12 Days of Blogmas: Winter Activities

Just for Fun

Winter is subjective around here. We’ve had a few days that were approaching 80° this week and heat and humidity to boot. We’re not feeling the winter vibes so much. But just because it doesn’t feel like winter, our calendar is still full of fun doings for the winter season here in Thomasville, GA.


Downtown Christmas Parade

We almost missed it this year as it seemed so early (the Monday after Thanksgiving), and the parade units line up on our street up through our block (which meant we had to do some serious circumnavigating to even get home that night), but we hustled up to Broad Street in time to catch the second half of the parade this year. The stand-out this year was definitely the synchronized lawn mower maneuvers.

(Direct link for the feed readers: Lawnmower Maneuvers)

Golf Cart Parade in Boston, GA

I wanted to try to make this one but it just didn’t happen. The same community that puts on Witch’s Night Out hosts a parade of decked out golf carts. Hopefully we can make it to this one next year!

Victorian Christmas


Scenes from Victorian Christmas 2015, Thomasville, GA

This and the Rose Festival in April make up the two big festivals Thomasville hosts each year. For two nights there’s a big block party downtown with a living nativity, a performance stage, and vendors of food or other goodies. This year featured the World’s Largest Rocking Horse as well as stilt walkers, Santa, and horse drawn carriage rides.

Flowers Foods Driver-Through Christmas Lights Display

You may be familiar with the Flowers Foods lines that started right here in Thomasville in the early 1900s and makes breads, pastries and other yummy goodies. Walk downtown on any given day and you can partake of the heavenly smell of bread dough rising or cinnamon rolls baking. It’s amazing. Anyway! This year on the radio we heard about their annual light display that runs through New Year’s Eve. We haven’t made it yet, but I’m hoping to make some hot chocolate for two and take in the sights this weekend.

Holly Springs Subdivision Luminary Light Display

This popped up in the weekly visitor’s center email and it looks like another fun drive-through light event. It’s one night only, December 20th at 6pm, so it’ll depend on if we get back from our monthly meet-up in Tallahassee in time or not, but I want to check it out. I love the idea of a neighborhood getting together for something like this (I just hope they’re not like the one in Christmas with the Kranks!).

Of course, we’re still only a short drive from Tallahassee, and they have their own share of holiday festivities that we’ve enjoyed in the past.

Winter Festival

Usually the first weekend of December, it starts with the official turning on of the lights down Park Ave and includes multiple stages set up downtown for all sorts of performances and then a parade. Santa’s there, of course, and they usually do a great job of decorating the queuing area for Santa. For several years Lofty Pursuits has been out there making and handing out candy canes.

Dorthy B Oven Park Lights

Oven park is beautiful any time of the year but at Christmas the whole place just sparkles with lighted displays you can walk through. They even designate one night during December as Elf Night with Santa, Mrs. Claus and the elves in attendance. It’s definitely one of the must-see displays in Tallahassee this time of year!

The 12 Days of Blogmas is a link-up hosted by The Coastie Couple and The Petite Mrs. Check out either of their blogs to see what everyone else has to say on today’s topic!

The 12 Days of Blogmas is a link-up hosted by The Coastie Couple and The Petite Mrs. Check out either of their blogs to see what everyone else has to say on today’s topic!

Down in the County

Just for Fun

In setting up the shopping cart for the Crafty Branch, I had the unenviable task of designating tax rates by county in the shopping cart (since Georgia requires sales tax reporting by county) and the only way to really do that was by zipcode. Now, let me just say that while some states assign zip codes in reasoned batches, it looks like someone threw all the available codes up in the air and where they landed on the map of Georgia is where they were assigned. And Georgia has 159 counties.

It was a bit of a slog to sort all the codes out and by the time I’d checked and double-checked everything, I might have been a bit punchy. I was also making up little punny phrases with the county names, and that’s where today’s post comes from. I decided (in that same punchy state) that it would be a fun, creative writing exercise to take this list of counties and use as many of them as possible in a story.

This sounded like a better idea when I was in that punchy state of manic productivity. But I’m both stubborn and enjoy a challenge, so here we go! (And if this isn’t your cup of tea, feel free to scroll down to the video at the end of this post.)

# # #

“Call Dekalb company so we can head downtown,” Grady Pulaski said to his cousin, Thomas Screven, as he came downstairs.

