December 4, 2013

21st Century Dirt Road Math




21st CENTURY DIRT ROAD MATH

365 days x 1 year ago today = 0 Door Mats


November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving Thanks


It's hard to believe that I just flipped the calendar June-ago and now it's Thanksgiving day. How did that happen?

No matter what - so much to be thankful for!

Happy Thanksgiving!


Whiskey, patiently waiting for me to leave the kitchen!

Whiskey!

....hoping he's not spotted!

My personal assistant volunteering to be taste-tester!


Wishing safe travels and many blessings this Thanksgiving holiday and always!

hkj




October 30, 2013

From the Dirt Road News Desk


With October winding down and the arrival of November at our doorstep, I thought it time to give a few updates from the Dirt Road snow globe.

What say you?

A week or so ago, I discovered we had new neighbors in the north pasture.  I have eagerly awaited the opportunity to seize a Kodak moment.

Here they are:




The white donkey is a male ("Jack") and the traditional brown donkey is a female ("Jenny"). Until I can make time to call Mr. Stanley to inquire about their official names, "Jack" & "Jenny" it will be.

They are rooming with the 30+ Black Angus cows & calves in the north pasture(s) and I couldn't be happier about it. Fingers crossed they give the coyotes (roaming four-legged pestilence of the Dirt Road mammal world) a full blown run for their money....or rather existence!

It is a Southern tradition when new neighbors move in, we rush to greet them with accolades of welcomes and shower them with foodies.  So I am working very hard to welcome them and ultimately, gain their trust by spoiling them with alfalfa cubes whenever I see them.  I think it may be working since today when they heard me talking with the sheep and eventually *saw* me, they began hee-honking with what seemed to be excitement ("....hey lady, you brought us some treats again, right?"). {insert winking}

In other news, a new ram has arrived at the Dirt Road Farm to be a suitor for the girls.  He's just visiting for a couple of months in order to help the farm set up lamb-housekeeping in 5-6 months.  He wasn't exactly thrilled when corralled for pick up and transport to the Dirt Road.  In fact, the little ram made it very clear that he did NOT like the likes of me by stomping his front foot.

Repeatedly.

And refusing to exit the vehicle.

I finally had to wrestle him out of the Goat Tote and physically place him in the pasture with his temporary harem of ewes.  It took him all of three seconds to realize he'd died and gone to ewes-gone-wild Heaven with nine new babes to romance.  I hope he enjoys his stay - quickly; he has until mid-December to get his romance on and then he will return to his home in Monticello.

Meanwhile, Buttermilk is somewhat confused and seemed to be suffering from hurt feelings earlier today - as all his gal pals have been all. about. the visiting ram.  So I took measures this afternoon to console and treat him to some - sheep treats (not sold at your local PetsMart - but there are such things that exist).

I'm already beginning to wonder (or is it worry?) about how to convince the visiting ram to voluntarily load onto the truck for his journey back home.

Somehow, I am not foreseeing voluntary in his vocabulary.  It should likely prove to be interesting....

And finally....



The cotton fields are being harvested.  

The fields I've watched grow all summer and mature into Fall - walked through and marveled over - will soon be sparse and barren - waiting for Winter's arrival.  Such is the ebb and flow of the seasons that surround the Dirt Road.

All Saints Day is upon us and shortly thereafter will be Thanksgiving, the rush of shopping, gift giving and celebrating Christmas. In 62 days, a new year will begin to unfold.

In closing this all too newsworthy update...

It's been a year.



HKJ
South of the Gnat Line
Copyright  © 2013
All Rights Reserved.



October 26, 2013

Life's Ecstasy...


"Find ecstasy in life; the mere sense of living is joy enough." 


- Emily Dickinson

October 21, 2013

October Cotton Fields

There is nothing quite like walking knee deep through a magnificent cotton field.....this year's crop is almost shoulder high in some places (shoulder high for me anyway).  This is a field full of tee shirts and then some.

Photo: Harriette Keen Jacobs. South of the Gnat Line.  Copyright © 2013

Words can not adequately explain the majesty of the silence while standing in the midst of acres and acres of cotton awaiting its harvest. These fields that surround me here along the Dirt Road have decades and perhaps a century or more's history of cotton that has been grown - much picked and harvested by hand in the years behind us.  To recognize and reflect upon the human hands that have hand-turned the soil here is a must; it is also a must that we never forget.

