Welcome October!

I am so excited that it is October! This HAS to be one of my favorite months of the year!

But first… to catch you up on the things I am not going to write about:

I’ve had a bit of a delay in writing because last week was super busy! We are preparing for Halloween at my office and that includes a few activities (that will mainly be virtual!) I ordered that adorable pumpkin above from Amazon. As many of you know, I am a HUGE fan of anything that is themed out or involves a costume, so obviously, that makes Halloween on of my absolute favorite holidays!

In Americus, the Downtown Main Street group asked all of the businesses to decorate their windows for the Great Pumpkin Wars. I took the task to heart and called all of the departments in the city, as well as all of the tourist attractions, to donate a decorated pumpkin that represents their brand. I’m looking forward to seeing what we end up with. On Monday, the 26th, the displays will be uploaded to FB for the People’s Choice Award. That means, I will provide a link here and you can go online and “like” your favorite display. Then on that Wednesday, judges will come by and pick the best. I most certainly hope we win!

Plus, I’m having my staff dress in costumes each day. This will also be uploaded to FB for a “Who wore it best?” Halloween costume contest that people can vote on!

Last week, I got a chance to wish my neighbor, former President Jimmy Carter, a very happy birthday!

All of the neighbors went onto the compound and did a drive-by parade to wish him happy birthday! It was really sweet. He spoke to everyone as we passed! The media were not invited in, so this was really, super special for the people of Plains.

Speaking of media, on Friday, we had a media day with SAM Shortline. television stations from Macon, Albany, and Columbus rode the train in the super private, luxury car known as the Dearing.

We had a little reception and basically spent the day chatting with journalists and doing interviews.

I ran into one of my old tv news anchors I used to work with, Suzanne Lawler. It was great to see an old friend!

I even took some time to eat at the Buffalo Cafe with my buddies Nichole from the newspaper and Qaijuan.

The weather was perfect and it was a great day! It almost felt normal again.

On Saturday, I kicked the morning off with my final photography class.

I am thrilled I got the opportunity to understand manual digital photography so much better. I am considering taking Photo II in the coming months, but for now, I want to master what I have learned.

After the class, I ran downtown to the Peace Day celebrating at Lenny’s Market in Americus.

My friend Jeni & Laura held a very successful event that attracted over 100 people. Everyone was socially distanced and wore face masks.

Dorian was such a good boy. I took him with me! Can you believe he is 7 months old now?

That night, Tim and I had a little beef stew and watched our first of many upcoming Halloween movies.

Later, we tried this new KETO dessert… but…. it was waaaay too sweet. I’d recommend.

The next day we got up and I wanted to try out my new photography skills. So we drove to Dawson, about 30 minutes south of us and headed to Mark’s Melon Patch.

As always, the farm stand was awesome! However, it was super crowded and very few people were wearing masks. We kept our distance and kept our masks on. I zipped in and took some pics and we headed out.

Here are some of the crops I took pics of:

There is a whole field of Zinnias.

You could get fresh peanuts, dried peanuts, fried peanuts or boiled peanuts. I’m more partial to the boiled peanuts, however, there was a huge line and too many people.

They have a corn maze. Folks can even come at night with flashlights and navigate the area.

Scoppernogs!

Beautiful sunflowers

Craft area for kids to paint pumpkins

And of course, an area to pick your pumpkins!

There are games, food , hay rides, and music. This really does click off many items on your Fall bucket list!

And finally, to wrap up my first week of October:

Need I say more?

Hello, Old Friend

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On the 31st of January, in 2019, I am re-committing myself to blogging again.

I know, I know… I have said it before, and I will probably have to reaffirm again. But it is a start. A beautiful start to what is quickly shaping up to be a pretty good year.

I continue to heal from the surgery back in October. Yes, I am still healing. But it IS happening and that makes my heart happy. I’ve even made strides to get a little healthier by incorporating exercise back into my life. As for food, well, I have jumped on this culinary band wagon and have been attempting to cook my way through Julia Child’s famous cook book: Mastering the Art of French Cooking (Vol. 1 AND 2.)

I have a few more goals in mind for this year. I hope to take a photography class in the Spring that my husband purchased for my Christmas gift. It will be with the Atlanta School of Photography. FINALLY, people. I’ve been saying I wanted to do this for years. I’m also hoping to write again.

