I am well aware of the toll, blood, and treasure that it will cost to maintain this Declaration and support and defend these States. Yet through all the gloom, I can see the rays of ravishing light and glory. I can see that the end is worth more than all the means. --John Adams
Another way to honor those who have served is by displaying our flag. Not only is the flag a symbol of our country, it’s a festive way to brighten up your house for summertime.
Despite needing larger bunting beneath the windows and bigger flags (and more greenery!) in our urns, the Mister and I do like displaying the red, white, and blue for Memorial Day. And, we pull it all back out for the Fourth of July and Veteran’s Day, too!
Do you decorate in patriotic fashion?
I doubt that I have a single drop of Greek blood coursing through my veins. For better or worse, I suppose I have more in common with Mrs. Miller, Toula’s future mother-in-law in the surprise hit film My Big Fat Greek Wedding than I do with Toula’s own mother and aunts. Greek women live life large—not just in the movies! I had a few friends with Greek heritage in high school, and I remember admiring their strong family ties, their vibrant community and church. Not to mention, their sleek dark hair, gorgeous skin and eyes. Big’s first best friend in nursery school was Constantine, and shortly after his younger brother was born, the family flew to Greece for George’s baptism. When I saw the amazing pictures, I admit I was a little jealous.
Happily, this weekend, even I can be Greek at Saint George’s annual Greek Festival. Tours of the beautiful downtown church are offered throughout the weekend.Greek music and dancing entertain the crowds late into the evening, but really, we all know the reason everyone wants to be Greek—the food! The gyros, the kabobs, the spanikopita, the dolmades, even the salad are so tasty!And, if you are stuffed when you leave—too much dining and not enough dancing perhaps—then you can always pick up a box of pastries to enjoy the next morning with piping hot coffee! It’s grand to be Greek for a day!
Next week is Greenville’s annual Scottish Games and Highland Festival at Furman University, but somehow the thoughts of haggis are not as appealing as baklava. Although, there will be shortbread . . .
What national heritages are celebrated in your community?
Perhaps because my own yard gets only about 15 minutes of sun a day, I’m especially partial to shade-loving plants. These hostas are growing in the botanical gardens at Clemson University. Sharing a garden brings joy. How delightful it was to have some new friends (a couple at least 30 years older than the Mister and me) say, “Please, stop by and see our garden one afternoon.” We replied that we’d love to and asked when would be a good time. “Oh, come any time,” they said. “If we’re not there, then just look around and wander through.” And, that’s what we did! We jotted off a little note, thanking them for letting us see the fruits of their labors. And now, we’re invited back for iced tea in the garden. People who have gardens are generous. I think this is blue salvia. Lovely. Every garden needs a place to sit and be thankful.Indigenous oakleaf hydrangea was just opening its majestic spires when we visited.
Across Main Street from our little shop is a most lovely city park, Falls Park, with a river and waterfalls and a stunning pedestrian cable bridge. In the springtime, though, it’s the flowers and fragrance that make the park a treasure. Benches are plentiful, and I am blessed to enjoy my coffee or lunch outside here several days a week.The pansies and Johnny-jump-ups are near the end of their season, as the heat is beginning to make them a bit leggy. The marvelous French blue of these hydrangea is starting to intensify as the days lengthen and warm.Purple coneflowers, or echinacea, will soon have their lavender petals. The hardy daylily sings of the coming summer. Although not fragrant, she has the staying power to last until September. And, finally, back to the shade, where the trusty impatiens are the perfect foil to the broad hosta leaves. The impatiens add brightness to even the darkest corner.
The LORD will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail.-- Isaiah 58:11
Do you garden?
While the children enjoyed a sound spoiling by their grandparents (sleeping in, biscuits and gravy for breakfast), the Mister and I met my longtime friend, M, for coffee. M and I met in high school, and we have been friends ever since.
