Perceptibly nearer

Jeff’s mother, Johnnie Ruth Denton, at the celebration of her son’s life.
With Matt and Drew at Arlington National Cemetery, March 2017

“New Year’s eve is like every other night; there is no pause in the march of the universe, no breathless moment of silence…yet no man has quite the same thoughts this evening that come with the coming of darkness on other nights. The vast and shadowy stream of time sweeps on without break, but the traveler who has been journeying with it cannot be entirely unmindful that he is perceptibly nearer the end of his wanderings.”
Hamilton Wright Mabie 

As I write this post set to publish in just a few hours, I find myself once again taking part in a somber vigil, this time from a distance. Jeff’s mother, who was at his deathbed with us less than 15 months ago, is expected to pass from this life within hours. She is surrounded by her daughters and grandchildren who will stay with her, as she stayed with us during Jeff’s last two days of life.

Those who have been reading this blog for several years already know that our family’s losses have come with a regularity that inevitably deepens the comprehension of mortality hinted at in Mabie’s quote. In October 2014, we experienced the unexpected death of Larry, who was frequently with us here. In September 2015, we lost Daddy just as suddenly. In October 2016, Jeff died; his burial ceremony was held at Arlington National Cemetery in March 2017. Then, in May of this year, Mama died. The tearful farewells and graveside visits leave us unavoidably aware that each of us, whether we live a relatively long life or die young, are moving ever closer to the end of our own time on this earth.

If you are thinking that this is a gloomy way to begin a new year, I don’t blame you for wanting to shift focus a bit. Accordingly, I invite you to re-visit the post I published two years ago on this date. Reading over it tonight, I was struck by how scarcely I imagined the crises and ultimate heartbreak that would face me in 2016, and yet how relevant my thoughts about that year remain when seen in retrospect, however ignorant of forthcoming events I was at the time I wrote.

At this particular moment, I have little to offer in the way of sunny thoughts or bright resolutions. Instead, I pledge to you my steadfast appreciation for your presence, our shared gratitude for the abundance of life, and our determination to make this an online refuge where all are welcome, and where we can gather without fear, condemnation or anger, united in our common resolve to defeat despair.

I pray that all who read these words will be blessed with a year of growth, compassion, connection and deep joy. In that spirit, I wish you a Happy New Year!

63 Comments

  1. Julia, my dear sweet sister, I mourn the losses too. I pray that we all realize that each day is a gift to be honored and cherished. I pray I will be able to do it too. I love you and Matt! Love and Light!🎆🎆🎆

    • Thank you Cherie. I appreciated your card, and even more I appreciate your kindness and friendship. We’ll keep lifting each other up in prayer. Love and light! ❤

  2. I do hope you have some respite from loss in the coming year – it is so draining. It would have been my dad’s birthday on Saturday and, coincidentally, we had a lovely family gathering. We try not to do things to mark such anniversaries, as that’s too sad, but we did talk of those who were absent (dad and Michael, my sister’s late husband) and laughed at some memories. They are still with us, even after they have gone, and their presence remains part of our lives. x

    • Jan, “draining” is a very good way to describe the cumulative effect of loss. It leaves one with so little in reserve. I’m happy you were coincidentally together to share memories with your family. I too have never been one to mark sad anniversaries (or really even happy ones, as I often forget 🙂 ) but as mentioned earlier on the blog, I do think that we are subconsciously aware of them. As you say, our loved ones never completely leave our lives. Thanks for being here with us, and for understanding. Wishing you many blessings in 2018!

  3. Connie Reed

    So very sorry Julia to read about your Mother-in-law and yet another sad time that is knocking on yours and your family’s door. Every time this happens in our lives, I cannot help to think, how do unbelievers ever make it through times like this? It is hard enough when you believe. Non believers must feel absolutely lost. I do pray for a good New Year for you and your family and most of all PEACE!
    Connie Reed

    • Thank you Connie. I so appreciate your being here with us. By the way…I came across some old black & white photos recently that James Rickard took. I simply must find the time to scan and send them to you. One is from a Christmas party at the Rickard’s home (the one we were so “dolled up” for 🙂 ) and one is of of Carla, Susan Rickard, Carol and I in a rowboat at the Bel-Tel club…do you remember your parents hosting us for that gathering? I don’t think I ever told you, but it was such a fun evening, I told my mother how much I wished our family could join that club. She explained that we couldn’t join, because Daddy would have to quit his job at Eastern Airlines and try to get a job with the telephone company. That was my first awareness of employee perks, I guess. 🙂 Wishing you and your loved ones all the best for 2018!

