Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Lumpkinites. Don't Complain. Solve a Problem.

Use Your Brain. Don't Complain.
People in Lumpkin County are quick to complain. “Taxes are too high.” “Taxes are too low.” “We need to recycle more.” “Why aren’t we bringing more industry to the area.” “Our commissioners just aren’t doing enough.” And the list of complaints goes on and on.

For the county’s critics, the time has come to be proactive, to actually help solve a problem. All they have to do is take part in the Problem Solving Competition sponsored by the Lumpkin Literacy and BBandT.

Participants will be divided into teams. Each team will then work on a major issue that Lumpkin faces and asked to come up with a solution. We won’t learn what the issue is until the start of the competition, but word is the problem is a tough one that people in Lumpkin have been trying to solve for decades.

John Gerheim, the event organizer, told me that so far he’s disappointed in the number of people who have signed up for the solving competition. Guess for too many people, it’s just easier to complain about a problem than to do something about it. 

It’s not too late to take the initiative. John is waiting by his phone –706-429-4132  for some problem solvers to contact him. The competition starts at 9:30 a.m., Saturday, May 11 at the Lumpkin Parks and Recreation Center in Dahlonega.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Let Them Eat Barbecue - Smokin' Gold's Barbecue

What do you serve special guests for dinner? That was my dilemma yesterday. After a quick look in my refrigerator and time spent surfing recipe books, I realized that an urgent trip to the grocery was required. So off I went to Dahlonega to the wonderful world of Walmart.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the store. I passed Smokin' Gold BBQ and whiffed that incredible smell of just off the grill barbecue. Suddenly, if by magic, I found myself in the Smokin' Gold parking lot.

As I entered the restaurant, I knew that serving barbecue was a risk with our guests because the husband is known in certain circles for his incredible Carolina pork barbecue. Yet, the staff at Smokin' Gold assured me that my guests would love Smokin' Gold BBQ. After all, the restaurant's barbecue master is an expert at Carolina barbecue and that he had the trophies to prove it!

Nervously at dinner, I waited for our guests to take that first bite of barbecue. No one said a word as we waited for the taste test. "Oh this is good" was the first comment. Then the praise flowed: "This is the best brisket I've ever eaten....even better than what I had in Texas." "What did they put in this sauce?" And this was my favorite statement all night: "I'm going back for seconds because who knows when I'm going to have barbecue this good again."

Thanks Smokin' Gold for making my dinner party such a success. From now on, when I wonder what to serve for out-of-town company, I'm thinking "Let them eat barbecue - Smoking Gold BBQ."

FYI - Smokin' Gold BBQ is just off the downtown square in Dahlonega at 59 E Main St.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Home Depot Heroes

The tornado literally came out of nowhere. The weather guru's didn't even see it. No warnings or sirens sounded before the EF-1 tornado hit Lumpkin earlier this month.
Storm damage photo from Gainesville Times.

Thankfully, no one was injured but two homes were completely destroyed and another 12 homes damaged as the tornado swept across four miles in the southern parts of our county.

Within minutes after the tornado hit, a band of Lumpkin heroes - rescue crews, firemen and sheriff's deputies - appeared on the scene helping cut down trees, move debris, and save precious belongings.

Now for the rest of the story. Among those helping the tornado victims were a band of Dahlonega's Home Depot volunteers. The HD team worked for hours at the home of 82-year-old Katie Medlin. Starting at 7 a.m.,  fourteen Dahlonega Home Depot'ers cut down trees, chopped up limbs, and cleaned up Ms. Medlin damaged yard. But men and women from Home Depot didn't stop there. They worked their magic in the yards of other tornado damaged homes.

When Dahlonega Home Depot manager Fred Brown heard about the storm damage, he personally toured the area and realized that the homeowners needed help. He enlisted volunteers from his own store and then reached out to the Cumming, Dawsonville and Gainesville Home Depots, too.

"'We believe in helping others, whether it's putting customers first in our store or when there's a need in the community,' Brown said'" in an interview with the Dahlonega Nugget.  

It's in extraordinary times - when a tornado strikes or a bomb blasts - that true heroes appear. Here in Lumpkin, some of our heroes wear orange aprons.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Dahlonega and Beyond Is Back!

