Cleaning House and Tribute to Mom and Dad

My son and parents in 2004 near Atlanta, Georgia

For the past month, I have been doing a lot of cleaning – particularly in the basement and garage of my home. I was bitten by the “cleaning bug,” and decided it was about time to take action and do something. I cleaned sooo much “stuff” out of my house! No one should really be allowed to accumulate that much stuff! Adding my own and my son’s “stuff” to my parents “stuff” literally caused there to be several tons of stuff that I cleaned out, moved out, recycled, donated, and/or junked. The dumpster company, the movers, Uhaul, and the shredding company all made some money off of me this month. I actually tried to hire an estate company to sell out portions of my house, but it didn’t work out. So, I had to pay to get the stuff moved out rather than make some money off of it. That’s just the way it is for me. It seems like I always have to pay; I’m just not a “lucky” person.

I have lived in this home for the past 15 years since my marriage ended, and I moved my things into this house at that time, with many of those things going into storage in boxes and plastic storage bins in the basement. In the past month, I have gone through everything in this house; many things I have not seen for 15 years since putting them away. Opening up those boxes and bins was like opening up time capsules. I went right back to when my son was a little boy – only 4 years old when we moved to this house. It was wonderful to go through his “little boy” things – clothes, toys, pictures, cards, drawings, and crafts. And then, for some other things that I unearthed by going back in time, it was not nearly wonderful at all. I went through all kinds of documents that I really did not want to ever see again – and I had the shredding company handle those. So, I experienced some smiles and laughter as well as some tears by going through all of that “stuff.”

On looking through photo albums of when my son was a baby and young boy, I found one picture that I took of my son with my parents. My son was one year old at the time, and both of my parents have since passed. The photo is of my son riding one of those mechanical cars at a local mall, flanked by my parents. It is a great picture because my son loved riding those mechanical machines and my parents loved being right there with him.

With my son currently being a college student, I am pretty much an empty-nester, except when he comes home from college. It, therefore, gets pretty quiet around here, and while I know I always have myself and try to keep a positive attitude, sometimes it’s tough to take, especially around the holidays. People who are alone really need more healthy communication and interaction with others.

So, seeing that picture of my one year old son with my parents brought back so many fond memories for me, and caused me to remember and be grateful for all that my parents have done for me and my son. I would not be where I am today if it was not for my parents, and I always remember that and am thankful for all they have done. The holidays are supposed to be one of the happiest times of the year, but I can’t help but feel some sadness and nostalgia about missing my parents who did so much for me.

…And, I’ve also learned something in this whole process of cleaning out my house, as well – do not buy, keep, and/or accumulate so much “stuff” ever again!

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Trees Lost in Snellville due to Tropical Storm Irma

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A tree in my neighborhood lost to Tropical Storm Irma, Snellville, Georgia, September 12, 2017

After the Carribean, Puerto Rico, Cuba, and Florida were hard-hit by Hurricane Irma, its effects were felt here in Snellville, Georgia after it traveled up the west coast of Florida early last week.

We lost power for almost 1.5 days in Tropical Storm Irma that came through this area.  Traditional schools were closed for three days, and online schools closed for one day.  If what we experienced was a tropical storm, I’ve definitely never seen a rain and wind storm whip around the trees as it did.  Its amazing that more trees did not fall than actually did.

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Another tree down in my neighborhood. Snellville, Georgia, September 12, 2017

In my neighborhood, alone, I counted six trees that fell after driving through my area, including a huge oak. With the heavy winds and the ground being saturated, trees with surface roots or those that were rotten fell easily.

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A fallen tree in my neighborhood. Snellville, Georgia, September 12, 2017

Just yesterday, in a nearby area, I observed power lines that were laying on the ground. Now, six days after the storm passed through, there are still people in my area who do not have electrical power.

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A couple of limbs that were ripped off of a tree in my neighborhood. Snellville, Georgia, September 12, 2017

Seeing the news on TV and the Internet of the damage that Irma did, my heart and prayers go out to everyone who weathered it.  May those who lost their lives rest in peace.  May those who are cleaning up and rebuilding get the help and support they need, quickly.

Mother Nature has shown that a category five hurricane is definitely something to take extremely seriously.

Dogwoods and Azaleas in Full Bloom (By: Michele Babcock-Nice)

Pink Dogwood, Snellville, Georgia, April 17, 2014

Pink Dogwood, Snellville, Georgia, April 17, 2014

A couple of days ago, following a heavy, soaking rain in central Georgia near Atlanta, many trees and flowers are now in full bloom, particularly dogwood trees and azalea bushes.  They are really beautiful, and I wanted to share some photos of them here.  Happy Spring!

