Florence, the Hurricane

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Florence, the Hurricane

What a weekend this has been. Hurricane Florence hit the North Carolina Coast and, so far, there is no telling how much damage was done. Here in Charlotte and the surrounding area, there was a lot of flooding. I've seen pictures of roadways, parks, backyards, and fields all turned into temporary lakes. The effects last, schools and libraries are closed and will remain closed through Monday.

For my husband and I, Florence was an inconvenience. We secured all of my yard art, took plants from the front steps, and tied down the city trash cans. Inside we gathered items in case we had to leave the house quickly; medications, journals, my instruments and most used puppets, electronics, and important work papers.

Our intention was to batten down and wait out the storm in our house, and we did. The power did go out early on Sunday, but that really wasn't a big deal. It was a good thing we stayed because otherwise, we would have had a flooded downstairs. Our gutters were not functioning well, even though they were cleaned out a month ago. I spotted a large pool of water forming against the house. So, Steven and I went out in our raincoats and began to dig waterways and tributaries for the build-up to escape. A creek had already developed on our side yard so we just created a different path of least resistance. We let the pooled water join in the flow (no pun intended). We really got wet, but no big deal; we had dry clothes in the house. The power stayed out until after dark. We emptied a good share of the refrigerator into coolers and lit candles for light.

Florence weakened in strength far more than any meteorologist expected. The impact could have been so much worse. However, this storm for many was a really big deal!

Now is the time to check in with your neighbors. Let's look around and see what we can do for one another. It may not be much but all those little bits can certainly turn into a lot. Everyone who has a challenge has a story to tell. Let's listen to one another.

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Bottle Trees

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Bottle Trees

I have wanted a bottle tree for years. My husband promised me one for my birthday in February and on Labor Day weekend, I finally got one from a local craft festival. It is not big, but that is just fine.  I'll need another one, I would guess, in the not too distant future. 

Bottle trees are just that, trees that you put bottles on. They can be made of wood, metal, or really any material. They look pretty in any garden. Traditionally you put blue bottles on the tree, however, if you use lots of different colors it makes them look like stained glass in your yard. Bottle trees entered this country with enslaved Africans. The decorated trees became part of Southern Appalachian culture and have become folk art. You can see them all over the US now. 

I can hear you asking, "But why would people want bottle trees in the first place". They do serve a purpose. Blue is really the color you want because both the sky and the water are blue; the blue brings them together. The bottles are hung upside down and are appealing to evil imps and spirits who try to get in your house at night. The bottle tree is put near your home to catch those imps and spirits. Once in the bottle, it is difficult for them to get out. When the sun comes up and shines on the bottle the evil spirits fade away with the sun's rays. Blue paint on a door, a porch ceiling, or around window sills keeps out evil too, but that's another story for another time. 

Bottle trees are quite popular with storytellers, but then why wouldn't they be? They tell such a great story! I love my bottle tree and it makes me smile.  If it keeps evil away, well then, that gives me one more reason to get another one (like I really need a reason).

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No White Shoes after Labor Day

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No White Shoes after Labor Day

When I was a little girl I had two pairs of “church shoes”. They were both patent leather; one pair was white and one pair was black. The rule was you wore white shoes from Easter to Labor Day, and after Labor Day until Easter you wore black. It is funny how I relive that memory every Labor Day. Year after year on Labor Day I announce, “Put your white shoes away”, to no one in particular.

As time goes on so do fashion trends and the rules of many years ago. I now have several pairs of shoes that I can wear to church. They are in lots of different colors and certainly not patent leather. I wonder, what stories would you be able to tell about the rules in your house when you were little? Do you still hold true to those rules or are they just a memory?

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Bryon, the Story Continues

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Bryon, the Story Continues

I wrote some earlier blogs about Bryon, our son, but to catch you up this is a recap of the story.

Bryon moved from North Carolina to California in the spring of 2015. In November 2015 Bryon was diagnosed with testicular cancer. He had surgery in early December and was told that they had gotten it all and he would be fine. Life went on as normal for 2 years. Then in January of this year, he ended up in the emergency room with an excruciating gut ache and discovered that some rogue cells had made their way to his gut and had set up camp. It was aggressive and had grown to an inoperable size. Chemo began in February (check out my past blogs on that if you want to know more) and miserable just doesn’t do justice to describing it. Bryon held strong through it all!! I went to be with him through chemo in February. Then our youngest daughter, Carmen, went out for his 2nd round. Genette, our oldest daughter, went for his 3rd, and Steven, my husband for the 4th. 

Bryon’s girlfriend, Amber, could not have been more amazing and supportive through it all. Amber’s family stepped in and truly became part of our family by being a support system for our son. His friends and roommates in California also loved him through the chemo and the challenges it brought. Genette set up an online fundraiser and people from all over the country donated to help our boy with medical expenses. Many had never met Bryon and frankly, were only acquaintances to us. My storytelling friends, people from high school I’d not spoken to within 40 years, his friend's parents, my children’s friends all stepped in to help him pay for parking, copays, uber rides, food. The donations helped him through. ( Just an FYI, I sat down and figured out, in one-day cancer was costing roughly an additional $100 a day for Bryon. That does not include the airfare and expenses of the family traveling there. I never thought about that until it happened to our family.) My sister Kay, her daughter Samantha, and Genette put money and time into making #TeamBryon tee shirts for the family.  Emotional support and prayers were just as important as the financial help. People looked for updates I posted on Facebook and asked how he was doing. Many gave supportive nods and words of, “You’ve got this, Bryon”, “Hang in there”, “Praying for you”, “Thinking about you”. 

Chemo ended and Bryon began to grow his beard back, he pushed on through the fatigue, neuropathy, nausea, medication, expenses, and everything else that goes along with cancer. We waited for the chemo to pass out of his system for weeks so he could have a PET scan to determine the status of the tumor. His doctor went out of town so we waited longer.  Then we got the news … BRYON IS IN REMISSION!!! There are currently no active cancer cells in his body. Our son can now concentrate on healing. The neuropathy is tough (and his truck is falling apart) BUT he has a hope and a future.

Thank you all for your love, prayers, donations, kind words, hugs, well wishes, cards, care packages and so much more. Oh, my, gosh!!! How can I thank all of you for what you have done on behalf of my son and our family? You have blessed us beyond measure!

And so, the story continues.

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Mushrooms in My Yard

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Mushrooms in My Yard

I think mushrooms are really cool organisms. I don’t know much about identifying them; I just like looking at them. After lots of rain, they simply appear. You don’t know when, where, or what kind, but the spores are hanging around and the mushrooms just show up. 

I leave them in my yard when they appear because I like how they look. All sorts of varieties, shapes, and colors; it is all part of nature’s visual artwork. 

When I see these little creations of nature, it reminds me of walking through the woods at my childhood home; mushrooms would be scattered throughout the woods. There were also lots of books I read as a child with illustrations of fairies sitting on the tops of the mushrooms. 

We have had a lot of rain here in Charlotte lately and when I walk around in my yard I find mushrooms all over. I think they are lovely and when I see them they inspire stories. They remind me of legends, folktales, my youth, the woods, and my childhood home. In fact, I think there is even something spiritual about these lovely little things just appearing. 

Here are some pictures of the mushrooms that have appeared in my yard this week. One of them even has a little buddy attached to it; a snail is taking refuge under the umbrella of one of them. Can you find it? 

You can also get lots of information about mushrooms simply by searching for mushrooms. Here is one reference I found that you might find interesting. 

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