Dahlonega and Beyond is back after a few weeks hiatus. Why, the blog vacation you ask? Was it, as one reader asked, because of the negative comments (and yes even the death threat) from the pro-pit bull people?

Have no fear. A couple of dog malcontents aren't going to deter this blogger.

Brothers (big and small) meet for the first time.
One major reason for the lack of Dahlonega and Beyond commentary was a 7 lb. brand new baby boy. As parents of the new-mom, D&B had the honor of taking care of new baby's 19 month old big brother and helping the new parents adjust to life with two little boys.

Who could think of blogging when you could read "Go Dog Go," build block towers and play chase around the living room?

Now it's back to the real world and reporting on life in Dahlonega and Beyond.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Out with the Old McDonald's. In with the New.

The old McDonald's, the ones with the bright red and yellow signs and vinyl upholstery, are being replaced with newer, totally redesigned restaurants, ones with classier, more Starbucks-like designs.

Thousands of McDonald's restaurants around the world are being remodeled and updated. Last year the Dawsonville, Ga., McDonald's got a complete makeover. Now it's time for the old, reliable McDonald's of Dahlonega, Ga. to undergo its much-needed facelift.

The Dahlonega store will close it doors at the end of March or first of April for the remodel, which is expected to take from 55 to 80 days. The present store may even be leveled (or at least completely gutted) to give rise to a sleek, modern version of America's favorite burger place.

What can Dahlonega fast-food lovers expect at the new McDonald's? The Big Mac and fries will still be on the menu, but the building will get a 21st century facelift.

According to USA Today,  if you "take away all the McDonald's signage — and the familiar front counter area — and customers who were to drive by or step inside wouldn't likely know they were face-to-face with a McDonald's....No more clown-red roofs. No more confusion about what door to use."

Dahlonega's new McDonald's should be ready to open in June. That's a long time to go without a McCafe and an Egg McMuffin, but we Lumpkinites will just have to wait.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

It's Kidney Cancer Month

March is Kidney Cancer Month. How odd it is that every major cancer seems to have its own month. But in this world of medical marketing and fundraising, a cancer month is somehow logical (or is that illogical, not sure which.)

Orange is the color for kidney cancer. But you won't find a lot of orange 'I survived kidney cancer' t-shirts, coffee mugs or head wraps in stores like you do pink cancer survivor attire. Kidney cancer marketing, fortunately, isn't that prevalent because the disease doesn't strike the huge numbers that breast cancer or other major cancers do.

Are you wearing your orange?
Yet, kidney cancer is on the top ten list of cancers, and this year, 65,150 people - 40,430 men and 24,720 - will be diagnosed with kidney cancer, and another 13,000+ will die from kidney cancer. (Statistics from the American Cancer Society)

I'm a kidney cancer survivor. It's been almost four years since my diagnosis and 18 months since my last surgery. Proudly, I am cancer free. Think I will celebrate my kidney cancer month but shopping at and buying a kidney cancer shirt or button. Those folks at Zazzle sure do know how to market. They have a shirt for every cause and every cancer.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Judge Upholds DeKalb Board Removal

Judge upholds order to remove DeKalb Board members
Today, U.S. District Judge Richard Story upheld Ga. Governor Deal's order to remove six members of the DeKalb County Board of Education. The board member ousting is Georgia's effort to help DeKalb school system maintain its acceditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

DeKalb has been on probation (and not the super secret kind) since December for "fiscal mismanagement and inappropriate conduct among board members."

DeKalb County was once known nationwide for its stellar schools and first-class public education. For years, it was with pride that I told people that I had taught in DeKalb. But that pride has been replaced by embarrassment as DeKalb school system scandals and bad-news stories make the headlines.

Perhaps a new board, with a renewed commitment to excellence, can help turn the school system around. Thanks Governor Deal for standing up for DeKalb schools and thanks Judge Story for a wise decision.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Great Girl Scout Cookie Controversy

Who knew that launching a new Girl Scout cookie this cookie season would be so controversial, especially when that cookie is supposed to be a healthy cookie?

New among the Scout cookie line for 2013 is the Mango Creme with Nutrifusion, a creamy fruit tasting cookie with Vitamins A, B1, B6, C, and D. ABC Bakers, the company that bakes the Girl Scout Cookies, touts the mango cookie as a cookie that can be eaten "with health in mind."

