Monthly Archives: August 2017

One Bag of Balloons

I think those balloons cost about $1.87. But of all the activities in which our grandchildren were involved the week of our “Camp 1010,” the balloons were near the top of the list. Maybe not capping the wonderful washing they gave my car!

The boys particularly (William 13 and Thomas 10) are very athletic so every day was punctuated with the sounds of the basketballs being dribbled or swishing through the nets. They all three rode bikes. They loved riding around and around our almost quarter mile paved driveway. Mattie (8) built up too much speed one evening and landed in the bushes, which scared us all, but she came through that accident like a trooper after some good ice packs and attention from Grandaddy.

One day we went to Bald Point State Park on the Ochlochnee Bay and had a marvelous time discovering crabs, even a live horseshoe crab, and seashells. Mattie was enthralled with every little seashell. Then we went to the wildlife lab in Panacea where we all had a blast handling star fish, scallops, clams and coral, as well as getting a very close view of several sharks. Eating seafood before we left the bay was a big treat. William ordered flounder tacos and ate every bit of them.

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The Lemonade Stand is an annual event. They make lemonade, posters, and all

 

Aside from the annual Lemonade Stand (which, this year, thanks to our very generous neighbors, brought in $109 for the hungry), we made mayhaw jelly, played badminton, croquet, and corn-in-the-hole. We played a Monopoly game that became a fixture in our living room for parts of three days. And they beat me (trounced me!) in Authors cards time and time again. We made homemade playdough the day Amanda’s two little girls were part of our group, and that day Charli netted a beautiful orange butterfly.

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Mattie, Charli, Caitlin creating with playdough

 

But a great highlight of the week was the balloons.

I had intended to make slime instead of playdough, thinking the boys would like that better, but I never quite figured out the recipe, or maybe never worked up my nerve. Along in the afternoon that last full day, the girls began pleading for a teaparty, and the boys were not quite enthusiastic about that. I decided it was time to bring out the balloons. I thought they’d all, from six-year-old Charli to 13-year-old William, enjoy balloons for a few minutes.

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Mattie, proud of her very big balloon she blew and tied off

 

It was an evolving activity that stretched into several hours and even the next day.

Some of the children had never blown up a balloon so it was a learning experience for them. They learned how to control their breathing, how to hold the “neck,” how to minimize their slobber, and even, eventually, how to secure the opening and have a bouncy toy instead of a deflating flutter. The fluttering, of course, brought squeals of delight.

The boys remembered that balloons pop quickly on hot asphalt. They also realized a nice full bag of balloons was available so popping them was an okay sport. The police never drove up to check on the explosions.

Aside from popping, other sounds filled the air. The balloon players became versatile in making balloon noises, some almost musical, some disgusting, and all quite hilarious to this porch crowd.

The activity gravitated to the water hose where water balloons became the new thing. The boys showed the little girls the techniques of filling the balloons with just the right amount of water. Squeals erupted as balloons of many colors popped and splatted on the asphalt (or on each other!). I stayed safe on the porch.

When Amanda came to pick up Caitlin and Charli, I instructed the children to pick up the many pieces of popped balloons and, of course, that command met with a few groans. After the little girls left, the other three straightened up the porch and each went to read in a favorite chair or corner before our much-anticipated supper with cousin Charles Douglas at Mr. Chick’s. I thought that was the end of the balloons.

The next day we had to take our three Birmingham grandchildren home. Somehow that depleted bag of balloons got in the car. And it wasn’t as depleted as I’d thought!

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These Siamese twin balloons required a double blow from William and Thomas!

Driving toward Dothan we heard the sounds begin, the breathing, the squeaky twisting of inflated orbs, the deflating, the giggles. Confined safely in seatbelts those kids managed to play ball, to play a symphony of sound effects, to compete over who could blow the largest floater and much, much more.

Suddenly Thomas was bleeding from one of the warts Grandaddy had frozen for him (one of the perks of having a veterinarian Grandaddy) so we exited the highway. When Grandaddy opened the back of our vehicle to find a bandaid, a colorful river of inflated balloons escaped drifting quickly across the parking lot like live creatures. Our laughter notched to a high level when, as we drove down the service road to get back to interstate, we were actually sharing the road with a great big red balloon. When last we saw it, that balloon was bumping along on the median as if hunting for the right road.

So if you’re among the brave and the free, buy a bag of balloons (a big bag) and turn your children loose with it. You will be amazed at what develops!

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Harris House of Good Hope

Good Hope, Georgia, has a population of 274. The Harris House, completed, July, 1908, has now been turned by a loving couple into a year round Christmas house for their family and friends.

