Forward - From the Heartland of Carolina

This is a continuing story of the journey Forward shared by 2 people, Lynne and Tom. Both love to LIVE life to it's fullest, which currently means spending lots of time outdoors, working on various projects from gardens to patios, flowers to vegetables, sunrises and sunsets, birds and woodland critters, and spending time with family. Don't forget to check the monthly archives, and please feel free to leave us a comment so we know you stopped by.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Scenes from Wellsboro

This was my first trip to North Central Pennsylvania, when we went to pick up Mom, and the area was just full of beautiful scenes like these. Unfortunately, we were about 3 weeks too early to catch the leaves turning color.

Pennsylvania's Grand Canyon

Danny, who grew up in the area, took the afternoon to show Lynne and I some of the local scenery. One of the stops was the overlook of Pennsylvania's 'Grand Canyon', a gorge cut through the Allegheny Mountains by Pine Creek. In the top photo, that little 'speck' in the water was actually a deer wading in the creek, refreshing himself with a sip of some fresh mountain water.

Mom's Old House

This is the house Mom lived in before moving to North Carolina 2 years ago. The house remains in the family with Amy and Alex, Lee's son and daughter-in-law, now living there.

Relaxing in Wellsboro

Mom and daughters Lee, Ruth, and Lynne take an afternoon off to look at photos taken over the summer on Lee and Danny's porch as Danny looks on.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Fall is officially here

has been for several days now. The other night Tom and I had our first firepit evening in what seems forever but it was so peaceful out there - crisp cool night and a good fire and a GAC concert. What a perfect evening..

About a week ago Tom and I did something that neither of us have ever done before. We went to a plant swap that was put together by several of the people that post to the Carolina garden forum that we both post at. It was so much fun and we came home with a variety of plants and most important new friends. This is done twice a year so in the spring we will go again but we will be more prepared with a better variety of our own plants to swap. As for our personal gardens - the fall veggie garden is really coming along. The transplants are taking off and I am getting lettuce greens everyday now.

OK everyone - I have been working on this blog for two days now - guess there was a reason I couldn't wrap it up - had some FANTASTIC news this morning - we are now grandparents again. yep - Kevin and Jenn had their baby at 6:54 am - 6 lbs 3ozs - her name is Celeste Gwendolynne Smith. She decided to come 3 weeks early and caught us all off guard especially Kevin and Jenn but all is well - all three survived a hectic couple of hours. I just know that Kevins daddy is smiling down from heaven and saying "Ya done good son!!" Tom and I are elated - spent the afternoon with them all taking turns holding her. She is PERFECT in every way. She spent a long time studying her Grammie - just a lookin and lookin. I can just bet she was thinking 'this lady is going to spoil me and so is that guy standing with her'. Tom is going to make a wonderful grandaddy - he is beaming from ear to ear. There will be pictures posted a little later so please come back and check out the latest addition to the family.

The grandsons are doing GREAT - all of them are settling into school and seem to enjoy their classes. John started kindergarten this year so this is a whole new experience for him. Brad and Andrew are both in football and enjoying it immensly. Mom is doing very well. All in all life continues to be great here in the "Heartland"

~~he who plants a seed - believes in tomorrow~~

Monday, September 19, 2005

Sunday, 9/18, we had another family get-together, this time a baby shower for Jenn and Kevin, whose baby girl is due next month. The grandsons were over with Dawn, and Lynne's sister Ruth came over as well, and with Elex and Mom, we had a full house.

John, the youngest, had been out in the yard with his brother Andrew, doing their usual routine of "Critter Hunters of Clayton", looking for lizards or frogs or pretty much anything that moves. I had just taken a couple pictures of them just 'being boys', The camera hadn't been down but maybe 30 seconds when I heard in an excited voice... "Mr. Tom, come quick and bring the camera!! John found some TURTLES!!!!" Sure enough, we all go rushing down to where I had just taken a picture of John and Andrew at, and there he was, showing off his newly found hatch of 4 turtles!!!! In the pictures, Andrew is holding 2, and John has one. The 4th one we left down by the nest while we looked at these.

The amazing thing about this is....we didn't even know we had turtles on the property, let alone a turtle nest! Had the woodland garden paths not been raked that morning, and had John not been out there looking for 'his' critters, we wouldn't know today that we had these cute little newborn guys in the yard. What made it really special, though was seeing the sparkle in the boys' eyes with their new discovery.
In the last picture, Brad listens in, while Dawn, and Jenn, our expectant daughter-in-law, discuss the most recent additions to the family- as Andrew heads off with 2 of the turtles for he and John to take home to their yard.

