Friday, March 20, 2015

Goodbye, Winter

winter sky, oak tree

On this first day of spring, I thought I would bid winter farewell with a photo review.

It's been a cold and wet winter with more than average snow, which in North Georgia means we actually had snow. Several times, in fact, with it actually sticking where I live a couple of times. The dustings weren't all they were predicted to be, and they certainly weren't the snow events we had in 2014, but they still provided a little novelty and a few photos.

snow, Old Roads Once Traveled, The Guiness Blog
snow, Old Roads Once Traveled, The Guiness Blog

snow, Old Roads Once Traveled, The Guiness Blog

blooms in snow, Old Roads Once Traveled
My neighbor's bush was blooming during this February snow.
snow on pine tree

crocus in snow and ice

My poor crocuses froze during the sleet and freezing rain, thawed, then froze again. I thought for sure they were killed, but I hadn't counted on how hardy the tiny little flowers are. Check out their amazing recovery in You Can't Keep a Good Crocus Down.

crocus in snow

crocus in snow

The last snow storm went from boom to bust in an afternoon. But before it turned into freezing rain, it was a glorious site to watch. The part about big flakes was about all the forecasters managed to get right about this storm.

Goodbye, winter. You weren't everything I had hoped for, but you did offer a Southern girl a little excitement.

Guiness the Cat snowed on

Friday, January 30, 2015

Old Roads Once Traveled is Now on YouTube

Canon EOS Rebel T5

I now have two YouTube channels that I am in the process of adding content to.

One, under the name Debbi Craton, will probably mostly be music videos now that I have a camera capable of recording concert-quality video.

Here's an introduction to one of the videos I shot last month on my Canon EOS Rebel T5 -- the Booth Brothers singing "At the Right Time".

The Old Roads Once Traveled channel will mostly host Guiness the Cat's videos, videos I'm writing about, and pretty much everything else. Turkeys are frequently visitors to my house, and they are sometimes fun to video. Here's one turkey that was much more fun to watch the video afterwards than it was while I he was holding me hostage in the car in the middle of my driveway!

By the way, Bubblews is not doing well at the moment. After a number of serious issues, I have removed most of my content there. Much of it will be placed somewhere suitable, including on Persona Paper, The Guiness Blog, and on this blog. In the meantime, since I doubt I'll see any more money from Bubblews, I am only occasionally posting things there as a way to promote my other sites, in particular my YouTube Channels.


Photos and content (c) 2015 by Debbi Craton. May not be used without permission. All rights reserved.

Monday, October 20, 2014



I officially launched my major project of reorganizing my house a week ago, and one of the first things I ran across in my push to declutter was a little notebook someone had given me as a gift.

It was probably from a student, since it's the typical kind of thing students give teachers, especially ones who like to write. But fancy, expensive little notebooks really aren't for me. While I adore pretty stationary and notebooks, I can't help but feel they're too special to waste on everyday writing, and I'm always saving them for something "special". Instead I find other supplies on the infrequent occasions I do much pencil and paper writing. Grocery lists go on skinny strips of paper where I've cut apart coupons I printed. To-do lists go on the back of junk mail and church bulletins.

In my head, I'm a hopeless romantic. In real life, I'm a total cheapskate.


This particular notebook had some very good timely advice. "Simply Your Life" it proclaimed. "Pare things down. Clean out the junk."

I'm really not sure what the notebook expected me to write in it. Lists of things to sell? Things to throw away? Areas of the house to tackle? What to store where? No, all those kinds of things are what I saved all those stacks and stacks and stacks of scrap paper for.

But it was very good advice. Very profound. Very needed.

So I heeded it, and sold the notebook at my yard sale. It was, in fact, my very first sale.

And my life is a dollar simpler for it.

Yes, very good advice, indeed.


Photos and content (c) 2014 by Debbi Craton. May not be used without permission. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Christmas Trees Gone Wild

My daddy loved playing with his tractor and growing things. For a short time after my parents married, Daddy tried to be a farmer and quickly found that he couldn't make a living raising sweet potatoes, and that flying and building airplanes were much more stable careers.

From the time he retired from the Air Force, he always had a garden. For several years, he even grew enough corn and field peas to sell. When he still worked at Lockheed, I'd go out in the field with him sometimes to hold a flashlight for him so that he could pull corn in the dark to sell to coworkers the next day.

When I was still pretty young, Daddy decided to raise Christmas trees. I think part of the plan must have been to save money for my college expenses because much of the proceeds ended up in my savings account.

The original cedar orchard.
I remember helping plant some of these trees. Daddy grew corn and peas in the field.

So he ordered a large order of cedar seedlings. I don't remember exactly how many, but I think it was around a thousand. Across the driveway from the house we lived in when I was small was a large field. About half of it was designated as the Christmas tree orchard, and he set out all those trees in a grid with Mama and I helping. If I recall correctly, I think we planted in January or February. The next year, we put in a new shipment of trees. Several years later, he started planting Virginia pines in the upper half of the field between the old house and the house we moved into when I was ten.

Daddy built the house not visible on the other side of the trees on the right when I was 1, and the house at the end of the driveway when I was 10. The trees along the driveway were planted at the same time as the orchard as a border between that yard and what was then my uncle's dirt driveway. The pine orchard is on the right, behind the 3 acres that were sold with the old house.

