Stopping by the wood on a snowy day.The lodge at Smithgall Woods
Smith Lake at Unicoi State Park
Our trailer from the top of the hill. It is hard to see it in all that white.Duke’s Creek where it crosses the road at Smithgall Woods.
We woke up on Thursday to 8 inches of snow! The weather guys on the Atlanta TV stations had all talked around it like the worst of the weather would be down to the south of us in Gainesville and Atlanta, but no, here it was up here in the mountains. FabGrandpa did not think we would get snow, if anything we were thinking it would be a cold drizzling rain. We were very surprised to have this much of the white stuff! The first picture here of our picnic table is to illustrate just how much of it we got.
This picture is of FabGrandpa standing under the awning, which is full of snow. It took him most of the afternoon to get it all off of the awning. Next time they start talking about snow, he will roll it up before we go to bed.
Here is a picture of the road into our section of the campground here at Unicoi State Park on Thursday morning. The park ranger made his rounds early, about as soon as the sun came up, to make sure there were no trees down in any of the roads. The next day, on Friday, they came by with a snowplow and scraped the road, because it did not melt off.
We had to go to Cleveland to get propane on Friday, so we drove around to see if we could find some “scenic” sights. We have driven past Smithgall Woods for years, never turning in to see it. Smithgall Woods is a Georgia State park site that was donated by the Smithgall family to preserve the natural forest area and Duke’s Creek. It is absolutely beautiful. I got several beautiful shots there, but this one is, well, unique. I think it would be too cold to use this outhouse, but isn’t it cute?
Yesterday, Gary and Faye came and knocked on our door. The first thing Gary said was “I’m bored, let’s go do something.” Since we were just about to walk out the door to get breakfast anyway, we said, “ok, let’s go eat.” We left home about eleven o’clock headed to Cleveland to return some rental movies to Ingles, and after a couple more errands we wound up eating at Huddle House there in Cleveland. While we were sitting there, we decided to drive up to Cherokee, North Carolina, to go to the casino there. After a quick trip to the bank, we started out about 2 pm.
We arrived at the casino around 4 pm. We each had about $40 to contribute to the indian reservation. A couple hours later, FabGrandpa, Faye, and I had each lot all of our money. We found Gary playing a penny slot machine and winning big time. He had about $30 racked up on that machine. We all sat and watched him until he lost all but about $20. He went and cashed out his winnings and we started out the door to go home.
Whiled we were waiting for the shuttle bus to come, we were talking about how much fun we had had so far, and Gary said he would loan us each $5 so we could go back in and play some more. So, we turned around and went back in.
I sat down at a penny slot machine, and put my borrowed $5 in. I did pretty good on that machine, so I sat there for quite some time. When my balance got up to around $60, FabGrandpa and Gary came over to tell me they had lost all of their money. So, when I got the balance up to $73 and change, I cashed out and paid Gary back his $5, and gave FabGrandpa $5 so he could play some more. I went to another machine, and started winning again. When all of the others came over to where I was playing and reported that they had lost all their money again, I decided to cash out and go home. I still had $23 in my purse, so I was the big winner for the day. By the time we got back to Gary’s truck, it was 9:30 pm. Although we didn’t bring home much money, we all had a very good time.
We stopped at a Huddle House somewhere in North Carolina on the way home for dinner. By the time we got back to camp, it was almost midnight. I can not remember having so much fun at a casino before. Oh, and I have to say that EVERY time Lucky Faye sat down next to me, I won BIG. So, if she ever wants to go to a casino with you, make sure she sits next to you.
As most good Fab Grandma’s do, I have stories that I tell my children and grandchildren, over and over, at certain times of the year, ad nauseum…It is like a tradition to tell them even if no one wants to hear them again. So, with that in mind, here are a few of my Christmas memories, some good, some bad, but memories just the same.
