Saturday, October 21, 2017

MERCIER APPLES

While we were up in north Georgia for a wedding, we took a detour the next morning, going north to Blue Ridge, so we could pick up some apples at Mercier's Apple House.


Inside, an old truck met us, loaded with apples.


We'd gotten up early (they open at 7 am) so we could eat breakfast in their cafe. My guy had a waffle but I had one of their fried peach pies. It wasn't crowded. Then.


Afterward, we ambled toward the apple room:


There we tasted apples before deciding which ones to buy. They were all good, some sweet, some tart, some just right! And no, I don't know these people.



After we picked up a bag to take home, we wandered around some more. They keep knocking out walls and putting stuff in. They have a honey section, a section of canned stuff, a section for jams and jellies, a section for different juices--not just apple but things like muscadine--and ciders--not just apple but other fruits like cherry--and all kinds of things like soaps and candles. There is also, I noticed, a place for tasting hard cider. But at eight o'clock in the morning, and a three hour drive in the rain ahead of us, we decided to forego that treat.

I don't remember what part this was, but you can see the hanging sign listing different departments:


Besides the apples, we also got a jar of chow chow and a bag of stone ground grits. And some more fried pies to take with us. Apple and peach, although they have a bunch of flavors. I found out recently that Mercier's supplies fried pies to places like The Varsity. (If you're not from Georgia, you won't know what that is but it's a famous fast-food place started by a Georgia Tech drop-out that has now spread over the state.)

Mercier's has muffins and banana bread and other things, too, but the fried pies are a specialty. Here's the bakery case: kind of empty since it was so early but stuff was coming from the kitchen. The pies we bought were still warm!


By the time we left about eight thirty, even with rain putting a damper on pick-it-yourself apple buyers, people were flocking in. There wasn't a single parking place left in the closest parking lot. Good thing we came early.

We ate the last apple yesterday and it was still good. I just love Mercier's! If you're ever in North Georgia, this is the place to go.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

FARMHOUSE WEDDING

More happy stuff to take our minds off hurricanes, fires, massacres and other bad things happening in our country.

A relative got married last weekend in North Georgia. Not at a resort or event location, but at the place she'd chosen as a child.

For years, her grandparents have looked after an old farmhouse for the absent owners, who allow her grandfather to grow hay and cows on the fields. The bride, helping with chores around the farm from her childhood, always said she wanted to be married there one day.

Last Saturday, that day came. Other than a few occasional raindrops, remnants of Hurricane Nate skirted the hilltop house where a crowd of friends and relatives gathered, while the pleasant autumn afternoon was not too warm and not too cold.

Some pix my guy took beginning with the lovely bride escorted down the farmhouse steps...


...to meet her dashing groom and say vows overlooking fields below:


The wedded couple retreating back into the house:


Inside, gathering for photos:


Outside, playing with some of the children. I believe the two older girls are nieces of the groom while the baby is the niece of the bride: (The baby has two older brothers and their hair is red, too. We are taking bets that any children from the newlyweds will have red hair!)


The horse trailer was cleaned up so we could put purses and coats and camera cases inside. Canned drinks are in the low container on the left while a table holds iced tea, lemonade and water.


The dining tent was set up by the barn. To the right is the corner of a smaller tent where the buffet is spread out. You can't see the cows behind the big tent until...


...this picture from inside:


We left at dusk, before the cake was cut and toasts drunk. The younger crowd intended to party into the night, and we were tired. Many of them stayed in the house with its six or eight bedrooms, but we went to a motel to get some sleep before heading up to Mercier's Apple House early the next morning.

Such a picture-perfect wedding and such nice people make things almost seem normal.

Almost.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

ESCAPE FROM REALITY



So after all the hurricanes, wildfires, earthquakes and threatened volcano eruptions, Las Vegas happened. Fifty-eight people dead and 500 injured. I want to cry.

Instead, I am taking a break to regain my normal equanimity by relating my latest experience with my favorite department store: Belk's.

A week or so ago, a relative found a great shirt in Belk's but couldn't buy it. Her birthday is coming up,so I went back later. As I was paying, the salesclerk asked, "Do you know you can purchase a second one at half price?" Upselling of course, but done in a friendly, no-pressure way. Just one woman imparting information to another.

As I thought about it, she went on: "Of course, if you want to come back Thursday, you can get 20% off your purchases for our Girls Night Out specials."

"Really!" But I'd got the last shirt in a small size. "I'm afraid if I wait, the shirt won't be here when I come back."

"That's true. Well, you can pre-purchase it today and pick it up Thursday."

I ended up pre-purchasing it and another for half-price, both costing a few dollars more than the original shirt. The last thing the clerk, holding up my bagged up shirts, said as I left: "I'm going to send this upstairs right away so it'll be sure to be there for you to pick up Thursday."

I went on Thursday to pick up my package. Another lady in line on the same errand made conversation as we waited. We agreed about how nice Belk's people were, always looking to save us money.

A pleasant male clerk took both our tickets, came back with the other customer's purchase. "I didn't see yours, but I'm going back to check again," he trilled.

Two other ladies came up. A female clerk took their tickets, came back out with their purchases. The male clerk conferred with her, then apologized to me for not finding mine. Both went back to look again.

Finally, they came out and the female clerk admitted they couldn't find it and apologized profusely "I don't know what happened. If you want to come downstairs with me, we'll check the register where you bought it. Maybe the associate got busy and put it aside and forgot."

I didn't think so, but we took the escalator down and looked all around the register where I'd made my purchase. The female clerk even went into the back room there but came out with nothing.

In the meantime, I'd looked at the shirt rack and sure enough. No small size in the one I'd come for, but the half-price one did have another small.

