Sunday in Savannah

Today’s guest post comes from Clyde.

Every New Years Day, which it is when I am writing this, I remember our first trip to Savannah.

A school district southwest of Savannah hired me to come do a workshop from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. with the faculty of an elementary school on the Friday after News Years Day. Now think about that. A Friday morning after New Year’s Day. I was suspicious, but the principal, a charming woman with one of those endearing Georgia accents told me it would be fine. (Does any state have a wider range of accents than Georgia?)
If I flew to Atlanta and came back on Monday, it was cheaper for two tickets than one alone coming back Saturday. The district agreed to pay the two tickets and two nights stay.

Savannah Home

My wife and I flew down on New Year’s Day, which wasn’t as hectic as I expected. It was a pleasant drive down from Atlanta. The next morning, I went looking for the school. It was difficult to find in those pre-Google days, when GPS was in its undependable infancy. I always allowed myself ample driving time on mornings like these, fortunately. I drove west on a state highway through Fort Stewart, which I had not noticed on the map. When I got to where, by the map, I planned to turn south, I was not allowed to do so because it would take me through military gates. It took awhile to find how to get around the fort proper. Then I asked for directions; no one could help me because no one who worked in gas stations or who came in as customers had lived there very long.

Now I was really suspicious. Why was a faculty coming in on this odd Friday where so many people lived temporarily? By stories told to me by former students, I expected most of the faculty were Army wives, who had been home for the holidays and now had to come back for this Friday instead of coming back on Sunday. I stumbled upon the school.

Downtown Savannah

The principal told me, yes, most of her faculty were Army wives. She also told me that the school board had been angry with the faculty when they wrote the calendar the previous spring, which is how this day came to be. All three elementary school faculties would be in the group. The secondary teachers had their own workshop. Wow! Was I going to have a fun morning or what! If I were in the faculty, I would be angry and not a willing participant.

The workshop was very participant-active; about 65% of the time they would work on tasks instead of listening to me, which would make the day terrible if they did not comply. I began with some fun loosing-up activities, to which they fortunately responded. At coffee break they told me their grievances, but that they had decided not to hold it against me.

Tybee Island

The five hours flew by. They laughed, did the work, posted their work on the walls, and gave me high reviews for the day, among the highest I ever received. Afterward the principal and teacher leaders took me out to lunch. The principal, with a bit less of that charming accent, told me she had lied on the phone, that she expected open rebellion. As one of the teacher leaders said ā€œI guess we just turned the other cheek.ā€

That afternoon and for two days, my wife and I discovered Savannah. We walked the squares, rode the buses, toured old homes, strolled Tybee Island beaches, ate wonderful meals. We were blessed with two other trips to Savannah when the Savannah Schools hired me after hearing about that first day.
Ah, Savannah!

When have you seen someone turn the other cheek gracefully?

71 thoughts on “Sunday in Savannah”

  1. Good morning to all. That’s an interesting story Clyde. I think my Aunt Rita’s behavior when I helped her with her affairs at the end of life is something like the behavior of the teacher’s in Savannah who behaved well when they could have been very cranky. I had to close up my Aunt’s apartment and get rid of all of her stuff after it was clear she would be living in a nursing home for the rest of her life. She said just get rid of the stuff wharever way I could and made no fuss about it.

    She also accepted her new life in the nursing home very well. My Aunt could be very dificult because she had suffered from mental illness at times during her life. The nurses at the home were very good. They told me that there were some days she wanted to be left alone and they did leave her alone. She was always very nice to me when I visited her.

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  2. Rise and Shine Baboons!

    Thanks for a lovely post Clyde.

    I am at a loss to answer the “who turned a cheek question” this morning. I’ll have to think about it. But I DO want to talk about Savannah! What a wonderful place. Last night while I was booking my third trip there for Lou and I as a late winter break, I did not know this post was on its way. It is like a time wrinkle or an island–a place in between the world’s daily pressures, complete with lovely architecture and lots of art (including an art college). While there, I feel as if I am in Europe. Savannah has powerful cultural influrences that affect all the senses–a distinct accent to hear, traditional foods, a set of fabulous movies shot there, aromas, unique history, and eccentric humans. I recommend it highly.