“Downtown,” the man replied, “I thought were heading to the Rockdale and roll show at the county line?”

“You’ll have to dance the Catoosa with Carroll Wilkes another night, I’m afraid. We’ve been called into a Chattahoochee at City Hall!”

Though Thomas questioned his cousin about the nature of the Early-evening meeting in their sleepy town of Habersham, Grady was not at Liberty to Cherloee any more information as he had none himself.

“Just what the Effingham is going on, here, Elbert?” asked Thomas when they arrived.

“It’s Fayette Irwin and Glynn Randolph, Tom,” the older man replied, “They were out Appling and Peach Pickens on the Banks of the Ben Hill and there were Twiggs all around.They looked Upson into the branches and some Hart-hearted Sumter-other had stripped the trees positive-Lee Berrien!”

“That’s a-Spalding,” Thomas said.

“Isn’t it just?”

“Who would do such a thing?”

“Don’t rightly, know, but they took the Barrow, too, so I doubt they’re from around here.”

“Well, if they’ve gone on a Wheeler, we should be able to catch their Butts before the Hancock crows! Let’s call up the boys!”

Grady called Gwinnett Talbot, Gwinnett called Bryan Rabun, and Bryan called the Clarke twins, Chatham and Dougherty (you always had to call both, because no one could Terrell them apart). Meanwhile, Thomas assembled flashlights, Coffee, and an ample supply of shotguns and shells.

The night air was Crisp and the Fulton moon provided some light between cloud banks as they headed towards the orchard. Under the leaves of the partially-denuded trees was a Warren of limbs and debris. Leaves that were turning from Greene to yellow and red littered the ground. Devastation reigned. The nine people had never seen such devastation in their sleepy little town.

“Don’t Murray, we’ll find ’em,” Grady said, patting Fayette’s shoulder. He Newton that she was worried about Harvest Home, the one time of year people went out of their Clay to head to Habersham instead of the larger cities closer to the Interstate. The fruit that grew in this particular orchard was always a centerpiece of the Harvest Home communal supper, plus raised funds for community improvements through the sale of jams, jellies, butters, and candies. No one owned the orchard, but the entire town took their turns looking out for and after it, in their own way.

“If the Meriwether holds we might still–” Fayette was interrupted by Elbert’s raised hand.

“I thought I Heard something. Everybody be quiet!” Elbert said, his voice a hoarse stage-whisper.

* * *

Across the Ben Hill, Brantley Lanier had a problem and her name was Bleckley Candler. Brantley and Bleckley had been sweethearts since grade school, so no one in Taliaferro was surprised when the couple announced their engagement this summer when Brantley returned from college to run the family farm and “settle down.” It was expected.

It didn’t take Long to plan the wedding, either, as Bleckley and her mama had been storing up goods and favors among their friends for years; the whole thing had come together in a matter of weeks and the wedding day was looming. One week, Brantley thought, just seven days and all this madness will be over.

It wasn’t that he didn’t love her, he’d always loved her, it was, well, it was hard to put into words. Bleckley was, as an only child of the small town’s bank owner is prone to be, a bit spoiled. Still, she had a sweet nature that made up for it, most of the time, but the wedding was bringing out more of the spoilt and less of the sweet. So close to the date, the burner was up on high and the pot had overflowed this evening.

Franklin, Brantley, I don’t give a Camden why it happened, I just want to know how you intend to make it right!” Bleckley, for her part, was entirely ex-Jasper-ated with her fiancee over this latest hitch in their plans. She smoothed her hands down the Bibb of her cupcake-emblazoned apron and and stood as tall as her mere 5 feet would allow her.

“This pains me Morgan you know,” she said, “but you must fix this tonight or don’t expect to come Crawford back to me!” And with that, she turned on her heel and left him stunned, staring after her.

Brantley had been in a hurry to make it to the Candler’s for lunch that day and had, in his haste, forgotten to check that all the outbuildings on the farm were shut up tight. Not only that, but a calf got away from the hands and, that’s how he found himself, now, in the wrong place, at the wrong time, doing the wrong thing for, he hoped, the right reasons. Never before in his life had he wanted so badly to just pack up and get out of Dodge.

* * *

Nothing but silence Echols in the woods as the search party stood stock still and listened for a long, tense moment. The distant cry of a Calhoun Pierce’d the quiet.