  4. The new year should always start with serious thoughtfulness. Realizing that time is fleeting and so are those we love is serious. We must remember that each moment is precious. Our moments are precious too. Nothing brings that home more than being aware that your time here is coming to an end. We can make certain nothing important is left unsaid or undone. It has to be so much harder when you have a very close family and close friends to lose them one by one. We think because of our military background that we can let go easier and move on. Not true, we hold on more firmly due to the constant losses. I’m wishing you a year of more good than not. Mother’s often transition shortly after their children. My first mother in law passes a year after my children’s father. Sending huge hugs.

    • Marlene, I agree with you. A lot of people think military families get used to goodbyes and don’t feel them as deeply, but in reality I think the opposite is true. Military families know that their time in any location is brief, so they develop an ability to form deep ties more quickly in many cases. Then too, they are often closer-knit in the nuclear family during the years of roving because they have only each other to count on until ties are formed in a new community. So I think you’re right that we hold on more firmly. Interesting point about mothers and their children; I had never considered that, because typically (especially in our generation) parents outlive their children. I do know that my primary goal in life now is to survive Matt, so that I will never have to worry about what will happen to him or who will care for him when I am gone. At the same time, I cannot imagine what life would be like without him, especially now that Jeff is gone. As I told my sister years ago, the only thing worse than outliving Matt would be not outliving him. Yet even with the turmoil and sorrows, life is a beautiful gift. I really believe that. Thanks for being here and for understanding. Sending big New Year hugs.

  5. Carolyn

    I am so sad to hear about Jeff’s mom. This has been a tough time for us,as well as so many others. Just the day we celebrated our anniversary ,we also lost Terry brother, Tom, 6 yrs.ago,and then on the 22nd, 18 yrs. my mom died, we just have to remember all the precious memories we have. Thank you for the pictures you sent me. Drew looks so much like Jeff. I send prayers for the Denton family. May God bless you all . Julia you all are like family and we love you all .write. Send more news later. Hugs to all.

    • Hi Carolyn, glad you got the photos. I never seem to finish my Christmas cards anymore, and this year was no exception – I want to send out a lot more than I end up sending out. Yes, a long life is definitely a mixed blessing, because there are so many goodbyes. But it’s still a blessing most of us would choose without hesitation. I guess it’s natural that memories become more important the older we get. Thanks for saying we are like family. We feel the same about you, and have since almost the first day we met. You were the bright spot of a very difficult time in our lives and we have carried you in our hearts ever since! Hope you and your loved ones have a wonderful year in 2018.

  6. I have followed your blog for a few years.Your courage,determination,and struggles have made me smile,laugh,and cry over the years.I am sorry to see you go thru another heartbreak with your mother in law. I can only wish you and your family hope and better times in the new year.Your blog is a blessing to me and I am sure others and if possible I hope you can continue.May our God light your path into the new year.

    • Thank you Daryl. I appreciate your kind words, and I’m so happy that you are here with us. I do plan to continue blogging, and I hope eventually to get back to at least twice a week for posting, but I have a lot to catch up with right now and I’m still cutting myself slack as I adjust to a vastly different life than I ever imagined for myself. I appreciate those who “hang in there” with me when it takes me forever to get to the comments. I’m glad you posted a comment to let me know you are here! In some of my Christmas cards I will hear from friends who say they read my blog and it’s always a delightful surprise. If they don’t ever leave comments or Gravatars, I have no idea they are reading and it’s fun to find out they are. So I love to hear from people, whether often or only once, just to know the names of some who are part of this online community. As with “real life” communities, some are more vocal and active than others, but all are valued members and each has a unique story. Thanks for being among those who daily strive to defeat despair!