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  3. nice bog clyde. i will think about people turning the other cheek but nothing comes to mind. georgia accents are so soothing it doesnt occur that they are leading you down the garden path. it doesnt surprise me that you pulled off the upset and saved the day. we need more like you involved in the schools and our childrens futures today. thanks for the time you put in.

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  4. Clyde, your story reminds me of an experience I had a sub teacher. You can almost always expect students to have trouble behaving, especially in middle school, when they have substitute, but on rare ocaisions they can somehow decide to be on their best behavior. In one middle school class the students behaved very well and I didn’t even have to do any teaching. At the start of class several of the kids suggested I let one of their class mates teach the class. I said okay, sat back and the student came forward and taught the the lesson for day very well with very good cooperation from the class. I couldn’t have taught the lesson that well myself.

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    1. That’s a great story (as is Clyde’s). I wonder if that student ended up as a teacher or professor? One certainly hopes so, considering his/her enthusiasm in middle school.

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      1. I don’t know what she is doing. They have an award at the high school that they give to the senior who is considered to have set the best example for their class mates. She won that award. I told one of her teachers, who I hought was one of the best teachers, about how she took over teaching my class. He said he thought she would be able take over his class and teach it better than he could do it.

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  5. I’ll try to get back to this blog later today when I have time to respond appropriately. Right now I have a wolverine chewing my ankle, and that always makes it hard to concentrate. I wouldn’t say so out loud, but I think this might be a Republican wolverine, and the thing sure is nasty.

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  6. thanks, Clyde – what a wonderful memory that is. i am almost always treated better than i think i should be šŸ™‚
    Blackhoof folk are quite conservative, quite Republican or Independent (i was the designated democrat election judge last year) and quite abstemious in their language and lifestyle (not much swearing or drinking). we moved out here as “city people” and i know we were thought to be very different. but folks have welcomed us generously – the Baptist Church even brought us an apple pie! (of course, when we didn’t attend church, we never got another one šŸ™‚ my friend, Mike of the Large Hands loves our goats’ milk and Bob, the guy on the corner with all the junk in his yard lends me his tractor/mower to mow the pasture and he brought over three nice, big stumps for the spring kids to play on.
    the neighbors do think we are different but i have heard lots of them say, many times, “it takes all kinds.” and they have been very accepting of us. i guess that’s turning the other cheek, in a way…..
    lovely day up here – hope where you are also.

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  7. OT – but if you want lots of goat pics – go to Facebook and search for MeadowWild Farm Alpine Goats and “like” the page. i think (with my limited FB acumen) you’ll be able to access the all goat part of my FB acct. maybe.

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  8. That’s a good story, Clyde, and nicely described. I’ve tried hard but cannot dredge up any memory of someone “turning the other cheek.” That’s one of those things in the Bible that we all know about but people rarely do. Actually, there are several things promoted in the Bible that aren’t prominent in modern Christianity.

    This is so obvious I’m embarrassed to mention it, but there is a wonderful book about Savannah called Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. The author is John Berendt. I’ve rarely read a book that matched this one for describing a city charmingly. I think anyone who has been to Sanannah would love this book, and I can vouch for its appeal to folks who haven’t been there yet.

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    1. Savannah and a John Berendt novel were a clues in this afternoon’s Jeopardy game. The answer was “What’s the Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.” I wouldn’t have know the answer if not for Steve’s post. Thank you, Steve.

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  9. Great story, Clyde – thanks for telling it to us.

    I feel like I’ve turned the other check many, many times…perhaps to the point of enabling jerks to continue being jerks. There is a time to turn the other cheek and there is a time to say Stop, No More. I am trying to learn when and where I should do that.

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  10. Wow, Clyde, that really makes me want to go to Savannah… Also wouldn’t mind being a teacher in one of your seminars.

    Extended family has offered many opportunities for learning to turn the other cheek, which I believe is a nicer way of saying “oh, just suck it up and try again.” A counselor helped us figure out how to keep in contact with one relative when she had really gone off the deep end (and her son was living with us at the time). The advice was to keep telling her we loved her and would be there for her when she chose to return to “the fold.” It eventually worked, and although the relationship still has “hiccoughs”, at least there is a relationship.

