Procrastination: Putting off today what you can do tomorrow

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Or can you?

Yesterday, I walked around the ponds, headphones on, water bottle slung over one shoulder, step tracker clipped on my shirt. I was out for exercise.

That did not stop my roaming eye. As I walked up the powerline right of way, I saw another purple flower—a Maypop blossom! (Some people may call them passion flowers.) These vines grow wild in these parts. After they bloom, they bear fruit. I’ve heard you can eat the fruit, but I never did. When I was a child, I played with Maypops, using sticks to make animals out of them.

When I saw the flower, I was excited! But I was midway through my second lap, and I did not want to interrupt the momentum of the walk. I did not go back for the camera.

I lost the opportunity to take the photo of the purple passion flower//Maypop blossom. Surely, it will be in bloom tomorrow. . . . .

Well, here is what is looks like today.

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It is beginning to close.  It’s a strange-looking thing at this stage.  The good news is, that while I was taking this photo, I saw that there are a few more buds that haven’t opened yet. I will be watching these so that I can get the picture.  And I will be watching for the fruit, too. I may even make a Maypop animal!

Here are some other things I saw along the walk around the pond today.

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Roses in the backyard

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Wild blackberries beginning to ripen

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An interesting bent tree

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The grand oaks that line one side of the dam between “Herbert’s” pond and Gramps’s pond.

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Mushrooms, moss, and fallen leaves—an interesting combination of textures. (No, I did not stage this.)

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Red trumpet vines.

All I have to do is keep my eyes open.

By the way, I’m not exactly upset with myself that I didn’t go back and take a picture yesterday. I carry the memory.

Week 1 Wrap-up from Picture Spring class

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When I return to the classroom, everything else seems to fall by the wayside—writing, playing/practicing piano, housework, even photography and other creative outlets. This past week, I did return to the classroom for one class a day with six students (yeah, can you imagine that?). And I have kept up with my Picture Spring class that began on Monday, and the project I started on May 1. Even my mini-album is up-to-date with prints!

My writing, though, has lapsed. Even today, when I have the house completely to myself, no interruptions or distractions, I have not written anything except my daily morning pages, and even then I wrote only two pages.

What I have been doing, though, is soaking up the Word of God, and watching the little birds—house finches—come to the bottle feeder outside my window.

untitled-3 They may not be as flashy as the cardinals that feed at the larger feeders, but these are beautiful birds, too.

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I wish the gold finches would come back. I know they are out there. I’ve seen them!

I think, since my words are few this morning, I will just give you a collage of images from this past week’s Picture Spring prompts. As usual, I’m using the collage maker at www.befunky.com. It’s an easy to use online photo editor. (I wish they would add a print button!)

Week 1 Collage

Day 1: Beginnings—blackberries, bottom center

Day 2: Stepping Out into Spring—thirty steps, left

Day 3: Morning Rituals: beginning with the Word, center center

Day 4: The Sky’s the Limit:  clouds, right

Day 5: Ground Level: roses, top center

I still have to process Days six and 7!

History—Past and Present and What It Might Say about Our Future

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I haven’t been “philosophical” on my blog in a long, long time. But I have some thoughts today.

I spent the weekend in Bennetts Point with Mama and my brother and sister. We went expressly for the program sponsored by the community association about the new historical marker put up at the boat landing at the Frank Baldwin Bridge. The marker honors the Engagement at Chapman’s Fort when five Union soldiers received the Medal of Honor for rescuing hundreds of soldiers when their vessel, the Boston,  sank. I won’t go into the whole history, but here is the gist:

In May 1863, the Union vessel, The Boston, sailed up the Ashepoo River to take out the trestle for the Charleston-Savannah Railroad in order to cripple the Southern troops and the South in general. Southern troops managed to keep the Boston from reaching the bridge. While on the trip, the Boston became lodged on in the marsh. At one point, an order was given to destroy the vessel. Five Union soldiers helped rescue hundreds of black Union soldiers. The rescuers were white.

