find more cool parts of it to photograph.

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From rusty bolts ...

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... to I have no idea what this is, but it sure has lots of pretty colors.

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This part looks useful, but I don't know what it does. I'm not particularly knowledgeable about machinery.

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But that doesn't stop me from taking pictures of it.


Christmas boot and looty

I don't know about the rest of you cats and kitties, but V made out like a bandit at Christmas this year. She got lots of really fun stuff - including three stuffed dogs. She loves all three of them, but there's one in particular who has won her heart.

He's Tumbles My Rollover Pup. He snores when he sleeps, rolls over, snuggles up to you, and is just generally an all-around fun Beagle. She loves to snuggle up with him and pretend that they are both asleep.

So the other day I asked V what her new puppy's name is and she said, "Tiak."

"Tiak?!" She had already named one of her new baby dolls Tiak.

"No! His name is ... Dog Attack!" And with that she ran off, friendly looking Beagle in the crook of her arm.

Now, thankfully, I'm 99.9% positive that she has no idea what a dog attack would actually entail, so I'm choosing to look at it as roughly similar to a Big Mac attack, only with sweet pups instead of two all-beef patties and special sauce.

As for me, I cashed in my favorite Christmas present this afternoon - R took V to "the game place" (Chuck E. Cheese) and I spent a good hour or so by myself in Barnes and Noble with a gift certificate. I got two books I've been wanting for a very long while.

I think I may be the last female blogger out there to get Amanda Soule's The Creative Family. I've just glanced at the pictures so far, but I can't wait to read it. It looks like a cup of my favorite tea in front of a roaring fire.

The second book I got is Bryan Peterson's Understanding Shutter Speed. I've had Understanding Exposure for a while and learned a lot (a whole lot) from it, so I'm hoping this book will break it down for me even more.

I was also a lucky ducky who got a Kindle this year, and I love it! I love it! Boy howdy, do I love it. So I'm reading Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle - finally! Sometimes I feel like I'm late to all the parties.

So I figure I may as well make "to read more" one of my New Year's resolutions.

Now tell me, are you making resolutions? Are they the same ones you always make or something new? I really only have three resolutions - I'll talk about the other two soon (still working out the details).


It should always be like this

It can't possibly be. But if you're lucky, you have some photos of yourself that look something like this in a box under your bed.

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What does the weekend hold? French toast for breakfast, free babysitting so we can see a movie together for the first time in more than three years, a bit of rest, and reflection on the end of the year. Ah, 2009, you sneaky thing! Feels like you're coming at me out of nowhere. But I'm getting ready for you, making plans, getting used to the idea. Please be kinder than 2008. We could use a break.


Wisdom begins...

We three went to the park the other day. It's a wonderful park - too bad it's going to be closed from January to April for repairs! V is already attached. I'll have a few more pictures from there over the next day or two.

Anyway, this sign is there. I love it and I just had to catch some flare to go with.

wisdom begins with wonder

I will probably mention this one more time after things calm down from ringing in the New Year, but I have gotten my own domain. If you read this blog through a reader, you can change it in your reader or not, but if you are kind enough to link to my site on your own blog, I would be grateful if you would update the link to the new domain. Thanks!


Have a holly jolly

Today we're making cookies and putting up V's stocking. Tonight all will be right in the world, if only for the evening. Tomorrow V will find the baby doll and Hungry Hungry Hippos game under the tree that she asked Santa for. And then we'll drive all over Northeast Georgia visiting our families. Woot!

V and Santa

Wherever you are, whatever holiday you celebrate (or don't) this time of year, I wish you health, happiness, warmth, & love in your life.


Updated with photos

So far, I have written about four houses I have lived in, and I plan to do more. When we moved back to Georgia, I figured I might as well take pictures of the ones that I can. Tonight I updated two of those posts with photos of what the houses look like today.

The brown house I lived in when I was 7. Quite obviously, it hasn't been lived in for years. It's too bad, because it could've been one of those great houses like I love had it been kept up with.

The house by the graveyard is where we lived when I was 5. It's in a small neighborhood and has been taken care of just fine. In fact, the carport that the neighbor boy used to pee on has been enclosed (can't see it in the photo, though, sorry) - couldn't have been a bad idea.

There's also a house in town that I have been told my great-grandfather built. I haven't seen it in years and have no idea what it looks like these days. It's up on a hill and difficult to get to if one is trying to be inconspicuous (which I often try to be). But I'm going to attempt to catch that one as well (feels like I'm going hunting).

Ok, am I the only one this obsessed with houses? Hmmmm...


Found things

One of our favorite things to do is explore around the yard. So many things to find.