  7. Rene

    HAPPY NEW YEAR JULIA!!! I reread your earlier New Year’s post. What word would you choose for this year?

    • Rene, great question! I had to give this one some thought. My first impulse was to say “Remain.” A few years back I asked my brother whether he knew the Chiricahua words for “One who stays” because I had figured out that if I was to give myself a name in keeping with the indigenous part of our ancestry, that would be it. At the time, I was thinking of other ways of staying, but it’s remarkable how that theme has played out in my life. But that wouldn’t be the word for this year. My second thought was “resolve” but that too would not be unique to this year, as I’ve been holding onto that for as long as I can remember. For some reason, I seem to be stuck on “R” words, so I finally figured out that the word for this year, for me, is “Reciprocity.” I decided that’s something I have always needed more of in my life. By that I mean that I often have been guilty of directing most of my time and energy to people who can’t or won’t provide that delicate balance of give-and-take that is so essential to a healthy relationship. Then to correct that, I end up being the receiver in many relationships with people who are naturally givers. What I’d like to do is focus on giving back a bit more to those who give and give and give to me; those who truly keep me going. Of course, that opens up a whole new canvas for the exploration of my own inadequacy, as my intentions will almost certainly outweigh my actions. But the beautiful part of reciprocity is that, in a truly mutual relationship, it turns out not to matter. As C. S. Lewis wrote in The Four Loves, “The mark of Friendship is not that help will be given when the pinch comes (of course it will) but that, having been given, it makes no difference at all.”

  8. Oh Julia. I’m so sorry yet another loss is hitting your household. I’m praying.

    • Thank you Jena. Based on what others have told me about the funeral (to which Matt and I could not go, due to other obligations and very nasty weather) your prayers were answered, and I believe everyone is at peace with the situation. I hope you and your family are doing OK. Matt and I are keeping you in our prayers also.

  9. Julia, I’m sorry you are facing another loss, so personal and profound. I’m sure you can’t help but feel that a little bit of Jeff is wrapped up in this loss, and I imagine a reopening of wounds. Arms around you as you get through this loss. xo

    • Thank you Alys. Though there was a time when I felt very close to Jeff’s mother, that was in the early years of our relationship. The years and distance and many changes have meant that my own goodbye to her has happened very gradually, thus attenuating some of the sorrow. But on Christmas when Matt and I talked to her for the very last time, it was heartbreaking to realize she would likely not be with us much longer, and I felt a true sense of loss. Yet, losing Jeff has had the effect of casting any other loss, whether personal or material, into sharp perspective; compared to his absence in our daily lives, nothing else seems as unbearable. I still haven’t cancelled the flights Matt and I had booked to go see her next week, but of course that’s on my “to-do” list. Meanwhile, life goes on…

  10. Amy Hill

    I am sorry to read about Jonnie. I will be keeping you and all of the family in my thoughts and prayers. I love you.

    • Thank you Amy. Having lived with and through so many of the big events of past decades with us, you truly understand and I’m so grateful. ❤

  11. Sheila

    Julia, I’m so sorry that you and your family are saying another “earthly goodbye” to a loved family member. I remember Mrs. Denton from Jeff’s celebration service last year. Thank you for the blessings you have wished for us, your friends. We gather here, and we count our blessings whether through smiles or tears. My gratitude for all the wisdom that has been shared here, the posts and the comments, as we defeat despair, day by day! 🙏💛

    • Thank you Sheila. I wonder if you realize what a constant presence you are in my life? Our little virtual Verandah is the symbol of so much. And by the way, that’s quite a comfy seat we have this month, and I loved the quote almost as much as the photo! Thinking of you with fond gratitude. ❤

  12. Paula Escobell

    Thank you, Julia. I share your pledge of appreciation, gratitude, determination, and resolve as I myself have many days where I have nothing more to offer than perhaps a kind thought and even a simple prayer is evasive. I am acutely aware of 1Peter 5:8, and will even confess that in my very small mind I could very easily substitute “despair” for “the devil”, but thank God that He, in His infinite wisdom, inspired verses 9-11!