So here I am.

I also plan to reconnect with the people I love the most. Including old friends, as well as making sure I invest time and energy into growing the relationships that are newer. I even find myself attending church each Sunday, albeit not a Catholic Church. Tim & I decided to invest in our little town of Plains and we began attending a church just a few blocks from our home. It is a Methodist Church and the pastor is really good. I miss a lot of the elements of the Catholic Church, but unfortunately in South Georgia, the pickings for a church that fits my needs is not very strong. I cannot formally join the Methodist Church, because I do not want to part with the Catholic Church. However, my husband is a Methodist and it is simply having him transfer his membership. Good enough for me. It will serve my needs, for now.

Life has been moving along quite calmly – Tim and I have been coming up with house projects, as well as travel options for the year. The financial strain from building a house is easing up a bit and we are ready to move to the next phase.

The holidays were spectacular. I tried to attend every single event that I could. Here is a quick look at my year-end from November & December.

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We had a delicious and delightful Thanksgiving at my Mom & Dad’s house in Haddock.

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Spent some time visiting with Tim’s childhood friends. Apparently, it was such a momentous occasion that it made the local paper. 😉

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We spent a lot of quality time together. He did a great job taking care of me post-op.

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We spent a lot of time with our kids and grand.

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Isn’t she growing up so fast? And so, so, so beautiful. This is my grand-daughter – Cotton.

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This was my third year as the official light flipper during the Plains Christmas Tree Lighting. First time that it had rained. And.. um.. I was afraid I would electrocute myself. 😉

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We had a very successful Christmas Open House at the Americus Visitor Center.

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Tim came to support his sister & I as she judged the Americus Christmas Parade and I was the emcee.

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As a family, I introduced Advent into our home and all of the traditions that come with it.

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I reconnected with old & new friends in Macon.

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I even celebrated Hanukkah!

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We set up a cookie making night with the girls. They did a fantastic job!

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I got the wonderful opportunity to serve as an Ambassador for the Andersonville National Cemetery.

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One of the most moving moments during the Wreaths Across America.

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I had my coworkers come out to my house for a little Christmas party!

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We celebrated Christmas in Plains with President Jimmy Carter and former First Lady Rosalyn.

 

We threw our very first Christmas party in our new home.

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Got to enjoy a fantastic Christmas party with my work.

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AND – I got to emcee it!!!

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Our tree went up. I did it by myself because Tim was super-duper sick!

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And finally, I have been Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

And we are only on day 31 of the new year.

So much good is in store and I can’t wait to experience it all!

Here’s to 2019! I hope you embrace each day as a gift!

 

Dealing & Healing

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***pardon any typos… I’m doing this quickly over lunch!***

It seems this blog is more about me apologizing for not writing, versus actually getting to the good stuff.

With that being said, let’s just get to the good stuff.

Obviously, I’ve been very busy: living & loving. And healing. Or trying to.

I’ve decided to bury the lead… so strap in for the ride.

The picture above describes March until September. I’ve been on the road: filling my mind with knowledge, exploring new places, and spending time with some really fantastic people. The best part? I get paid to do all of this.

I am blessed beyond measure. THIS is the one thing I am certain of.

Let’s begin, shall we?

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Late April, either before or after the last post, (I forget,) I got sick. Like, really, really sick. I ended up with a (I hate typing this, but it is what it is,) an anorectal abscess. Not THERE, but next to there. Science would say I waited too long to treat it, but the truth is, I was the victim of scheduling. Felt something on Saturday. Call Gyno on Monday. Appointment on Tuesday. Diagnosed with abscess. Scheduled to see surgeon on Monday. By Friday I had a fever and was vomiting. Went to ER that night. Saturday morning emergency surgery. Home for 2 weeks recovering.

The end… or so I thought.

Soon there after, I recovered and went back to work. One of the coolest things about my life now is that I get the honor of doing so many interesting things. Like above, I got to be the Honorary Councilwoman for the City of Plains for one meeting. That’s me with the mayor. (Who just so happens to be the former college friend of Tim’s late father, Mayor Jerry Kirksey of Preston.)