Walking through October's Cotton Fields. South of the Gnat Line. Copyright © 2013

HKJ
South of the Gnat Line
Copyright  © 2013
All Rights Reserved.



October 17, 2013

Cabin with a View


“The fireflies start at the ground and merge to the stars up above. It’s really like you’re sleeping under the stars.” - Nick Olsen


Photo by Jordan Wayne Long
This is a must see, must read article about a couple who built a cabin in the woods with an incredible view through a wall of windows.

Be sure to watch the video produced by Half Cut Tea.  Exceptionally touching and inspiring.



October 4, 2013

Please Keep the Light On



"The world always seems brighter when you've just made something that wasn't there before."

- Neil Gaiman

September 16, 2013

What'd You Say?



"It's a rare person who wants to hear what he doesn't want to hear."

                                - Dick Cavett 

September 10, 2013

NW Georgia Living Magazine - "Embracing the Change of Seasons"


Sending a huge "Thank you" and shout-out to Laura Wood, Publisher/Editor of NW Georgia Living Magazine for inviting me to write a reflection for the Fall 2013 issue.  I hope you will enjoy the read and be sure to pick up a copy of the magazine for yourself.  NW Georgia Living has all the calendar of events for the NW Georgia region and a variety of articles to read.







Feedback is always welcome! Email SouthoftheGnatLine@gmail.com


August 5, 2013

Ultimate Pursuit: Your Passion



“You can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don’t make money your goal. Instead pursue the things you love doing and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off of you.” ― Maya Angelou


July 29, 2013

Surprise, Surprise


Merriam Webster defines the word "surprise" as:

"....to attack unexpectedly; .....to take unawares; .....to strike with wonder or amazement especially because unexpected..."

It is the latter definition that has captivated my thoughts:
"....to strike with wonder or amazement especially because unexpected."
We hear "surprise" everyday. "Surprise! Happy Birthday!" "Why am I surprised.....?" "What a surprise it was...." "She was surprised to learn......" "We wanted to surprise you....."  "Can't we ever surprise you?"  "Nothing would surprise me...." "It caught me by surprise...." "Well, surprise, surprise...."

But do such surprising statements represent the essence of what a surprising moment should be?  This leads me to ponder:
When is the last time you were genuinely surprised and what do you consider surprise-worthy circumstances?
  • Winning the lottery?
  • Flowers from a loved one or a secret admirer?
  • Handwritten notes?
  • Dare I ask this: a surprise party?
  • An unannounced pay increase?
  • A marriage proposal?
  • Winning a contest?
  • Getting to work on time?
  • No cars on I-285 in Atlanta; ....At All..?
  • Getting a check from the power company instead of a bill?
  • The depths of media reporting on crime?
  • The depths of crime itself? (...shock & disgust, yes, surprise - NO.)
  • How about manners?
  • What about first time childbirth?  There's a potential candidate for "surprise" - especially when involuntary natural childbirth is invoked because your [first] baby tried to enter the world in the car. ....at six weeks early - it was most certainly "unexpected".
  • Walking up on a snake in the woods?
  • How about an alligator at your backdoor?
  • Ever experience the kindness of a stranger? Would that surprise you?
  • Not having to repeat yourself?
  • Your children [voluntarily] cleaning the toilets?
  • How about the IRS announcing there will be no more income tax? 

Here are a few quotes that, while contemplating the concept of this notion, I found circle the neighborhood of how I define "surprise":

"Surprise is the greatest gift which life can grant us."
 - Boris Pasternak

"Continue to surprise those who would put you in a neat demographic. Be insistently curious."
 - Gordon Gee

"A sudden bold and unexpected question doth many times surprise a man and lay him open."
 - Francis Bacon

"Mystery is at the heart of creativity. That, and surprise."
 - Julia Cameron

"Do not know yourself. I want to continue to surprise me."
 - Arielle Dombasle

"Every day is a surprise. There are confirmations of an interconnectivity and synchronicity which inspire, titillate and confirm the inherent comedy of the universe."
 - Billy Zane

"Wonder is from surprise, and surprise stops with experience."
 - Bishop Robert South

"Society is always taken by surprise at any new example of common sense."
 -Ralph Waldo Emerson

"What a lovely surprise to finally discover how unlonely being alone can be."
 - Ellen Burstyn

"Expect nothing. Live frugally on surprise."
 - Alice Walker

"The only thing that should surprise us is that there are still some things that can surprise us."
 - Francois de la Rochefoucauld

I especially like the quote by Arielle Dombasle: "....I want to continue to surprise me."