    I so look forward to “visiting” with you each week and want you to know what a difference you make in my life. May you always feel Him near and, if He blesses you only half of what you have blessed me, you and Matt will have a wonderful 2018!

    Love, Paula

    • Happy New Year, Paula, and thanks for being here with us! I quite agree that “despair” would be a very good substitute in I Peter 5:8. Indeed it can devour us if we let it. And the contemplation of “the family of believers” is humbling, and puts my concerns in perspective. Thank you for sharing that verse with me today. I too look forward to our visits here, and I hope you know how much it means to have you here with us. I am planning to visit friends in San Antonio sometime this year; if so, perhaps I can see you in person again. Til then, I am blessed to meet with you here. Wishing you and your family all the best for 2018. Love, Julia

  13. Bless you, Julia!
    This photo reminds me of how happy Matt is, when he is surrounded his people, who live him. 🙂
    I pray that we all recognize such moments of glee in our own lives this year – and let it show, with a big ol’ smile!
    Love to you, and Happy New Year!

    • Susan, Matt was so happy to see everyone. He had just passed through more than five months of deep grief complicated by tremendous loneliness. Along with me, he endured almost total isolation in which, outside of the holiday season and his day program and his wonderful transportation provider (who has become a true brother to him), he saw only me, my sister Carla who came to visit for a week, and occasionally Amy and Steve. Somehow the two of us survived, but as a much more solitary type, even I felt alone, so I know Matt did. Because he’s such a sociable and loving person, seeing so many people at the funeral made it a mostly joyful time for him. For Christmas I sent Jeff’s mother a framed copy of that photo and I’m so happy she got it and enjoyed it before she was unable to do so. Her special song for Matt was “you are my sunshine” and he sang it to her in their last conversation, on Christmas Day. Love to you too– and let’s keep plotting strategies for a Happy New Year in 2018! Perhaps this will be the year I finally do get to New England to see you…after all the snow melts, that is…hope you’re staying warm!

  14. Ann H Weldon

    Julia, you don’t need to be bright and sunny with us!

    I just read your Facebook post of the loss of another member of your extended family. All I can say is “one day at a time” . You have many people who admire and love you, including me.

    • Thank you, Ann. I am so happy you are here!! ❤

  15. Michael

    Reminds me of the great hymn “nearer my God to thee” read any of linda sukkoth? Reading her memoir the near faraway. Neat stuff about moths drinking the tears of the birds I.e. terns,

    • Mike, are you talking about this book? I have quoted Rebecca Solnit several times on this blog. I’ll look for the book, it promises to be an interesting read. Keep those great recommendations coming!

  16. Such a nice photo of your boys and looking at your Matt and his smile, what a sweetheart. I’m sorry to hear your Mom-in law is so gravely ill too Julia. How can we know when we take a photo, that such a short time will change everything.
    This crazy journey, it’s a catch 22 isn’t it? The farther we get to travel, the more we have to endure. But the more we endure, the farther we’ll travel.
    I linked back to your previous post and also read our visit together. It’s impossible to know how we’ll deal with loss until we walk through it. The old adage, ‘ignorance is bliss’ serves us well, like a natural coping mechanism. Otherwise we’d kill ourselves with worry and fret about what lies ahead. That’s not how I want to live. True, to some degree, there needs to be acceptance but I can’t imagine having to face it head on, as your family did with Jeff. Funny, we finally got to a lawyer to plan wills and legalize that whole thing. I got momentarily emotional there, talking about things and that surprised me a bit. I think of myself as weak, but maybe I’ll be strong when the time comes. I just prefer to ignore the inevitable, that just works for me now. Wishing you more peace in your life Julia, you are so deservant. Love Kelly x

    • Thank you K. It’s true that none of us had any clue that Jeff’s mother would be diagnosed so soon afterward with lung cancer. She never smoked (though Jeff’s father did and they say secondhand smoke can be even worse). So strange, too that both of my parents, both of Jeff’s parents, and even Jeff himself, (having beat the cancer in his colon, liver, brain and appendix) all ultimately died of lung disease. But you’re right, we can make ourselves crazy trying to control or predict such things. I applaud you for taking care of the legal details in advance. Even with good planning, there is so much for survivors to do, at a time when they are scarcely able to think straight about any of it. So taking care of as much as possible in advance is a wise move. Thanks for your kind wishes and friendship. You make my world a much brighter place!