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Lots of different things growing on trees.

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There are rusty things too.

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And mossy things. How long must this brick have sat there for moss to grow on it? I'd say a good, long while.

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Swinging things.

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Swings are among our favorite things.

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We're out of town for the weekend. All my blogging friends who aren't feeling well - I hope you're feeling better soon. And everyone else, stay well and warm.


I have a thing for buttermilk and I have a thing for pie

Buttermilk makes everything better. As soon as I open a jug of buttermilk, the smell hits my nose and I am immediately transported to a chair by the table in my grandmother's kitchen, where I stood and watched her make biscuits at least every other day for years and years (the alternate days were for cornbread - which also has buttermilk in it).

I've been thinking about Grandmama's buttermilk pie for a few months now. Then yesterday, as R left to stay the night out of town, I realized that I had a pie crust in the freezer, exactly 3 eggs, and more than enough buttermilk to make a pie.

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Buttermilk pie is a very rich custard pie that's so simple to make - you don't even need to get out your mixer (which is a good thing since mine's in a box).

If you'd like to try it, here's the recipe:

Buttermilk Pie

1/2 cup melted butter (mine was unsalted, but I don't think it matters)
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup of buttermilk (mine was non-fat to make up for the entire stick of butter)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 unbaked 9-inch pie shell

Preheat your oven to 325°

The first thing I do is melt the butter so that it has a chance to cool - don't want to make sweet scrambled egg pie!

Next, beat up your eggs a little bit, add the sugar and flour and stir it until well combined. Add the not-too-hot melted butter and, again, mix it well. Add the buttermilk and the vanilla and mix it one last time. So easy, it takes practically no time at all! Bake it at 325° for an hour or until the pie is set. Then chill it until you can't stand it anymore and have to have a piece even though it's not completely set. Argh! The waiting! I'm not much for the waiting.

Now, whenever I make a custardy pie, I'm never entirely sure what "or until set" is supposed to look like, so I just set my timer for an hour. When it went off, I pulled the pie out, which I had put on a cookie sheet to make getting it in and out of the oven easier. It was slightly puffy and very jiggly in the middle, but less so toward the outside. I set it on top of the oven to cool, then about an hour later, I put it in the fridge to chill until I lost patience and had a piece.

Tasted pretty good to me - just like Grandmama's!

buttermilk pie slice

R should get home in the next hour or two. I already told him he may want to pick up another pie crust and some eggs on his way home - this could get addictive.



Christmas in a small Southern town

Today, I went driving today to see some of my favorite old houses decorated for Christmas in Comer, GA.

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I thought maybe I'd see a lot of over-the-top decorations, but things were pretty simple, which was lovely.

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Below is the Comer Woman's Club.

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This is one of my favorites. You can see it large, if you'd like.

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May I always take the time to string at least one strand of Christmas lights. I've been guilty of not doing so in years past (don't tell anyone).

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I'm a sucker for a nice sidewalk with a white picket fence.

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My favorite. You can see it large here.

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I'm participating in the Hooked on Houses "Hooked on Holiday House Tours." Please say hello if you're here for the tour. And if not, please check out the other tours. It's lots of fun, ya'll!


Winter's chill & White Linen = LOVE

One of my favorite winter memories is of my mom picking me up after work when I was three years old.

At that time, my mom worked at the Estée Lauder counter at a downtown department store. In the morning I went to a half-day of daycare so that my grandfather wasn't overwhelmed by a three-year-old all day. In the early afternoon he'd come get me, and I'd stay at my grandparents' house until my mom could pick me up after work. Often that was after dark, after my bedtime.

So Grandmama would get me ready and put me in her bed to sleep. I'd sleep there until my mother got home, and then she'd carry me out to the car and lay me in the back seat for the ride home to Myrna Court, the apartments where we lived (those apartments are gone now, but I have a couple of pictures).

What I remember is it being Christmas time and very cold. I remember pretending to be asleep when I wasn't, so that my mom would have to carry me out to the car. She had this short but heavy fur coat that she wore, and she'd hold me tight against her, wrapping the soft, warm coat around me to save me from the chill. I can still smell the White Linen perfume she wore that she got for free because she worked at the cosmetics counter.

Most of all, I remember feeling how much she loved me in that simple act - the cold, the coat, her warmth and embrace, the smell of her perfume all mingling together into the hazy glow of a dear memory. She always looked so lovely, so chic in the latest fashions, with the prettiest makeup and hair. My mom is a beauty, always has been. I remember being very happy and loving her so.

