HyVee

Image by Tommie Lyn

I must say that blogging per schedule (i.e., having to churn out blog posts whether or not you have something to say) is wearing. Why is it that exciting topics hide when I’m ready to write, and others find them and beat me to it?

Plus, at this moment in time, my focus is on current events…which is a no-no in blogland (unless you’re a political writer, which I’m not).

The only other option, when your mind’s empty of possible topics, is writing posts about writing. Also a no-no, since other writers are the only ones likely to have an interest in reading them, and far better writers than moi cover writing topics much better than I.

That reduces me to digging up topics that no one, not even me, have an interest in reading or writing. For instance, I could talk about my addiction to working jigsaw puzzles (yawn!).Or maybe, a post about another addiction…Extra Dessert Delights Sugar-free Apple Pie Gum (yum, yum!).

Or…say…how about a post about…HyVee Supermarket? YAY!

Hubby and I made a trip to North Dakota this summer (part of his bucket list…he’d been in every state except North Dakota and Alaska and wanted to tick them off his list. Guess where we’ll be going next year?)

On the way, we needed some things and stopped at a supermarket in Kansas City, Missouri…a supermarket we’d never seen or heard tell of…HyVee Supermarket.

First of all, let me say, we were intrigued by the name, because, when one of our grandsons was small, he could never wrap his mind (or tongue) around the fact that hubby’s RV was, well, an RV. He called it a “high vee.” And here was a supermarket by that name. (An omen of what was to come, that this place was special? Indeed!)

But what bowled us over was the store itself. HyVee stores are employee-owned, and it shows the minute you walk inside. It’s clean, the staff is friendly and glad to see you, and the selection is amazing.

I walked in the door…and fell in love.

There were so many things to choose from, we spent more time in the store than we’d intended, just marveling at everything. Plus, they have restaurants in the store and a salad bar that is incredible. (Hubby got a fruit salad assortment and I got a tossed salad…never had a fresher, better-tasting salad, even the ones I make at home.)

Suffice it to say, I will pine for HyVee until, by some small chance, the HyVee company decides they ought to build a store in the Florida panhandle. Sigh…

What about you…do you have a favorite place to go grocery shopping?

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History

Image © Beaucroft via iStockphoto

During my school years, history, with its dates to be memorized and dusty books, didn’t interest me. (Neither did math, for that matter). English was my favorite subject.

Family history was an important topic in my father’s family, though, and I absorbed much of it almost by osmosis. My grandmother made sure that I and my cousins knew what happened to our ancestors, at least, what she had knowledge of. I learned about our Cherokee ancestors, and about Dr. Pierre Chastain, a French Huguenot who fled religious persecution, arriving in Virginia aboard the Mary and Ann in July, 1700. But beyond that, I had little interest in what happened before.

Until, that is, I had children of my own. The thread of continuity became important to me, and I began to care about the people who came before, what their lives were like, and what they did. And not only my own ancestors, but the ancestors of others.

A friend of Scottish descent often spoke of the fact that his Scottish ancestor was a slave on a plantation near Savannah, Georgia. I was skeptical. And since I also had Scottish ancestors, I began researching Scottish history. And found out he was right…Scots had been enslaved at various times and in various circumstances (Have you ever heard of the Redlegs of Barbados? Read this article.)

“Why do so few people know about this?” I wondered. The answer came immediately. Lots of people are like me–they have no interest in history, and although this information is available in history books, they don’t care to read them. And I thought someone should write a novel, should fictionalize the historic record. If it were entertaining, folks might read it and learn what happened.

I deepened my research and chose a major event in the mid-1700s, The ’45, or, The Jacobite Rebellion, when Bonnie Prince Charlie raised a Highland army to fight for him, to help him reclaim his father’s throne, as the setting of the story. In the aftermath of the last battle of the rebellion, the Battle of Culloden, at least a thousand Highlanders were transported to the American colonies and to the Caribbean, some sold as indentured servants, some as slaves.

And I told the story of that time in the person of Ailean MacLachlainn in High on a Mountain, and I did my utmost to ensure historical accuracy as well as making the story entertaining.

I’ve continued delving into history, following Ailean’s descendants, trying to tell the story of some of the people who went before us.

What about you? Does history interest you?

Flatland

In my post about the mountains of north Georgia, I mentioned that when I was a child growing up, I thought we who lived in Dalton were flatlanders. And I continued thinking that until I went “back home” after many years away.