      • Hi Honey! Your parcel came this afternoon!! I feel so blessed for your friendship and love. The kitties are blowing kisses too, you’re so cute. They are sharing the treats, although Petals is pretty nimble and gets most of them. Blossum eats like a little lady.
        Thank you so much for the gorgeous package with all the pretty aqua touches. You’re always so thoughtful. I was able to put on my new bracelet all by myself ! I just love it and all the danglies. I’ve claimed the aqua drink cooler and will share the other and pretty tea-towel with Jim. I cook, so it’s the least a man can do, don’t you think? LOL xoxox and you make my world a brighter place too. What a good team we are xk

        • Kelly, I’m so happy you like the little do-dads I sent. I just wish it didn’t take so long to get there– did I make it in time for Ukrainian Christmas? 🙂 Matt and I loved our gifts also, and your packages and cards are always so exquisite. Chocolate doesn’t last long around here, hee-hee. I fancy the sparkly angel bears a resemblance to Boomdee herself. I look forward to more “teamwork” this year!! ❤ 😀 I'll even bring a better map this time. 😀 😀 😀

          • Awesome! And yes, just about arrived for my 2nd Christmas, so lucky me to celebrate 3 times 😀 Ukrainian Christmas was January 7th and I got your gorgeous package on Thursday. xoxo ps, No map required ! By the seat of our pants is how we should always roll. Love and Hugs x K

            • Thank you, K. Matt and I ate the last of the chocolate today and loved every bite. Re: no maps required– sounds great to me. We’ll end up taking a lot of scenic routes. 🙂

  17. Mike

    The UR post today seems relevant which speaks of accumulated loss through the years. I wrote a funny post under my pseudo-Plantsmith which is a little Raynardesque.
    This Rebecca Sukkoth work is pure genius ” The nearaway far” or the far nearaway. It is the story a memoir of her relationship withe her mom, the family apricot tree and the too familiar descent into dementia. Her mom’s not her at this point. Wonderful writer very lyrical and she weaves in and out of such disparate themes- from Che Guevar to the Vanitas? paintings. She has some good stuff to say about loss and grief, by which we drink our own terms and in some cases make art from them. So many great loves songs, tearuful songs have come from drinking the cup of grief.- she says. And the challenge is to turn our tears into art.” Easier said. This all comes from sosmething she read about a particular moth on the Madagascar coast that drinks the tears of Terns while they sleep.The birds that is not the moths.
    Also a nice poem on death from Georgine on the UR site-” Death is nothing at all.” I wrote the above comment on my Kindle Fire which is such a pain.
    14 degrees here this AM in Canton,Ga. Yesterday my son the fireman in Maritta- delivered a baby singlehandedly. Thats all I know. Still looking for an apartment. Verie wants to be close to the grand kids. That is all I know. Did you know Canton is famous for its Canton Denim -which was very popular in the 40’s and 50’s?

    • Mike, I didn’t realize you posted anywhere…is it available to read online? By Raynardeque, I assume you mean the stream-of-consciousness style, or in his words “I digress.” 😀 I have come to think of Raynard as the James Joyce of this blog. Or maybe the Marcel Proust. I mentioned to you in a previous comment about quoting from Rebecca Solnit several times on this blog. Here’s another post based on one of her quotes. She is definitely an interesting writer. WOW, congrats to your son on helping with the delivery! I wonder how many first responders end up doing that some time in their careers? Didn’t know that about the denim. I hope that you and Verie are able to be close to your grandchildren. I never told you this during all your process of relocation, but for several weeks just recently, I had planned to move to Atlanta myself, hoping to be closer to my own grandsons who I hardly ever see at all. For reasons I won’t go into, that certainly turned out not to be a wise decision, but I was able to reverse course in time to avoid any major catastrophes except on the emotional level. However, in general I think having grandparents nearby is a great blessing to all involved, especially in today’s world where church and community are less involved in family life than they were in our own childhoods. As a society I think we are undeniably growing isolated from one another, at least in the sense of physical proximity and willingness to share time and space. It’s sad but probably inevitable, at least in some cases.