The first Christmas I can remember was when I was about 5 years old. I had asked Santa for an electric train for my gift. Wouldn’t you know it—he did leave one at our house, but he mistakenly put “To Preston” (my younger brother) on the tag. How depressing is that? You ask for a train, a vehicle with power to let you escape into all the imaginary far away places a little girl could think of to travel, only to receive a stupid baby doll that hollers “Mama” at you, all the while peeing sweetly into her little panties. Now I suppose that in 1957 no respectable little girl would even ask for, much less actually receive, an electric train. No, we were relegated to practising to become little mothers, staying home spooning gruel into one end and wiping poop from the other, of our darling little babies, whilst our HUSBANDS, the MEN, traveled the work in their trucks, trains, and planes. I wish someone would invent the toddler doll that would wake up during the night with an asthmatic wheeze and rattle in their chest, crying “Mama” in agony while it throws up on the bed and squirts diarrhea out it’s little hiney. They could name it “Reality Check Carla” or something like that. Of course, there may not be much of a market for it, maybe young women whose husbands are pushing them to have a baby could get one for their spouse…Or, it could be part of that child care course taught to high school kids instead of using eggs.
Oh, I’m sorry, I was supposed to be telling a story here. Well, that little electric train was really cool. It puffed smoke out of its fake smokestack as it chugged around the track. We thought that was pretty amazing. And as for Betsy Wetsy was concerned, my older brother cut her head off to find out how she worked.
Several years later, when I was 9 and my sister was 18 months old, I asked for a jewelry box. In my little girl brain, I could see the little ballerina dancing around and around to the music from the music box. So, on Christmas Eve, all of us kids went to bed, too excited to sleep. After a while, we could actually hear Santa in the living room. He was playing with our toys, and from the sound of it, he seemed to be talking to Mama and Daddy. Suddenly, I could hear the music box playing—I think Santa must have enjoyed hearing it because he wound it up and let it play about 15 times. So, in the morning when we finally got out of bed and went into the living room, I saw to my horror that the jewelry box Santa brought was a satin covered, velvet lined pink box that was obviously meant for a much older girl. It had no music box, and no ballerina. The music I had been hearing was a wind up Fischer Price clock for my baby sister. I was too stunned to say anything. I tried really hard not to cry. I cannot think of a single other time in my life when I have been more disappointed.
The jewelry box I received that Christmas stayed in my possession until I was almost 50 years old. My older brother had taken a magic marker at some point and written “DUMB GIRL” inside the lid. I saw that every time I opened that box. Maybe that is why I don’t wear much jewelry.
So, fast-forward about 30 years. When my oldest daughter was 14, she could hardly wait for me to open her gift to me that year. For weeks before Christmas I had jiggled and wiggled it, shook it and held it, trying to figure out what was inside. It was not the shape or size of anything I had asked for. On that Christmas morning, Rebecca, Emily and Seth insisted that I open that gift first. Because of that, I think maybe I expected it to be a camera. Imagine my surprise, when the wrapping paper came off, to find a little jewelry box, with a ballerina and a music box! I cried like a baby! Those were uncontrollable sobs and a flood of tears. My children sat there, the looks on their faces telling me that they thought they had done something terribly wrong. How could they even begin to understand what that jewelry box meant to me? How could they know they had given me my childhood? That there was so much more than just a little jewelry box inside that gift? Yeah, a stupid as it sounds, that one moment is THE moment in my life that I cherish most. I still have that little music box, and the little ballerina presides over my most precious jewelry. All the rest of it goes into an empty baby wipes plastic box.
A year or so after I received the ballerina music box, my children surprised me again. This time, it was Emily’s gift. That year, my son and I went together on a Saturday morning to take the test for a GED. I had never finished high school and Seth had quit as soon as he turned 16. So, to get him to go take the test, I volunteered to go with him. We both passed with flying colors, and received our GED certificates in the mail. That year, Emily gave me a high school class ring for Christmas. It has the year I took the GED test, the name of the high school I attended when I was a teenager, my first name, and a tiger on the outside of it. There is an emerald green stone, because my birthstone is an emerald. My initials are engraved on the inside. I didn’t cry like I did when I received the jewelry box, but just knowing how proud my children must have been of me was a wonderful feeling. I keep that ring in my ballerina music box.
And so, here we are at Christmas time again. I hope you have enjoyed my stories, and may you all have a memorable Christmas this year.
It is hard to believe that we have been here at Unicoi for a month now. When we left Virginia, I was looking forward to having some time to get some things done. I wanted to finish Becky’s quilt and start quilting Rebecca’s, but I have not had time to put even one stitch in either one of them. I wanted to go to Jim’s mothers and have her give me some more lessons on wire-wrap jewelry making. I wanted to be able to take some photos every day. So far, I haven’t accomplished any of that. I’m beginning to think that we need to go back to Virginia so we can rest a bit.