But as to another idea of flatlanders, I had never heard of the short novel, “Flatland” by Edwin A. Abbot, until I attended a lecture by John Clayton. He used concepts from the novel to help illustrate the nature of God, and he raised questions that had never occurred to me.

Like, what is the definition of “time.” (Hint: there is no definition…there are ways we quantify “time,” ways we measure it, but we don’t have a clear definition of it because it is outside our frame of reference. We live in a three dimensional world, and time is the fourth dimension, hence, we don’t have knowledge of it that would allow us to define it or understand it, just as a resident in the two-dimensional world of Flatland cannot conceive of nor understand an object that has three dimensions.)

I was intrigued (and still am) by the concepts Mr. Clayton presented, and I revisit Flatland from time to time. Today, I was surprised to learn there are Flatland movies based on the novel, Flatland: the Movie and Flatland: the Film. I haven’t seen either of them, so I can’t speak about them, positively or negatively. But I am interested in seeing both of them. And if I do, I’ll probably have something to say about them in a later post.

Usually, I’m the last to know about something, and by the time I hear about new things, they aren’t new any more. So you may already have been introduced to the concepts in Flatland. If you have or have not heard of this little novel or the movies based on it, what are your thoughts about it?

Mountains

Image © 1020 Productions via BigStockPhoto

I did most of my growing up in Dalton, Georgia. At the time, I thought we were flatlanders. After all, when we visited Ellijay (which was once a Cherokee town named Elatseyi), where relatives lived, we drove across Fort Mountain and were surrounded by peaks and ridges while we were there. I thought our relatives were mountaineers, and that we were not.

After I grew up, I lived in many places, among them Washington state, California, Okinawa, and Florida. And I didn’t visit my home town for many years.

Imagine my surprise when I went back there attend a family reunion and discovered that there is very little about Dalton that’s flat. Everything is either up or down. Even the street where I used to live has a long, precipitous approach which made cars grind their gears getting up it. While Dalton is not as mountainous as Ellijay, it is definitely not flatlands.

But the thing that surprised me most was my reaction. We drove through Atlanta and headed north, the blue ridges of the mountains began rising on the horizon…and I got a lump in my throat at the sight. I realized then how much I’d missed them and how much they meant to me. Those beautiful blue peaks and ridges are bound up in how my view of the world developed. They are dear to my heart. And since I’ve been writing historical fiction, researching what happened to my Cherokee ancestors who lived in those mountains, who “owned” those mountains, the ties are more wrenching.

Image © Jarek Zbozien via stock.xchng

Last year when my husband and I attended the Pierre Chastain Family Association reunion in Helen, Georgia, we drove back through the mountains to Ellijay, because it was apple season, and I’ve always loved apples from the growers there. And as we drove the winding road through beautiful scenery, I wondered how the Cherokees felt who were dragged from their homes and marched to Oklahoma, leaving their mountain homes behind.

So now, when I see the mountains, not only are my own experiences attached to them, but also what I imagine of how my ancestors must have felt. (You might wonder about that statement, since I’m from Georgia, not Oklahoma…my great-great-great grandparents, with their two toddler sons, returned to the mountains after the march to Oklahoma.)

What about you? Do you live in your hometown or somewhere else? And do you have “mountains” that mean a lot to you?

Cousins, Cowboys, and Bottle Caps

Image © Mikael Cronhamn via stock.xchng

When I was a child, we lived next door to my Uncle Cliff and his family. My four cousins were my playmates. The oldest was usually the director of our games of “pretend,” setting the scenario for a story of princesses in a castle, with all that entailed. But her interests changed, and she moved on to “older” things.

And then the second oldest found our play too juvenile, and so the third in line, who is one month younger than I, became my main playmate.

His interests were different from those of his older sisters, and so our “pretend” scenarios changed from princesses-and-castles-and-one-lone-knight to cowboys and cops-and-robbers. I was perfectly happy to play the games he chose, since they went along with the movie serials we watched at the Wink Theater every Saturday morning

But the most amazing thing about our play was something I didn’t notice at the time. When I look back now, I’m struck by my cousin’s creativity.

Image © Billy Alexander via stock.xchng

We didn’t have a lot of toys. For our cowboy games, I had a broken piece of a toy gun, and everything else was imaginary. Except for our “money.” My cousin decided we should collect bottle caps. We scraped the cork inner lining from them and flattened them with Uncle Cliff’s hammer to make coins.

