Category: Southern Living

Sep 16, 2019
By Michael Rupured

A Long, Hot Summer

Most years I complain about summer being too short. Not this year. Instead of June 21, my summer started when classes ended in early May. Though only psychological — I didn’t take off any more than usual — the difference was very much appreciated. Long, hot summers are the norm in Athens. Highs have bee mostly in the 90s. Fortunately, we avoided triple digits this year — so far. Record-breaking highs in the past week have come close. Rain has been in short supply too. I quit watering months ago. Survivors include zinnias, Gerber daisies and an astounding variety of weeds. Now is the time to start planting my winter garden, but first it needs to cool down quite a …

Aug 01, 2019
By Michael Rupured
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Climate Change & My Garden

More than thirty days with little rain and highs above 90 degrees have taken a toll on my little garden. After much deliberation, debate, and a water bill three times the usual amount, I decided to withhold life support. Since pulling the plug, we’ve had some rain — not much, but enough to keep things alive a little longer. How long remains to be seen. Hot, dry conditions will likely persist into October. Keeping my summer garden alive is not a new struggle. Heat, drought, and an abundance of deer have long conspired against me. Though I grow tomatoes every year, ripe fruit are nearly as rare as snow in summer. By comparison, my first winter garden was a nearly …

May 30, 2019
By Michael Rupured

Time on My Hands

Teaching has kept me busy since before Andy passed last year. I’ve grieved plenty, but drowning in sorrow wasn’t an option. Between teaching, my regular day job duties, and taking care of myself and Toodles, I’ve had too much to do. I’m grateful, and not just for the distraction. Teaching a basic consumer course, while all-consuming, is incredibly gratifying. Many students say the class should be required. I bring my own flavor, of course, but the feedback is the same, no matter who the instructor is. No more working nights and weekends to stay on top of my class. School’s out until the middle of August. Having taught the class twice, I’m mostly ready — far more so than the …

Mar 18, 2019
By Michael Rupured
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A Sad Anniversary

Hard to believe a year has passed since we lost Andy. My ex, the best friend I ever had, and the love of my life died a year ago today. Adjusting to a world without him has been quite a challenge. To know Andy was to love him. He was kind, generous, thoughtful, and always considerate of others. The students, faculty, and staff he worked with in our college adored him. Being the partner of such a nice guy boosted my image around the college. He was the center of my universe for seventeen years (18 now). Since his death, I’ve thought and thought about our time together — the good, the bad, and the ugly. Could I have done …

Feb 18, 2019
By Michael Rupured
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Accidental Orchids

About this time last year, I decided to reclaim my kitchen table, home to the orchid collection I’ve nurtured since 2012. None of my orchids showed any sign of blooming. Some haven’t bloomed for years. Several didn’t look very healthy, and a couple appeared to have crossed to the other side. I wanted to throw the entire collection in the trash. They’d lived longer and bloomed more than I ever expected. Time to move on. I couldn’t do it. Except for a couple too far gone to rescue, I put them outside under a magnolia tree and more or less forgot about them. Thanks to the wettest summer on record here in Athens and contrary to my expectations, they survived. …

Oct 29, 2018
By Michael Rupured
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A Winter Garden

Mild winters are one of my favorite things about living in the Deep South. Blizzards and subzero temperatures are extremely rare, and cold spells never last for more than a few days. Clear, sunny skies and highs well above freezing are the norm. In Kentucky, hard freezes in mid-to-late October pretty much put an end to the garden. November, December, and January were dedicated to plotting and scheming for the coming season. With few exceptions, nothing blooms until the early season bulbs come up in late January and early February. The growing season in Athens is much longer. Something is blooming just about all year. Camellias carry much of the load from November to March, with numerous others contributing for a …

Sep 17, 2018
By Michael Rupured
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Orchid Redux

Since purchasing the first in 2012, my orchid collection has grown. I’ve bought a few. Friends have given me orchids they gave up on too. The result is a kitchen table overflowing with them. I blogged about my success with orchids late last year. You can see that post here. It even has pictures! Bragging is asking for trouble. Problems appeared almost right away. In addition to the wrinkled leaves I’d seen in the past, leaves on a few plants had turned black in the center. Root rot may have been the cause. Inconsistent watering may also have played a role. On rainy days I’ll sometimes drag all my plants outside. They may not care, but I feel like the fresh …

Sep 03, 2018
By Michael Rupured
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My Southern Heritage

I grew up in Kentucky and have lived in Georgia for twenty years. My ancestors have lived in the South for centuries. By any standard, I am a a bona fide Southerner. Pride for our Southern heritage is universal in my family, but stories about the Civil War weren’t part of my upbringing. I heard we’re kin to Robert E. Lee and John Wilkes Booth, but nobody in the family has any old photographs, letters from the battlefield, or other Civil War memorabilia. My DNA results shattered the myths I’d believed all my life. We are not related to Lee or Booth, and records linked to my family tree reveal ancestors who fought for the Union, but none who sided …

Aug 27, 2018
By Michael Rupured
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My Family Tree

Several years ago I joined Ancestry.com, and for months clicked on leaves like they were going out of style. My mistake was accepting as gospel every tidbit of information I found. The resulting family tree dates back a thousand years, but is too riddled with errors, duplicates, and other problems to be believed. I learned a lot about my family, but my research raised more questions than it answered. Two branches came to an abrupt end — I never found my mother’s maternal grandfather or my father’s paternal grandfather. Missing two of eight great-grandparents leaves huge bare spots in the tree. In January I sent some spit to Ancestry DNA for analysis. Found out weeks later the sample didn’t work …

Jun 04, 2018
By Michael Rupured
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My Little Garden

My garden is ready for a long, hot Georgia summer. A ton of rain helped. We’re six inches above normal for this time of year — most of that coming in May. Getting all the new arrivals into the ground early helped too. I’ve gardened for more than thirty years. Space constraints limited options with my first two, leading me to buy a house with a ginormous yard for #3. Over the next ten years, I accumulated more than 600 varieties of ornamental plants. Taking care of the sprawling landscape and spacious house by myself was too much, so in 2012 I downsized. The first year or two, I didn’t do much in the yard beyond mowing. Not having to …