These are all great thoughts and yet only gently approach what I deem true surprise.  And while the gift of clean toilets lifted up as gift-worthy on any given Mothers Day (in my world) would really be a surprise to me - or at least bring a smile to my lips and cause my eyebrows to raise in wonder (wondering what someone is trying to hide from me....), it does not qualify to belong in the realm of my surprise desires.

Just recently, someone asked me what I do for fun; without hesitation I answered, "Every day is fun."  After I said those words, it led me to think more and more about that.

I'm known to often say, "Happiness is a choice," therefore, regardless of the things that I can not control [around me] and [in the world], I will choose happiness every chance I get.

I choose to seek out that every day there is something worth celebrating, some simple, small joy worth smiling over: the sheep running to me when I walk into the pasture; Bebe, my barn cat always happy to see me when I feed the chickens and geese; the change of season here along the Dirt Road; discovering where the Passion Flower vines will bloom this year; the Blue Heron allowing me to stand close-by and watch him fish the creek; the roll-call of the Barred Owls at night; loving the fact that my boys, all big now and often stinky and sweaty, will kiss their Momma in front of their friends - all moments to be savored and cherished.

Then there is fun out in the world of people with people.  Everyone was once 4 and 5 years old - little innocent and wide-eyed children. Much can be said about what's wrong in the world today - but shouldn't we be looking for what is good?  Is good that hard to see anymore?

Is it the *good* that surprises you?  Not me; it's there - it's always been there.  It may be dusty or surrounded by clutter or even muddied like an unattended child whose face reveals precious freckles when wiped clean....  Good is there....we have to be more diligent in looking for it and sharing it.

Meanwhile, surprise is waiting; I believe it's smiling slyly all the while knowing its unpredictability.  Real surprise is a beautiful thing.  I can not expect it or look for it - that would undermine its worth and ultimate purpose.  So here are my defining thoughts on 'surprise':

Surprise is that moment resulting from someone's words or gestures or a moment suspended in time, so rare and unexpected, it intimately takes your breath away and is For.Ever. etched upon your Heart.  
[HKJ]





Harriette Keen Jacobs
South of the Gnat Line
Copyright © 2013
All Rights Reserved.






July 9, 2013

Universal Mission Statement





"Be Good & Do Good." - HKJ



It's really that simple.


...and plant more Daisies.




HKJ
Copyright © 2013
All Rights Reserved.

July 1, 2013

A Writer's Palette




 "But with writers, there's nothing wrong with melancholy. It's an important color in writing."

~ Paul McCartney

June 30, 2013

Sunday Solitude



It’s the last Sunday of the month.

At second glance, it’s the last day of the month.

I hadn’t noticed.

At 11 a.m., the thermometer read 87 degrees.  This time last summer, we had already hit 100.  I’ll happily accept 87 and smile over it.

Last night while putting the sheep and goats to barn-bed, there was an amazing cloud bank in the northern sky that ran east to west as far as I could see.  The lightning flashed and danced miles away. The fragrance of the oncoming rain was so heavy I believe I could've spooned it from the air like ice cream.

It never rained.

The back porch has been a welcoming retreat this morning ‘til late this afternoon…..

…….despite the accompanying Red-winged Blackbirds.

My least favorite of the winged species, they hide in droves [like a collective conspiracy] and wait for me to come outside to squawk and cackle at me.

Indeed, they do.

Jake, the man-dog, is sleeping on the patio beneath the porch; his presence made known only by his occasional exhales.

The view of the chair on the dock is rather tempting from my vantage point here on the back porch.  As sure as I move into it the breeze will cease and the resident gnats will hijack my thoughts.

I can hear our infamous and all too handsome Kingfisher working the creek northward.  The cricket and cicada choirs have quieted with the heat of the day setting in.

There is a single Red-winged Blackbird out in the yard who is determined to impede on my thoughts – he and his flittering girlfriend.

Still, the chair calls and I weigh my options as I notice the dark clouds moving in from the west.  I may as well as I just realized that my morning coffee is sitting here cold and long ignored.

As the late afternoon settles in, the rain arrives escorted by

ever.


so.


gentle.


Thunder.

It’s a moment calling for Norah.

Melancholy.






HKJ
Copyright © 2013
All Rights Reserved.


June 28, 2013

It's Friday and That's All I Got

It can be a peculiar thing to be a writer.  Writers love words, use words, neeeeed words to generate a pause for thought, a soft laugh or something along those lines to pass along and convey whatever is on the writer’s radar-mindset and clearly needs to be shared with anyone willing to read along – or better yet ‘play along’.