The Mango Creme is considered healthy because of a key ingredient, Nutrifusion TM, a powdery blend of apples, oranges, cranberries, pomegranate, limes, strawberries and, yes, even shiitake mushrooms.

Unfortunately, the new Girl Scout cookie many not be the healthy cookie that the Scouts and ABC Bakers want, especially when you talk calories.

Compare the Mango Creme with two long-time Girl Scout Cookie favorites - the Thin Mints and the Tagalong. Vitamin-wise, the mango cookie has 15% of a daily recommended dose of Vitamin B1 plus a lot of other alphabet vitamins. The Thin Mint and Tagalong are vitamin-free.

But when it comes to calories, the story is different. A serving of Mango Cremes (3 cookies) is 180 calories. Now compare that to four Thin Mints with a calorie count of 170 calories or to the peanut buttery chocolate Tagalong with 140 calories for two cookies.

In today's world of battling childhood and adult obesity, calorie counting may be more important than having a small percentage of vitamins in a cookie. Cookies should be enjoyed as a treat, not as vitamin sources. Besides, isn't that what the Flintstone Gummies vitamins are for?

You can read more about the great mango cookie controversy at these news sources.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Cavender Creek Grape Farm Wines

 Winery Owners Raymond & Donna Castleberry
On their way to visit some of North Georgia's more famous wineries, tourists have discovered Cavender Creek Vineyards, a little gem of a winery that's producing some of the area's better wines. Cavender Creek Vineyards, Dahlonega's newest winery, produces a line of white and red wines, including best sellers Donkey Hotie Red, Dulcinea White, One-Eyed Jack and Jack Ass Red wines.

While the wine names and the donkey-design bottle labels are whimsical, the wines are serious, delicious, and destined to join the long list of award-winning wines produced in the Dahlonega region. The winery's labels have become so popular that last year four of the ten labels sold out before the end of the season.

The Cavender Creek winery, about eight miles from downtown Dahlonega, is more of a grape farm than a vineyard, says the owners Donna and Raymond Castleberry. The couple, both retired Gwinnett County school teachers, hand-craft their wines, using an old fashioned approach. All the wine making, bottling and labeling take place in the wine cellar below the vineyards' rustic tasting room.

Built next to a centuries old log cabin, now guest house, the tasting room is at the end of a country road off Cavender Creek Rd. As visitors wind down the single-lane dirt road to the tasting room, they drive by acres of grape vines, including the hard to grow petit manseng grapes vines, and a equipment-littered, neighboring farm.

Once inside the Cavendar Creek winery, wine tasters can walk up to the oversize bar for a free wine tasting where knowledgeable wine servers pour tastings and provide detailed descriptions of the wines.

Off the tasting room is a large deck with a view of fields and woods. Here visitors can sip wine and look for the owner's pet donkey( the inspiration for the winery's unique label.) Also on patrol at the winery (and warmly welcoming guests) are the Castleberry's two beautiful white Great Pyrenees.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Lessons Learned from the Carnival Triumph

A Few Cruise Packing Must-Haves
From the non-stop television coverage of the recent nightmarish Carnival Triumph cruise, one quickly realized that the passengers on-board just weren't prepared. They obviously hadn't packed the right stuff.

To help those Triumph cruisers plan for that free cruise Carnival is giving them (and perhaps help prepare others for an "Anything Can Happen" cruise), we've put together a list of must-haves to pack.

The Prepared for Anything Cruise Packing List
  1. Lots of granola and/or diet bars and a couple of cans of SPAM. (The SPAM is really not for eating. It's for selling. Think of the big bucks you can make on Day 3 of eating nothing but cucumber sandwiches.)
  2. Clorox wipes...packages and packages of wipes. You'll need them to wipe down everything you touch, especially the sewage on the walls.
  3. Two or three super sized bottles of sanitizers.(No need to explain why you need these.)
  4. Rope, duck tape, and a bed sheet (preferably white.) You'll need these in case you have to build your own tent if sleeping on the deck.
  5. Extra cell phone batteries, or better yet, a Sat-phone. You'll want to contact the outside world or perhaps call CNN with news updates.
  6. Checkers, dominoes, a board game and a mammoth flashlight. This way you'll have your own G-rated in-the-dark entertainment.
  7. A pair of stylish rubber boots. If you have to walk thru poo, at least you'll look good doing it.
  8. A not-in-your-phone camera with lots of SD cards. You'll want to take picture after picture, and, of course, sell them to the media when you dock. Or you might want to use those photos for your "I Survived the Cruise from Hell" tell-all book.
  9. Colored markers. These will come in handy for that SOS sign to hang on the ship's side. (This is where you can use that extra sheet you packed.)
  10. And disposable masks and a couple dozen of your own red bio-hazard bags. (You just can't be too prepared on a stinky, plumbing-doesn't-work cruise.)
But most importantly, should you ever find yourself on a miserable, Triumph nightmare cruise, remember your sense of humor. After all, thousands of other people are literally in the same boat.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Rare White Wallabie in Georgia

