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Happy April!

Playing an acoustic guitar, Warren Zevon sang these simple lyrics,

Don’t let us get sick.

Don’t let us get old

Don’t let us get stupid, all right?

Just make us be brave.

Make us play nice

And let us be together tonight.

My friend Clare has memorized these words and shared them with me before. Today I finally got around to listening to their author sing them, and, of course, they took on another dimension.

Music can stop us in our tracks with its bravado and power. Lullabies soothe hurts of the body and spirit. Refrains pull us from our seats to stand at attention. Hearing certain songs can bring back memories of particular places and people. Recognizing certain musical scores catch our attention in a movie, and we know that an explosion of some kind is about to occur.

With the door open now on the sun porch in the mornings, the various birds break the silence. I don’t recognize their warbles, but their cheerful greetings start my new day with carefree welcome.

This is my quiet time of the day; sipping on my first cup of coffee adds to the mix of calm. My prayers of petition are similar to the refrain above, and my thanksgivings are all about being with the ones I love.

In The Fellowship of the Ring, J.R. R. Tolkein says, “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

Until ten years ago, the first week of April was all about The Masters. Grandaddy bought his first patron ticket in 1959; then Daddy a few years later. Three generations, four adults and two children, huddled in a blue Dodge for the road trip to Augusta, Georgia. Taking turns with spending time on the lush green course, the grown-ups spent the day. My brother and I weren’t included in those early years, but it was a fun trip. We usually would “play nice” by entertaining ourselves in the parking lot.

For fifty years, four Collins generations enjoyed days following our favorite golfers. Whether hot as blue blazes or under cloudy and windy skies, we savored pimento cheese sandwiches wrapped in green plastic.  Often we would watch the Sunday round of the tournament on television.

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I have a couple of plastic glasses from our last visit in 2009. Believe that all this week, I will use this glass to saluting fun, family memories at The Masters. I might even have to mimic Daddy with a “Good night nurse” if there is a poor shot made.

There is something about the pimento cheese sold at the Masters. You might enjoy reading this.

As Jim Nantz says, “A tradition unlike any other….”

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Rebecca Parks Caldwell, a SC Patriot

Carolyn Moseley, a friend of mine, shared this story with me of her Revolutionary War Female Patriot.

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“Rebecca Parqu (Park) was born 1707 in County Antrim, Ireland, the daughter of a Huguenot refugee, Jaques Parque (James Park).

At the age of sixteen, she was married to John Walkup, a marriage arranged by her father and the groom who was 52 years old at the time. Four months after the wedding, Rebecca was a childless, penniless widow.

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In 1724, she married William Caldwell in Ireland. William had been schooled in Scotland at an early age and was considered educated, a man intensely proud of his heritage and possessing charm and tremendous physical strength. William and Rebecca came to America in 1727 with the Caldwell family and had children born in PA and VA, Margaret in 1728, Martha in 1730, Rebecca in 1738, John in 1740, Eleanor, William Thomas in 1748, Sarah and James in 1755, Elizabeth in 1757, and David Robert in 1760.”

“Husband William was born on Feb. 1, 1704 County Donegal, Ireland Death: Feb. 17, 1761 Lunenburg County Virginia, USA. William was the first military officer appointed by King George III, in America. He served as a Major in the French/Indian war.”

When William died in 1761 (in Virginia), leaving Rebecca with so many young children, he stipulated that their slave, Sambo, be her possession until her death. Within the next ten years, the entire family had moved to South Carolina, and shortly thereafter the Revolutionary War started.”

“Rebecca was said to have been as staunch in patriotism and Presbyterianism as her husband; had sufficient education herself to teach all her children to read and write (the fact that she signed her will with “her mark” was probably due to her advanced age and failing vision). She is described as quiet, decorous and introspective, small of stature with brown eyes, high forehead and cheekbones and a smiling countenance.”

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“During the War, a Tory by the name of Bloody Bill Cuningham swept through the western side of Newberry County, S.C. A negro gave the alarm that the Tories were coming.

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Bloody Bill Cunningham

“James Creswell, afterward to become Col Creswell, was at the Caldwell home at the time. Because James Creswell was so openly hostile to the Tories, seventy-five-year-old Rebecca had to think fast. She told her daughter, Elizabeth, to hide and dressed James in the clothes of Elizabeth. She ordered horses to be saddled for herself and her “daughter.” As the Tories approached the homestead, Mrs. Caldwell was seen calling out, “Betsy, come along I am in a hurry.” Out walked Creswell, hiding his face under the bonnet. He and Mrs. Caldwell mounted in the presence of the Tories and rode away on a pretend visit to Mrs. Neely.”