Now, that may not be a big deal, but this monument is a BIG DEAL. First, it recognizes a Civil War battle that took place in the South. Second, it honors an engagement in which the Confederate forces were (sort of, thanks to the grounding the Union vessel) successful in preventing the Union forces from destroying a vital portion of the railroad. Third, the marker honors five UNION soldiers who received the Medal of Honor for their acts of bravery. These men did not care about the color of the skin of the men in the regiment. Those men needed saving. Period.

 

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I’m processing all this in the context of recent events in New Orleans where Confederate monuments have been removed. We cannot change history. The Civil War, the War between the States, or the War of Northern Aggression—however you want to name it—happened. That fact can’t be changed by anyone. There were brave men on both sides of the line; there were Southerners who were opposed to slavery but fought to protect their land. There were unscrupulous men who fought only to kill another human being. There were cowards on both sides as well. We can’t rewrite history or change the facts.

What we can do, though, is try to understand what happened. We have to learn what really happened. We have to see things through the other side’s eyes, whoever that other side is.

What I appreciate about this marker is that it honors Medal of Honor winners. It presents a more balanced view of this engagement. The Bennetts Point community should be proud of it.untitled-26

Breaking Free of Photography Ruts

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I noticed when I looked through my Lightroom catalog that I take an awful lot of floral images. Even as I think about my Picture Spring project, flowers, trees, plants all appear, and they look about the same. I do play with some in Photoshop, adding textures and other effects, but still, there is that rut I’m in when it comes to subjects. So, it’s time to break out of the rut and see what else I can do.

Anne McKinnell offers this tip as a way to break out of a rut: Explore other art forms. Read, listen to music, visit a museum, watch a movie or go see a play. In other words, sometimes, we have to “feed the muse.” Julia Cameron says much the same thing in her various books on creativity. She recommends weekly “artist’s dates” when we simply go somewhere or do something that feeds the soul.

Both McKinnell and Bethany of {Beth}-adilly Photography recommend studying other artists’ work as well. We can pull out those photography books sitting on our shelves and pour over them. As we do this, we can make lists of the subjects that they work with, the lighting, the post-processing techniques, and other treatments. It is a form of feeding our muse.

The Artist's Way: 25th Anniversary Edition by [Cameron, Julia]

Another Digital Photography School author, Mike Newton, recommends getting out of our comfort zones—physically. He suggests going somewhere completely new. I am a “nature” photographer, and my friend Mary would say that I do floral photography very well. But sometimes I get bored with the same old-same old. (Perhaps I need to take the advise of a poet and figure out thirteen ways to photography a flower as he did writing about a crow!) I do not do street photography very well, and I don’t do a lot of architectural photography even though I love the textures and shapes and designs of old buildings. Changing locations, going somewhere completely new, can force us to be more creative in our photography.

In addition, Newton suggests learning a new technique or style. Related to this is learning a new piece of equipment, something I wrote about earlier this week.

Laura Sullivan says that we can put the camera away for a bit. Taking a break from something allows the brain to rest a bit. It also forces us to see the world. Contemplative photography practices like those suggested by Kim Manley Ort in her book Adventures in Seeing help develop the eye as well. I know that since I started a contemplative photography practice, I see the world differently and notice more even when I don’t have the camera with me.

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Valerie Jardin offers some additional suggestions:  join a photography club or meetup group. See what others are photographing and how they work. She also recommends experimenting with new equipment. I confess that I rarely use the camera on my smart phone. And I sometimes forget I have that phone and camera with me the majority of the time. “Phone-ography” is very different from photography with a DSLR or even some of the advanced point-and-shoot cameras. You can also rent equipment to try for quite reasonable rates. And another suggestion she makes is to create a photography bucket list of things you want to photograph as well as to create a list of things you’ve never tried to photograph.

The writers for SmugMug offer the suggestion of shooting a theme: the color yellow, for example; or feet, or hands. My friend Mary does something similar. Last year, she used leaves as her theme, and this year she is using textures of trees. I’m working on the theme of “by the waters.”

I have a couple of books that I use sometimes when I need inspiration to get out of my rut. One that I recommend is The Photographer’s Play Book by Jason Fulford. If you want photographic examples of the exercises and suggestions, don’t look for them. It’s all text. The point is for you the photographer to interpret the exercise in your own way. Sometimes, our imaginations just need a swift kick to get us motivated.

