Autumn is ….

A tang filling the air;

A haze shrouding the peaks;

A beam of sunlight igniting leaves to flaming glory;

Pumpkins send ing their cheery color through farms and porches;

The carpet under trees that lose their leaves becoming a coat of many colors for the earth.

And

My mind turning to memories of home, friends, of love.

And gathering the warmth of sweaters, the hearth and love around me.

Autumn is a cozy season when the earth slows to gather its juices

For the rejuvenation of my spirit and then spring.

Apologies

I don’t know where the time has disappeared to, but I haven’t been on this site for several months. I hate for that to happen.

Despite not showing up here, I have been writing and photographing – lots but nothing real exciting. I’m spending a good bit of time freelancing for Furman University and I’m spending a lot of time with my mother, who is 98 years old. She is in good health but is gradually getting weaker. In fact, she’s considering moving from an independent apartment to assisted living. It’s a decision she must make, but I’ll help in any way I can.

Soon I’m planning to begin researching for a book I’d like to write on the history of the Reedy River. It’s a short river that begins at a spring in Travelers Rest, S.C., runs through downtown Greenville and ends in Lake Greenwood where it joins the Saluda River. The falls in Greenville are the impetus for the development of Greenville. They provided power for mills. The river saw a Revolutionary War battle, lots of engagements, the birth of the Upstate’s textile industry and more. It has now become the centerpiece of Greenville’s growth as a “cool” city.

My other book goal is to write a history of Brevard College, which I attended when it was a two-year school. It has now gone four years. Brevard began with the merger of Weaver College and Rutherford College, both North Carolina schools. It is sheltered in the Appalachian Mountains and has plenty of history, some of which has been almost hidden. We’ll see how that goes.

Now that I’m back, I’ll try to remain here.

I can do it

A month ago I said I had lost nearly 50 pounds.

Today, I still have lost nearly 50 pounds.

What’s going on. Well, last week I cheated. I had a bag of Hershey Kisses (spread out over the week). That threw me off my weight loss. I knew it would, but sometimes I just have to have something like that.

I’m not sure what happened in the previous weeks.

But I know what I have to do. I have to rededicate myself to this weight-loss journey. It’s been slow. It will continue to be slow. But I know I can do it. My next goal is to reach that 50 pounds and then to continue onward  to my final goal.

I can do it. I can do it. I can do it..

A Banking mess

What a mess I created this morning – all because banking has become too easy. I do some, but not all, of my banking online. One thing I do is pay my credit card bills online because it is issued by my bank. So there I was – SS check had come in. So I transferred some money to my card. Then I planned to transfer more (much more) to my savings account. But somehow I hit the transfer to credit card button. I immediately hit the panic button. But it was too late. The process had started. So I called my bank. They called the credit card folks. The result: I have to wait until the payment is posted on the card. Then the people there will transfer the large payment back to my checking account. The bank will call me about this. It will all take between three and five business days. Fortunately, I have enough in checking for that amount of time. But hitting one wrong key has caused a mess.

My journey

I’ve lost nearly 50 pounds – and it’s taken 18 months.

I still have about 30 to go so I’m far from through with this journey. But at least I’m well underway.

Thinking back, I’m not sure why I reached the decision I needed to lose weight. Of course, any photograph I looked at showed me why. But that wasn’t new. Every time I stepped on the scales (which didn’t occur often), the numbers also told me why the weight loss was needed. That wasn’t new either.

I knew I could do it; I lost about 60 pounds years ago when I did WeightWatchers at Work. But I had gained every pound back plus maybe a few more.

Actually, the real reason probably was because I huffed and puffed when climbing the 15 steps to my mother’s apartment at College Walk. I did that when I arrived and when I bought groceries, lugging the bags up in two or three trips. I was beat at the end of that. And I noticed that I automatically took elevators whenever possible.

I had retired six months earlier. I had no excuse of working too hard, having lousy hours or eating on the run.

On Jan. 13, 2013, I took the plunge. I found a WeightWatchers meeting in Greer and walked in. That first weigh-in was humiliating. When I came back to the house and looked up more information, had to admit that I wasn’t just overweight. I was obese. That’s an ugly word that is thrown around often. We read about obese kids. We hear about and see obese adults. Now I had to say out loud and to myself – that’s me I’m reading about.

My health wasn’t bad. I did have high cholesterol. I wasn’t fit. I ate poorly. But I wasn’t diabetic. I didn’t have heart disease. I didn’t feel bad most of the time.

My support community became a staunch ally in my weight loss journey. As I grew to know people in the meeting, they supported me as I lost one pound, two pounds. Then I lost five pounds. They all clapped for me. But even more supportive was my mother, a woman who has never had weight problems.

She encouraged me and applauded my losses. She made up a game that provided money as I lost certain numbers of pounds. She said, “That’s okay” if I gained a little. I wanted so badly to lose all the time so I could tell her every Monday night. Of course, that didn’t happen.

I realized as I started that this would be a life-long journey. I’m the type of person who can look at potato chips and gain a pound. My first experience nearly a decade ago was losing between half a pound and 1.5 pounds weekly. So I had realistic expectations.

The disappointment came when I looked no different after losing 10 pounds. My clothes seemed no looser. My shirts were just as tight. But at the meetings, I still was applauded for every five pounds lost.