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Do you have a favorite winter memory? Please share - I'd love for you to knock my socks off with the happiness of it all.


Winston & Frog

Before I'm too late - if you need an extra stocking stuffer or two for Christmas - let me show you the cuteness. This is Winston the Sleeping Whale. He's adorable!

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My friend Kim sells the cutest - and extremely affordable - stuffies in her Etsy store, Sewciopath's Shoppe. This is Frog.

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V loves them both - they're always on her bed and she sleeps with them every night. Winston's fins are just right for little fingers to soothe themselves to sleep with. And Frog is nice and squishy to nestle under tiny chins making their way to dreamland.

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Kim also makes owls, stars, turtles, the cutest red elephant, and baby hats and booties.

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Looks like she's sold a lot lately, so if you're interested you should head on over before they're all gone!

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And if you want to do what you can to save small toymakers in the US like Kim, check out this post from Z Recommends.


The opposite of empty headed

I need a little notebook to carry around with me.

During the day or right before I fall asleep, I think of all these things I need to write about here. I get a visit from the muse, who hands me grand and glorious ideas, concepts, projects (most of which I never find time to bring to fruition). But for the past several days (and probably longer since my days are running together something fierce), I sit down and nothing's there. There's not a thought in my brain. Except that's not true because I know my head is actually completely full. Full of hopes, worries, and wishes - things to remember, things to do, and things I'm not supposed to forget. It's annoying.

So here are some photos I took today.

I like this one. If you do too, you might want to see it large.

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If you look at this map of Oglethorpe County from 1894 (and here it is at 300%), you'll see that it is divided up into wonderfully named districts. Wolfskin, Goose Pond, Devil's Pond, Beaverdam, the Glade. My grandfather's family is shown on the map, right along Big Cloud's Creek.

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On the map, you can also see the area right down the road from me - the Sandy Cross district.

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If you ever come to Sandy Cross, you will really, truly be out in the country - so don't get lost. Give me a call before you come.

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I finally finished my second knitting project and now it's time for a third. I have some yarn in a box that I was going to make a scarf with, but I haven't found it yet and I'm afraid it might be in storage. So I'm not sure what I want to make, but I need to figure it out before tomorrow because that's when I'm going to buy a skein or two of yarn. It'll need to be something small, like socks. I have no idea how to knit socks, but I'm going to try it anyway.

And I want to get that notebook.


N.O. Arnold's building

So way back in the late 1800s, there was this town called Edwin, Georgia. It was named in honor of Edwin Shaw, who owned the town store and had a post office established there. But then N.O. Arnold came to town, bought the town store and a bunch of land, and renamed it Arnoldsville.

Back when the town was growing, there was a gin, a saw mill, and a warehouse. My guess is that this building was one of these three things, but I don't know for sure because I don't know what a gin or a saw mill is supposed to look like. Don't those two need water? Anyway, I'm going to guess that this was Mr. Arnold's warehouse.

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I know this was Mr. Arnold's building because above the window it says "NAT ARNOLD." I should buy a building and have my name etched in stone above one of the windows. That'd be cool.

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The last time I remember taking pictures of this building, it was a lot more intact. You can see a photo (which I did not take) of it here (it's the building in the distance). Not sure what happened but it doesn't look like there was a fire.

Look at the little red berries growing up there.

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Here's the underside. I thought that looked pretty cool, almost like someone painted it.

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As always, it's the details that get me. Love this.

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Can tree stumps fossilize? How long would that take? I tried looking down the hole in the center of this tree. I couldn't see anything, just pitch black. At some point, this was a lovely tree nestled right up next to the building, and now it's just some crazy-looking stump.

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I could show you the inside of the building, but it just hurts my heart. Instead, I'll show you this, which makes my heart happy. Who gathers a bunch of rocks and builds a really big building with it? How long did it take how many people?

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It looks like they used Georgia red clay to cement the rocks.

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There are 22 photos of this building in my flickr set for Arnoldsville, GA. You're welcome to check them all out, if you're interested.


Things you'll find in our new yard

My granddaddy was born and lived right around the corner from here, so I'm thinking of him a lot since we moved in. The other day, V and I walked around outside the new/old yard. I looked at the trees and the sky and thought, these are the trees and the sky that he used to see.

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I've been thinking of a joke that he used to tell me.

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Three young boys are sitting on a log. The first one says, "My instinct tells me I'm going to be a great doctor when I grow up." The second boy says, "Hmph! My instinct tells me I'm going to be a great lawyer when I grow up." The third boy scratches his head and thinks for a minute and then says, "Well, my end stinks too, but it don't tell me nothin'!"

Granddaddy loved that joke.