Every artist, whether a painter, sculptor, musician, or writer goes through these dry spells and ruts. Most of the time, it passes. Finding other ways to express creativity helps as well. I find that when I’m in the groove with photography, my writing falls into a rut; when the writing inspiration strikes, then photography dims. Another tip is to show up for the work. Sometimes, just having a camera near by is enough.

Folks, The Struggle Is Real! Keeping up with a Photo Project

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I have good intentions; I really do. I promise myself that I WILL follow through on my photo-a-day project, or I will complete this on-line photography class that I paid good money for, or I will commit to taking a photograph of “something” each week.

I get a week or so into the project, and then LIFE happens. Sometimes, it’s the unexpected that happens to interrupt the routine—sickness, car trouble, appointments. You get the idea. The photography routine is interrupted, and it’s hard to pick it up again especially if the photo-a-day has not become a habit.

I’ve tried variations:  52 projects: ONE photo-a-week. Again, I do well the first couple of weeks, and then, LIFE happens.

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I started my May “Picture Spring” project on May 1. I missed one day of photographing, but that’s okay. I took the time to go into my archives and search for something to represent that day. But as I looked at last week’s photographs, I see a rut beginning to form. Flowers, blossoms, green things. . . You see where I’m going? I know the saying “April showers bring May flowers,” but honestly, flowers are not spring has to offer. I need HELP! So I anxiously wait for Tracey Clark’s class to start next Monday.

And I spent the last half hour looking at Pinterest and Google Images, looking for spring and May challenges. And I printed off a few, using my little 4 by 6 photo printer (Canon Selphy). I am going to tuck them into my May photo book as a reference.

So, how to you keep the inspiration to complete a photo-a-day project?

Jim Goldstein has a list of eleven ways to keep the momentum going in an article on the Digital Photography School website. His second tip is a good one: Always have a camera with you. Now, I tend to use my “big girl camera,” The Canon 7D with the battery grip attached (you would be amazed what people have to say about me carrying that thing around!) Most of our cell phones and smart phones have decent cameras these days, and, as you know, the best camera is the one you have with you. So, when you see something that “would make a good picture,” use that camera to make the image.

Nancy Messieh recommends taking the interesting shot. If it catches your eye, make the image. Keep your eyes open to possibilities. In addition, she advises photographers to look for inspiration from favorite photographers, from online photo galleries like Life or National Geographic, Flickr Explore, Tumblr, and other similar sites. Sometimes, trying to emulate another photographer’s techniques can project inspiration to keep going.

Here’s one I hadn’t thought of! Karthika Gupta advises photographers to be honest about why you want to do a 365 project in the first place. Having a goal will help keep you inspired. Is your goal to improve your photography? Is it to document your everyday life and routines (as well as those big events)? Having a clear goal in mind helps keep the purpose in mind.

Bethadilly offers two tips: Join a community, and share on social media. There are a LOT of 365 groups out there. A search of Flickr, Instagram, and Facebook will give you plenty of groups to choose from. Now, when I do this, I get overwhelmed! Seriously, there are thousands of 365 communities out there! Being part of a community holds you accountable, as does committing to share on social media, whether it’s Instagram or Facebook or Tumblr or Flickr. (There is a drawback to sharing: I get caught up in looking for “likes,” and if I don’t have any, then I wonder how I “failed” with that image.)

Bethadilly suggests one more thing: Use your daily photography to practice a skill or technique or to use a specific piece of gear. I admit that I am “gear crazy.” I love to mess with lenses and new camera gadgets. In fact, you may be like me; you have a piece of camera gear in your bag right now that you rarely, if ever use. I love my Lensbaby Composer Pro with the sweet 35 optic and the double optic. I have the macro kits—the filters as well as the attachments. I even have the wide angle attachments for the Lensbaby, which I have not used. Maybe it’s time to practice.

My December 2013 Instagram challenge was popular so I thought I'd make one for May 2014 - feel free to share/repost. IG: ladydyhanara:

Several writers suggest making inspiration lists. You can download and print lists to tuck into your camera bag, or you can write your own. The thing is they recommend having a “plan” of some sort.