Photo by Shoot It Photography

No need to travel to Tasmania to catch a glimpse of the rare baby white kangaroo. Just wait until March when the North Georgia Zoo opens and you can see a mother white Wallaby and a still-in-the-pouch baby Joey.

The new zoo albino kangaroo baby, a rare site in any zoo, is approximately five months old and is just beginning to peek out of his mommy's pouch. When he reaches about seven or eight months, the zoo personnel will start bottle feeding him. Joey's arrival was announced officially last week by Access North Georgia

" 'We suspected there was a baby in there, but because it was cold, we didn't want to check. It was really when we saw the pouch move around. It was just within the last two weeks when the baby started sticking its head out,' " said zoo co-director Hope Bennett in an interview with Access North Georgia.

How rare are white kangaroos? Co-Director Tom Bennett reports that less than 50 albino kangaroos can be found nationwide...and the Georgia zoo has two of them! Sometimes referred to as giant rabbits, the albino 'roos are a common sight in Tasmania with a small population found at South Bruny National Park.

Closed now for winter, the zoo will open at 10 a.m., March 2 for a special two day event to show off their 'bouncing babies', including baby Joey. Through March, the zoo is open just on Saturdays but will open weekdays after Easter. North Georgia Zoo is located between Dahlonega and Cleveland, Ga. at 2912 Paradise Valley Road in White County.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Dollar General Stores, They Are Everywhere

Here's a little tidbit you probably didn't know: Dollar General is the largest discount retailer (by number of stores) in the U.S. The money-saving chain has 10,000 neighborhood stores in 40 states. In 2013 alone, the chain plans 635 new stores, 550 relocations and 6000 jobs.

In the Dahlonega/Dawsonville, Ga. metro area, Dollar General has eight stores - count 'em...eight stores in and around Dahlonega and Dawsonville. Who needs to drive to a super big box store when there is a Dollar General literally just around the corner.

And besides bringing variety shopping and low prices to our neighborhoods, these local Dollar General stores mean jobs, and in North Georgia, we need job opportunities.

Another interesting factoid regarding Dollar General (a Southern company based in TN) is that the corporation is a strong proponent of literacy and funds the Dollar General Literacy Foundation. So remember that when you shop at Dollar General, you are not only saving dollars but, in a way, you're helping support adult literacy....and that's a good thing.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Krispy Kreme, Where Are You?

Dear Krispy Kreme,
The news broke this week that Dunkin' Donuts is coming to Dawsonville, Ga., the Moonshine Capital of the World. When that store opens, Dunkin' Donuts will then have two locations near our home - one to the left of us in Dahlonega and one to the right of us in Dawsonville.

But where is Krispy Kreme? Why haven't you ventured beyond metro-Atlanta? Krispy K's are the mouth-melting donut delicacies that we North Georgia folks (in our heart of hearts) truly crave.

Oh, we Southerners love our Krispy K's, especially the originals - the gooey, icing glazed, best eaten 'hot' donuts. Don't know how many times when I worked in Metro Atlanta that I stopped for Krispy Kreme donuts to take into the office, only to arrive with three or four missing and tell-tell icing glaze on the side of my mouth.

On a recent trip to Cleveland, Ga., my heart skipped a few beats, when I spotted a band of high school fund-raisers selling boxes of Krispy Kremes at a highway intersection. Only a strong hand from the car's driver kept me from leaping out and grabbing a dozen or two.

Our love for Krispy Kremes is strong. When a member of our family lived in England, he walked miles to Harrods department store, the only place in London where he could find Southern fried, hot Krispy Kreme donuts.