My cousin wanted a fancy gun and holster set for our play, which he knew he was unlikely to get. And so he made one.

He used cardboard, made slits to thread his belt through, and attached a row of bullet loops made from a smaller strip of cardboard. The holster, though, was amazing. He folded cardboard over to make a smooth front roll, trimmed the back edges into the proper shape and fastened them together by punching holes and looping string through them in an attractive pattern. He painted the whole thing black, using shoe polish, and he decorated it with daubs of silver paint “studs.”

At the time, I thought it was absolutely beautiful. And I’m even more impressed now that I look back on my cousin’s ingenuity, his workmanship, and his persistence. Making that holster set took months, because he was so painstaking with it, getting every detail just right.

I wonder about our children today, with their overflowing toy boxes, their access to all kinds of electronic gadgets, and the ease with which they get what they want. Do they ever have a chance to yearn for something they can’t have to the point that they find a way to make something else to fulfill that desire (and thereby satisfying more than just that original want)?

What about you? What things do you remember from your childhood?

Buggies and Behaviors

Image © Pam Roth via stock.xchng

The other evening I had to do some grocery shopping. So…I trudged off to Pea Ridge (the location of our nearest Walmart super store). I zipped through the store (if you can call an old lady’s creaky, slow gait a “zip”), gathered the items on my list and headed for checkout.

Shortly, I was on my way across the parking lot to my car…but…I had to stop and move an empty buggy (I’m a Southerner…we call those grocery store conveyances “buggies,” not carts). It had been left next to my car and kept me from opening the door to put my groceries in.

While I was doing that, a young lady came barreling out of the store and up to the vehicle that was nose-to-nose with mine, pushing a buggy that had two bags in it. She put the bags in her vehicle, left the buggy where it stood, and climbed into her front seat. She pulled down her visor mirror and proceeded to put on make-up. And then she drove away.

Say what?

And I noticed: all around the parking lot there were clumps of buggies mingled among the cars. Granted, Walmart has employees whose job is to go from corral to corral to gather the buggies and bring them back inside the entry way for the use of the next shoppers. But I suspect their task would probably be faster and smoother if they didn’t have to meander between vehicles, find and recover all the stray buggies. Besides, it’s only polite (and only takes a few seconds) to take a buggy to the place provided for it when you’re done with it.

Anyway, I got the buggy someone had left by my car, put it with my own, and pushed them to the corral. And started thinking about some of the other ways we manifest a lack of consideration for others today…

I was told by a younger person not long ago that she thought it was awful to expect folks to say “yes, ma’am,” “no, sir,” “please,” “thank you,” or otherwise display a respectful attitude to others. How many other behaviors designed to show respect and consideration for others have been discarded? And is there any way we can reclaim them?

What are your thoughts about showing respect to others?

The Sight

Image © Angel Souto via stock.xchng

In the six years (Gasp! Has it been that long??) since I made my first blog post, I haven’t kept to a regular blogging schedule. I posted when struck by a whim.

And my topics have been all over the board (a little heads up here: they will probably still be all over the board, where ever my imagination carries me that day). But I plan to keep to a schedule from now on, and I hope that, however far afield my posts my posts drift, they will be be more focused, inspired by the images in my blog header.

The photo of the Appalachian Mountains carries me home, back to my roots. [And by the way, that’s Ap – puh – latch – un, not Ap – puh – lay – shun. Appalachian and Apalachicola (you know, the place in Florida?) came from the same word, Apalachee.]

Snippets from my childhood memories come to mind when I look at that photo. I remember the things that shaped my view of the world.

I absorbed my beliefs from my parents, grandparents, extended family, and the culture I grew up in. I don’t have an explanation for some of the things I believe, but I do believe them. I’ve seen too much evidence that supports those beliefs.

Like, The Sight. And, no, I’m not referring to a book/movie of that title (which I didn’t know existed until I wrote this blog post). I’m referring to a belief that originated in the Scottish Highlands…Second Sight (and I didn’t know about its origins in the Highlands until I was doing research prior to writing High on a Mountain).

There are people who “know” certain things about what’s coming in the future. (I’m not one of them, although I do sometimes have forewarnings and premonitions). I accept that. And so The Sight keeps finding its way into some of the stories I write.

And while my stories are fiction, some of the elements (including the supernatural ones) spring from the beliefs I formed while I was growing up.

What about you? What do you think about beliefs in supernatural manifestations, like, The Sight?