Right now, I’m finding “Spring” is a bit broad. I am going to look at my lists and these tips to see how I can push myself further both in terms of subject, storytelling, and technique to keep up my short-term photo-a-day project. Oh, having my little mini-album already made is helping as well as keeping it “front and center.” When I pick it up to page through it, I can see the blank pages that need to be filled.

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By the way, the noisy birds fighting over space at the feeders inspired today’s “Picture Spring” photo. I haven’t downloaded them yet.

How will you kick your 365 project up a notch this week?

Spring Has Sprung—Weekend Wrapup

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Definitely spring has sprung in South Carolina. Thankfully, the worst of the pollen season has passed, although there is still a lot of pollen in the air. The May flowers are beginning to bloom. Mornings are still cool, often cool enough or light sweaters and shawls, but the afternoons are beginning to predict the summer heat to come. Days of sunshine and white clouds follow days of gray. Birds serenade me in the mornings; flashes of color streak by the living room window.  And the good old Southern humidity is beginning to rear its head.

Spring has sprung.

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(Week 1 Picture Spring Collage, made with the Collage Maker app at www.befunky.com)

My intention photographically for May and into June is to “Picture Spring.” Later in the month, I will be following along with Tracey Clark in her signature Picture Spring course, but I wanted to get a head start—to prime the pump as it were, to jumpstart creativity again. After the business of Aaron’s wedding in April and the long weeks of bronchitis and recovery from that, I had not felt creative at all, and it was showing, not only in my photography, but also in other areas. However, setting this intention over the past weekend, getting out the camera to discover that I had ONE bar left on the battery supply icon (and my chargers were nowhere to be found. . . . ). I managed to get through most of the week on that one bar! Thankfully, the new dual battery chargers arrived on Thursday, and I am good to go now! Fully charged, and as my young politician says, “fired up”.

In addition to making the photographs, I am also printing some out and collecting them in a handmade album. Thanks to the advice from one of the wonderful ladies who work for Michaels, I made the cover from a thin piece of mat board. The pages of the signatures are kraft cardstock, and I used the coptic binding stitch to put the books together. I covered the matboard with patterned scrapboook paper that I had in my stash and embellished with die cuts from my Cricut. I am using a variety of papers and tags and lace and whatever is in my stash to embellish the pages. Each page is dated (I will not say whether I actually made the image on that day or not. . . . ). At the end of the course, I will have a record of Spring 2017.untitleduntitled-3untitled-11untitled-13untitled-14untitled-15untitled-16untitled-17untitled-18untitled-19

Thursday Thanksgiving—Picture Spring

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There are some days that are just made for giving thanks, and today is one of them. The meteorologists in our area are calling today an Alert Day because we will probably have some kind of severe weather this afternoon. Right now, it’s breezy and partly cloudy. The sun peeps out every once and a while, just to let me know it’s still there behind the light gray clouds.

I ran outside this morning for just a little bit to get some images of some of the wild things blooming. I think I am resigned to the fact that I am not a gardener. It’s not that I have brown or black thumbs; I certainly don’t kill everything I plant, but I have no sense of gardening. But I do love beautiful flower gardens. I could (almost) live in a botanical garden—if it weren’t for this thing called pollen.

Saturday, I stopped at a newly relocated, reopened garden shop and bought some tomato, pepper, and herb plants as well as some flowers to put in my planter by the bird feeders—red ones, orange, dark blue. I can look out my living room window and see them, bright and colorful, joyfully bobbing their heads in the wind.

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I wonder how many children today can boast that they sucked the honey out of honeysuckle flowers. I know I did when I was a child, and I showed my own children how to do that as well. I wonder what the health professionals would say about doing that. What kind of diseases did I open myself up to by sipping that sweet nectar? I remember standing before those vines with my cousins Virginia, Franklin, and Janet, and my sister Elaine, picking the flowers, pinching off the ends, and sucking the nectar. I almost pulled a few this morning to do that very thing. I hope I haven’t gotten too old to enjoy simple pleasures.

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This morning, one of my sons sent me a face book message early with good news. It is always such a joy to know that my children still want to share their news with me.