  18. rene

    HI Julia. On last Wednesday’s UR devotional, there is a More From the Author that I found both thought-provoking & comforting. These vigils can be tough. You are in my thoughts & prayers.

    • Rene, I will look that up, thanks for letting me know. Mike mentioned a poem someone else had posted, which another reader sent me by email. I love having all of you share what you discover. Thanks for your thoughts & friendship!

  19. Rene

    Feel free to not post my earlier comment and this one. I was trying to be cheerful but it just seems so trite now.

    • Hmmm, I couldn’t figure out which comment you were referring to…I guess that means that none of it was trite in my eyes! 🙂 Whether cheerful or contemplative, I always enjoy hearing from people who read these posts. Anybody interested enough to be here is bound to be trying to defeat despair, so your comments are appreciated! I’ll let you know if anything ever hits me wrong, but I doubt that will happen. 🙂

  20. Michael

    I am plantsmith on the ur site.

    • I should be able to remember that one!

  21. Michael

    I think René is referring to same poem. On ur site. Did u find out name of chiracauhua word for steadfast? I guess true grit would work? What was name of Shackleton’s boat stuck in the ice? Endurance’s?

    • Yes, it was the Endurance. I have the book about it by that same title, (the one by Caroline Alexander) though I have not yet read it. But I was so captivated by the review of it many years ago, that I thought it would be a great story. I’ve always admired survivors, even when I didn’t know I’d end up feeling like one.

  22. Michael

    How about the apache name “girl with frozen feet”?

    • Sounds uncomfortable, especially at this time of year. The Chiricahua were referred to by white people as “Apache” but they are one of many separate bands grouped together under that tribal name. From Wikipedia: “The Chiricahua autonym for themselves is, depending on the dialect, simply Nde, Ne, Néndé, Héndé or Hen-de – ″The People, Men″ – they never called themselves ‘Apaches’.”

  23. Michael

    No I think it was “stands with fist”. Apache for stubborn.

    • That was the Lakota name for the white woman in the film Dances with Wolves. I had the privilege of talking with Michael Blake, who wrote the screenplay to that film, when I was a busy mother who dreamed of writing but spent most of my time on my husband and preschool sons. He gave me some very good advice: “Even though you are too busy to write as much as you would like, always keep a relationship with the written word– letters, journals, whatever– but keep a relationship with some form of writing, so it will still be there for you if you ever have time for it.” 🙂 I guess you could say this blog is the result of my taking his advice.

  24. LB

    Julia, you mention that you cannot offer sunny thoughts or bright resolutions. Frankly, the knowledge that you continue to post, despite the many heartbreaking challenges you have faced, is inspirational to many of us. I have wondered at your strength and endurance, and am glad that you feel sustained by the comments and visits of friends.
    I’m hoping that 2018 will bring some peace and respite.<3

    • Thank you, LB – I am so grateful for your friendship and your presence here! May 2018 bring you many blessings.

  25. Mike

    I meant True Grit. As you can see I don’t type very well on the Kindle. Sorry.

    • No problem, I knew what you meant. 🙂

  26. Mike

    That is really cool about Michael Blake and his advice for aspiring writers of whatever time frame. Do you think Email counts? as a way to, “stay in touch with the written word.”
    OK so here is the big news -I started reading Eudora Welty’s “The optimist’s daughter.” Wonderful characterizations in which I picture the father as Orson Welles in, “the Long Hot summer.”
    I have to work on myh souther Salutations. Last week when I visited a patient in a nursing home- A.G Rhodes in Marietta- once called a hospital for the uncurables. I love that name. Have you heard of it? I was corrected when I asked to see patient Sally Jones. The nurse said, “Oh you mean Miss Sally?”