But what happens when the words won’t come?

Where are those lettered combinations of language that effectively express the matter of the moment?

Do words have that much power? Can they vaporize out of sight or thought?

Those who know me know I am a social bug with verbal skills that could exhaust an ENtire army.  As a result, writing becomes an extension of my neeeeeeed to express myself.  So how is it that on this Friday in late June, all my words are missing?

They’ve picked themselves up and left the Dirt Road.

*POOF*

First, let’s remove the fodder words: “Hello” is a fodder word.  The phone rings and upon answering I say, “Hello”.  “Hello” doesn’t count and is exempt from the missing mass of words that have left my universe today.

More fodder words: “How are you?” “Fine, and you?” “Fine.”

I repeat: Fodder.

Then there’s the weather.  Even more fodder.  Do you really want a Dirt Road Weather Report?  I can provide you with a concise weather report that includes my all access to online satellite imagery direct from the National Weather Service (impressive – huh?).

It rained yesterday afternoon.  Today it’s hot.  It’s humid.  No, it’s MUGGY.  The sky is blue with white fluffy clouds slurring around thinking about merging this afternoon in order to rain right about the time I decide to go outside to accomplish something like cleaning boogers out of Buttermilk’s nose.  The satellite imagery shows that it’s a NO BEACH day along the panhandle of Florida and Mississippi and Alabama are under siege by a huge blue and red blob that has settled on top of them.  That very same blob should show up over here in a couple of days, unless it breaks up or the wind moves it north/northeast.  Cuba doesn't have a dry spot to stand in. Tomorrow will be a repeat of today.

There.  Fodder.

No real words – no words of passion or persuasion or thought provoking moments of wonder.  Fodder.

*POOF*

(sigh)

I repeat:   It’s Friday and that’s all I got.



HKJ
Copyright © 2013
All Rights Reserved.



May 31, 2013

Fragrance of the Spring Season...



During these late days of Spring leading up to the first days of Summer, I love sleeping with the windows open. Hearing the night sounds easily lull me to sleep.....


until....the bouquet of the resident skunk's *poot* drifted in and settled all over me at 2 a.m.

Yeah, it did.

And I've been WIDE. Awake. ever since.



Meanwhile, look who I discovered in the sheep barn this morning.....


Uncertainty






Uncertainty is equal
to having your breath
held by someone else.

~ Harriette Keen Jacobs


Copyright 2013.
All Rights Reserved.

April 29, 2013

When it Rains...


"The best thing one can do when it's raining is to let it rain."- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


April 26, 2013

Obituary for a Farm Cat





With all the indicators in place: temps, gnats and pollen – spring has formally arrived and for good here in the Deep South.   And like every spring, everything is awakening and is new: new growth and new life all around us.  With this, I am always entertained by our farm menagerie as they too, seem to be as excited with the change of season. Our “working cats” in particular seem exceptionally frisky with all that is stirring and vivid memories of Whiskers come to mind – she was the fiercest and most prosperous of all our barn cats.

Ever.

Originally written and posted in May 2009 when she departed our lives, here is her obit., in loving memory.
 ___________________________________________

OBITUARY FOR A FARM CAT

The Dirt Road Farm is grieving a great loss with the passing of Whiskers, the Farm's 5-year old black and white, tuxedo barn cat. Though not the eldest, Whiskers was regarded as the Matriarch of the Farm’s feline pride.

Born in the early spring of 2004, she was adopted by the Farm along with her 3 litter-mates in May of 2004. Affectionately known as “Ma` Ma`”, she was the quintessential farm cat. While lovingly devoted and loyal, Whiskers was fiercely independent and the open pastures remained her preferred domain; she was never to be a house cat.

A proud mother of two litters of kittens and skilled as a master huntress, Whiskers was best known for her tenacious mousing. She took great pride in her work – all too often sharing her prized kills with her beloved humans.

She lost the first of her nine lives to a mad swarm of wasps that had nested behind a window shutter on the Farm’s front porch requiring days of Benadryl treatments eventually seeing her closed eyes and softball sized head return to normal. The next of her nine lives was taken by the garage door leaving her with a fractured tail. The 3rd loss was a narrow escape after being locked inside the Farm truck on a long, long hot summer’s day. Her 4th life claimed from a possible coyote or wild dog having treed her resulting in serious injuries to a hind leg. But it would be an untreatable and fatal blood disease that would ultimately conquer what remained of her lives now leaving a huge hole in the hearts of her human family.