During this month, my project is to make images of spring. I will be sharing these images off and on. I am also collecting prints in a handmade journal. I will probably be posting some images of the journal and describing the techniques I used later on. I’m still in the assembling stage.

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Picture Spring

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What does spring look like in your part of the Northern Hemisphere? I have to be careful because I have friends in various social media groups who live in the Southern Hemisphere, and it’s winter there.

Today is a kind of stormy looking day. I do hear a bit of thunder now and again, but so far, the day is just cloudy. The jasmine has bloomed, as have the blackberries. I see the honeysuckle, though. My roses are blooming as well. The trumpet vine is not as colorful as it was two weeks ago. Everything is green.

It sounds kind of funny to start a Picture Spring project in May, but that’s going to be my focus this month in my personal photography. I want to look more closely at what spring looks like here in my corner of the world.

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I will be doing some of my own prompts while I take on this project, but I will also be following Tracey Clark’s Picture Spring class. I have taken Tracey’s classes before when she taught through Big Picture Classes, and she is inspiring. I am looking forward to starting on May 15.

It has been hard to get out to photography this past month. It has been incredibly busy as we had Aaron’s wedding on April 1. I still have to go through the CDs of pictures they sent me and choose the ones I want to use in an album so I can show my beautiful daughter and handsome son. Then, no sooner than I get home from the wedding, I get sick with bronchitis and sinusitis. I am still coughing, and having some issues, so getting out with the camera to walk has not been easy.

Hopefully, May will be better. I will go out and start to photograph spring. And, of course, I will mess around with Photoshop and Topaz and the various textures and overlays that I’ve accumulated. It will be a time to create more art.

I will also be putting together a new course on Teachable.com that combines writing and photography. Look for more information about it in the coming weeks.

It’s Friday!

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I think I will wrap up this week with a “Currently” entry. I use the Happy Planner for my day-to-day planning and scheduling. I have other planners and journals as well—one for school to keep track of lessons, meetings, classes, and the like; another for a more detailed bullet journal; and a third to keep track of my steps toward business. I like the Happy Planner that I’m using because it has a “Currently” list at the beginning of each month.

So, CURRENTLY, I am. . .

Reading: I just finished Murder on the Moor by Julianna Deering. It is the fifth in the Drew Farthering detective series. I enjoyed it, and it kept me guessing until I could stand it no longer, and I peeked at the end. Even though I discovered the solution to the mystery, there was one twist I didn’t expect.

I’m also reading several books on business planning: The Right Brain Business Plan by Jennifer Lee; The Creative Entrepreneur by Lisa Sonoma Bean, in particular. I’m also reading parts of The Artist’s Way at Work: Riding the Dragon by Julia Cameron and others, as well as two books by Eric Maisel: Life Purpose Boot Camp and Become a Creativity Coach Now! These books are informing my decisions regarding my becoming my own boss.

And of course, there are a few Regency romances in the mix—too many to name.

Planning: Sometimes I think the question is what am I NOT planning? Of course there is the business planning (more later). But the big thing I am planning for May is a dinner to honor Sherry and my son Aaron with close friends and family who were unable to attend their wedding. I may be an introvert at heart, but I do enjoy being with family (for small doses!).

Watching: I am not a Netflix or Hulu binge watcher (unless my older son is home), but I have several shows that I do watch routinely when I can: Elementary, a modern take on the Sherlock Holmes character; NCIS, NCIS LA, and NCIS New Orleans; Bull, and  Dancing with the Stars. I have just started watching Grey’s Anatomy this season, and it is becoming a regular. Criminal Minds is also on my list. I will be glad when the mystery of who is framing Spenser Reed is completely solved. (Wednesday night’s episode went a LONG way in answering the question!) I’m not sure I like the dark turn that Spenser Reed’s character is taking. I liked the boyish, naïve Reed!

Drinking: Blenheim’s Hot Ginger Ale. It is made right here in South Carolina, and it is the best. After drinking this ginger ale, all other ginger ales taste like a “drink of water,” as my father would say about things that were wet but relatively tasteless. During the last couple of weeks, I’ve had bronchitis and sinusitis, and Blenheim’s was one of the few things I could taste.