So Krispy Kreme, hear the plea from thousands of donut loving North Georgians. Please come to the mountains. You've got lots of original glazed fans here.


A Devoted Krispy Kreme Fan

Friday, February 1, 2013

Book Burning - Can It Happen Here?

One fateful day in Germany - May 10, 1933 - university students burned books, thousands of books. Giant bonfires were fueled by works from such legendary authors as Helen Keller, Ernest Hemingway and Sigmund Freud.

The book burners were 'cleansing' Nazi society from books that didn't meet the requirements of German spirit.

Could book burning happen here? Sometimes I wonder when I people urge libraries or book stores not to display, rent or sell books that those people don't like. Many years ago in Gwinnett County, D&B fought back when a mother demanded that a book by Judy Blume be banned from all Gwinnett school libraries.

Our daughter had read that book - after we reviewed it and okay-ed it (which is the role of a parent). Interestingly, the woman who led a media campaign for the Blume book banning had never read the book. She had just heard it wasn't appropriate.

It's this type of "I don't like this book so get rid of it" attitude that is the cursor to book burning and controlling what people read and how they think.

This type of control could result in book burning here, just like in Germany. To learn more about book burning, plan to see the traveling exhibit, Fighting the Fires of Hate: America and the Nazi Book Burnings, at the University of North Georgia in Dahlonega, Ga. Produced by the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, the exhibit is on display until March 15, 2013. A lecture series accompanies the exhibit.

For more information, call 706-364-1520.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

We Keurig. Do You?

Nothing like a great cup of least that's what people always tell me, but unfortunately, brewing that perfect cup of coffee always seemed to allude me. First I experimented with the percolator. After tasting just a cup or two of my percolated coffee, Mr. B announced that he would prefer that I not make the coffee.

Undeterred, I tried Mr. Coffee. The brew was better, but still a long way from perfect. Then my family gave me an beautiful stainless Braun coffee maker, complete with bean grinder. The coffee improved, but still wasn't on any coffee lover's Hit Parade.

Four years ago, when a friend brewed me a cup of coffee in his Keurig 'single serve' machine, I was smitten with the new coffee technology. The coffee was perfect...perfect every time. Finally, after dropping several hundred hints, this Christmas Santa Claus brought me a Keurig (along with several varieties of coffee.)

Making that perfect up of coffee at our coffee station
And at last, I've mastered the art of the perfect cup of coffee...and it's so easy. Instead of bean grinding, measuring, etc., it's just insert a coffee pod and push a button. We are in coffee heaven!

In fact, our kitchen has The Coffee Station, complete with a tray of coffee pods (hot chocolate and tea pods too), several different types of sugars, spoons, and, of course, the station's star - the Keurig.

Time to go brew a cup of coffee. With the Keurig, I'm sure the coffee is going to be perfect.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Fresh n' Frugal Comes to Dahlonega

Some say that the male of the D&B duo is a penny-pincher, aka 'frugal,' when he shops. So, you can imagine his excitement when he heard that a frugal-oriented grocery was opening in downtown Dahlonega.

Off we went today to check out the bargains at the grand opening of  Dahlonega's newest grocery store - Fresh n' Frugal.

Oh did Mr. B find the bargains...fresh tomatoes for 28 cents a pound and Campbell's soup for 68 cents a can. "Why the prices here are better here than Walmart," said Mr. B, a true Walmart aficionado, as he loaded granola bars into his cart. Watch out Walmart. You've got some competition in Dahlonega and Beyond!

Fresh n Frugal Lives Up to Its Name
The concept of Fresh n Frugal is to offer products at cost or below plus 10%. The store is able to maintain low prices because of a low advertising budget. Instead of mailing out flyers, Fresh n' Frugal takes  advantage of social media and the web, advertising their specials and weekly ads on  Facebook or on their web site.

The store, itself, is fresh looking, brightly lit and filled with the store's signature green color. Another plus is a staff that is exceptionally polite...smiles seemed to be everywhere....which is a nice-to-see when you're spending money.

The new Dahlonega grocery store is the first Fresh n' Frugal store - not just in Georgia - but anywhere. If the bargain hunting enthusiasm we saw is any indication of success and if the store can maintain its deep discounted prices, then it won't be long before Fresh n' Frugal opens other locations.