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  11. I too am having trouble thinking of an example in which someone gracefully turned the other cheek. It’s sad to say, but it does seem to happen less often than one would imagine. When I think of instances in which someone had the opportunity to turn the other cheek, it seems to me that I remember passive-aggressive or even vengeful responses.

    Like Edith, I think I’ve let people get away with being a jerk far too often. Learning to show respect for others while maintaining your boundaries is a skill you can only learn through time and experience. You can say, “Stop. No more,” without retaliating. By doing so, you are defining your own boundaries while doing no harm yourself.

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    1. Very good, Krista. I like those last two sentences.

      Now if I can manage to do that – it’s especially hard to do so with a “long-term jerk” who thinks that since he doesn’t have conscious intentions to hurt others (including me), that anyone who is hurt by his behavior or words should just suck it up and give him a free pass. It’s tempting to give him a good hard smack on the side of the head, but probably better in the long term to “define my own boundaries while doing no harm myself.”

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    2. I agree, Krista… Defining boundaries is so important.
      I always remember this… “You teach people how to treat you”.
      If someone’s treating you badly, you can try to teach them another way to be around you. Some folks won’t respect the boundary lines you draw. I’ve learned, only recently, that sometimes the only solution is to distance yourself & not engage with those folks. Edith, if your L-TJ were to have his free pass revoked, he might have to come up with some new behaviors or be left to himself. Wouldn’t it feel great to free yourself of his bad energy?

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    3. As I reflect on this subject, it seems that my whole history has been replete with turning the “other cheek”; worse that this response hasn’t been returned very often (if ever). In my life, I’ve found it damn near impossible to hold onto grudges or anger for any length of time and, even when the “other” has no need or interest in reconciling, I still do the repair work necessary to move on (or back in). The one notable exception to this consistent pattern is my ex-husband who, as fate would have it, continues to show up in my life several times a year because my kids (his step kids) include him in family gatherings out of guilt and some gratitude for his contributions when they were still growing up. I keep asking myself, “Just what lesson is the Universe trying to teach me here???”, but I haven’t resolved it yet (8 years later & counting!). About one year ago, my ex nearly died from a torn aorta, then two heart stoppages. Oddly, about a week prior to these events, I’d crafted a heartfelt letter of gratitude for all he’d done over our 29 years as a family and even apologized for the pain I caused by divorcing him. I detailed absolutely every positive thing I could recall. I’d hoped this action would release me from the grip of pure aversion at his mere presence, but, sadly it did not. This made him happy, though.

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      1. Exactly the lesson I had to bumble my way through, Crystalbay! Much like you, I always feel the need to be the bigger person… the peacemaker. You would not believe how many times the universe had to clobber me over the head till I got it figured out. Each time I would try to make it work with a person & thought I had figured out the lesson in it all, the same issue would arise (bigger & messier than the previous time). The lesson that seems to keep coming up and that I finally feel at peace with is that it’s okay to remove some people from my inner circle. That doesn’t mean that they’re bad people, or that I’m taking the easy way out, or even that I don’t love them… we just don’t “work” together. And it’s okay šŸ™‚ Can’t believe it took 56 years for me to learn that one!

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  12. There’s a story in the news right now about a young man, 16 year old Jack Jablonski, who was severely injured last week while playing hockey. He was checked from behind by two players from the opposing team. The prognosis is that Jack will never walk again, yet this young man is concerned about the two players that injured him; worried about how they and their families are faring while he is getting so much support from the community. If that isn’t turning the other cheek, I don’t know what is.

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    1. I heard this morning on the news that there was a young woman who was similarly checked in a game over the weekend and also injured. The irony is that she had dedicated her game play that day to young Mr. Jablonski.

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      1. Yes, and right in our back yard. Hopefully her injury isn’t as severe. The difference between these two incidents is that checking isn’t allowed in the girls’ game, but it is in the boys.

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      2. These are sad stories. My daughter knows Jack (not a close friend – they were in the same elementary school and middle school) and apparently the kids are all wearing white on Thursday to honor Jack.