Then one day, one of the lifetime members said, “You’re going to have to get new pants soon.” What a lift!

I wasn’t going to buy new slacks because weighing in with the same clothes – navy blue pull-on pants and a gold and white top that I bought when I retired – had become a ritual (weigh-in time also meant taking off my shoes, my watch and glasses). But it was nice to know that the time had come.

Still, I was in no better physical shape. I didn’t want to exercise although I knew it would make me feel better and spur my weight loss. Finally, I met someone at WW who said she needed a walking partner. So we began walking at the old high school track – nearly a fourth of a mile around.

That first day I made one mile. Every week, we added another lap.

Then I had difficulties with my feet. Old shoes caused blisters. Other shoes only made them worse. I knew I needed new shoes, but my feet hurt too much to try them on and buy any. So to a podiatrist I went, a man I had used years earlier. We cleared up the blisters. I bought new shoes – expensive ones. They didn’t cause blisters.

Then came the day I tried on a pair of size 12 pants I had hanging in my closet. They fit. Some of the sweaters were now looser. That encouraged me to consider going to a gym. Walking wasn’t enough although we up to three miles a day.

Toward the end of May, I went to SSI, a gym that is primarily a therapy center. Allison, a trainer, weighed me, measured me and ensured me I could do an exercise program.   The next time I was there, I tried out the equipment as planned. Some were easy. The arm exercises hurt.

But Allison told me I was limber. Anything that sounded good provided encouragement.

After a couple of weeks, she checked me out again. I hunched my shoulders as I did the arm exercises. That’s not good and made my neck tight. So my goal now is to lower my shoulders, do the exercises and get stronger. Once again, this will be a long-term exercise. It will take months to get stronger. It will take years to get fit.

But I’m on another journey – a fitness journey to join my weight-loss journey. And it’s one I expect to last a lifetime.

Snow in the South

Well, the South is in for a time. It snow yesterday but wasn’t too bad. Today – by 10 a.m. – the roads in my subdivision are snow-covered. The predictions call for anywhere from three inches to 12 inches. That is a disaster  in the South because we don’t have this often and we have no equipment to deal with it.

If I were to hike to the grocery store, I’m sure the shelves would be free of bread and milk and maybe wine and beer. We see it as an excuse to hunker down, maybe have a party or maybe have an attack o f the crazies.

Right now, the world seems so silent and peaceful as the snow falls and nothing is moving (actually I hear some vehicles on the main road but not many). If this last more than today, it won’t be such a peaceful scene.

Besides that, after the snow falls, the forecasters are calling for ice. Now that is something we Southerners have no idea how to deal with. So we get in our cars and a demolition derby results.

All you folks used to snow, send a good thought our way – hoping we can tough this out.

Christmas lasts past the day

Christmas is nearly over. Of course, I consider the season to last through Jan. 6, Old Christmas. My mother remembers celebrating that day rather than Dec. 25 one year as a child – everyone was sick. And I don’t feel I have missed my holiday card deadline until Jan. 6 (I have a few more to send).

After three days of celebrating – Gabe’s birthday, Christmas Eve and Christmas, I am done in. Christmas Eve I went to a Family candlelight service at 5 p.m. and an 11 p.m. service at my church. They were both beautiful and both different.

Presents were opened Christmas Eve and Christmas Day (after reading the Christmas story in Matthew) with Santa thrown in (He still comes to my mother’s house although he has a different helper than he did when I was little). In addition, I had a little studio gig going (for free) while I shot family portraits of varying folks and combinations of folks.

Today is a day of rest. Saturday is another birthday party – this one for a woman turning 50 instead of a little boy turning 3. New Year’s Day I have friends coming over for the traditional “good luck” holiday meal.

The definition of Christmas

Christmas is …

Love of God, of family, of friends, of the world.

Peace among all people and throughout the world, even if that peace comes only in small moments.

 Giving of oursleves to those we love and those we do not even know. It’s presents under the tree and helping those less fortunate.

Light from candles, from a lighted trees, from stars and the moon, from our heart.

Music from carols ringing, organs chiming, bells pealing, tiny voices whispering love, joyous shouts, strong voices raised to Heaven.

God  whom we love, who protects us, who supports us, who loves and saves us.

This is Christmas all around the world.

Celebrating the holidays

Christmas is nearly here and I’m celebrating with my mother, who is 97 years old. That’s a lot of Christmases to have under your belt – sparse ones when she was a child, ones where she spent her money on her children to make their Christmas great and Christmases now, when she is dependent on others to help her buy gifts and cook. But Christmas is a time of peace, hope and joy no matter how she celebrates it.

The tree is lit and decorated. The presents are under it. She’s finishing up cards (I have to do that also). We’ve sung Christmas carols. I’ve been to church. A friend died yesterday. She’s sad about that, happy about having her daughter with her, missing my brother and his family.

She’ll spend some time with her great-grandson, who turned 3 on Friday. We’ll have a little party here. But his grandmother, her stepdaughter, is the one who decided how the party would go – not my mother. That’s a shame. My mother is the type who could plan a party that would be fun for a 3-year-old. Oh well, that’s how things goes in families.