Saturday, October 21, 2017


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


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... 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.


Saturday, October 7, 2017


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.