We were in Good Hope visiting Betty Lowe Bowers (lifetime resident) and her husband, Nelson Bowers. Betty was my roommate at the University of Georgia in 1963-65. I had visited her in Good Hope when we were students and our families had visited once or twice over the last fifty years. But we had seen each other only seldom. Our friendship is such, though, that no matter how much time has passed, conversation is quick and easy as if we’d seen each other yesterday. We are both graduates also of Young Harris College, at the time a junior college nestled in a North Georgia valley, and that bond lends us fodder for long spirited interchanges.

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Brenda and Betty in the Harris House parlor

Charles and I agreed to meet Betty at her house that spring Sunday morning and go with her to the church several miles away where she is the pianist. We got out of the car laughing because, even in such a tiny town, we had gotten “lost.” I had forgotten to turn at the one store and drive up past the Harris House to arrive at the Bowers’ sweet beau-tiful home where they raised their three children.

When I called Betty to see if it was a good time for us to come I told her Charles and I would like to take her and Nelson out to eat after church. Her response was “Oh, no, we’ll eat at the Harris House if that’s all right. You know, it’s right around the corner from us, the house my daddy grew up in. Nelson and I own it now and we’ve made it into a meeting house, a guest house. I know you’ll like it.”

We went to church with Betty and Nelson, and Betty seated us close to the front on the piano side. That way I could fully enjoy the prelude music she’d picked out, I think, just for me. All old hymn favorites. It was food for my soul!

After church we rode through the countryside back to Good Hope, back to the Harris House. And there began a fantastic show. We were instantly captivated by this old house turned by a loving family into a holiday house for many to enjoy. While Betty and Nelson heated barbecue and set other scrumptious delights, like potato salad, we were free to wander through the house. Betty called out interesting facts along the way, such as “Yes, that really is my wedding dress hanging on the closet door” or “That’s the little room Nelson made cozy for his mother when she needed special care” or “That’s the room my granddaughter sleeps in when she comes for a few days.”

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Nelson and Betty preparing lunch

Betty has written a brief account of the house’s history to help us (and other visitors) absorb it. The house is affectionately referred to as “The Harris House” in memory of its original owners and occupants, Golden Charles Harris and Jimmie Robison Harris, Betty’s great uncle and aunt. “Uncle Golden,” Betty writes, “also owned The General Store in Good Hope and was Postmaster for fifty years. The house was completed in July 1908. The story is told that Aunt Jimmie said that she would not marry Uncle Golden until the house was finished! They married in July 1908! (I guess she meant what she said!)”

Betty and Nelson gained ownership of the property in 1993. “Since that time,” Betty writes, “we have been gradually attempting to restore the house to its original beauty and authenticity while, at the same time, making it a bit more comfortable with some structural changes and ‘modern’ conveniences.” Nelson is a skilled woods craftsman and can do “anything,” including making a little broom closet into the cutest little maze between kitchen and den. She adds that, though they’ve come a long way, it continues to be a loving “work in progress.”

Other family members and friends have been invaluable help. One of the ones she mentions is their daughter Christy’s husband, Justin Myers. He, it seems, is largely responsible for the Christmas decorations inside and out. Betty said that when they realized what joy the Christmas house gave for Sunday school classes, choir groups, and family gatherings, she and Nelson decided simply to leave them up all year. “It’s a lot easier that way, too,” she says with her infectious laugh.

I was fascinated by the egg tree. Yes, it’s a Christmas tree, but covered with decorations made from real eggs–ostrich eggs, chicken eggs, duck eggs, goose eggs, all kinds of eggs with tiny, intricate artwork transforming them to nativity scenes, poinsettia blossoms, Santa Claus’ workshop, etc. These eggs were all created and contributed by special lifelong friends, Chet and Marye Frances Phillips Moss.

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The Harris House main Christmas tree–all egg decorations! Notice the doll–so sweet!

I cannot refrain from giving you just a touch of “the rest of the back story” to this house. You see, when Betty refers to Uncle Golden and Aunt Jimmie it is really a reference to her second set of paternal grandparents. When Betty’s father was born in 1915 he had a twin brother. On that same day the babies’ mother died. The mother’s sisters stepped in and took care of the babies. The babies’ father, times being very hard, could not give them the care they needed. Golden and Jimmie all but adopted little Harris, as they named him. Abiding by the wishes of his father, however, they never changed his last name so he was Harris Lowe. And Betty always knew Golden and Jimmie as “Uncle” and
“Aunt.”

Needless to add, I really enjoyed and loved getting to know “The Harris House,” having loved Betty and her family all these years. She quotes T. H. Robsjohn-Gibbings at the end of her little history: “Why do we love certain houses, and why do they seem to love us? It is the warmth of our individual hearts reflected in our surroundings.”

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