She Got It From Her Mama

This year, I’ve been super-interested in photographers.  What their back-stories are, where they come from, what got them interested in their field, and their other outlets of creativity.  Last month, I was able to go a step further, by meeting and making up the mama of one of my photographer friends, Elizabeth Gouldon.

This is Sara Gouldon.  One afternoon with her was like being near the sun: warm, feel-good, nurtured, and oh-so-lovely.  I know the reasons I love her daughter, but spending even a little time with Sara was the gift of a moment of knowing Elizabeth a little better.  Now, I completely understand that comparing mothers and daughters can be a taboo topic.  One that I’m sensitive to, as a daughter and a mother.  But, I think both Sara and Elizabeth would see this as the highest compliment: this daughter represents all the best qualities of her mother. . . with the added bonus of bringing her own unique and beautiful qualities to the table.

Sara and Elizabeth, thank you for allowing me to share a little You-time.  I needed a mama-fix and being with you two gave me that.  All my love, P.

Photos courtesy of Elizabeth Fay Gouldon.

Bird Songs 2017, Honoring Pete McKellar III.

Three weeks ago, Jim and I were invited to attend a special honorarium for our friend’s dad.  The event was held at the avian conservatory, Center for Birds of Prey, and was sponsored by our dear friend Peter McKellar of Harbor Contracting, in honor of his dad, Pete McKellar.  The elder Pete is a volunteer at the Center; he underwent countless hours of study and certification in order to become a bird handler, not only for his joy and interest, but to help educate the public about these magnificent creatures.  His time there has been a large part of his retirement and his way of giving back to the lowcountry community he holds dear.  This was our first time visiting the Center for Birds of Prey, and it is nothing short of awe-some.  Pair that experience with four amazingly talented Nashville singer-songwriters, and it was an evening we won’t soon forget.  It included a tour of the beautiful grounds, experts like Pete who told the histories of these large birds, and a fabulous meal and cocktails in this sublime setting.  Bird Songs 2017 is a memory now. . . but you better believe we’ll be making our reservations for 2018.  Mr. Pete, thank you for your community service and dedication to the preservation of these awe-inspiring birds.  Friend/neighbor Peter and Harbor Contracting, thank you for including us in this very special evening.  Click the arrow above to check out this recording featuring Cole Taylor (shout out to the Georgia boy!)

Mr. Pete, gloving up to receive one of the inbound birds of prey. His son Peter, and grandsons Alex and Andrew, by his side.
My Jim with singer-songwriter, Cole Taylor, whose voice can be heard in the video above.


This is a story of thoughtfulness, mindfulness, growth, near-destruction, and perseverance. This is the story of Pimm.

It was early summer 2016 and I made a random post on Facebook asking where I could purchase a tree that normally grows in the wild: a mimosa tree.  Several people chimed in that I could “have” theirs as they are typically considered a trash-tree or weed, because they grow wild and are difficult to get rid of.  They are far from that to me. They remind me of everything good and sweet and pure of rural Georgia summer mornings and nights. And to see them in their glory, as in the photo above, when they are in full pink-puff bloom!

Kim Graham and Steven Hyatt, are two photographer friends of mine. Kim read my FB post and texted me that she was going to leave a “surprise” on my step. Steven had dug up this baby mimosa that was sprouting right outside his office. He and Kim placed it in a bag with its baby root system, and brought it to my front door. Notice how the leaves on this are closed. It’s part of its nature to open and close  at sunrise/sunset.
Pimm is a hybrid name of Pamela + Jim.  He sat in his plastic bag for a couple of days, and I’d water his big clump of dirt and roots while in residence on my porch. On day three, I chose a sunny place in my yard and planted the baby sapling. I was afraid my lawn service might not see him, so I staked him off, put mulch around him, and said a prayer for his growth. Every morning and evening it was such a treat to go out and water him. These are hardy plants and he began growing immediately.
My son and husband got into the daily ritual of am/pm checking of Pimm. We’d delight in every new sprout, watching his leaves open and close with the daylight or sunset. He loves water and every so often, some nice fertilizer mixed in was like a super-growth supplement. I changed out his stake to this conical one; he was growing tall, but branching out a bit, and yet was still delicate. This seemed a better fit at that time.
The wire of the tomato cage was actually thicker/larger than the stalk of the baby tree.
Here you can see that Pimm has had substantial growth; lots of new branches. I knew he liked the spot in the yard where he was placed. And already, he was outgrowing the tomato cage. About a month or so after this photo, I staked him to a 4-foot black pole for continued upright growth.
On October 8, Hurricane Matthew slammed into the SC coast. By and large, we were incredibly lucky that no substantive property damage happened. But our neighbor’s tree lost a large limb and fell into our yard. And yes, over Pimm.
I dreaded making this walk out to the side yard.  But amazingly, the side view showed that Pimm wasn’t taken out by the fallen branch! He was grazed, but not down. If possible, this made me love the little guy even more. He’d made it through the immense winds, a tree nearly toppling over on him, and the flooded yard.  He persevered and survived.
Pimm today. He looks like a gangly teenager, sprouting a floppy hairdo. I think he’s going to make it.