Rebecca saved his life! She immediately figured out a way to make that happen. What a creative way of getting Creswell away from the enemy! I can just picture her sashaying out of her house to the horse, as if she had not a care in the world. What a brave woman! It was an ordinary day that became an extraordinary one, because of Rebecca.

“The Tories searched the area for James Creswell and found Elizabeth in hiding. In retaliation, they carried away most of the Caldwell household belongings. One of the Tories remarked about the long strides the pretender had taken to approach and mount the horse.”

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“One of her sons, Captain James Caldwell, commanded a company at the battle of Cowpens under General Andrew Pickens during 1780-81. He was wounded at that battle, left on the battlefield for dead, found by his brother William who had been searching for him. He was taken back to camp by William and nursed back to health. He could not return to duty. James served as Sheriff of Newberry County 1808-1812 and one term in the House of Representatives.”

“Another son, John Caldwell, served in the Revolutionary War as a Captain and a Major in the South Carolina Army. A member of the First Provincial Congress of South Carolina meeting in Charleston, Jan 11, 1775. He was killed Nov 24, 1781 at age 53, when the family home was attacked by Tory ‘Bloody’ Bill Cunningham. He is buried at the Western end of Newberry County, South Carolina on Mudlick Rd.”

“In the 98th year of her life, Rebecca Park Walkup Caldwell conceived of a plan for a family reunion and wanted every person of the family present. When she told her family of her wish, the reply was that there was no house that could accommodate such a crowd.

Her reply was, “I have all my children near me except those in Abbeville (William, James, Elizabeth, Dr. Martin, and Sally, John Moore and Eleanor). You all do not live in excess of five miles in a circle with all your children and grandchildren in adjoining districts. None lives so far that they can’t find welcome in their family’s homes nearby. William, James and David, build me a snug shelter in case of rain, for a dining hall and a smaller one for the children to play. I shall never meet them again on earth. I am now 98 years old and will be happy if you would give me this pleasure before I die.” Her plans were carried out.

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Rebecca Caldwell died one year later in 1806 at the age of ninety-nine. She is thought to be buried with her son John who was killed by William (Bloody Bill) Cunningham. That burial site is on the former grounds owned by John.”

“In the Centennial Book of Newberry County found in the Newberry library – in an article written about the Cubb Creek Caldwell Family with regards to the cemetery on Mudlick Road just east of route 56: “There also lies Rebecca Walkup, the girl from Ireland. Far from her native Erin, land of the shamrock, she lies sleeping beneath the flowering vinca and the white dogwoods of Carolina”.

I can’t help but wonder how Rebecca Caldwell viewed her life in retrospect. From Ireland to Carolina, she saw much of our world. This mother of nine obviously loved her children dearly and wanted to be a part of their lives. Her courage during the Revolutionary War to save the lives of others who loved our country is firm in the above story. Though few details are known about her life, she was a true Daughter of Liberty.

In The Patriot’s Daughter, Katlyn Charlesworth writes, “Men may fight the battle, but women wage the war.”

Our Daughters of Liberty did just that. Huzzah!



Let Spring Begin!

“Beware the Ides of March” is a familiar phrase to those who have read Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. These were the Soothsayer’s words to Julius Caesar on his impending death in the play, and on March 15 in 54 BC, Caesar was assassinated.

Another dramatic event happened on this date in 1917.  Czar Nicholas II of Russia abdicated his throne, ending a 304-year-old royal dynasty.

Nicholas II.

Centuries apart, two rulers lost their thrones and places in history, one with a knife and another with a signature

On March 15, 1765, Andrew Jackson was born in the Waxhaws of South Carolina. For the first fifteen years of his life, he lived in this Scots-Irish community. His widowed mother, Elizabeth Hutchinson Jackson, made sure that her three sons received a good education and religious training. She was a Patriot and believed in the American Revolution, and she modeled for her sons a life of determination to do the right thing, in spite of the odds.

Brave Elizabeth by [Ingle, Sheila]

Next Saturday, March , 2014, there will be a birthday celebration at Andrew Jackson State Park. There will be fun events for all ages as you enjoy his boyhood homeplace. It is a day of living history demonstrations to see what the Carolina Backcountry was like during Jackson’s time. See traditional crafters at work. Listen to historians discuss the legacy of Andrew Jackson. Enjoy the beauty of the park as history comes to life before your eyes.