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  13. I’ve found that in many cases it is not a good idea to try to have the last word. This can be kind of like turning the other cheek. You think that you haven’t been understood, but you know that if you try to make your point you will just get another reply that shows a lack of understanding or that is what you think. This can happen with the best of people. I wonder how many times others have turned the other cheek and not tried to get in the last word when I didn’t understand them?

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  14. I, too, have tried to turn the other cheek when the occasion warrants…
    Since many of us can recalling being the cheek turner but very few cheek turnees, is it possible that it’s an action that goes largely unnoticed? It’s usually done quietly and without fanfare. I’m headed out for a run on this delightfully mild day and will think on the cheek turners I’ve come across. I know they’re out there.

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  15. Morning all… er, afternoon!

    I also am having trouble find a good “turn the other cheek” story, but I did have an interesting experience on Saturday. My good friend paid for some of the remodeling materials at Home Depot as part of the teenager’s birthday present. The acoustic ceiling panels came in packages of 8, but are not marked well. The cashier pointed her little price gun three times (one for each package) but when we were talking out, my friend noticed that the machine had one rung up three individual panels, not three packages. The cashier was actually irritated when we took the receipt back and then sent us to somebody in customer service who also seemed irritated to have to do a return and then re-ring the items. We’re talking a difference of $90 or so — you’d think they would want that money. Bless my friend… I would have taken the initial receipt back when I realized they didn’t charge me enough, but I don’t know if I would have been as persistant as he was in making sure that Home Depot didn’t shortchange themselves!

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    1. That is very funny – and I also find it strange that they didn’t want that money. Maybe they didn’t like having their mistakes pointed out?

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  16. Not sure it is quite the same as “turning the other cheek” – but an incident that comes to mind, perhaps because of the BBC book choice of “To Kill a Mockingbird.” I had one aunt on my dad’s side of the family – a side of the family we weren’t as close to, in general, as my mom’s side of the family. Some of this I chalked up to the age difference between those cousins and my brother and I, some of it I had a sense went beyond that – but we would see them at Christmas and other times. it wasn’t unfriendly, just not as warm and close as my mom’s side of the family. As I got older, I began to suss out a little more of the “why”…and it really hit home after my dad’s brother died and my aunt moved full-time to a retirement community in Arizona. Some of her opinions and ideas became stronger and perhaps showed more than they had up until then. One afternoon she came to visit and we were regaled with more racial epithets than I had ever heard uttered, focused on her poor experience on the bus ride up (and how that had degenerated so of late b/c of the…well, I can’t use the word) as well as several other injustices visited upon her by those not like her (many of these words I had only come across in books when used for literary effect). Although I desperately wanted to say something about how horrid her views were, I couldn’t open my mouth. Wouldn’t open my mouth. I realized all I would do would create a scene and I would not change her views a whit with anything I could say. So I sat and sipped my coffee and stayed mum. It was one of the most difficult afternoons of my life. After she left, my mom told me that she could tell I really wanted to say something, and was proud of me for biting my tongue. She knew exactly what I had wanted to say, and would have liked to say something herself if the situation were somehow different. But she was an old woman, and one of my dad’s only connections to his older brother. “Turn the other cheek?” Maybe not exactly – but certainly forgiveness of a sort, none-the-less.

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    1. It can be torturous to be trapped in a situation like the one you describe for sure. We’ve all been there, I imagine. When caught like this, it sets up an internal struggle of epic proportions, one in which I’m arguing with myself as to which action to take – including no action. My tendency has been to speak out, using the reasoning that I’m likely “speaking
      for others” while simultaneously shaming the behavior of the person spouting off. Then again, Gandhi or Tolle would have us employ “non-resistance”.

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    2. Anna, I had a similar situation a few years ago with a college professor for whom I worked while an undergraduate. I used to babysit his kids when he and his wife would go away for short periods as well, so I knew the whole family well. We have remained in contact all these years through phone calls and Christmas letters. He was always kind, generous and supportive although it was very clear from the get-go that we were at opposite ends of the political spectrum. We just agreed to disagree knowing full well neither could change the other.