Life is well in the Heartland.

We have had

a little bit of activity here in the 'heartland' this past week. First off last Saturday Sept 10th - Ruth, Tom and I made the treck up to Wellsboro PA to visit with Lee and family and then bring Mom back down here. We had an absolutely wonderful day on Sunday at Lee's house with Lee, Danny, Amy and Alex, Tracey and Zachery and Laura (Danny's daughter) and her fiancee. The food was fantastic and the company just delightful. Tom got his first chance to see the area of the country where I was born and enjoy a couple of days in the mountains. Danny took Tom and I out for a ride in the countryside while dinner was being made. We did the PA Grand Canyon and the area around Sandy Forks.. Amy and Alex were very gracious to let us stay with them in Mom's old house which they bought from her. It is in the center of Wellsboro and Sunday AM Tom and I walked all around town and just admired all the old beautiful houses that make Wellsboro so quaint.

Monday we came back home - it was a very long drive for Mom and she spent several days resting up from that but was eager to go to church yesterday. Yesterday afternoon we had a barbecue and baby shower for Kevin and Jenn. Thc baby is due Oct 20th and we are all getting pretty excited. I have let Tom describe the events surrounding the grandsons and their "discovery" and post the pictures. It was such a special moment to share with the kids. Later we went up to Kevin and Jenn's to see the nursery and have dessert. We will have some pictures of Kevin's handiwork in the baby's nursery. Let me just say - I am very proud of both Kevin and Jenn and the work they have done - Jenn with her sewing and Kevin with his painting.

As for the gardens Tom planted broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage and I sowed more lettuce, beets, and spinach this past week. This week I will be re-doing window boxes and getting the fall decorations up. The other beds have been slowly going downhill and the fall cleanup has started. I hate to see this part of gardening arrive but know it is just the circle of life. We will enjoy the fall palet that God paints for us and then settle in for a couple months of winter and eagerly look forward to those first rays of spring. I do love the fall with the smells, the fall leaves, the crisp cool nights but I don't like the shorter days but it will be a time that we can work on things in the house and the garage.

Thats about it for news for now but I can't believe I am signing off again listening to reports of yet another hurricane (Rita) headed towards the Florida Keys and into the Gulf. Our fellow countrymen to the south continue to need our prayers as does our own Tracey (my niece) as she heads to Biloxi MS for two weeks to help in the medical field with the hurricane victumns. Life will go on but for so many - it will never be the same again - it will be up to each individual family to have the strength to go on and I pray that they do. It is like when I lost Glenn over 2 years ago - my life changed forever but with God's blessings it remained good - so very good - different but good.

Until the next time...............

~~he who plants a seed - believes in tomorrow~~

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Our Veggie Garden

Back in the spring, while I was finishing up work at the beach, I was spending every other weekend here in the Heartland. In the past, Lynne had had some vegetables growing in some of her flower beds, but never had a 'vegetable garden plot' of it's own. Of course, having lived at the beach for 33 years, all my digging had been in sand. No rocks, no clay, no real soil. Well, here in the Heartland, you can't just grab a shovel and dig. The soil, if you want to call it that, is about 35% rock, and 65% clay. It sure was different, having to use a pick and a sifting box to get the rocks out. Then the soil (?) had to be ammended with compost and manure (a practice that's been often repeated since those early spring days ;) ). The various garden beds we work in, other than back in the woods, are also done in the 'raised bed' fashion, so the plants have better neutrients to feed on. Of course, you have to figure what to do with the rock once it's removed, so it becomes borders for the walkways down in the woodland gardens.

The following pictures show the progression of the garden from those first cool weekends in April, to the planting of seedlings and seeds in May, to a sampling of a typical early summer 'harvest'. Now in mid-September, the squash vines are gone, but the tomatos, cucumbers and peppers continue to produce. This was basically a 'trial' garden, and it seemed to work so well that we've set up 3 new raised beds for vegetables only, but that's another entry ;)

Also, as Lynne mentioned in her last entry, we did go and pick up Mom last weekend, and returned with more pictures from the wedding that family members and Mom up in PA had taken with film cameras. We'll get them scanned soon, and post some more, along with more random shots from the Heartland.