White Dogwood, Snellville, Georgia, April 17, 2014

White Dogwood, Snellville, Georgia, April 17, 2014

Purple Flowers, Snellville, Georgia, April 17, 2014

Purple Flowers, Snellville, Georgia, April 10, 2014

Pink Azaleas, Snellville, Georgia, April 17, 2014

Pink Azaleas, Snellville, Georgia, April 17, 2014

White Dogwood, Snellville, Georgia, April 17, 2014

White Dogwood, Snellville, Georgia, April 17, 2014

Pink Dogwood, Snellville, Georgia, April 17, 2014

Pink Dogwood, Snellville, Georgia, April 17, 2014

These are some of my photos of a few of the flowering bushes and trees in my area.  I hope you have enjoyed viewing them!

“Polar Vortex 2014” (By: Michele Babcock-Nice)

Snowy Landscape Photo (Retrieved from http://wallpaperweb.org/wallpaper/nature/snow-steps-in-winterland_62252.htm, January 7, 2014)

Snowy Landscape Photo (Retrieved from http://wallpaperweb.org/wallpaper/nature/snow-steps-in-winterland_62252.htm, January 7, 2014)

The cold is no joke!  The biggest weather – and news – event occurring during the past couple of days has been the 2014 Polar Vortex that has swept across the United States.  Extremely frigid polar air from the Arctic has dipped down to the Deep South of the US.  This morning, January 7, 2014, in Snellville, Georgia, near Atlanta, where I live, the temperature at 7:00 AM was 3 degrees Fahrenheit, and that’s without including the wind chill factor!  Already at around 9:00 PM this evening, the temperature was back down to 15 degrees Fahrenheit after reaching a high of about 25 degrees Fahrenheit this afternoon at about 3:30 PM!  One online news article (Henry, 2014) reported that temperatures around parts of the US are colder than those currently in Antarctica!

It is definitely true that people – especially those folks in the South who are not accustomed to such icy temperatures – may not be entirely aware of the dangers of extreme cold.  Regarding myself, being originally from the Buffalo, New York area, I know about the cold, the dangers of it, and know not to take any unnecessary risks, nor to potentially place myself or others in danger in such frigidly cold weather.   Extreme cold can cause frostbite, hypothermia, and/or death.  It is not something with which to play around or take chances.

I am an individual who remembers the Blizzard of 1977 where I lived in Collins, New York.  I was 6-years-old at the time, and in the first grade.  Even at such a young age, it was exciting for my brother and I to remain at home for two straight weeks due to the school closures related to the Blizzard conditions.  I recall and have photographs that my parents took of my brother and I standing atop snow drifts that were as high as the roof of our garage.  Similar drifts created by snow plows clearing snow from the roads caused rises of snow that were of the same height.  Once the blizzard conditions passed, it was fun to play outside in the snow for awhile, but not long enough to get too cold.

In my mid-teens, there was a time when I believed I could outsmart Mother Nature by going out and riding snowmobile in temperatures that were less than 20 degrees Fahrenheit, and with wind chills of about -20 degrees Fahrenheit.  I promised that I would not be gone long, and was not riding for more than one hour when I returned home and was unable to feel my left hand.  I had decided to return when my toes and feet began tingling, but did not realize that I had already lost sensation in my hand.  I only realized it upon taking off my glove upon entering the house, remembering that I could not feel anything in my hand.  It was the beginning of frostbite.  Thankfully, it was not serious, and my mom saw to it that my hand was warmed carefully and quickly.  However, it is an experience that I have always remembered, and no longer take risks in the extreme cold with Mother Nature.

What is tricky in the South is that it can be frigidly cold, but there not be a speck of snow on the ground.  For me, coming from Buffalo, that is always a big disappointment.  When there is cold, I have always come to expect snow to accompany it.  However, that is rarely the case in the South.  And, that is something that can fool people into a false sense of security.  Simply because there is no snow on the ground does not necessarily mean that it is not cold – or even frigidly cold, as it has been here for the past couple of days now.  One must get bundled up if going outside, must not remain outside for very long, and must be assured of having a warm place to go – or even emergency measures to use – if one’s vehicle breaks down or if one’s utilities stop working in one’s home, for examples.