“Maybe we should split up,” Chatham (or was it Dougherty) suggested. “Town’s east and we know no one there did it, so if three of us each go north, west, and south we’ll cover more ground and find the Dooly that did this and get to go home.”

Everyone agreed this sounded like a sensible thing to do, and everyone also agreed that they’d prefer to be doing whatever they usually did on Saturday night instead of being out in the half-dark searching for a fruit thief. So Grady, Thomas, and Early headed north towards Chattooga, a town known for its Polk-a Troup, while the twins and Bryan headed south in the direction of Muscogee with it’s Seminole museum.

Fayette, Glynn, and Gwinnett took the Houston road towards Whitfield and several other towns beyond it, hoping the wouldn’t have to go farther than their own town before someone signaled the search was over. Glynn softly hummed a Treutlan melody–he just couldn’t stand the quiet.

Even though it was the dead of night by now, Fayette and company were not exactly surprised to see Gordon Lumpkin out in his front yard.

“Evenin’ Gordon,” Gwinnett said to his neighbor. “How’re the stars doing tonight?”

“Oh, you know, revolving in their heavens as per the usual.” The man said from behind his telescope lens, Gordon was what the town considered a bit eccentric, with his head in the clouds and stars more than on the ground. Popping up from behind the large piece of equipment, a puzzled look on his face, “Gwinnett? Is that you? What are you doing out so late?”

They explained their mission and asked if he’d seen anyone suspicious that day or evening come by.

“Oh, well, the telescope doesn’t Burke as well pointed at the road, you know. Schley, have you talked to Floyd Henry? He was awful Madison ran off with that Monroe girl from Mitchell, last Harvest Home, and vowed revenge. He’s the type to hold a grudge you know.”

They nodded, reminded of the scene at last year’s festival. Floyd’s son, Oglethorpe, Oggie for short, has made a fuss over his father pushing him to propose to Columbia Clayton, the girl he’d been sorta courtin’ over the last year. But Oggie was having none of it, claiming he and Laurens Monroe were headed off to Vegas that very night, and if he didn’t see another apple pie or peach cobbler in his life it would be too soon! Can you imagine? No one ever thought Columbia was the Marion kind.

Bryan and the twins had, predictably, run into no one on their road, and saw no signs that anyone had been this way in quite a while. They were debating turning around and heading home when a voice boomed out of the darkness.

“Just Ware do you think you’re goin’?”

Lamar Oconee, White moonlight bounced off his Baldwin pate, was leveling his own shotgun at the backs of the three. “Turner around slowly and let me see who dares disturb my peace and quiet!”

Knowning not to take any chances with trigger-happy Lamar, the boys slowly turned around and smiled sheepishly at the older man. They’d plum forgot that Oconee patrolled his boundaries in the middle of the night to discourage cow-tipping teens. Used to be he could trust Forsyth to sound the alarm, but he’d been watch-Douglas since the hound had passed last spring.

“Oh it’s just you. What in the Tattnall are you doing out here at this hour.” A disgusted “Harumph” had been Lamar’s only response after the twins told the story of the missing orchard bounty. The four stood around awkwardly, one shotgun still raised, before Lamar relented.

“No one’s been through here for a while, I’ve been watching. You go get back home, now.”

They didn’t argue.

That left Grady, Thomas, and Elbert. They were just coming upon the Union bridge which connected Taliaferro with Habersham.

It was an old joke to some and a sore spot to many, that bridge, but all agreed the irony in the name was not lost on them. The two Towns on either side of the river could never agree who really had rights to the fertile ground on its banks, resulting in a decades-old Tift between former friends and neighbors. The official records were a tangle of handwritten back-and-forths and oral agreements. It was like a game of telephone that had been going on for decades and the messages were, indeed, garbled.

Grady was the first one to spot it. A shiny red apple at the foot of the bridge.

They picked up their pace as they came the bridge and small a small trail of peaches and apples leading across to the other side in the Wayne-ing light of the moon. They hurried along,

“Stop!” Grady hollered as a man crossed the beam of a street lamp and froze in place. Brantley looked over his shoulder, saw the unfamiliar men (with guns!) charging after him and picked up his own pace! From a dead stop he sprinted towards the nearest home, jostling the wheelbarrow of fruit, his spoils thudding to the ground, and banged on the front door of the home.

“Help! Help! Call the Cobbs!” Brantley shouted.

