Posted in My Saturday Evening Post

My Saturday Evening Post: 5/7/22 “Decorating”

This morning HR and I drove up from Savannah to my tiny north Georgia hometown of Ball Ground. Why? To “decorate” the Saye family plot in the old Ball Ground City Cemetery.

I’m trying to follow in the tradition of my parents and grandparents by regularly visiting family gravesites laden with seasonally appropriate flowers. (The pandemic slowed down that ritual.)

But it’s about so much more than flowers. The soul—and souls—of yesteryear make their presence known in cemeteries. And to me there is such joy in walking and sitting among the graves and remembering the lives of my loved ones. Feeling the peace of the place.

Even sensing the sacredness of the dirt.

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Let me introduce you to a few of the ones I had a little sit-down with.

My father and mother, Harold (“Tub”) and Geneva, married 71 years …

I wished my mother the Happiest of Mother’s Days! And she told me she loves the new flowers.

My brother Jimmy who only lived a week …

I wonder if the fullness of life might perhaps best not be measured by longevity alone.

My great-grandfather J.P.. (Ball Ground’s first doctor) and his wife Angie …

My younger brother Danny, who died the same day as my mother back in 2016 …

My paternal grandparents, Dollie and Maynard …

Then walking through flowers to the other side of the cemetery to reach my maternal grandparents, Dora and Veto …

Veto was actually Granny’s second husband. Her first died in his twenties in a railroad accident.

Veto used to tell the same joke every time we were riding together past a graveyard: “You know how many people are buried in there?” Someone had to answer, “No.” Then he’d give a big belly laugh and reply, “Ever one of ‘em!”

Robert and I threw the old faded flowers away and walked back to the car, pleased with the decorating. I looked back to the plots and smiled when I heard them, all my family in unison, thank me for coming.

Posted in My Saturday Evening Post

My Saturday Evening Post: 4/2/22 “See/Sawing”

What I see/saw walking in my Savannah neighborhood.

Glorious red.

Pink doors!

HR (Husband Robert, come on now, you should know that by now) slowing the walk down with a five-minute photo session starring a fish regurgitating streams of water.

(Notice how he is sort of perched on the ledge, tippy-toeing, worrying me sick that he would topple over any second. And then what would I do?)

A giant snowball bush in Forsyth Park.

Seeing Ukraine, even at Savannah’s Chinatown Market.

Robert, continuing to slow down the walk, taking pictures of leaning walls.

Seeing an angel!

May her wings fly peace to Ukraine.

I love walking in my neighborhood. Thanks for walking with me. Let’s do it again soon. (You know, you could invite me to walk with you in yours.)

Posted in Life Experiences

Seeing Ukraine in Atlanta

If you read my last Five Friday Happy Bringers post (and why on earth would you not?), you may remember that Robert and I left Savannah to celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day on its own and journeyed up to our favorite city, Atlanta, for a long weekend.

I don’t know about you, but when I travel, I tend to pay much less attention to the news (usually a blessing). And of course the headlines now are all about the horrors going on in Ukraine.

Robert is retired military, Army (thank you for your service) and gets wonderful free veteran tickets to The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, The Alliance Theatre, The Atlanta Ballet, The Atlanta Opera, The High Museum of Art, and midtown Atlanta parking—to name some of the biggies. We very often take advantage of this blessing. (Again, why on earth would you not?)

For this St. Patrick’s trip, we were able to get terrific seats for three performances with the symphony orchestra, theatre and ballet.

What I did not expect was the Ukraine connection in Atlanta.

As I mentioned In Friday ‘s post, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus sang the very moving national anthem of Ukraine. And dedicated the evening to the war torn nation. Several members of the orchestra were Ukrainian.

What was even more surprising was the Ukrainian connection the next night at the Alliance Theatre’s production of Bina’s Six Apples. In the play, “a family must abruptly flee for safety as bombings and battles encroach upon their home. It’s an all too familiar sight right now, as daily images of Russia’s onslaught of Ukraine dominate global news, showing refugees fleeing towns under siege every day … The theme of senseless violence is a powerful and sadly eternal one, given the shattering conflicts that have continually riddled the world and the impact these clashes have on regular people with no direct stake in the conflict.” ArtsATL.

And the matinee of Atlanta Ballet’s Giselle was bittersweet, with the incredibly talented male lead, Denys Needak, being from Odessa, Ukraine.

He was remarkable.