With a heart full of love and gratitude to Kim + Steven. And also to my husband Jim and son Culley for their keen interest in Pimm’s growth.

Jug o’sunshine: Switchel

File this one under “Potions” or “Concoctions.”  Maybe even “Mixology.”

I’m looking to change things up a bit in my daily habits.  At the top of my list is drinking more water and staying hydrated in every area of life.  Drinking lots of water is good for the insides, and has beautiful-skin benefits, too!

A friend of mine served me water during a recent visit.  Then she asked if I wanted to add some “switchel” to it.  She took out a beautiful jug of sunshine from her refrigerator and explained that it was a fermented concentrate that she adds to her water, for flavor and other added benefits.  Although I’d never heard that term, I was quite familiar with the concept because I love to add a splash of cranberry juice to my water bottles to make it a little more interesting.

This switchel recipe is my first outing, but I can tell already it’s something I’ll keep on hand in my fridge, especially with the warmer months approaching.  It contains turmeric which is a fabulous anti-inflammatory.  Without further ado, here’s the recipe.  Let me know if you think of a fun twist on this. Leave a comment!

2 T. Unfiltered apple cider vinegar

2 T. Raw honey (this is buttery consistency. . . a solid)

1 t.  peeled, minced turmeric root (fair warning: this root stains fingers!)

1 t.  peeled, minced ginger root

1/2 Lemon, juiced and a tad of the lemon zest

4 c. water

Place all ingredients into a jar.  (Because the honey is a solid, I used warm-ish water to help it melt and mix faster.)  Shake well.  Refrigerate overnight.

The zest and minced root will settle at the bottom of the jar.  Shake it before you use it.  When you want to drink this potion, remember it’s a concentrate: you will pour a splash of this into your water, to suit your taste.

22 Years Ago: A Birth Story

February 10, 1995, we were living, working, and going to school in Baltimore, Maryland. It was my last day at work before beginning maternity leave with child #2. We didn’t find out gender with either of our sons in utero, so we had the fun and mystery awaiting us: “will this be Sophia Grace or Culley Jameson…”

This child was our only planned child. The other two are by-products of mad lust and crazy-love. But this February-child was methodically, level-headedly, and thoughtfully prepared for. Ironically, those are all qualities he possesses to this day.

He was “on board” with me for an important period in my life. We finished a bachelor’s degree in journalism at night school at the University of Maryland. He was with me as I listened to lectures from my professor John Couric (Katie’s dad, an old school Associated Press man), and several other experts-in-their-fields. Living in the Baltimore-Washington DC corridor gave me exposure to some of the finest, most experienced journalists in our nation. We schlepped to UM three times a week, after work, and we listened to music very loudly in order to keep me awake for the 10 pm drive back to Ellicott City. I think some of that took hold and is part of his vast musicality to this day.

His calculated due date was to be February 14th . . . a Valentine’s baby. But even then, he espoused the credo, “early is on-time, on-time is late.” He began his entry into this world three days early. It’s so funny how I can relate each of my children’s birth stories to their personalities. There are so many theories on birth order, and yet I think birth-stories can also be correlated to personality.

My labor was short and sweet. It began in earnest at 8 pm, and he was delivered at 12:34 a.m. The hospital was quiet that night. Oddly, the Miss USA pageant was on TV during this labor. I remember feeling most unattractive at that moment, watching some of the most beautiful women in the world strut across a stage in bikinis. Ha! My crunchy-granola obstetrician (and I say that in complete reverence) encouraged me to watch the delivery in an overhead mirror. When the head and shoulders had cleared, she said, “Reach down and pull out your baby.” And I did. I helped deliver this child! Something that probably would never happen these days. Even amidst his full-lung first cry, which was music to my ears, there was still a nanosecond of not knowing if this was a girl or boy. I grabbed him, pulled him onto my chest, and lay back on the birthing table. This was Culley Jameson. And when I said “Hey, You! You’re Culley” I swear he stopped crying. And he looked into my eyes as if to say to me, “Hey yourself! I know you! We’ve listened to some great music together.” It was a soul moment that will endure for my life.

Fast-forward twenty-two years, and this young man is about to graduate from college. He’s a musician and music theorist. He’s a music-lover.  He, his older brother, and younger sister are all musical in some way or other. They are my mark on this world. My legacy. Proof that I was here and did something beautiful.  Happy Birthday, Culley.  (aka “Cul” aka “Culpep” aka “Cool” aka “daPep” aka “#2” aka “LL-Cul-J”)

My First Without Her

I turned fifty last week, a milestone for most women, as is any decade birthday, and I’ve basically been celebrating all month long.  But I crashed last Friday when my thoughts turned to the fact that this was the first birthday I had without my mother.  I have a series of upcoming blogs about all the fun of “Pamelatober,” but before I can get to that happy stuff, I feel a need to work through this particular nugget.  I think it’s part of my grief in looking forward and living life without my biggest, most ardent supporter.