      His wife died some thirty years ago, and he remarried a woman I have never met. Then suddenly about ten years ago he started sending me very offensive emails; racist, sexist, and/or ethnic jokes; political tirades and propaganda, stuff he knew full well would offend me deeply.

      At first I ignored it; simply deleted them and didn’t respond. But they kept coming. After a number of these emails, I finally was angry enough that I decided to respond. I wrote him a long letter asking him to please stop sending me these emails if he wanted to remain in contact with me. I told him I viewed him sending me this stuff as a lack of respect for me and my views, and that I would no longer tolerate it.

      After that, we continued sending each other Christmas cards, but I stopped calling him once a year to chat. This year I have not received a Christmas card from him, and he hasn’t received one from me (I simply didn’t get my Christmas letter written). Perhaps it’s tie for me to make that phone call to find out if he’s alright (he’s in his mid eighties).

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      1. Could his age be the reason for the change in his behavior, P.J.? Sometimes the mental barriers we use to stop us from saying inappropriate things deteriorate as we get older. My grandmother was always extremely proper and never said anything inappropriate, but when she got into her late 80s, she began to say some really inappropriate and embarrassing things – not just to me but to everybody. She would talk about nursing home employees and make comments about their weight, etc. She also began to use certain words that she had never used before – I was amazed that she even knew them!

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      2. I’ve wondered about that, but he has always been racist and sexist; he just knew better than to show it when I was present. It’s a little awkward because I know he isn’t singling me out, he was simply sending me the same offensive stuff he was sending to all his conservative friends who apparently share his views and find this sort of thing funny.

        I’ve just sent him an email; we shall see if I get a response. I know he had some health issues in 2010, so who knows what’s up.

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      3. This was one of the last times I saw my aunt before she quit making trips back to Minnesota. I was glad that I had kept my peace for the sake of the family, but also decided the best way to counter balance it was to do everything else in my power to get more of those around me to be able to see people as just people, regardless of the color of their skin, who they loved, their religious beliefs, or anything else. Although I am not a religious person myself, if you believe that we are all created in God’s image, that means all of us; he/she is all ethnicities, creeds, genders and sexual orientations at once. No exceptions. (Even for the crazy people I don’t agree with politically.)

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      4. My sister and I turned our cheeks to our brother every time for 50 years. Neither of us ever said anything back, nodded our head at the stupidity and falsehoods, apologized when accused. Every time. He still walked out on us at our mother’s funeral. As I keep telling my sister, who really hurts over it, that we have the peace of mind of knowing we did everything to avoid that. She knows that; just wants her brother back. Well, and hurts for the things of which he falsely accused her.

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  17. I think baboons experienced a wonderful example of cheek turning when Dale refused to say nasty things about mpr and also made us stop. That grace went a long way to establishing the character of the Trail.

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  18. I am a simply terrible model of turning the other cheek, Used to hate giving sermons when that text came up. Hated the hypocrisy of it and always admitted it.
    After an offense or injury, I think REVENGE. My wife has never had that thought. My wife walks through life with the other cheek turned. All the nasty things her lying cheating sister has done to her–all forgotten. Sister still does them. All forgotten.
    I am very impatient and I think patience is often a form of turning the cheek.
    Eric Hoffer says the teachings of Jesus are the path to peace of mind and the related bodily health, whether you accept his divinity or not. I think that is true. Would that I could follow them. Hoffer’s point is two-fold, it is good for us and good for the community. So much of the current impoliteness is just not letting things slip by, such as road rage. I guess that has the growing rudeness has grown.
    Actually, now, you Babooners are throwing me for a loop. I told Dale you were all going to talk about Savannah and ignore the question. What the hell are you people doing on topic today? Huh? Geeesh. I am PO-ed at you all.
    And no one has commented on that amazing petty behavior of the school board.

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    1. Funny, Clyde! When I first read the blog earlier this morning my first thought was “Gosh, if we talk about Savannah instead of the other cheek, I have to excuse myself” since I’ve never been to the fair city!

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    2. I’ve never been to Savannah, and am much too lazy to look up anything about it and am not feeling imaginative enough to make up an experience I had there, so I answered the question.