They were all nice and cute, this neat little orchard of young cedars and pines. But for all his agricultural experience and knowledge, I don't think Daddy ever planned on what would happen to the unsold trees when they weren't little and cute anymore.

There are a lot of dead pines in the Virginia pine orchard. The thicket is nearly impenetrable for anything larger than a wild turkey. The yard to the old house is visible through the trees on the right.

For most of the year, Christmas trees were a low maintenance crop. Daddy would bush hog between the rows maybe two or three times during the year. Before the trees reached seven or eight feet, it was fairly easy to go around shaping them up. Sometimes he would put in a small order of replacements in vacant spots.

After a few years, the cedars reached five or six feet, and Daddy's tree farm opened for business. From Thanksgiving until Christmas, people would come and wander around the field to pick out a tree. On weekends, there would be quite a number of people constantly showing up. It was supposed to be a cut-your-own farm, but Daddy usually ended up doing the cutting. Daddy sold most of the trees for $10.

Some of the large downed trees at the edge of the pine orchard. I'm not happy at being able to see houses in the new subdivision on the other side of the little creek in the strip of woods. That used to be a pasture that Daddy sold in the 1950s.

The five to eight foot trees sold well for a number of years. As the trees grew to ten and twelve and fourteen feet, there were still occasionally people with tall ceilings or two-story foyers who wanted them. Daddy always donated big ones to any church or community group who wanted one.

Daddy always kept one or two cedars in the front yard to decorate. When they reached the right height, he would either sell them or cut them for us and start over.

Virginia pine orchard

After a number of years, Daddy stopped planting new seedlings. We ran out of the cute little trees, then the pretty well-shaped six and eight-footers, then the tens and twelves. Soon we ran out of the nice-looking big ones, then the ones suitable for cutting the top out of. Finally, all that were left were these ungainly giants, and the nice neat open well-kept rows had turned into impenetrable thickets.

The deer like them. So do the turkeys and the rabbits. Me, not so much. They're good for privacy, but privacy could be a lot prettier. Many have died or fallen in storms. I can't even give the dead pines away for firewood.

Cedar orchard

I'm assuming the snakes like the trees, too. But I don't make a practice of hacking my way through the thickets in the summer canvasing the residents and asking their opinions.

I don't want to cut all the trees down because with all the development in the area, the animals are running out of habitat, but I would like them thinned out some day. In the meantime, the party continues among Christmas trees gone wild.

Cedar orchard


Adapted from a series originally published on Bubblews.

Photos and text (c) 2013, 2014 Debbi Craton. May not be used without permission. All rights reserved.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Yahoo Contributor Network and Squidoo Close Down

Yahoo announced in July that it would be closing the Yahoo Contributor Network and shutting down it's Yahoo Voices website. Squidoo announced August 15 that it has been acquired by HubPages and will soon shut down it's site as well.

The Yahoo Contributor Network was my first paid online writing experience, followed quickly by Squidoo. I was with each site right at a year.

In all, I published eight articles on Yahoo Voices and seven lenses on Squidoo. None of them earned me much money, but they were valuable learning experiences.

One invaluable lesson that they taught me is that I am a blogger, not a journalist or a marketer. My focus now is my blogs, Old Roads Once Traveled and My Road to Earning Online, serving as chief photographer and executive assistant to Guiness the Cat at The Guiness Blog, and social blogging on Bubblews and Persona Papers.

Despite what Guiness says, I am not the one who "broke" Squidoo or Yahoo Voices.
The Guiness Blog: Was it Something Debbi Did?

Friday, August 1, 2014

Almost Like Christmas

Here are more photos from the unjammed side of Snow Jam 2014 this past January. These were originally published on Bubblews before a website redesign stripped them from their post.

Three inches of snow combined with all the cedar and pine trees around made it look like Christmas came back and brought the North Pole with it. It made everything look peaceful and surreal.

I couldn't resist the opportunity to take pictures of my neighbors' birdhouses covered with snow. Beyond the pine trees, my house is on the right and the rental house next door that formerly belonged to my uncle is on the left.

Only in the South: a snow-covered magnolia tree.

The Storm Rages On

3:30 p.m. Tuesday
Undisturbed, the way any good snow-covered driveway should be.
Not shoveling it.
Here are more of my winter storm pictures that were made homeless by a recent website redesign on Bubblews. Please follow the links to the original posts for the narrative.

Okay, maybe it didn't exactly rage. Fell lightly to the ground. Peacefully accumulated. Calmly collected. Read more ….

The orchard, which takes longer than the yard to stick, is covered.
5:00 p.m. Tuesday
The storm is drawing to a close.
Still not shoveling it.
Unlike all the commuters stranded in their cars for 12, 18, or 24 hours, since I work at home, I had nowhere to go but the mailbox, and I was loving it. Read more ….
5:00 p.m. Tuesday.
The only tracks on the driveway are footprints belonging to me and the deer.
I stayed off the driveway as much as possible since I couldn't
tell if there was ice under the snow.
Not shoveling it.

My road at 5:00, looking nothing like the interstates.