Thank you, Atlanta, for helping me to see. And reminding me to pray.

“Peace. Peace. Peace. Please Peace.”

“Lord in Your mercy, hear our prayer.”

Posted in My Saturday Evening Post

My Saturday Evening Post: 2/26/22 “The Gate of Kiev”

For this week’s Saturday Evening Post, I share with you excerpts from today’s weekly email from Billy Hester, the pastor of our church here in Savannah — Asbury Memorial.

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Dear Asbury & Wesley Oak Family,

I write you with a heavy heart due to the tragedy occurring in Europe. For the first time since World War II, Air Raid Sirens are going off in Kyiv. We are seeing the worst of humanity as Russia invades Ukraine, destroying the lives of countless men, women, and children. More than ever, we need to come together in prayer. I hope you will join me in church this Sunday as I lead us in prayer for the people of these two countries and for the world.

When I was a teenager I was a percussionist in the Savannah Youth Orchestra. But honestly, I wasn’t a very good drummer…as in the snare drum. But I played a pretty mean bass drum. My real speciality was playing the cymbals. I could clash with the best of them! And I got to play the cymbals on my favorite piece of music that we performed, a song called, “The Great Gate of Kiev.” It is one of the most majestic and inspiring songs ever written. Kiev is another way of spelling the capital of Ukraine, Kyiv. The song was written to celebrate the Golden Gate that was built to protect Kiev in 1873.

The Great Gate of Kiev

Here is the song. It’s about 9 minutes long. I invite you to pray for the people of Ukraine as you listen to it.

After you spend this 9 minutes in prayer, go back to the 8:00 minute mark of the song and watch the orchestra play the last part of the song. This was my favorite part. It’s when the cymbals really take over. Watch the cymbal player, and imagine little Billy Hester clashing away on the stage at the Civic Center!

Love & peace, Rev. Billy Hester

May there be Peace on Earth.

Lord in Your Mercy, Hear our Prayer.

Posted in My Saturday Evening Post

My Saturday Evening Post: 1/29/22 “The Mirrored Target”

Recently Robert and I were walking around at Target, looking for a “screen protector” for my new iPhone 13.

$49 to protect my phone’s screen?! Seriously? What do I get? A special agent? And protection from what exactly? (TIB—Truth in Blogging—I have dropped cell phones with great damage too many times to remember.)

Anyway, after I begrudgingly paid for the special agent, we headed out, passing by the home goods section. I was minding my own business, not looking for any trouble. Out of the blue, Robert called out, in his in-store, raspy, yell-whispering voice, “Neal, stop! Grab that macramé mirror right there!”

Not having any more sense than to obey, I did as I was told.

“Now, look into the mirror. No, not that way, sideways!”

I finally realized, all nervous jumpy and macraméd, that Robert was simply chasing a photo op.

Later: “I don’t like that photo! My hair is so gray. And thin! Look at that baldy spot. My skin is sagging. My glasses are Coke bottle glasses! My sweater’s crooked. And my ears look exactly like Dumbo’s. Delete it!”

The Universe had had enough. And interrupted my ranting. “Look in the mirror.”

Like with Robert’s request, I obeyed.

“Even though it’s not at all really important, you have hair.”

“But,” I began.

“And pause for a second, Neal. You have skin that can sag.”

“Yes, but .…”

“And you have glasses in front of eyes to help you see.”

“You have a sweater to keep you warm.”

“I know, but ….”

“You have ears to hear what the world tells you each moment.”

I ran out of “buts.”

“Look a little closer in that mirror, Neal.”

“You have consciousness and focus. You have understanding and appreciation. You have breath. And warmth. And life.”

“You. Are. Alive!”

I looked again.

And finally saw beautiful.

Posted in My Saturday Evening Post

My Saturday Evening Post: 1/15/22 “Charcuterie”

Robert and I attempted our third charcuterie board. Well, maybe “boards” since there were two.

Charcuterie (shar-KOO-ta-REE) is a term with origins reaching as far back as 15th century France; literally translated, it means the products of a fancy pork butcher. Modern charcuterie does often include pork, but the definition has widened to reflect a dish served throughout many cultures.

Known in Britain as a “ploughman’s lunch,” served in Italy as “antipasto” and familiar to many North Americans as the humble “meat-and-cheese plate”– these days, charcuterie can be found in any number of variations and is served everywhere from pubs to high end restaurants.

— Darcy’s Market

Yum!