Fresh n' Frugal is located at 406 E. Main St., Dahlonega, Ga.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Pit Bull Owners Are Vicious

Today's blog is not about pit bulls, but instead about how vicious the owners of pit bulls can be.

Last year, pit bull attacks were the subject of two different Dahlonega and Beyond blogs. The result of those blogs was a flurry - and I do mean a flurry - of vicious, hateful comments from 'loving' pit bull owners.

The pit bull posters did a lot of name calling - referring to me as a racist, stupid, idiot, brainless, and more. While none of the comments actually were the death-kind of threats that would result in a call to the police, a couple posters did wish that this blogger would die. (For obvious reasons, those comments weren't always posted on this blog.)

What this writer learned from the pit bull owners' discussion is that they do not take kindly to any criticism of their breed. Here is just a sample of some of the more vicious, not so kind comments from pit bull owners:
  1. I'm not even going to waste time PROVING you wrong because it seems your immature brain won't be able to process it.
  2. Your just being as racist, just using a different species than humans.  
  3. You are an extremely pigheaded woman. (Looks like this poster has been talking to D&B's friends and family.)
  4. How do sleep at night? You are a horrible person. 
  5. She (this blogger) is a horrible person. she killing a wonderful breed. just go take your bullsxxx somewhere else.
  6. Couldn't even get halfway down the page without feeling frustration and anger for this Diane Bates.....people like her make the bullsxxx in society what it is. 
  7. Do not try to shove your stupidity and ignorance down intelligent individuals throats just because you are not equipped with a brain that is large enough to understand a persons responsibility in dog ownership.
And here is my favorite, quite eloquent, post from a pit bull owner -  The author (that would be me) clearly has the IQ of burnt cheese, and should not be allowed to procreate and spread their stupidity.

As a Scottie dog owner, I've been thinking about writing a post on the bad habits of Scottie dogs. Wonder if such a blog would generate as much hate mail from viciously protective Scottie owners? 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

If you like Dawsonville Moonshine....

If you like Dawsonville Moonshine, the distillers at The Dawsonville Moonshine Distillery are hoping that you'll like their next 'rumored' product.

Now admittedly, we don't have absolute confirmation regarding the new product, but word on the street is that the local distillery will soon market another new region-oriented - Apple Brandy.

What an appropriate adult beverage to come from the Dawsonville distillery. After all, quite a few apple orchards can be found in a 20 mile radius of the Moonshine Distillery, so the distillery won't have to go far to apple pick.

We're sure that the Dawsonville Distillery has their own apple brandy recipe, but just in case they don't, here's  one from Taste of Home.



  • 4 cups sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • 4 pounds apples, sliced
  • 1 liter brandy
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick (3 inches)
  • Additional whole cloves and cinnamon sticks


  • Combine sugar and water in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil; cook and stir until sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat.
  • Place apples in a large glass or plastic container; add the sugar mixture, brandy, cloves and cinnamon stick. Cover and let stand at room temperature for at least two weeks, stirring once a week.
  • Strain brandy mixture; discard apples and spices. Pour into glass bottles. Place an additional three cloves and one cinnamon stick in each bottle. Yield: 2 quarts.
(FYI...we haven't ever made our own brandy, apple or plain.)

Monday, January 14, 2013

The Flu and You

It's flu season and unfortunately, that nasty flu bug is stinging folks right here in North Georgia. In fact, a friend spent four days in Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Gainesville with the flu and pneumonia. What makes her story even more interesting is that she had the flu shot. (Like so many flu victims are reporting.)