March is certainly a fickle month, as to weather. Anthing can be expected. As one of my favorite authors described it, “It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.” Charles Dickens

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Last weekend we went back to Daylight Savings Time and gained an hour of daylight at the end of the day, rather than its beginning. Some like this; others don’t. What we can count on is the worst of winter is certainly behind us, though I didn’t even wear my winter coat this year. So perhaps hope is part of the story of the month of March.

Perhaps you are familiar with the saying about the month of March that says “in like a lion, out like a lamb.” Our area has been confused. Almost daily the temps have jumped around, and the rains have really been a little much. The outside furniture and white fence have turned green from mildew.

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Unsettling are these weather anomalies that surprised us in the South this year. But then changes aren’t what we look for or hanker after. We tend to like to stay with the status quo or what we are familiar with.

Lewis Grizzard has a way with words and said, “Spring time is the land awakening. The March winds are the morning yawn.’

Happy Spring!


The Happiest Flowers

March Madness and St. Patrick’s Day are just around the corner.

Some famous people were born in this month, e.g. President Andrew Jackson, singer James Taylor, composer Andrew Lloyd Webber, scientist Albert Einstein, and author Dr. Seuss. Women’s History Month claims this month as its own, and daffodils are its flowers. They are a symbol of friendship.

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Though their botanic name is narcissus, daffodils are sometimes called jonquils, and in England, because of their long association with Lent, they’re known as the “Lent Lily.”

Lore connecting the daffodil to not only a sign of winter’s end but a lucky emblem of future prosperity is found throughout the world. In Wales, it’s said if you spot the first daffodil of the season, your next 12 months will be filled with wealth, and Chinese legend has it that if a daffodil bulb is forced to bloom during the New Year, it will bring good luck to your home.

You have probably heard of the Ides of March, however, because it is the day Roman statesman Julius Caesar was assassinated. The immortal words “Beware the Ides of March” are uttered in William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar to the leader by a fortune-teller.

March was my grandmother’s favorite month. She lived on a dairy farm in Shelbyville, Kentucky, and winter weather had its own staying-power there. The blooming daffodils in our yard were usually about three weeks ahead of hers. Lulu would call my mom with the definitive morning when her daffodils opening their sunny blossoms. Sometimes they were covered with snow, but Lulu was ecstatic to see those harbingers of spring.

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I am pleased that my daffodils, transplanted from where I grew up, survived the cold rain from last week. Some are limping along and hardly raising their heads to the skies, but their cheerful, yellow stands out in the brown and dreary yard, a welcome sight.

In sixth grade, my teacher had us memorize a poem every month and recite it in front of the class. “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud” was her pick for March. Some of the lyrics are still stuck in my head.

Oh, let’s enjoy the daffodils!

“I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud”


I wandered lonely as a cloud

That floats on high o’er vales and hills,

When all at once I saw a crowd,

A host, of golden daffodils;

Beside the lake, beneath the trees,

Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.


Continuous as the stars that shine

And twinkle on the milky way,

They stretched in never-ending line

Along the margin of a bay:

Ten thousand saw I at a glance,

Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.


The waves beside them danced; but they

Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:

A poet could not but be gay,

In such a jocund company:

I gazed—and gazed—but little thought

What wealth the show to me had brought:


For oft, when on my couch I lie

In vacant or in pensive mood,

They flash upon that inward eye

Which is the bliss of solitude;

And then my heart with pleasure fills,

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Watching and Protecting

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When our son Scott was five, we bought him a border collie. Scott named the puppy Katie. Even though there were no sheep to keep up with, Katie kept up with Scott. Believe she might have thought he was a sheep, because she naturally herded him.

These dogs are naturally affectionate, energetic, and smart. Katie liked to be petted and was most generous with her kisses. Her energy knew no bounds. If she hadn’t had enough exercise, she would race around the yard in circles when she was older. She had intelligent almond eyes that fixed on the person talking to her.

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Keeping Scott from the busy street in front of our house was a priority for her. When the two went for walks, she was in protective mode with ears pointed and eyes looking from side-to-side. They were buddies, and the bond between them lasted.

If Scott’s friends were in the yard, they were also protected.

A neighbor’s old, oak tree fell on our house when Scott was in the sixth grade. It was a Sunday morning before it was time to go to church. Scott and John were still asleep, and I was sipping coffee in the living room. Suddenly there was a loud noise followed by a crash. Our house shook. The tree fell into and across Scott’s room, but the branches landed beside his bed, not on his bed.

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Katie was all over him, seeing if her sheep was okay, and bathed his face with happiness. With unbelief, John and I watched Scott crawl out of his bed into the top of an oak tree that covered most of his bedroom.