Also, what I noticed this afternoon when I went out to run a couple of quick errands was that people on the road are impatient with other drivers.  For goodness sakes, it is COLD outside!  I was out and about for only 20 minutes or so, and within that time, there were already two drivers who honked their horns at other drivers who were stopped at traffic lights, and who did not resume driving quickly enough for them once the traffic light changed from red to green.  People are not used to the cold.  Vehicles are not used to the cold.  And, people need to give each other more understanding and be more patient in extreme weather events such as this.  The buses may be off the roads because schools are closed, however that does not mean that some folks are entitled to race down the empty speedway through the city.  People should be more cautious and careful, and give each other more consideration in situations such as this.  That is definitely the intelligent thing to do.

So, be careful out there in the cold.  And, don’t go out into it if you don’t have to.  Bundle yourself up, make sure there are extra blankets in your vehicle – and for many, a shovel and even hot packs.  People who are used to the cold such as skiers and snowmobilers from the North such as myself know these things.  Listen to your body when you are out in the cold.  And, better yet, listen to your brain.  Stay inside where it is warm unless you have to go out.  Don’t take any unnecessary risks, or place yourself or others in potential danger.  Hopefully, you have some food stocked up, or if you don’t, get some when the temperatures have risen during the day.  Stay warm, stay healthy, stay inside as much as possible!

References:

“2014 North American cold wave.”  Wikipedia.  Retrieved on January 7, 2014 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2014_North_American_polar_vortex

Henry, R. (2014).  “Polar air blamed for 21 deaths nationwide.”  MSN News; Associated Press.  Retrieved on January 7, 2014 from http://news.msn.com/us/polar-air-brings-single-digit-cold-to-east-south.

“Visiting the Georgia Aquarium” (By: Michele Babcock-Nice)

Dolphin, Playfully Blowing Bubbles, at the Georgia Aquarium, Atlanta, July 9, 2013

Dolphin, Playfully Blowing Bubbles, at the Georgia Aquarium, Atlanta, July 9, 2013

On July 9, 2013, my son and I visited the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta.  The visit was my third and my son’s fourth.  We had a lovely time viewing the aquatic animals and amphibians that are residents of this amazing water sanctuary.  On this visit, my son and I viewed every area, looking at and/or experiencing each display.  On past visits, there was so much to see that we did not have the opportunity to see everything.  This time, however, the soreness of our feet and ankles told us that we had walked far and had seen much.

Dolphin, Playfully Blowing Bubbles, at the Georgia Aquarium, Atlanta, July 9, 2013

Dolphins Playing with each Other, Georgia Aquarium, Atlanta, July 9, 2013

Something new that my son and I experienced on our most recent visit to the Georgia Aquarium was the Dolphin Tales Live Show, sponsored by AT&T.  This show can be described as an aquatic musical that includes actors, dolphins, and dolphin trainers/acrobats.  The jumps and tricks performed by the dolphins are beautiful and breath-taking, while the stunts accomplished by the dolphin trainers/acrobats are impressive, as well.  I would definitely suggest seeing the show; and I, myself, would see it again!

Beluga Whale, Georgia Aquarium, Atlanta, July 9, 2013

Beluga Whale, Georgia Aquarium, Atlanta, July 9, 2013

Because we live about one hour outside of Atlanta, we do not often have the opportunity to get to the Georgia Aquarium.  For someone of low income, the expense of visiting the Aquarium is something I can do about once every one or two years.  For an additional $50 added to our $70 in total tickets, I could have purchased annual memberships, though it would still be a drive for us.  Without any student or senior citizen discounts, paying the adult and child ticket prices, along with buying food, purchasing a couple of souvenirs, getting pictures developed, spending money for gas, and paying for parking, our visit amounted to about $150 for the two of us.

Whale Shark, Georgia Aquarium, Atlanta, July 9, 2013

Whale Shark, Georgia Aquarium, Atlanta, July 9, 2013

While the visit was an expense for us, we had a great time!  We love the Georgia Aquarium, and wish we could visit it more often.  Some of my son’s favorite animals at the Aquarium were the Beluga whales, rays, dolphins, jellyfish, and otters.  I have to agree that I enjoyed seeing those animals, as well as the frogs and toads, the many fishes, penguins, and the albino alligators.  We look forward to seeing these beautiful animals again on our next visit!