What are we doing to stay flu-free? Wearing a garlic necklace was our first thought, but we weren't sure if garlic worked as well against germs as it does vampires. So in lieu of garlic, here is D&B's battle plan against the Flu of 2013:
  1. Use lots of hands sanitizer. We keep sanitizer in the cars and carry a container for our out-of-car adventures.
  2. Use Clorox Wipes. Yes, hand sanitizer works wonders but does it really kill the germs on the grocery cart or your cell phone or even that restaurant table? That's what Clorox Wipes are for.
  3. Take Vitamin C. Lots of Vitamin C. If one Vitamin C tablet is good, why shouldn't 4 tablets at a time be even better?
  4. Drink water. Lots of water. Not sure if this has any effect against the flu, but health experts are always saying Drink Water.
  5. Forget about Hello Hugs. Now when we meet friends, we just say, "We think we're coming down with a cold." That deters anyone and everyone (even close family members) from hugging. Sometimes the old elbow shake works too.
  6. Wear a mask. Now this might be a bit drastic for a trip to Walmart, but if we're going to visit anyone in a hospital, a mask would be a must-do. In fact, a number of hospitals are requiring masks or limiting visitors.
  7. Use HALO. A pharmacist family member recommended HALO. Two squirts of spray just may keep the flu bug away.
  8. And most importantly of all....Wash our hands. Wash our hands. Wash our hands with lots of soap and warm water, too.
Hopefully, with a few safeguards, D&B will stay flu free and not spend our oh-too-hard-earned dollars on bottles of Nyquil and Mucinex.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Bigfoot Is Real

Bigfoot is the topic of a Dahlonega conference.
Bigfoot is real, so real that the mysterious wooly character is the topic of a two day conference being held this weekend in Dahlonega.

Experts from far and wide - including a Sasquatch linguist and a world famous animal tracker - will be at R-Ranch in the Mountains, Jan. 12 &13, sharing their Bigfoot knowledge. An estimated 400 Bigfoot info seekers are expected to attend the conference, one of many "Let's Talk About Bigfoot" events held each year in the U.S.

Lumpkin County is a logical spot for a Bigfoot conference. After all, a number of Bigfoot sightings have been recorded over the years, including one recently by a Lumpkin County Sheriff's deputy who caught the creature on his dashboard camera.

For those of us who can't make the Sasquatch Study event, here's a list of the experts and what their topic discussions:
  1. Former U.S. Navy crypto-linguist and Bigfoot language expert R. Scott Nelson will talk Bigfoot ABC's and reveal an official version of the Sasquatch alphabet.
  2. Famed Bigfoot hunter Alex "Midnight Walker" Tomas, a blog radio host specialist in Sasquatch interactions, will discuss the field techniques for establishing relationships with the Sasquatches.
  3. Author Ron Morehead, who has spent 40 years researching Bigfoot, will speak on Bigfoot encounters and speech.
  4. Professional tracker and Master Naturalist, Leigh Culver will on how-to distinguish Sasquatch tracks from human and animal tracks.
  5. Discussing Bigfoot habitation will be Yale graduate and college literature teacher Chris Noel, who has also written two books on Sasquatch.
  6. Jim Vera, a Bigfoot expert and recent guest on the after-hours radio show, Coast-to-Coast, will speak on the history of Bigfoot.
  7. Arla Williams, one of the event coordinators, will discuss relationship building with the Sasquatch clan. (Arla, according to her bio, encountered her first Bigfoot when she was just six years old.)
If you'd like more information on the Bigfoot conference, or want to check if there might be tickets still available, visit www.

And who knows, maybe a Bigfoot will make a guest appearance.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Sad Day for Ga. Wine Lovers

Blackstock Vineyards, the oldest winery in Georgia, is closing. In an email to customers and winery friends, owner and founder David Harris announced that the Dahlonega winery was shuttering its doors.

"Exceptionally warm winters and early bug-break" were among the reasons he attributed to the winery's closing. And the rough economy North Georgia has experienced definitely didn't help either.

Harris was a seasoned vintner when he started developing Blackstock in 1994, way before any other award-winning Dahlonega winery ever opened. The winery and vineyard setting were picture perfect. Grape vines are planted on rolling hills for as far as the eyes can see...not quite Napa Valley, but definitely not what the average wine lover expects to see on his first trip to North Georgia.

Blackstock was on D&B's list of places to take family and friends. In fact, the winery was one of the first spots we visited when we began our home-hunting in the Dahlonega area. One of my favorite memories is a Labor Day barbecue at Blackstock where we listened to bluegrass music, drank wine, took in the gorgeous views, and vowed that we wanted to move to the mountains.

Closing of Blackstock is a loss...a loss of jobs for those who worked there, a loss of a dream for its owners, a loss for Georgia's agritourism, and definitely a loss to those who support and love Georgia wines.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Moonshine - It's Legal in Georgia

Want to try a little moonshine? Or perhaps see just how White Lightning is made? You can do just that in Dawsonville, Ga., at a legalized moonshine distillery that just happens to be next door to the Dawsonville City Hall. (Yes, I did say NEXT to the City Hall.)