Take care, and peace, friends and family.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Been another quiet week here

in the 'Heartland' - the garden continues to slow down although a few plants are just now coming into their prime. The moonflower vine and the morning glories are beautiful every evening and morning. I have tried for years and years to grow moonflower vine and never had any success. This year SUCCESS!!!!! Not sure what that means but this has been a summer of 'firsts'. I never realized how large the flowers were - I always thought they were the same as a morning glory only bloomed at night instead of morning. The scent is lovely just like you read in all athe garden magazines. We are starting to pull out some tired plants and clean up some areas. I guess we have had most of our baby butterflies for the season but now they dot the yard with their beautiful wings. It is just a pleasure to stand and watch them dance from flower to flower.

We did have some excitement about a week ago. Tom and I were standing on the front porch and noticed a lot of activity in the 'deer' garden. We looked over and saw a flock of bluebirds in the lantana, birdbath and up in the pine trees. they all seemed to take turns junping into the birdbath and taking a bath - they also seemed really interested in the lantana pecking around. Not sure if they were going after seed or insects. I know they are mainly insect eaters. Also at the same time there were yellow finches, hummingbirds, and many butterflies. It was just a beautiful sight to watch nature at work but that is what this yard is all about - letting nature do her thing.

Beets and musculan got planted in the new veggie beds and have sprouted. Four season gardening is great. In about 3 weeks we should have fresh lettuce again and on through the winter - yummy. The new garden on the other side of the driveway is ready for planting now. We want to get camellias and some other shrubs in there and also spring bulbs. Gardening never ends here but we love it that way.

Tomorrow morning Tom, Ruth and I head up to Wellsboro PA to get Mom and bring her back home. She has been up there since we got married. It has been nice having this time alone to get to know each other better and settle into our routine but we are both excited to get Mom back. Her rooms are waiting and her flowers and birds are still right outside her windows. Plus her cat Tinkerbelle misses her and I KNOW she misses him. It will be nice to show Tom the area of the country where I was born. Even tho I have never really 'lived' there - it is a big part of my life as I have visited there almost every year. The mountains are gorgeous - I don't care for the winters but it is wonderful every other time of the year.

Again keep our fellow Americans to the south in your prayers - I can't even imagine what most of them went through. We thank God every day for our little piece of paradise and just really try and concentrate on the simple pleasures.

Until next time.........

~~he who plants a seed - believes in tomorrow~~

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

A final quiet moment...

Lynne, with her son at her side, prepare to walk down the stairs to start the service that announced the union of Tom Mann and Lynne Smith as husband and wife.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Kevin escorts a smiling Lynne to the arbor, while her brother-in-law Ron, our minister, and my nephew look on.

Amazing Grace

Mom, enjoying a very healthy portion of the wedding cake.

Not by coincidence, Mom's 'casual' t-shirt also tells alot about her. Her middle name is Grace, and she truely is Amazing...We love you, Mom!

We danced...

My sister Marge is caught taking a shot of us dancing to Michael's rendition of "Keeper of the Stars".

They danced (again)

Since pictures have come in randomly, well, here's a repeat from a different view. Dawn and Kevin dancing to Michael's "My Hero", while we proudly look on.


Dawn and Kevin chatting with our neighbor Kathy, while Mom aims her camera in the direction of....? We'll have her pictures back in about 2 weeks, and this question will be answered.

A break from the reception..

Russ solves the world's problems to anyone who would listen during a break in the musical entertainment.

Kevin oversees as my brother-in-law Jim and Lynne' s brother-in-law Russ do the hard work of the day, arranging the tables and chairs for the reception.

Mom, with her grandchildren Kevin and Dawn behind her, and granddaughters Lissy, Katey, Tracey and Vicky.

Ruth and Russ' daughters, our nieces Katey, Vicky, and Lissy.

Our daughter Dawn, Lynne's Maid of Honor.

Dawn and the 'bee' bouquet

Fortunately, the bees took a siesta during the ceremony.

Vicky looks on as the bouquet that Katey picked from the garden for her Mom met up with a surprise visit from some bees!

Not sure what they were taking pictures of, but one was looking at this camera, it appears ;-)

More shots from the wedding

Our good friend Kay, who took many of the wedding photos, got caught in the act. That's Mom front and center, with her children Lynne, Bill, Lee and Ruth.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Today's off to a good start

With coffee in hand, Lynne and I were outside early this morning, hoping to watch another butterfly join the other winged beauties in the yard. Finally, we were able to witness the entire 'hatching' process, instead of being a couple minutes late. These pictures were taken within a 2 minute timeframe. If you look closely at the first picture, you can even see the yellow/orange spots inside the cocoon!

It's kind of bittersweet in a way, having all this peace, calmness and tranquility in our yard, knowing full well the devistation that is and has taken place just a few hundred miles to our South along the Gulf. †