    • Yes, email counts big time. Probably everything except grocery lists counts. I don’t remember reading that story by Welty, but I have read other works by her and I know she is one of the most respected names in southern literature. No, I haven’t heard of that nursing home, but bless you for going. I wonder if the southern practice of using the titles “Miss” or “Mrs.” or now “Ms.” is a carryover from the English stylings– which, according to this scholar, were shifting and more than a little confusing, but in general would seem to connote respect.

  27. I remember as a child, we were told that. New Years Eve was a time of celebration, to prepare for an even better coming year. Perhaps because I never liked loud noises, I was nor fully engaged by the concept. My favorite tradition was the Korean tradition of shaking out our coats, outdoors (in upper Michigan, no less) to rid ourselves of any bad luck from the previous year, that had been trying to hide in our coats, to follow us into the new year. (At least that was relatively quiet!)
    As I grew older, I think I intuitively just wanted to go to bed early and miss the whole thing.
    Now looking back, I’m shaking my head, half-chuckling: the ideas that people try to sell one! Celebrating the passing of a new year!
    As with birthdays, I’d rather make the day count for something than sit around and eat cake and ice cream… well, at least rather than eating cake! LOL – Ice cream is a wonderful vehicle for hot fudge, caramel, pecans and whipped cream!

    • Susan, I TOTALLY agree with you about the ice cream, especially with hot fudge. I think that would be a great New Year’s treat. Interestingly, New Year’s Day was never a time I looked forward to until I met Jeff. Always before it felt quite lonely, worse than Valentine’s Day or Christmas. Jeff and I always used to toast in the New Year together with sparkling grape juice, except for that last New Year (2016) when he just didn’t feel like staying up, and neither did I. Anyway, not being a drinker at all, I never understood why anyone would want to begin a New Year in a plastered state of (no) mind. But, I’ve always been a bit of an oddball that way. In NorCal we used to party with friends from church, eating munchies and playing games until way past our usual bedtime, and that was fun. While we lived in NorCal and also in Hawaii, I loved Chinese New Year (now called Lunar New Year in most places) and went to Chinatown to see the Lion Dancers and Dragons and other parade participants several years. And I was so happy to be there to see in the Year of the Monkey in person, in 2004! (I’m a Fire Monkey in the Chinese zodiac.) Much more fun than watching Dick Clark on TV, I think.

  28. Mike

    Someday I will have Internet again and catch up with all my cyber-friends. I am over at my son’s [place where I can get online. I love the Eastern Red buds which are starting to bud alittle with their deep-red/purple/magenta hues. I think it is my favorite tree here, next to the Tulip Magnolia- some in bloom and the “Hishino” Snow white cherries some in bloom. Someone said these are the same cherries as in Wash DC parks. Someday I will make it to Gibbs Garden in Ballground about 20 miles from Canton. Early Spring in N.Georgia? I can’t believe the temperature swings -from 35 to 70 degrees in one day. Definitely some beautiful trees here.
    The winter pruning of the Crepe Myrtles h ere also known as Crepe Murder is a little nutty. Walter Reeves has a wonderful radion show on wABE Atlanta on Saturday mornings with lots of plant savy, insight, knowledge. He is also funny.

    • Mike, I was considering having an Eastern Redbud tree planted at our York home not too long ago. I postponed the project when other things came up, but I had almost decided to opt for a cherry tree instead. I have loved the ones at our Alexandria home but they bloom for such a short time. I don’t know much about the Eastern Redbud but from what I read it sounds like an ideal tree. Our plum tree in York County is blooming right now. It feels like an early spring but actually, hard as it is to believe, we’re now at about mid-March so it’s really fairly typical for the earliest blooms to be out. I hope you get to see some of the famous Dogwoods in Atlanta. The Dogwood Festival is still held there each year, although it’s only one weekend instead of nine days as it used to be.

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