The Dawsonville Moonshine Distillery opened in October 2012, just in time for the annual Dawsonville Moonshine Festival. But it wasn't until December that the distillery received the legal okay to sell the moonshine and to permit the actual onsite sampling of the local white lightning.

However, if you want to buy your own moonshine stash, you'll have to wait in line. The moonshine batches sold out fast, but the distillery is taking orders for its next batch.

Owner Cheryl Wood uses moonshine recipes that go back over 150 years, recipes handed down to her grandfather, Simmie Free. The distillery is a one-still operation with fourth generation distiller Dwight "Punch" Bearden overseeing the moonshine making. The brewery consists of a 250 gallon copper still, a 1,050 gallon and two 415 gallon mash tanks.

Of course, Dawsonville is the perfect spot for a public distillery. After all, the town is the Moonshine Capital of the World. Legend is that the corn farmers in Dawson and neighboring Appalachian mountain communities survived the great depression by making and selling moonshine to city slickers.

The brew was transported to Atlanta across curvy mountain roads and down Georgia Hwy. 9. Federal government revenuers often chased the moonshine drivers down Thunder Road (Hwy. 9), giving birth to a legion of skilled drivers and the start of NASCAR. 

You can tour and taste Dawsonville moonshine every Saturday and Sunday from 12 to 4 p.m. For directions and maybe to put your name on the "I need some moonshine" list, call 770-401-1211 or 706-344-1210.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Stealing from Old People?

Who would steal from old people? That's the question we asked when we saw the headline "Senior Center theft is under investigation" in the Dahlonega Nugget this week.

According to the front page story, over $1,000 in funds (and a quilt) are missing from the Lumpkin County Senior Center.

Now, we ask what happens to make someone suddenly go from caretaker of funds to thief? Does it start innocently? Does the culprit say,"Oh, I really need $100 to pay a bill. I'll just borrow the money and pay it back on payday." Or is it more sinister: "I'll take $100 and see if anyone notices." Or does he/she say, "They'll never miss this money and I really need it."

Whatever happens to turn a seemingly honest person into a thief is happening a lot more than one would expect. For instance, the Dawson County Clerk of Courts is in jail right now, serving four years of a ten year sentence for absconding with $140,000 in county money. Then there is the parent who stole $57,000 from an Atlanta PTA and the football booster club president in Walton County arrested for taking thousands of dollars in club funds.

Some will say that the poor economy is to blame for these thefts. Others will accuse the culprits of being greedy or moral compass deficient. Or maybe, as my grandmother used to say, "That person is just a bad seed."

In the case of the Lumpkin Senior Center theft, the lesson learned is simple: Thou Shalt Not Steal....especially from senior citizens.

Update: Lumpkin County Sheriff's Office is still investigating the theft from the Senior Center. The Director who resigned right after the second theft has been cleared by the Sheriff's office after she took and passed polygraph test.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Dahlonega and Beyond: We're Back!

Dahlonega and Beyond went dark for a couple of months. A number of excuses for the blog silence, such as:
  1. We traveled a lot - three weeks in Venice and the Mediterranean and  a couple of trips to NashVegas.
  2. A rotten case of bronchitis which dulled the brain and writing creativity
  3. A busy work schedule that included lots of copy writing and Internet research, and
  4. The Christmas season and all the stress, drama, and shopping that the holidays bring.
You'll note that holiday cooking wasn't one of the list of No-Blog excuses. That's simply because years ago, I gave up serious Christmas season baking and cooking. And with that 'giving up', we find that we don't pack on as many holiday pounds and a lot less time is spent around the stove and kitchen mixer.

After all, Honey Baked ham is a heck of lot better than mine, and when we buy our turkey already baked, there's no fear of finding 'surprise' packages of turkey necks and gizzards inside. (Yes, this happened. Not once but twice in our turkey baking history.)

Now back to the blog, and I do mean Back to the Blog. My new year's resolution is more blogging, more writing that's pity, maybe controversial, and perhaps even enjoyable reading to others outside our immediate family. So, simply put: Dahlonega and Beyond is back!