“No need, gentlemen, I’m already here! Jefferson “Jeff” Davis, sheriff and would-be feudal lord of Taliaferro emerged from the shadows. A porch swing with a haze of tobacco smoke was now visible as it swung gently as the man rose. “What’s this, Habershams in my town, Haralson our good people?”

“That’s Bulloch, and you know it! If anyone, it’s us who’s Harrised” Elbert wheezed, bending over to rest his hands (and shotgun) on his knees. “That man’s a Brooks, took almost all the fruit from the orchard on the other side of the Ben Hill. Our side.”

“Your side, you say,” the sheriff said. “You know as well as anyone, Elbert Atkinson, that both sides of the Ben Hill belong to Taliaferro.”

A Gilmer of hope shone in the Colquitt‘s eyes.

“I know no such thing. The river devides our towns, we take care of that orchard, and you know we harvest it for our fall festival every year!”

“That you care for the land may be true, but you know good an well there’s no enforceable deed on it. But if you insist on thundering around our town armed and dangerous, you’ll find yourself before Judge Glascock on Monday morning.”

“The Jones you say,” Thomas thundered. “Lowndes sakes, man! We’re Putnam in the pokey! He’ll be in front of our Judge on Monday. Not the other way around. What do you have to say for yourself”

Brantley, who’d been watching the exchange like a tennis match, was once again the center of the attention. He should have run while the strangers and the sheriff were sparring.

His mother’s words rang in his head: what a Webster we weave, when first we practice to deceive. The man sighed and tried to explain, “See, my Coweta bunch of the Dade-gum McIntosh apples and Decatur-er said she needed all this fruit or there wouldn’t be a party Worth having! And if I don’t fix this, well, instead of a wedding they’ll be laying me in my Toombs!”

Elbert eyed the young man up and down. “Ain’t you ever heard of a grocery store?”

* * *

The smell of frying Bacon wafted in through the window from Emanuel‘s diner a block away, and the smell of yeasty bread came from the Bakery across the street. Once the rest of the search party had arrived in front of Davis’ home, with their own Deputy Stephens McDuffie in tow, the two officers had a terse conversation and agreed that, at the very least, Brantley was probably guilty of theft of the wheelbarrow, though the fruit was another matter.

So he sat, feeling like a Pike was running through his head from a restless night, on a slightly padded cot in the Habersham jail.

I don’t think I’m going to be able to Bartow my way out of this one, he thought.

Wilkinson Candler walked into the small sheriff’s station of Habersham and made a beeline for the single cell with Brantley in it, Bleckley close on his heels. “Well, son, what do you have to say for yourself?”

The bride-to-be pushed by her father to reach through the bars. “Thank ‘Evans you’re all right, honey! What ever possessed you to steel a wheelbarrow? What were you Lincoln?!” The switch from elation to berating gave the young man a case of mental whiplash.

The door opened again, this time it was Sheriff Charlton Montgomery along with Fayette, Glynn, Grady, Thomas, and Elbert.

“Gentlemen” Wilkinson voice ricocheted around the small room, “and ma’am” he nodded at Fayette, “this is all just a little misunderstanding. Don’t you think the poor boy’s been punished enough, spending the day and night in jail. Quaint though it may be.”

Early eyed him warily, “Nothing wrong with some time in the Clinch to Stewart over what he done.”

The sheriff held up a hand to each party, “Now, now, Wilcox out the truth of the situation just as soon as we get everyone’s statements taken.”

“What’s there to take statements on? The boy borrowed a wheelbarrow to transport so wild produce, the wheelbarrow has been returned, why can’t we simple Washington our hands of the whole silly thing?”

“Sheriff,” Bleckley spoke up, “Brantley was just trying to please me and I may have been a little insistent on the subject after that unfortunate incident with the barn door on Saturday was discovered. My Cook needs this week to prepare the pies and pastries for our wedding on Friday, and I need my groom for his final tuxedo fitting at noon at the Taylors. We’ve got people coming in from three cities for this wedding and I simply don’t know what I’ll do if word gets out Brantley spent the night in jail. Over fruit!” She started sniffing into a lace-edged handkerchief that appeared as if by magic.”

Everyone knew that, of the three cities the Taliaferro daughter referred to, none of the guests were from Habersham and felt less sympathy for the girl than she’d obviously hoped to engender.

Wilkinson rocked back on his heels a bit, hands in pockets, looking expectantly at the local lawman expecting to get his was as many a Richmond was used to doing.