Manta Ray, Georgia Aquarium, Atlanta, July 9, 2013

Manta Ray, Georgia Aquarium, Atlanta, July 9, 2013

Following is more of my selected photo collection of pictures from our visit to the Georgia Aquarium:

Albino Alligator, Georgia Aquarium, Atlanta, July 9, 2013

Albino Alligator, Georgia Aquarium, Atlanta, July 9, 2013

My Son Touching a Ray in the "Petting" Pool, Georgia Aquarium, Atlanta, July 9, 2013

My Son Touching a Ray in the “Petting” Pool, Georgia Aquarium, Atlanta, July 9, 2013

Tropical Green Tree Frogs, Georgia Aquarium, Atlanta, July 9, 2013

Tropical Green Tree Frogs, Georgia Aquarium, Atlanta, July 9, 2013

Blue Angelfish, Georgia Aquarium, Atlanta, July 9, 2013

Blue Angelfish, Georgia Aquarium, Atlanta, July 9, 2013

Pacific Sea Nettle, Georgia Aquarium, Atlanta, July 9, 2013

Pacific Sea Nettle, Georgia Aquarium, Atlanta, July 9, 2013

Lionfish, Georgia Aquarium, Atlanta, July 9, 2013

Lionfish, Georgia Aquarium, Atlanta, July 9, 2013

I hope you enjoyed my post, and I hope you can visit the beautiful Georgia Aquarium soon!

“Beautiful Spring Flowers Blooming in Georgia” (By: Michele Babcock-Nice)

Beautiful flowers are in bloom all over Georgia right now.  Today, I took photographs of many beautiful azaleas, wisteria, dogwood blossoms, lilacs, camellias, and other flowers.  I am more knowledgeable of certain flowers over others, so I ask for your patience if I have misidentified any of them.  Please enjoy the following photo collage of many of the beautiful flowers that are presently in bloom in my neighborhood near Atlanta!

Beautiful Pink Azalea Bush, Georgia, April 17, 2013

Beautiful Pink Azalea Bush, Georgia,
April 17, 2013

White Azalea Bush and Pink Azalea Bush, Georgia, April 17, 2013

White Azalea Bush and Pink Azalea Bush, Georgia, April 17, 2013

Medium Pink Azalea Bush, Georgia, April 2013

Medium Pink Azalea Bush, Georgia, April 2013

Red Azalea Bush, Georgia, April 2013

Red Azalea Bush, Georgia, April 2013

Another Red Azalea Bush, Georgia, April 2013

Another Red Azalea Bush, Georgia, April 2013

Small Purple Flowers, Georgia, April 2013

Small Purple Flowers, Georgia, April 2013

Hot Pink Azalea Bush, Georgia, April 17, 2013

Hot Pink Azalea Bush, Georgia, April 17, 2013

Dogwood Blossoms, Georgia, April 17, 2013

Pink Dogwood Blossoms, Georgia, April 17, 2013

Beautiful Purple Flowers (Wisteria?), Georgia, April 17, 2013

Beautiful Purple Wisteria, Georgia,
April 17, 2013

Lilac Flowers, Georgia, April 17, 2013

Lilac Flowers, Georgia, April 17, 2013

Camellias, Georgia, April 17, 2013

Camellias, Georgia, April 17, 2013

White Dogwood Flowers, Georgia, April 17, 2013

White Dogwood Flowers, Georgia, April 17, 2013

Pink Tulip, Georgia, April 17, 2013

Pink Tulip, Georgia, April 17, 2013

Pansies, Georgia, April 17, 2013

Pansies, Georgia, April 17, 2013

Yellow Iris, Georgia, April 17, 2013

Yellow Iris, Georgia, April 17, 2013

Purple Iris, Georgia, April 17, 2013

Purple Iris, Georgia, April 17, 2013

Beautiful Purple Azalea Bush in my Area, Georgia, April 21, 2013

Beautiful Purple Azalea Bush in my Area, Georgia, April 21, 2013

Purple Petunias, Georgia, April 24, 2013

Purple Petunias, Georgia, April 24, 2013

Maroon Iris, Georgia, April 24, 2013

Maroon Iris, Georgia, April 24, 2013

White Irises, Georgia, April 24, 2013

White Irises, Georgia, April 24, 2013

More Purple Irises, Georgia, April 24, 2013

More Purple Irises, Georgia, April 24, 2013

Another Medium Pink Azalea Bush, Georgia, April 24, 2013

Another Medium Pink Azalea Bush, Georgia, April 24, 2013

There certainly are many beautiful flowers in bloom right now in my area.  Many of the trees and flowers blossomed later this year because the cooler weather stayed with us longer than usual.  We had daffodils in January because it was mild, but then, the weather turned cooler again.  So, we have the flowers to enjoy a bit later in the season this year.