Let’s see, in the last month there was Thanksgiving, Jim’s Dad in the hospital, the trip to Douglasville to get haircuts and visit my Mom and our daughters, buying the new trailer, moving from the old one to the new one, going to Gainesville for eyeglasses, working our volunteer hours, and on and on. I hope the next month will be a little calmer. My plan now is to be able to have some time to sort through all the junk I “found” when we moved, and get rid of some of it. I was truly embarrassed at how much stuff I have accumulated in the six years we lived in that little trailer.
In other news, I heard from my granddaughter Sarah’s mother, my ex-daughter-in-law (EDIL). She gave birth to a new baby girl (with her new husband) in Tacoma, Washington. She says Sarah is tickled to have a baby sister. She is making all A’s in school (I’m not surprised at that) and has made some new friends since they moved up there. They are going to Tennessee for a few days to have the baby dedicated at their church there and to have Sarah baptized. I am glad that my EDIL is happy.
I also heard from my new daughter-in-law, Sarah. We call her Sarah England, because it is so confusing to have Sarah the granddaughter and Sarah the new daughter-in-law. Sarah England and Seth, my son, are coming to the states in January. Well, at least Seth and Michael are coming, and Sarah is in the process of getting her visa. She may have to stay in England a month or six until it comes through, but they are working on it and have a “B” plan, in case they have to be apart for a few months. Seth will be stationed in Maryland at Andrews AFB, just a little hop from Urbanna. Jim and I are looking forward to spending some time with them this coming summer.
Oh, and Rebecca called to tell me she is going to move in with “Not My Boyfriend, Joe”. He has been her “friend” for several years, and has just bought a new condo. She is going to be his room-mate. She will be paying the same rent she pays now for her tiny walk-up apartment in Ghent, and will have a lot more room. She also said that he will buy the groceries and she will do the cooking for them. She is a pretty good cook, and she has been cooking for him for several years, but at least now he will be paying for the groceries.
Becky, our other daughter, has almost the same arrangement with her room-mate, Scott. He has been her friend since high school. When she bought her condo in Atlanta, he moved in with her as her roomie.
Emily told me that she moved Spencer from the Lutheran kindergarten she had in because the pastor there washed his mouth out with soap. Can you believe that? She said while Spencer was going there, he stayed in trouble all the time. The teachers and the principal of that school said he started fights with other children, pinched them, bit them, tried to take toys away from them, and said bad words. Then, when Emily was there as the “room Mom” for the Halloween party, she observed that Spencer was laying on the floor playing with a truck when another child came up and tried to take it away from him. When Spencer said, “No, I was playing with it first”, the teacher said, “Spencer, stop that!” Emily said it was like the teacher automatically assumed that Spencer was the bad child, even though she was sitting right there and saw the other child come and start the little dispute. Spencer has been at the new school for two weeks and has not been in trouble one time. The teachers there say they don’t see any of the problems Emily told them about at the other school. Hmmm…
I guess that is all the news I have for the moment. What’s up with “all y’all”? Feel free to post comments…
Fabgrandpa had an appointment with his endocrinologist in Decatur yesterday. It is 75 miles from our camp host spot to the doctor’s office, and the Dekalb Farmer’s Market is just a couple miles from the doctor, so we took Gary and Faye with us and set out for our journey. Georgia 400 is a road that is very busy with traffic MOST of the time, but yesterday was a horrible mess. In addition to the normal traffic and construction going on , there was a SUV overturned on the southbound side, which backed up traffic for miles. It took us a half hour to go about 5 miles! OK, so we get through the jam on 400, and get on 285 eastbound, and find the traffic crawling there, too. There had been some kind of bad accident on I-85 north, and the state patrol had closed the ramp from I-285 east to I-85 north. Fabgrandpa‘s appointment was for 1:30 p.m., and we left home at about 11:15 a.m., and we were still late getting there. Does anyone wonder why we like working in Urbanna, Virginia???
Dr. Singh was as pleasant as ever, and seemed happy to see us. He remembered that we were the couple who lives in an RV, and told us about his parents going in their motorhome to Tempe, Arizona to visit the Cubs training camp. He also told us about his children, who are 3 years old and 6 months old. He is just a very personable guy. He gave s a 20% discount on our office visit bill and the bloodwork, so that was a good thing. He also wrote Fabgrandpa‘s prescription for 100 pills instead of 30 AND gave us some coupons from the manufacturer for $10 off a prescription of 100 pills. What a guy! Since he did not have the bloodwork results, he actually gave us 2 prescriptions and told us to wait until he calls us to tell us which one to get filled.
Finally, after many hours of traveling (it seemed), we got to the farmer’s market. They have a cafeteria there, where they cook the items that are for sale that day at the market. Has anyone ever eaten braised fennel? Or goat stew? Well, I passed on the goat stew, but we all tried a fab soup called Corn and Poblano Pepper Soup. Wow!, that stuff was great! Oh, if you ever go there, keep in mind that they sell the food BY THE POUND, so make your selections carefully.
After we ate, I got the ingredients for bruschetta; Mexican Seafood Soup; and Basil Pesto. Fabgrandpa got a bottle of Portugese wine, some beef pastrami from the deli, and some delish Red Raspberry Jam. Oh, and we got some blueberry muffins and some rye bread. I just love that store.
After we got all our shopping done, we drove down Ponce De Leon to Peachtree Street, sort of a little driving tour of downtown Atlanta. We passed by Becky’s condo at 923 Peachtree, and drove all the way down to Phipps Plaza. Got on I-85 north, and you guessed it, sat in traffic, again. We were so glad to get back home to the mountains. I hope we don’t have to go down there again any time soon.
It was only 13.3 degrees on Thursday night, the coldest I have known it to be in Georgia before Christmas. The wind was howling outside, but we were snug and warm in our new trailer. I could notice the difference right away, because whenever the wind would blow when we lived in our Starcraft, it was LOUD and there was usually a breeze or draft going through the trailer. In this one, though, I could barely hear the wind outside, and there was no draft inside.
Before I forget, I have to let everyone know how much help Gary and Faye were to us on the day we moved. After we signed all the paperwork and did the walk-through, they arrived ready to work. Faye and I were in the old trailer, handing stuff out the door to the guys until most of the things that were boxed up were moved. Then I went over to the new one and started putting things away. Faye stayed over in the old one and packed things up to be moved. You know, I thought I had gotten rid of a lot of stuff! But, the truth is, I still have too much. I have been throwing stuff away for three days now, and making a pile for selling on ebay too. I was truly embarrased at how much was packed away in that little starcraft! It only took half the day to get things signed and moved.
After we got back to Unicoi, I spent the rest of the day trying to find things. At about 6 pm, Gary knocked on the door with a pan of burritos. They were absolutely delish, so good that Fabgrandpa said he was going to ask Gary to marry him!!
Ok, the top pic is a closeup of one of the window treatments in the kitchen. The next one is the bedroom, or at least part of it. That is me with the camera, and Fabgrandpa in the mirror.
Next is the sofa in the living area, I hope you can see the window treatments and the cabinets over the sofa. Jayco calls this color scheme “Spring Willow”, which sounds like it should be green, but is more brown and beige, very little green in it. The next pic is a closeup of the sofa fabric, so that you can see more of the colors. If you click on the pictures they will enlarge so you can see them better.
Yesterday we went down to Gainesville to
Target so we could get some throw rugs. The rugs I got are mostly orange, brown and beige, with a little bit of dark green in them. They all look pretty good in this new place.
We also went to Lenscrafters and got new glasses. Well, we ordered them, they will be in next week. I will post of pic of me in new glasses when I get them. It is still cold, with a forecast of high teens for tonight, and relative humidity of 15-20%! BRRRR. I want to go to Mexico!!!
We found out this morning that our financing was approved for our new trailer. It is a 2007 Jayco Eagle 32FKS, which means that it is a 32 foot travel trailer with two slide out rooms. It has a bigger refrigerator than the one we have now, more storage areas, a king size bed, and a huge wardrobe closet!! We are very excited about this new purchase. The pictures above don’t really show how pretty it is, but I wanted to show the colors of the interior. It has the flat, level slides, so we won’t be bumping our heads on the slide ceiling now, hehehe.
The floor in the living area is congoleum that looks like slate tiles. I like it better than having carpet in the living room, because it is so hard to keep the dirt out of the carpet. There is a booth dinette also, so we have a place now to sit and eat dinner. I can’t wait to get back up to Virginia and invite our friends over. Oh, and it has a gas barbecue grill that fits on the side of the trailer, so we can cook out. Yay!
After we get moved in later this week, I will put up some more pictures. Can you tell I am very excited about this?