Finally the sheriff spoke. “There’s still the matter of the apples and peaches to settle.”

“Really, you’ve got to stop Jenkins people around about that orchard. It belongs to no one so how can anyone steal from it?”

“But what about Harvest Home,” Fayette said, “What about our town? You can’t just Walker in here and pretend like that doesn’t mean anything.” Her face was red from frustration, and Glynn was Fannin her with a nearby flyer, trying to keep her from expiring then and there. “It’s just not Telfair!”

At least the banker had the decency to look a little chagrinned at her outburst.

The telephone on the Sheriff’s desk broke the tension in the room. After a brief, conversation, he hung up and addressed the room.

“Okay, folks, this is how it’s gonna all go down. Glynn, Jackson his way with the county records, including what Quitman claims we have regarding the land the orchard stands on. Now, we all know there’s a Miller paperwork Walton on the one key to figure it out. That might not happen today, so, Brantley, I’m going to let you out of here but you are not to leave town.”

“But our honeymoon!” Bleckley said, “We’re leaving for two week’s at Johnson falls on Sunday.”

“Wilkinson, unless you want an outlaw for a Dawson-in-law, I suggest you make other arrangements for her.”

# # #

Okay then! That was… a bit tougher than I expected (it was those last 25 counties, man, they were brutal to shoehorn in!) and, yes, it’s a bit nebulous there at the ending. Who knows, maybe I’ll write a version without the county names littered throughout and actually figure out where it goes from there. But not today.

I hope if you actually read this far that you enjoyed the silliness of it all. I also hope you’ll consider taking up this challenge yourself!

Do you know how many counties (parishes for our Louisiana friends) are in your state? Could you use all of them in a story? If you do, please, please, please let me know that you did and if you have it posted anywhere send me a link. Madness, like misery, loves company.

And speaking of county fun, last week we headed to a neighboring town in our own county to check out the 3rd Annual Witches Night Out in Boston, Georgia. Here, have a vlog about it:

(Direct link for the feed readers: Witches Night Out in Boston, GA)

50 Shots of America–Georgia


Even though I live about a half-hour’s drive from the Florida-Georgia border and even worked in that state (however briefly), I had absolutely no idea that Georgia was one of the original 13 Colonies much less the 4th official state, having ratified the Constitution on January 2, 1788.

(Seriously, we’re getting close to concurrent dates, here–will it happen? I suppose I could peek ahead and see but I like to be surprised. Actually, I don’t, but I’ll make an exception in this instance!)

You know, I bet the Union must have taken it very hard when Georgia seceded is 1861; one of their own betraying them and all. But the Union got their revenge: many battles fought on Georgia clay, General Sherman setting fire to a good portion of the state during his March to the Sea and then it spent the longest time of any of the other Confederate states in Reconstruction. They were the last of the CSA to be readmitted into the Union in 1870. Gee, hold a grudge much?

At any rate, I did know that Georgia was the Peach State and that it also grows a lot of cotton (I’ve passed the fields on my way through that state more times than I can count) and is known for peanut production as well (it’s the state crop). What I didn’t know is that they are #1 in the world for pecan production (though I suppose that shouldn’t surprise me) and are home to the Granite (Ellerton), Poultry (Gainesville) and Carpet (Dalton) Capitals of the World. Pretty impressive stuff.

While many know that Girl Scouts began in Savanah in 1912 and the unfortunate fact that high muckety-mucks in Georgia were responsible for the Trail of Tears in 1838, another thing started in Georgia that might just surprise you: the US Gold Rush! It was not out in California that the first gold was found, but in Dahlonega, Georgia in 1829. You can tour one of those early mines and even pan for gold and gemstones while you’re there!

Golden Peach

1 oz Peach nectar
2 tsp Goldschlager cinnamon liqueur

Combine the nectar and liqueur over ice in a small cocktail shaker and shake it like a miner down to his last pan. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Peach was the obvious choice for a Georgia drink and even though the Goldschlager was, at first, a novely decision based on the bits of gold floating around the bottom of the bottle it made sense the more I thought about it. Peach pie seasoned with cinnamon, anyone? Exactly!

This drink is also deceptively simple. It actually took 3 tries before we found the right balance between cinnamon and peach. I think this would scale up very easily with the addition of vanilla vodka and a brown sugar-graham cracker rim to make a very nice dessert martini.

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