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My job keeps me super busy, so finding time for a date is next to impossible. Luckily, my Americus Rotary club had a party at the Georgia Southwestern University Lake House – complete with the Varsity Food Truck with unlimited dogs & burgers & onions rings! That was so much fun! We ate well and laughed with our fellow business associates. If you are unfamiliar with the Varsity, it is a tradition to eat there when visiting Atlanta. AMAZING food. What a treat for us to have this food truck in Americus (3 hours South of Atlanta!)

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I even hosted a staff retreat to my home. Main Street & Tourism gathered to go over our strategic plan and share in some delicious food catered from a local Plains restaurant: The Silo.

Of course we got to spend some time with our famous neighbor, former President Jimmy Carter and former First Lady Rosalyn Carter.

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Then it was time for me to hit the road again! I spent one week up in the North Georgia Mountains at the University of North Georgia & Southeast Tourism Society’s annual Marketing College. I have been working on my credentials as a Tourism Marketing Professional and Festival & Events Planner. I met up with my classmates from first year (and a few incoming 1st years) and we kicked off the fun at Wolf Mountain Winery. We had an AMAZING dinner.

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Seeing my friends from Louisiana and Arkansas is always a treat! Plus many others from all over Georgia.

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Later that night, we all broke off and explored the bars of downtown Dahlonega.  Here we are at the local Irish pub, Shenanigans.

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We enjoyed pizza at Gustavo’s on the main square.

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Proscecco any night!

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The King of Pops for our afternoon breaks.

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Delicious New Orleans style food at Bourbon Street Grill on the Main Square

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And honestly, so much more. I even won a bottle of bourbon for being the Queen of Social Media on the trip! Winning the top prize for the documenting overall experience at a Marketing College ain’t too shabby.

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Not soon after I got back, I ended up back in the hospital. More bleeding and apparently a slight infection from the wound area of the abscess. Here is a photo of the staff Facetiming me  as I lay in the bed hooked to ivs.

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Pretty soon after that, it was times for Plains, Trains, & Fireworks in downtown Plains! It’s our annual July 4th celebration. My staff & I melted in the hot Georgia sun! Me – recovering and trying the best to keep a smile on my face. Honestly, I was exhausted in this picture. On the road, fighting an infection, and just going… going… going…

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Regardless of the heat, exhaustion, and whatever else – I found plenty of reasons to smile! Like the grandbaby’s laughter!

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Or watching our my love enjoys spending time with our precious!

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Right after that event, I took off for a girls’ beach trip to the family beach house on Mexico Beach. I brought one of my oldest friends, and 3 newer friends from Americus. We had a fantastic time eating, drinking, and soaking up the sun! Something I so desperately needed!

We ate so much good food, drank tons of tequila and pina coladas and wine slushies! And talked… so much girl talk! It was very good for the soul.

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On the way down I got to meet one of the Godfathers of the slow food movement: The owner of White Oak Pastures, Mr. Will Harris. According to their website, Mr. Harris is a fourth generation cattleman, who tends the same land that his great-grandfather settled in 1866. He was born and raised at White Oak Pastures and eventually left home to attend the University of Georgia’s School of Agriculture, where he was trained in the industrial farming methods that had taken hold after World War II. He graduated in 1976 and returned to Bluffton where he and his father continued to raise cattle using pesticides, herbicides, hormones and antibiotics. They also fed their herd a high-carbohydrate diet of corn and soy.

These tools did a fantastic job of taking the cost out of the system, but in the mid-1990’s Will became disenchanted with the excesses of these industrialized methods. They had created a monoculture for their cattle, and, as Will says, “nature abhors a monoculture.” In 1995, Will made the audacious decision to return to the farming methods his great-grandfather had used 130 years before.

Since Will has successfully implemented these changes, he has been recognized all over the world as a leader in humane animal husbandry and environmental sustainability. He shared his story with us over a bottle of wine and beef tacos, fresh off the farm!

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Well, no sooner did I get back on Sunday night from the beach trip, I repacked my bag for a trip to West Georgia for three days. (Literally, the very next day!) The first leg of this trip involved a visit to Warm Springs, Georgia. Home of The Little White House of FDR and the FDR State Park, all of which I got to tour. Plus, the downtown area of Warm Springs is adorable. One of the highlights was the wine tasting at Warm Springs Cellars.