"Oh, is that the section?" The clerk brightened. "We have more upstairs. Let's just go back and see if we can find your size up there. Bring that one with you and if we can find a small in the other, you can just take them."

Nope. No small. After much agonizing, I got a medium. So I have a medium and a small shirt for my relative. But...

As I handed her the medium, the sales clerk said, "To make this up to you, I'm going to refund what you paid and charge you only..."

And it was such a ridiculously low price she mentioned, my eyes popped.

I protested but she insisted. She also took my phone number and name, saying that if my pre-purchase package turned up, she'd call and I could come swap the medium for the small.

The mix-up was annoying but the clerk more than made up for it. Now I'm going to have to give money to my relative to make up for what I didn't spend on her shirts!

There is some hope for our country when people present us with empathy and fairness and simple courtesy. I do love Belk's. That experience inspires me to go and be pleasant to everyone.




The first Belk in Monroe, North Carolina (called New York Racket). 1902.






Saturday, September 30, 2017

PUERTO RICO

I couldn't think of a thing to blog about today. I'm still reeling from all the disasters hitting us lately. The damaging hurricanes hitting Texas and Florida. The deadly earthquake in Mexico.

But Puerto Rico's problems stand out.

The president has been busy campaigning in Alabama and arguing with the NFL and chastising his Health and Human Services guy Price for spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on flights for business as well as personal travel. Obviously, the president has little time for Puerto Rico. Maybe because Puerto Rico speaks Spanish? Or maybe because a Trump golf course in Puerto Rico went bankrupt? Or maybe because he thinks Puerto Rico's a foreign country?

While he dithered, Puerto Rico suffered. I won't show a lot of pix on the misery people there are enduring, but I did steal this photo and caption from the AP (couldn't resist the cat):




In this Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2017 photo, Maribel Valentin Espino sits in her hurricane-destroyed home in Montebello, Puerto Rico. Espino and her husband say they have not seen anyone from the Puerto Rican government, much less the Federal Emergency Management Agency, since the storm tore up the island. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Things aren't much better today but I believe a nudge from Hillary Clinton steered the president in the right direction. He finally sent the hospital ship Comfort there and put in a three star general to oversee operations and waived temporarily the Jones Act that kept any but US ships from transporting goods to the little island. (A lot of US shippers stood to lose money; the fact that the devastated Puerto Rico would pay twice as much to get supplies didn't bother the shippers. Or the president either, evidently.)

If you want to donate to relief efforts, here is a page from the NY Times that lists charities and rates them. The first four seem to be the best buy for your buck.

Also, the Salvation Army is an old dependable, with a large percentage of its donations going to the intended recipients. Not only are they helping Puerto Rico, they are also there for the other islands hard hit by Maria.

And there is always the Red CrossIt's not one of my favorite charities, but it's been around a long time. Be sure to choose "Hurricane Maria" to direct your donation.

Let's all be thankful for what we have.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

BARNES AND NOBLE

We had a Books a Million store on the mainland when we lived on our barrier island. Here, we have a Barnes and Noble. We went in this week for the first time. People were browsing around and drinking coffee and reading.  With my eye problems, I don't visit book stores much; I'd forgotten how much I loved them. A few pix:

Cafe at the back, looking through the books:


Entrance, looking through the books:


And a lot of lures for kids:






I spent too much time in this last section!






Saturday, September 16, 2017

HURRICANE IRMA

Thanks to everyone who asked about us during the latest hurricane.

Irma came visitng up here last week, but by that time, she was a tropical storm. The power went out in lots of places, but we were fortunate. Trees fell on houses in lots of places, but we were fortunate. Rains caused flooding in a few places, but we were fortunate.

In fact, the only sign we've had a storm near us is this tree in the lake. (Or what's optimistically termed a lake. I'd say it's more of a pond!) That line of bushes at the back of the water is actually a tree that was on the right side but fell into the water. That's our closest damage and I'll certainly take it and be happy!


Last year about this time, we fled our little island before Matthew hit and came home to find, though lots of houses suffered, we had only a small tree on the house that left the roof intact. So our move this spring was especially fortuitous because this year, Irma inflicted a lot more damage on the beautiful islands off Georgia's coast. They say it'll take months to fully recover. And this just as the results of Matthew were nearly obliterated.

But we are safe and sound in our new north Georgia home. Oh, we lead a charmed life and are duly thankful!

Saturday, September 9, 2017

CONTINUING EDUCATION

We have a continuing education program in our new town and they held a fair showing many of their offerings for members and prospective members to browse through. It was at the Mall in front of Sears where there is a nice court to set up tables. Nice crowd, I thought:


Anyway, there are all kinds of activities and groups for any interest.

Such as a photographers group for my guy. And I found a travel group where people can participate in trips--local, out of state, and out of country. There was also a bridge group, a poker group, and a pinochle group. I didn't take a picture of them but two or three ladies were sitting at a table playing Scrabble so I'd guess there is a scrabble group. And I saw a mahjong table, too, for those interested in playing. The music school offers teachers in different instruments; I have a friend who started back on the piano after years of not playing.

And here's a photo of the hiking table. The sponsor had a pair of hiking boots and other hiking paraphernalia on display but I failed to get shots of them. She encouraged me to join but I reluctantly(?!) turned her down, pleading house renovations.


Then here's a photo featuring men in Highlander costume, promoting the Robert Burns group. Naturally, they focus on Burns. They even have a dinner every year featuring Scottish songs, food, and Scottish dress. This day, one of the sponsors had his bagpipes and serenaded us a few times.


I confess I'm interested in the group that meets to eat in different restaurants each month. And there is an opera group I wouldn't mind checking out. And a lady who puts out a magazine looking for local articles...

But not now. We're still trying to get ourselves settled. Nice to know that we'll have things to do whenever we have time though! I'm just glad we took time to attend th fair!