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When my granddaddy was a kid, they would drive the wagon over to the nearby church (though probably not the original building, the church is still there and I'll be taking photos of it as soon as I can). Once, they were there at a revival - he was probably around 7 years old or so - and he got sleepy, so his mom told him to go lay out in the wagon.

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It was a stifling hot summer evening so he decided it'd be much nicer to lay on the ground in the cool grass. He fell asleep and didn't wake when everyone started to leave. He didn't realize he had fallen asleep under someone else's wagon and they ran over him, breaking both his legs. And that's the reason Granddaddy said he never served in the military.

Olden times were rough, weren't they?

tractor 2

V is getting sick or something. Stuffed up and red, itchy eyes. Kind of looks like allergies to me, but I'm going to remain in denial about that possibility. I have terrible allergies and I so hope she doesn't get them.

R took her to meet Santa at the mall yesterday. They got the cutest picture. She told him that she wants a baby doll. I think Santa can swing that.

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She don't ever worry 'bout what's gone

Wow. Did I just drop off the face of the earth or what?

That's what it felt like. Still does, a bit.

Now it's December and my month of black and whites is over. I felt like it was my baby, and that I let my baby down by not being here. But what else could I do? Life happens. You think you've got those ducks all lined up and then somebody comes along and knocks them all down.

Doesn't matter. The best thing to do is to pick them up and just start lining them back up again.

So, we've left the great and beautiful state of Tennessee and moved back "home" to Georgia, which is decidedly more flat and just a bit less chilly. We're not actually in Atlanta yet, though. We're in a temporary, top secret location. Though the digs are not luxurious, there is something very wonderful to be said for family who respond with an immediate and sincere "yes, of course!" when you call and ask for help. So we've got most of our stuff in storage and R is looking for a job in Atlanta. Then we'll move, yet again(!). V has been a doll, an absolute and total dollbaby. While I have looked around at our temporary home and thought oh my, she is excited that her room came with glow-in-the-dark stars on the ceiling. And who wouldn't be? What's not to love about glow-in-the-dark stars?

I truly, truly enjoyed the month of black and white. I feel like I learned a lot, but we'll see about that, now won't we? Now that I've switched back to color, it's almost shocking to me. I already kind of miss it. I'm thinking I'll make it some sort of annual event.

The move. It rained off and on the whole drive down to Georgia. Here's one of my last shots of Tennessee. Oh, I'm gonna miss me some mountains!

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I put V in the car and the two of us took off, bye-bye girls on the go, stopping only once for gas and to pick up some dinner. While V watched cartoons on the DVD player (I thank God for inexpensive portable DVD players), I sang the old Hal Ketchum song "Mama Knows the Highway by Heart" to myself, over and over.

Mama knows the highway by the songs
When she hears a good one, she always sings along
She don't ever worry 'bout what's gone
She says, "Good country music will never steer you wrong"


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Being back "home" is a weird thing for me, I won't lie. We haven't lived in Georgia in four years. Things are different in my hometown (which I have a love/hate relationship with). New shops are open, others are closed - or just gone completely, empty lots with the weeds growing up. It's too much for me to think about yet. But the houses. The old houses I love are all here; they're still the same.

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The old barns are still being used for something or other.

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The tiny, old towns are still in good order.

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And, perhaps best of all, you can find boiled peanuts in just about any town out in the country. Goodness gracious, I love boiled peanuts!

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Watson's Mill Bridge is still very much the same as it was in 1885.

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Old fireplaces still stand in fields among the cows and the horses.

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Though hunting's not my thing, it's a good thing that it's somebody's.

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I took my camera everywhere with me on the last day of November, hoping to get some good shots, but it just didn't happen. I only took two photos. The first is this old truck that now sits in the yard. Bad picture of a cool, old truck.

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And then I took this photo. It's bad, but I like it anyway. It rained here for several days, so everything was gray. These are bales of hay out in the field. I was too slow getting the camera ready and I shot it without checking my settings. Off in the distance it was foggy, which is what I really wanted to capture.

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Moving on.

Thanks to all 52 of you who left comments on my last post. Thanks to those who emailed me. It'll take me a while to get caught up, but you'll be hearing from me.

Tomorrow, I'll have a brand new banner (just a few days late), and I plan to get back to the business of life - trying to find my new normal, to smooth the edges of the chaos, to find the reason for things. Am I happy this is all happening? No. But I'm going to be happy anyway. I think that's going to be the best use of my time. And I'm starting to look forward to exploring the area where I live now and seeing it with my camera in a way I never had the chance to before.

Can I get an amen?