Loving: I have a rather eclectic taste in music, but lately, I am really loving the music of the duo Marion Hill. They are featured on some commercial singing their song “Down.” I like the jazz feel to their music. I made a Marion Hill channel on Pandora.

There isn’t a category for this, but I am enjoying playing the piano again, but I am having to do some serious practice! I have been asked to play for a wedding in December. I figure if I start learning the music now, by December, I will be comfortable with it. I am so proud of my Betsy Ross spinet made in the 1930s by the Lester Piano Company, now out of business. When I received it as a gift from some dear friends who attend my church, I had it tuned. The tuner was amazed that it was in such good condition! There are a few worn pads, which cause some “clicking.” But you know, it gives the piano some character. (You can see the keyboard in the banner image above!)

I would love to know what is currently in your lives!

Words on Wednesday

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I struggle with “branding.” I struggle with naming things. I took the easy way out when I had a photography business. I just used my first and middle given names, partly as tributes to my two grandmothers for whom I am named. Mama and Daddy gave me my grandmothers’ middle names.

Then I had to name my blog. And I thought and thought. I ended up with Telling Stories because I believe that our stories need to be told—the good ones, the bad ones, the funny ones, the embarrassing ones, and even the tragic ones. We have to tell our stories.

I use words and images.

Whether it’s because I am in the last year of my fiftieth decade (next year I will be sixty), or whether it’s because people I always believed would be around forever are passing away, or what, I am thinking about stories. Every so often I purchase one month of Ancestry.com to dig more into my family’s history. I have discovered through the stories my parents have told me, and my grandparents, that I have great-great-great-great-etc.-grandparents and –uncles who fought in the American Revolution, the War between the States (aka the War of Northern Aggression), and every war through the Vietnam war. My father is a World War II veteran who was drafted near the end of the war and trained to serve in the Pacific theater. However, a week before he graduated boot camp the Japanese surrenders, and his ordered changed. He was sent to serve in occupation Germany with the peace-keeping forces. My mother’s younger brothers were drafted during the Vietnam era, but neither of them went to Vietnam. Uncle Lee served in Spain.

While I was poking around in Ancestry.com Sunday night, I found the family tree that my first cousin is putting together. I asked if I could access her tree, and she graciously invited me in. She had uploaded the most wonderful picture of my maternal grandmother.

Gramma Wessinger when she was really young!

Grandma, Georgia Olivia Helmley Wessinger, was born in Rincon, Georgia, the thirteenth of thirteen children. She had nephews older than she was! (Can you imagine that in happening in 2017?) She learned to make tatting when she was six years old from the school teacher who boarded with her family. Grandma tatted until she could not longer see the fine thread and knots she made with her shuttle. Her work was gorgeous! Absolutely beautiful! When I was growing up, my sister, and later my brother, and I would spend a week with Gramma and Granddaddy. During those summer weeks, I don’t think I ever saw her wear anything but cotton print shirtwaist dresses, even when she went out to work in the garden in the mornings. And she never wore blue jeans! My other grandmother wore long pants and pedal pushers when she worked out in the yard, just like my mama. But never Granma!

So, who is that pretty young lady in the picture? That is my grandmother when she was single, living in Rincon, in the 1920’s. One of the stories told about her is that she drove the car for her pastor because both he and his wife were elderly. One day, he wanted to take his brothers and sisters to Tybee Beach in Savannah. His nephew had driven his aunts and uncles to visit their brother. When it came time to go to Tybee, the pastor, as was his habit, asked Georgia to drive one of the cars as there were too many to fit in one vehicle. Well, Frank Wessinger was one put-out young man. He fussed about his uncle inviting “that old girl” to drive!

In January 1930, Georgia Olivia Helmley became Mrs. James Franklin Wessinger. Frank married “that old girl,” and they lived happily for almost fifty-one years. Granddaddy passed away in January 1981, a few days before their fifty-first anniversary. Those fifty years were not without sadness. They lost their second child, a boy named Henry, who had been born with hydrocephalus. Granddaddy was diagnosed with lung cancer in 1979. He was in remission when he died.

I wish now that I knew more stories about the young Georgia.

This is why it is so important to tell the stories. I hope that you will discover the stories of your family. You might find an unexpected flapper in your family!