After Warm Springs, we headed to Callaway Gardens and toured the entire property and had dinner at one of the restaurants on the property. The next day was all about adventure! Our group got to enjoy both White Water Rafting and Zip-lining (from Georgia to Alabama and back – Seriously!) So many laughs and tales of danger – which we enjoyed laughing about over dinner at EPIC in uptown Columbus.

Our final day consisted of a very moving experience at the National Infantry Museum. Then we ended up having an amazing adventure at the Coca-Cola Space Science Center.

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Did I forget to mention two VERY cool spots in West Georgia? We also got to have a Rum tasting at Richland Rum and Omaha Brewing Company!

And then no sooner do I get home…

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Boom…. more antibiotics. The infamous wound simply will not heal all of the way. After a few conversations with my surgeon, it is just the location. But now she fears I may have a fistula. We aren’t sure… so I start more heavy-duty sulfa drugs and try, try again.

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During the healing process, my friend Wesleigh from the Marietta Visitor Center came down to explore Sumter County. Here she is tasting our famous Peanut Butter Ice cream in downtown Plains.

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A few days later, one of my dear friends from Macon passes away suddenly. The beautiful Dorothy Cook left us…

But the show had to go on…

Literally…

I had an 8 hour retreat to lead the very next day. My heart was so heavy, and not only that, I was exhausted and extremely sick…..

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But I kept going and was THRILLED to host my friends from Statesboro and Houma, Louisiana around town. One of our favorite stops was the international roastery in town: Cafe Campesino! I’m so excited, because they are about to celebrate their 20th anniversary! I can’t wait to attend the festivities!

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So at this point, I’m trucking along… trying to feel better. I went to my monthly Bunco meeting with the ladies of Plains…

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I celebrated our sweet grandchild’s 3rd birthday!

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I allowed my hair to be turned blue and get glittered for one of our First Friday events in downtown Americus.

I even took some time to host 2 girls from Hiroshima, Japan for a week.

Seriously…. I got back in the exchange student business. It was really kinda cool. Never hosted Japanese students, and these two were from the City of Americus’s sister city in Japan. Momoka and Ayaka! These girls left on a Wednesday, and I packed my bag for a 5 day conference to Atlanta that started on a Saturday.

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Lots of fantastic session and boy oh boy, did I learn a lot!

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I heard one of the most inspirational speakers from the football coach legend, Bill Curry.

The two gubernatorial candidates for the State of Georgia gave their words on how they view and would support Tourism. That DEFINITELY solidified my decision.


I had the best time at the College Football Hall of Fame. We had a tailgate private party at the museum!

I also experience VIP treatment at the Atlanta Braves’ SunTrust Park Stadium. We had the Hank Aaron Terrace all to ourselves! Unlimited food, great seats, a/c, private entrance…

Life is oh so good!

 

I got back on Wednesday night, only to REPACK my bag for Friday – because…

Dum.. dum.. duuummmmm…

It was Labor Day weekend and time to head back to the beach house with the family.

We had an amazing adventure. 8 hours on the beach, an evening in Apalachicola, a day trip to Destin, and coffee at Panama City Beach.

Then to end it all, Tim reflected on how this is probably one of the last innocent Summers with his girls at this particular beach.

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You see, his mom is selling the beach house. The same house they have vacationed at every year since the 80s.

It is an end of an era for the Kirkseys.

That brings us to this past Sunday. Tim’s youngest turned 16. Again… transitions, they are a-coming.

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Even with me. I’m down 13 pounds. 5 over the Summer, and 8 more on Weight Watchers. THIS is good news.

But this is bad news:

I found myself back in the surgeon’s office yesterday. More bleeding, more infection. As it turns out, I have a fistula. (You can google it.) That’s why I am not healing, and they don’t just heal themselves. I’m headed to a pretty gnarly surgery on October 26th to have a fistulotomy. It is supposed to be a painful recovery with a fairly decent shot at fixing this problem… God willing.

If you can, place me in your prayers for healing. And to calm my fears. And for whatever else I can’t seem to put into words.

My Summer was good. My life is even better. I just need to heal.

(Now don’t make me the “butt” of your jokes. This whole experience has been a pain in my “ass.” Get it? Get it?)

Until next time….