I am so grateful for Katie, but I am even more grateful for the Shepherd and His angels that protected Scott that day. It was a visual none of us have forgotten. The ending could have been so different. Scott was shielded by His heavenly Father, His Shepherd. Inches could have made such a difference in the outcome of that tree falling on our house.

Even though we had never prayed about protecting us from a tree falling on our house, our Shepherd knew it was a reality, and He provided His shelter.

Psalm 121:1-4

I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the Lord who made heaven and earth. He will not suffer my foot to be moved. He that keepeth Israel/you/Scott/me/ His sheep will neither slumber nor sleep.



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a traditional Irish cottage

My cousin Bobby reminded me today of a song that our grandmother/Lulu/Nanny used to sing, and I grabbed onto the memory. It was Too-Ra-Loo-Ra-Loo-Ral  (That’s an Irish Lullaby).

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Lulu lived in a two-story house on Mirror Lake Farm.  When we were growing up, there were few houses on Shelbyville Road, and most were on farm land. My grandmother would walk around the house with her arms swaying and sing her favorite song of the moment. There never seemed to be a reason for her sudden vocalizing, except she wanted to. Often we would follow in her wake, trying to mimic her steps, as well as the lyrics, in a new game of Follow the Leader.

Over in Killarney, many years ago
My Mother sang a song to me in tones so sweet and low,
Just a simple little ditty, in her good ould Irish way,
And I’d give the world if she could sing That song to me this day.

Hush now don’t you cry!
That’s an Irish lullaby.

[Verse 2]
Oft, in dreams I wander To that cot again,
I feel her arms a huggin’ me As when she held me then.
And I hear her voice a hummin’ To me as in days of yore,
When she used to rock me fast asleep Outside the cabin door.

[Repeat refrain]

Written in 1913 for a play, it became popular in 1944 when Bing Crosby released it as a single. Listen to him sing this Irish lullaby.

And here are the Irish Tenors singing it.

Believe it might be time for a nap now!

As Barbara Jordan said, “Think what a better world it would be if we all, the whole world, had cookies and milk about three o’clock every afternoon and then lay down on our blankets for a nap.”

February Doldrums, Not!

John celebrates his birthday in February, as do I. And then we also have the valentine holiday in between.

Earlier today, he told me what he wanted for his birthday, which is today. He would like for us both to stand outside on the stoop of my study/office/sun porch and face his Little House Studio. Then I am to sing “Happy birthday” to him. I like the idea, but believe I will wait until the neighbors are off to work.

In his play, Much Ado About Nothing, William Shakespeare asks the question,

“Why, what’s the matter, That you have such a February face, So full of frost, of storm and cloudiness?”

Yes, it is another February day, but it isn’t cloudy or cold! The weatherman is calling for our third day of temps in the 70’s. What a wonder and blessing!

William James said, “The art of being wise is knowing what to overlook.”

The daffodils in my yard would agree, since they are half out of the ground. They obviously don’t know that it is only February 7. And one of the forsythia bushes has one, bright, yellow bloom. New growth on bushes and blooms on some of our neighborhood trees also are in agreement.

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So what about Groundhog Day this year? Punxsutawney Phil could not find his shadow only five days ago. And as the legend goes, this means we’re in for an early spring.

This animal oracle was officially named in 1887 by a group of groundhog hunters, and next year this prognosticator still celebrates years of hits-and-misses.

A.J. Dereume holds Punxsutawney Phil after he did not see his shadow Saturday on Groundhog Day.

Believe it or not, Groundhog Day has its roots in the ancient Christian tradition of Candlemas Day. The clergy would bless and distribute candles needed for the winter. These candles were always long, and many, because expectations were clear for a cold winter.

This Christian holiday is celebrated annually, mainly in Catholic and Church of England congregations, on February 2. It celebrates three occasions: the presentation of the child Jesus, Jesus’ first entry into the temple, and the Virgin Mary’s purification. There is emphasis on Jesus being the light of the world, and so the candles become important.

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Germans pushed this thought a bit further by selecting a hedgehog for predicting the weather. When German settlers came to America, they continued the tradition, except they switched to the groundhog predictions, which were more plentiful than hedgehogs.

Anne Lamott said, “I am going to notice the lights of the earth, the sun and the moon and the stars, the lights of our candles as we march, the lights with which spring teases us, the light that is already present.”

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One children’s song has the refrain,”This little light of mine. I’m going to let it shine. This little light of mine. I’m going to let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.”

Seems like Mister Rogers believed in spreading light, because it was always a “beautiful day in the neighborhood.” So shall we choose light today? And shall we share light?

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