On May 26, 2009, Whiskers was laid to rest in the shade of the Oak and Pecan trees that cascade over the large granite outcroppings on the upper 26 acres of the Dirt Road Farm where she loved to watch and hunt from. She was buried alongside her first born son, Oscar-Duke of Meyer. She is predeceased by her sisters Misty and Diva, her brother, Professor Button, her daughter, Possum and her son, Oscar as well as other nieces and nephews including the Brer Brothers: Brer Fox, Brer Bear and Brer Rabbit, triplets born to her sister, Misty. She is survived by her two daughters Miss Georgia “Peaches” and Savannah Lucille (“Lucy”), nephews St. “Simon” La Rue and Rev. “Billy Bob” Clyde, nieces Skidaway and Charlotte, great nephew One-eyed “Rowdy” and great niece Princess “Patches”. Max, the eldest of the Dirt Road Farm’s cats and of no familial relationship to the deceased, remains indifferent to the passing of Whiskers.

She will be greatly missed seen frolicking and pouncing in the upper pastures as well as hearing her raspy mews expressing thank you’s for an early morning’s saucer of milk. This writer will deeply miss her all too familiar, gentle rubs against her legs while gathering eggs in the hen house – the comfort of her purring companionship while weeding the garden. But I know that somewhere her spirit lives on here along the Dirt Road…. and while on my early morning walks, I will likely feel her presence woven within the breezes that surround me along my trodden path.

…..just beyond my footsteps in the earliest morning sunlight, perhaps I’ll catch a glimpse of a distant silhouette of an elegant cat sitting proudly atop an aging fence post and it will bring a renewed sense of comfort reminding me of a farm cat’s lifelong devotion and unconditional love for me.

___________________________________________

Post Script:

Following the burial of Whiskers on the upper 26 acres of the Dirt Road Farm, the writer was driving the Farm’s truck back to the house and, due to an unprecedented amount of recent rainfall, miss-navigated the pasture and became stuck in an all too wet low area requiring a long walk back to the house and having her truck rescued by the tractor.

It just wasn’t her day.


HKJ
Copyright © 2009, 2013
All Rights Reserved.

April 16, 2013

Back Door Discoveries


Just outside the back door of the screened porch, I was greeted by a newly hatched turtle....





April 1, 2013

The Iron Horse - Green County, GA


Where All Directions Lead South - 
Including the Direction of The Iron Horse!



Photo by South of the Gnat Line. Copyright 2013. All Rights Reserved.

The Iron Horse in Greene County, Georgia
Created by Abbot Pattison at UGA in 1954
The Sculpture has resided in Greene County since 1959



Highway 15 in Greene County, Georgia - right at the Greene and Oconee County lines - has a famous site to see: The Iron Horse statue.

In the summer months, you may not be able to see the horse if the corn crop is good.

Strong and proud, photographs of the sculpture alone don't serve the size and scope of the Iron Horse true justice - perhaps SLG will have to revisit the statue with an entourage to give this grand Horse some scale.

Meanwhile, here's a little bit on this sculpture's history.
"Greene County (GA) Copyright 2010 D. Nelson
The infamous 12-foot-tall Iron Horse is an abstract sculpture that was created by Abbott Pattison at UGA's Lamar Dodd School of Art and placed in front of Reed Hall in 1954. Back then, art, and metal sculpture in particular, was new to southern universities and the horse was not well received. Just hours after its placement, students gathered around the iron creature, placed straw in its mouth and in front of it, manure at its back, and painted the word "front" on its neck. Balloons were tied underneath the rear legs, and attempts were made to set the horse on fire. When the fire department arrived, the students refused to back away until eventually the fire hoses were turned on the students.The day after the incident, the university moved the sculpture to a secret hiding place; R.I. Brittain, a university official. said it was unfortunate that students ''on the college level'' had minds on the level of ''grammar school or nursery children'' and ''react violently to anything new, with which they have not had previous experience.'' In 1959, the Iron Horse was moved to its current location on a farm in Greene County, where it now sits in the middle of a corn field, facing south and away from UGA, visible from GA 15 only in the winter. Jack Curtis, owner of the farm, says they are now judging the corn crops on whether or not they can see the horse.There have been several attempts to bring the Iron Horse back to campus but they all failed."

More links on the Iron Horse: