The Perfect Glass of Sweet Tea.

Dolly Parton called sweet tea ‘the house wine of the South” in the movie Steel Magnolias. 

Just between you and me and a box of Tetley, when I came on the scene, my mother was a iced tea sweetened with Sweet-n-Low drinker. Therefore I became same.

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It wasn’t till a couple of summers ago writing a piece for local magazine — that I began to question why had my South Georgia momma sweetened iced tea with Sweet-n-Low? For in researching my story, seemed like everyone else with a South, North, East or West Georgia momma had a pitcher of sweet tea in their refrigerator.

In talking to my mom when writing the earlier piece, I learned that my maternal grandmother did have a pitcher of sweet tea in their fridge, but that my mother — when pregnant with me in the 1960s — turned to Sweet-n-Low to save calories.

In the 60s, doctors told women to gain only 6 ounces during pregnancy. Thank you 1960s obstetrics. You are why I grew up deprived in the iced tea department.

I had to learn the ways of sweet tea from my friends.

*  The brand of tea is important. (Though depending on who you talk to, the best kind changes like Falcons fans after a loss.)

*  Color is important.

*  Clarity is important.

Yes, it sounds like we are talking about diamonds.

Wanting to give up soft drinks, I started making sweet tea that summer and was baptized in beauty of steeped tea leaves.

I picked up a few things from my sources for that article that have grafted their way into my sweet tea mystique.

Heather — Tetley is king. Therefore I use Tetley. And this is the only reason I use Tetley, because Heather says it is smooth. Not sure what smooth means to tea but it seems to be an important factor.

Bob — Bob was big on clarity. Therefore I always look to see just how clear a batch is. Some people say a pinch of baking soda is the key to transparent tea.

Mom — Talked about the color of her mother’s, my grandmother’s, tea: Amber. I know. Sounds like a exotic dancer, but it’s a color you strive for in tea. Not sure exactly what Amber tea is but as Justice Stewart said about hard-core pornography in Jacobellis v. Ohio, “I know it when I see it.”

You just know if your tea is the right color.

Pam — I have Pam to thank for the half sweet/half unsweet rule. She grew up with sweet tea in the fridge as did all my sources, but now she cuts it in half.

That’s what I do. I order it way in restaurants. Fix it that way at convenience stores. And in my home.

It still tastes plenty sweet for me and saves a few calories.

Today was the day to make the first sweet tea of the season.

I dug out my two pitchers and fixed me a glass.

I use a recipe from Allrecipes. It’s pretty standard operating procedure from listening to all my sources and it works for me.

First, put the kettle on.

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Have your pitchers waiting with six tea bags. You can put a pinch of baking soda in the bottom.

When the water boils, pour two cups on the bags and let steep 15 minutes.

Once that is done — you are almost there.

Take out the tea bags, stir in 3/4 sugar in the sweet tea container.

Then put six cups cold water into the concentrate in both pitchers.

 

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Now that’s the color I’m talking about. Untouched photo, promise.

 

Then I poured half sweet and half unsweet.

 

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Cheers.

 

 

What about you?

Sweet or unsweet?

Any secrets to share . . . ?

 

 

 

 

 

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Chickamauga Battlefield Half Marathon. 13.1 Miles of History.

13. 1 miles of history . . . Or so says the back of our dri-fit shirts.

Every fall my running buddy Kim says we need to do this race. So this year, I signed up and when Kim couldn’t join me — I talked my husband into going with me. He walks for exercise.

Like really fast walk.

He’s secure in his maleness to walk 13.1 miles. Which is cool with me because the main thang is to have him walking his little heart out getting cardio exercise.

The man is into history as in would-have-loved-to-have-been a history professor into history, so I thought this was perfect for him. So after I begged and pleaded and promised things I’ll never follow through with, he agreed to go with me.

It’s ironic that recently, we stumbled upon a PBS show about Chickamauga. Okay, I happened to walk in the bedroom while he was watching — remember he is the history nut in the family.

According to the show, Chickamauga is a Native American word meaning river of death. The river there was so named when the Cherokee contracted smallpox. The sick would go to the river seeking relief from their fever  and many of them died while at the water.

Ironically, the battle fought at this river of death was the second deadliest of the Civil War. Second only to Gettysburg. Very sobering and hard to imagine, in a place that today is the epitome of bucolic beauty and tranquility.

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Here we sat last Saturday morning.

Let’s cover why this race is great from a runner’s perspective. You can wait in your car with the heater on. Which is awesome said anyone who has stood around for an hour in cold weather before a race.

 

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As far as the race size — it wasn’t too small; it wasn’t too big. It was just right. The marathon and half folks started together. I was reading about how the first place woman in the marathon was disqualified when her split times didn’t make sense. I think she probably got confused and didn’t run some of the course. Who knows?

Alls I know is that I covered every inch. And then some.

My time was where I seem to be stuck these days — 2:30. Well, 2:31:something. Which is 15 minutes slower than I did consistently a few years ago. But considering the wear and tear on my joints, I’m just happy to be participating in these things.

As much as I enjoyed this race, I encountered technical difficulties.

And since this is my blog and not an official race report, I will bore share them with you.

—  The race started. I turn on my iPod shuffle. No sound. For about the first half a mile I fiddled with the shuffle. I fiddled with the ear buds. Never got the blasted thing to work. So I quickly changed expectations — 13 miles. No music. No problem. Said no one ever.

—  Between Mile 7 and 8 my RunKeeper died. Well, my phone did. So instead of carrying a dead phone in my hand, I stuck it in my tights. Before long, my phone would fall down my leg and end up at my knee. Which caused me to stop and reach down into my tights to retrieve dead phone. I did this off and on for a few miles till I thought — this is maddening and carried my phone in my hand the rest of the way.

 

So even with no music or time, I’d have to say this was one of my top three half marathons. And I’ve run a ton.

A beautiful spot. Race day conditions were perfect. In the 30s. No wind. Blue sky.

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I took this because I thought the steam rising off the runners was cool.

 

 

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Yes, we were running through a battlefield. One where many, many young men lost their lives.

I have no notions to romanticize The Civil War.  It was a horrific thing. A horrific thing that had to be.

Slavery was a way of life in the plantation South — an inhumanity unthinkable in our culture today.

History proved war the heinous solution to end an even greater evil.

That was 151 years ago.

I kept having to remind myself that thousands of men died here.

Thousands.

Sixteen thousand, two hundred Union casualties and 18,500 recorded for the Confederate.

I can only shake my head as I type that.

 

 

 

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We did it.

 

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Thanks Johnny for coming with me.

So with no music and no timekeeper to neurotically check, I still give this race a must do.

Thoughts?

 

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You’d Stoop to Pick Up a Nickle, Wouldn’t You?

Pecans.

They’ve been raining from the trees for the last month.

More so than I remember in recent years.

Or maybe because I’m seeing more folks out picking them up off the ground?

This must be the way they harvest them in those irrigated professional orchards.

 

But in a small town built in the middle of a pecan grove, this is what you see.

White buckets.

People use them.

 

 

 

 

 

Dogs use them.

 

Okay, I think those are technically walnuts with the Goldy but you get the idea. White folks, black folks, young or old  — people have been seen around town stooping to pick up nuts.

Michael stopped my the house the other day to see if I needed any thing done.

My garden was in sore need of weeding and I wasn’t going to get out there anytime soon. Before he got to work on my weeds, we got to talking.

“Someone’s been getting your pecans,” he said.

“Yes, lots of people have come by asking to pick them up. The last one was my pastor,” I said with a laugh.

“You know,” he paused to put a piece of pecan in his mouth, “I used to be the only one in town picking up buckets full and everyone used to laugh at me. Now everyone’s doing it.”

 * * *

Out walking the dog this afternoon, I turned down a gravel road.

I saw an unfamiliar car parked and a white bucket off to the side of the road.

The farther I walked up the clay road, a woman, man and teenager came around the corner with bags full of pecans.

“You are going what I need to be doing,” I joked — in small towns it appears impolite not to engage conversation on a gravel road when you are the only parties traveling it.

I think she mistook my comment – for she asked if this was my property.

I said no and that I wasn’t sure whose it was.

The next few minutes were spent discussing the price per pound folks within a 50 mile radius were paying for nuts.

She explained they pay more for the big round ones.

“Every time I pick one up I think — there’s a nickle,” she said with a laugh bending over to pick up a nut.

When I got home I unleashed the dog and got a bag.

And picked up a bunch of Thomas Jeffersons.

Do you stop to pick up a nickle? A penny?

 

 

Linking up with Greta @Gfunkied and Julie @Mamamash for another Wednesday’s iPPP.

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Who will help me eat the pie?

Pecans.

It’s been raining pecans here thanks to all the recent windy weather.

Since I am the best pecan pie baker in the world (or at least am privy to the best recipe), I always make a few for Thanksgiving. And I always buy the star of the show.

That’s nuts.

 

All over the ground just waiting to be picked up.

I made a proposal to my youngest. “Come out and help me pick up pecans and I’ll pay you.”

He picked up a large empty Lego box from his birthday last weekend and said, “If I fill this, will you pay me $2?”

“Sure,” I replied. A little too quickly.

Suddenly he begins arguing for $5.

 

Getting a bit irritated, I said no way and headed out to do the job myself.

All the while castigating myself this is how I have failed as a mother. My children never help out unless bribed or threatened — and honestly, I’ve not much energy for either anymore.

 

So little Mr. who couldn’t help pick up the pecans grabs my camera lying on ground.

And begins taking photos of my rear end.

 

I noticed few things with my rear in the air and my face toward the ground.

One, our yard was a mess with leaves. Curses.

 

 

And like a child unable to stop eating their candy from last night, I couldn’t stop eating the cracked pecans littering our yard like discarded wrappers.

Too tempting.

They are so delicious this year.

I wonder who will help me crack the nuts?

Surely anyone who wants Thanksgiving pie will help.

Ha.

Do you have any luck getting kids to help around the house (or yard)?

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The Blue Hose is not all that’s blue in Hoseville.

The Blue Hose is a little odd for a school mascot.

I get that.

But if you say it often enough — “Blue Hose, Blue Hose, Blue Hose” — it becomes the most natural thing in the world like saying, “pancakes, pancakes, pancakes.”

My son is a member of the Presbyterian College football team and their mascot is indeed The Blue Hose.

 

We were up there on Saturday for their homecoming game.

Lots of blue around.

 

 

If you are going to have your hose be a certain color, blue is certainly a great choice for every man, woman, child and bride has something blue.

The school website says the name came from the early 1900’s when sportswriters referred to the team as the “Blue Stockings”.

Throughout the years the name morphed into the Blue Hose and began to align itself with the Scotsman warriors a la . . .

 

Mel Gibson’s crazed William Wallace in Braveheart. I guess we found out how loony Mel was.

And since long, long ago, when the Protestant Reformation reached the shores of Scotland, the Presbyterian Church eventually became the Church of Scotland — it all works.

 

 

It fits together so well, you could almost say it was predestined.

Yes, there was lots of blue hoopla for the Homecoming game.

 

Unfortunately, the Hose was not victorious.

Leaving the PC faithful, a little — dare I say — blue.

 

But we recovered enough to take Number 46 out for pizza after the game. Which was not blue, by the way.

 

What is your school mascot? Can you top the Blue Hose?

 Linking up with Greta @Gfunkied and Julie @Mamamash for another Wednesday’s iPPP.

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In God We Trust? Sure. . . . Well, on second thought.

Choices.

The most decisive thing about me is I’m incredibly indecisive.

Always have been.

No. That’s not right.

I usually know what I want — then I start to wonder — what will other people think?

That’s where I get into trouble.

Today, one of my tasks was paying the license tag fee for the year.

And this year in the great state of Georgia, we have a choice between two new tags.

 

The tag office employee first asked which one my husband would like.

“Do I have time to call him?”

Then I realized, “Oh, I don’t have my phone.”

Tag office lady looked at me like are you kidding?

So she offered, “Men want the plain tag. There are not into the colors.”

Super. One decision made with help of nice tag lady with lots of experience with what men want in their tags.

For myself, I chose the colorful tag with the pretty harvest pumpkins.

Closer inspection revealed peaches not pumpkins.

Oh Georgia. I get it.

Then she said, “Morgan or In God We Trust?”

 

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Whoa.

Of course I want the God one. Don’t I?

But what will people think?

That I’m making some political statement?

Or I’m trying to force my religious views on folks who think trusting in God is for the weak, feeble-minded and confused?

I guess I never tire of perpetuating some stereotypes.

What to do?

Tag lady stared.

I trust in God. Why on earth not put it on my plate?

People just seem so polarized of late.

And angry.

I just wanted to get my new plate and now I felt I needed a therapist. Or a pacifier.

This was getting downright embarrassing. Make a decision Jamie.

Which I did.

 

But then I realized all this fretting was for naught.

I forgot about my plate cover.

 

Even in the Bible Belt, the God of the Sabbath sometimes gets overshadowed by the god of the SEC.

 

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Just hanging around, upside down. Stone Mountain when it rains.

“I can’t believe you took them up there.”

That was my husband this morning.

Yesterday was my birthday. I try to celebrate outdoors with family in the elements.

Earlier in the day, my trainer gave me a treat and let me hang. I can think so much clearer with all that blood rushing to my brain.

 

After my hanging and having to catch up on a little work, I told the children that we would go play in the afternoon.

About 2 p.m my daughter came in and said, “Let’s climb Stone Mountain.”

Those of you not familiar with Stone Mountain, it’s an enormous chunk of granite.

One side has a navigable incline so novice mountain climbers like me and small children can navigate. It’s a mile to the top.

I’ve done it lots.

But never in the rain.

 This is my children at the base of the trek.

No more photos exist of our climb because I took my phone and camera to wait in the dry car.

The smartest decision I made all day.

Heading up it became evident that smooth granite when wet is slippery.

Very slippery.

About halfway up it started pouring.

The water cascading down the rocks made hundreds of streams and produced a million waterfalls.

I appreciated its beauty when I wasn’t worrying about falling down. Which wasn’t often.

We sought refuge in a shelter with lots of other wet hikers.

After wringing out our clothes that storm passed.  My children wanted to press on to the top.

So up we went. And the rain came again. This time with lightning.

On the steepest part of the climb in the pouring rain surrounded by flashes of electricity, we pulled ourselves up a slick granite sheet of death.

 

My brave son looked back down the rock of doom and said, “Mommy, I want to go down. I’m scared.”

This is also when I saw the headline INSANE MOM drags children up here on Friday the 13th to be struck by lightning and killed on her birthday.

But what I said was,

Joe, you can’t be scared now. We are almost to the top (and a large building). We’ve got to keep going.

We made it of course…since I am writing this 24 hours later.

How do we walk that fine line between thinking things will be okay and heading up the slick mountain or turning around the pessimist and never trying at all?

You would think by this age, I’d have it figured out.

I need to go hang myself again.

 

 

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The 2012 Torture Trail 10K wasn’t so tortous after all.

Yes, that’s what one gets. One who perseveres through 6.2 miles of June heat and humidity, up and down and around the hills of Eatonton, Georgia.

A Torture Trail t-shirt.

I ran this race two years ago. My entire family went and ran either 10K or Fun Run.

When I was signing up this year, NO ONE wanted to come with.

Okay. I was pretty hot in 2010. The race lived up to it’s name. But today…..

When I left Madtown to drive the 20 miles south, the car thermometer read 58.

Perfectly un-tortuous weather.

Saw a few Madison racehorses bolted for the Putnam County as well.

Not only are they good friends to have, Sitz and Pamela work in two great professions for any aging runner to surround herself with.

Looking at this photo, I realized Pamela and I are about the same height.

People confuse me with her constantly, and it certainly is not because of a shared IQ level.

In spite of the Chamber of Commerce weather, a few things still lived up to the name.

Wait for porta-potties.

And there still were lots of hills.

Right after I took this pic, a woman said, “There’s no way you can capture that hill in a photograph.”

But I did notice what purdy, gleaming white churches Eatonton has.

At the Start…

And the Finish…

A great race for me today surely because of the lower temps.

I wasn’t even tempted by the customary ice cream after the race.

He was though.

Don’t you wish you could eat ice cream without worry like when you were a kid?

Even after running 6.2 miles….

Maybe next year, when it’s 90 degrees.

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Early Peaches at C.J.’s Orchard in Rutledge, Georgia. Or if I just had stayed off the teeter-totter.

The minute I heard peaches were at my friend Karen’s parents’ farm I planned to take the kids.

Friday came…and we made it.

I had a niece and nephew in tow.

I made my 18-year-old son come. He has a special way with my 18-month-old nephew.

What can I say?  When helps available I’ve learned to order it to come with me.

We got to the farm.

We couldn’t leave without picking some blueberries.

We picked and picked.

Funny how even a toddle-bunny catches on real quick.

Philip combined the fruit of all our hard labors.

After loading up with peaches and blueberries, we headed into the thriving metropolis of Rutledge for some ice cream at The Caboose.

Then came the disappointing part of an otherwise spectacular outing with the children.

They wanted to play in the park.

What child wouldn’t?

They have teeter-totters. I thought why not get in the spirit of youth, summer and free-spirit forever.

I don’t know how they made this thing but it was about as wide as the Golden Gate Bridge and about as deep.

Maybe I have been a little lame on my stretching lately and yes, I should take up yoga but good grief.

The magic with the teeter-totter did not happen.

But the peach orchard was awesome.

Picked in berries lately? Not asking about the teeter-totters.

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Squatter’s Rights on a table and the Eager Beaver.

He just tried to snake my salad.

UGH.

The overeager, overachieving bus person had his hand on my salad bowl.

“Excuse me,” I said looking first at his hand and then to his face. “I’m not done yet.”

You want to freak somebody out….

that freaked out eager-beaver table cleaner.

Having time to kill in Athens, I decided to work and treat myself to lunch. I don’t do this ever for I am a good curb-excess-spending wife and mother.

And this guy was trying to take my salad.

Don’t come between a woman and her salad. One that is a treat she rarely enjoys. (Don’t come between me and any food actually.)

Clearly, I had hardly been here 30 minutes and though the restaurant was busy, no one was waiting for a table.

I was abiding by all the establishment’s login “thou shalts” as I understood them. And besides, this was a treat. He wanted me to rush through my ice cream sundae with sprinkles. (Well, my theoretical ice cream sundae.)

I figured an hour was fair enough for a ten dollar purchase.

The Beaver didn’t think so.

I’m bugging the poo out of him and he’s a little shaken. I see him as he furiously sweeps under the tables around me.

Close. But not too close.

It’s not fair that the woman across from me has sat there with her lunch companion — not eating, talking away — longer than I and he hasn’t reached for her bowl.

Clearly, my equal rights under the 14th Amendment as it applies to large franchise eateries with free WiFi had been violated.

No, there’s safety in numbers. The Beaver only looks for the lone pathetic woman (having a wonderful time) to try to hurry out the door.

 

 

He did until he found out this one bites.

Or gives a slightly threatening growl.

A grr.  

He must have found some other patron to torment for haven’t seen him in a while.

Okay, time for me to go.

Pity.

Ever squat on a table? Either by yourself doing work or talking with friends?

 

 

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