She is my straight-talking friend who can tell me I’m being whiny or unreasonable, and I know she’s telling me the truth. She will also tell me when I’m being taken advantage of or when I’m not having enough fun. She will tell me if a skirt is too short or a lipstick is too bright—before I buy it! I tell her all the same stuff when necessary, and—best of all—we make each other laugh uproariously! We used to talk almost daily; now sometimes weeks go by, but we always pick right back up. After a long coffee break with M that turned into lunch (thanks to the Mister for being so understanding!), the Mister and I headed south on I-75 to visit some friends and explore Chattanooga.Pardon me, boys . . . Yes, it’s the Chattanooga Choo-Choo. This iconic sign glows high above Chattanooga’s lovely downtown. The Chattanooga train depot, or terminal, is today a part of the Historic Hotels of America. Guests may stay in a standard room in the historic terminal or in one of 48 refurbished Victorian train cars.
Not far from the Choo-Choo is the beautiful and winding Tennessee River. Although Chattanooga was once a rather dirty, industrial town, city leaders along with corporate partners and private citizens have created one of the most attractive downtowns in the South, with beautiful green spaces, a thriving retail and dining district, and a fun and funky arts district, referred to as the North Shore. A huge walking bridge spans the river, connecting the retail and dining district with the arts district, which is nearby the noted Hunter Museum of Art. Near the bridge, the Delta Queen docks between dinner and sightseeing cruises.The Mister and I strolled a bit and even visited a large “antique” mall, which sadly was a huge disappointment, but we did find Chattanooga’s downtown grocery GreenLife, which provided a good place for a cup of coffee and a cookie.Shortly after, we met our friends, who like us, own a fair trade Go Fish store. After checking out their store and comparing notes on merchandising ideas, staff incentives, and other more boring business stuff, we walked to the nearby Urban Spoon, where we enjoyed a delicious Southern supper with a modern twist. Not on the menu, but prepared just for us that evening, was the chef’s invention of a Moon Pie banana pudding. Turns out that Chattanooga is the home of the classic Southern cookie, known as the Moon Pie. Although, I’m not its biggest fan, it made a wonderful substitution for the traditional Nilla Wafer. The Mister and I waddled to the car to head back to my folks’.
The next day, we went with my dad to visit my aunt and uncle who have recently moved to an apartment at a lovely retirement community. Although, it is an adjustment to leave their home and neighborhood, they are enjoying the views of the Great Smoky Mountains as well as the numerous activities available at their home. We spent the afternoon walking in the woods behind my parents’ house. Although the dogwoods had already shed their blossoms, it was still beautiful to be amid all the brilliant spring green of the Tennessee woods.
The property we walked has been in my father’s family since the 1830s, and it is one of his great joys to share the history he knows and the memories he has of the area. He is both sentimental and practical about his woods, as seen from his woodshed.He’s been selectively cutting timber to heat their house for more than 20 years, mostly hickory with the occasional oak.
If you are very lucky, you may receive a bundle of cured hardwood kindling for a Christmas present. An organized man, which he attributes to his time at sea with the U.S. Navy, he marks the wood as to the date the tree was cut and follows the first-in, first-out method for burning.
Although we visited in April, I was truly glad that it was still chilly enough for crackling fire that evening. And biscuits and gravy for breakfast.
Thanks, Mom and Dad.
Do you visit family often?
The Mister and I woke early on Saturday, excited to visit our downtown’s first Saturday Market of the season. We have a traditional year-round farmer’s market a short drive away, but for organic local produce and people-watching we love the Saturday Market.I’ve been blessed with Starbucks gift cards, so we started our morning with Pike Place blend before we walked a few blocks to the market. The sky was blue, the grass was green, and Greenville looked spit-shined and ready for the day. An early-rising family was starting out on the 22-mile Swamp Rabbit Trail, but other than those folks, we didn’t see too many other people.
Possibly, this is because everyone else was already at the Market!
Lots of families with small children were buying their produce. Long lines of amiable shoppers had already formed for the homemade breads and fresh ground coffee.
Local strawberries are in, and those gems were at the top of my shopping list.
And I spent a most enjoyable afternoon, sitting in the sun.
Just shelling peas.
Do you shop at a farmer’s market?