      I guess you learned that trying to predict or control the conversation of baboons is impossible, eh? When Dale used one of my guest blog posts, he asked if he could edit the question I had written. I said “sure, because really they (we) just talk about whatever thoughts the post triggers – regardless of what question we ask.”

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  19. I’m ashamed of myself. When I think hard, I remember all kinds of times when people I was having conflict with have “turned the other cheek.” And then they drop trou and give me the full moon šŸ™‚

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  20. The topic of Savannah has come up on here in one way or another and folks have commented about being there.

    So, for those of you who haven’t been there, let me tell you that no other city in America is like Savannah. It was the first planned city, hundreds of years ago. So just south of the downtown area are I think 28 squares with houses or churches or a few businesses around the edges, mostly old houses, many of which you can tour, fountains or statues in the middle. The street on each square is a square around the middle park area with the buildings to the outside. You can ride tour buses or just walk them. You can get off the buses at any point and get back on it as you wish. They come by often.

    That is only a small part of it, but it is the core experience of Savannah, plus the ocean and waterfront, all the history such as two old forts, eat, ah, eating in Savannah. What do you want? Our favorites were the English Pub, the seafood on the waterfront, a canal really in which ocean container cargo ships go by, and then a restaurant way on the southwest corner called the Shellfish, where you peel and eat and throw the trash in a hole in the middle of the table. A local told us to not eat there because they will not fry anything.

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  21. I love the whole state of Georgia, except for the undercurrent of racial issues and the Atlanta Airport. The drive from Atlanta to Chattanooga, not a long drive really, is spectacular. I was blessed with working in various parts of Georgia. People talk about Minnesota nice, Georgia may be nicer.

    Georgia and accents: some native Georgians sound like they are from Ohio and some like they are from Alabama. I worked 80-90 miles west of Savannah once. Flew into Jacksonville and had to flirt with the edges of the Okefenokee Swamp. Wonderful little town, very cooperative faculty, friendly and willing, and quite frankly, not the brightest group. But, oh, so willing. Two guys took me out to lunch. One had a pretty thick drawl, more than most in the workshop. One had little accent. I asked them where they were from. Both were from that town.

    If you are away from Georgia, Macon, Savannah, or Augusta, they do not know what iced tea is. It’s sweet tea. You can even get your sweet tea unsweetened, but not always. And all public school workshops in those places start with prayer. I once told a Lutheran joke in rural Georgia to no laugh. Later one asked me what a Lutheran was.

    I did a three day workshop in Augusta when my right eye had vision of 40/20 and my left eye had vision of 2100/20. Augusta to me literally was a blur.

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    1. I’ve been to Atlanta but never to Savannah. Now I have to go. I loved Atlanta! Found it to be a much more integrated city than Mpls/St. Paul, and of course, it didn’t hurt that I was staying at the same hotel as the band “Alabama,” who gave me one of their road jackets as a gift after breakfast one morning. My nephew in Denmark still wears it with pride.

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  22. I have been reading The Lutheran Handbooks I and II lately. They are very informative and quite funny books that instruct one, for example, about the five grossest bible diseases, how to usher, how to tell the difference between a Lutheran Pietist and a Lutheran Confessionalist, and how to avoid being burned at the stake. In the section of forgiveness, the second Handbook mentions s Romans 12: 19-21 which suggest that doing good deeds for one’s enemy is tantamount to heaping burning coals on that person’s head, a sort of passive aggressive take on turning the other cheek, I guess.

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  23. Funny fun books.
    You do know you that Lutherans are going to be the first ones in heaven.

    Because God is going to raise the dead first. [Rim Shot]

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  24. Way, way off topic. Watched “The Big Waste” on the Food Channel last night. Four chefs cook a gourmet mail for 100 people completely on food that has been thrown out. I call it a TB Must-Watch.

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    1. joan and richard nixon have the same birthday who knew. according to my postal clerk the globe has news that will break in a couple day that nixon turned the other cheek too

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  25. I got a call from Sam’s Club telling me to bring back the Excedrin I bought there. I haven’t bought Excedrin at Sam’s Club in many many months. But gotta give ’em credit for getting on that fast. Of, clurse that means they know everything anyone ever bought there, and I suppose at WalMart.

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