This time last year, I visited Mama in the nursing home.  She didn’t remember that it was my birthday, but when I told her it was, she quickly put on a smile and sang a little “Happy Birthday to you. . .” and held my hand from her wheelchair.  “My Baby. . .” is what she called me for the rest of her life.  I don’t remember the last time she called me Pamela.  I knew then she was slipping away from me.

I’ll blame Mama for all the build-up I place on birthdays.  For as long as I can recall, she made a big deal of our natal days.  They would begin with our bedroom doors flying open and continue with hugs and kisses, declarations of love, and wishes for good luck, store-bought cakes with candles, and some kind of gift.  It was a celebration of the day you came into the world and into her life; Mama was the best at making you feel like it was Your Day.  Later on, attention to your astrological sign and horoscope were given credence because she thought it told you something deeper about yourself: the universe’s opinion of where you fit in and explanation of your personality traits.  But, that dips into hippie/new-age Thelma, and that’s a story for another time.

It’s been seven months since she’s passed.  I’ve kept just busy enough. . . until recently.  I miss her more than I ever thought possible.  The little things like curling her super-fine and barely-gray hair.  And the big things, like the way her face would light up when she would see me walk toward her, perched near the nurse’s station.  And I remember years before, the sadness she talked about when her mother passed away.

I’m cut from the cloth of “birthdays are a big deal.”  Not everyone gets it, but it’s what I know because it’s what my Mama did.  And it’s what I try to do for my children.  It’s yet another demonstration of love.

Below is a re-post of a home movie from my 3rd birthday.  I’m the one with a yellow & orange outfit and birthday crown 😉  And, in true Thelma-fashion, dancing my way through the party.  Thank you, Mama.  I’ve had a happy birthday month!



Project Fifty: Samantha

Samantha Elliott.  Stellar then, stellar now.  Sam is one of my classmates whom I’ve known since grade school.  She was always a top-notch student; her name was called at each and every awards ceremony.  She was a musician in our school bands, and she was in every honors class.  I imagine she was a teacher’s dream.  A girl who paid attention, was involved, had delightful manners, and carried herself in such a ladylike way.  When I look at her photos from this shoot, I see a strong, confident and proud lady.  Sam walked into our photo shoot,  and I was struck by the contrast of her bright red scarf against her all-black outfit.  And, if you look closely, her brooch is a brass elephant: Sam is a proud, lifelong member of Delta Sigma Theta sorority.  I can see how closely she wears that to her heart.  Happy 50th Birthday, Sam!  What a lovely, beautiful lady you still are!


What did you do within a year of graduating HCHS in 1984?  

I attended Gordon Junior College in Barnesvile, GA

Describe your life since graduating high school.  What are you doing now?  

After graduating from Gordon,  I completed my studies at Fort Valley State College and University earning my BS degree and later earning my MBA from Mercer University.  I currently work for a utility company  where I am a debt manager.

What activity brings you great joy?  

I enjoy spending time with my husband and children.  I like working with my children’s extra curricular activities that involve sports and scouting activities that keep me busy. In my spare time I like to read, attend plays, shop, trying new restaurants, traveling, and hiking.

Portraits by Ann Bertschin Photography

Do you still see any of your friends from high school?  Explain.

Yes, I usually spend time with  Andrella, Lori and LaSaundra until we lost her this past summer (2015).   Marcene Haynes and I still try to get together. I do see other classmates from time to time.

Andrella, Samantha, & Lori.

How do you feel about turning 50?  What does “50” mean to you?

I’m excited.  I haven’t really thought about what it means to me.

What do you do to maintain your looks? (hair, makeup, skin care, exercise, etc.)

I need to exercise more, I have put on more pounds than I need to the past couple of months. UGH!! I take vitamins to help maintain my looks.

Knowing what you now know, what advice would you give your 18-year old self?   

Enjoy it.. tempus fugit

This photo deserves an explanation, because it was a spoof. Sam was one of our graduating class’ “Outstanding Seniors.” When photos were taken of this group for our yearbook, we did the shoot in our brand-new gymnasium locker rooms. It was a series of silly photos, in and around new showers, stalls, dressing areas, etc. Sam decided to try out the new hand dryers for her photo.

What guilty pleasures do you allow yourself?


What does the next decade hold for you?  What are your dreams and wishes for this decade? Getting more active with my church, cooking classes, swimming, and traveling .


Project Fifty: Kay

When you’ve known someone since fourth grade, as I have Kay Whaley, there’s a tendency to lock them in at that age.  I remember 8-year old Kay; the girl with the waist-long hair, the cheerleader with the barely-scuffed saddle oxfords, the most stylish person I knew. She was the baby of her family and therefore, her worldliness far greater; she had teenaged siblings who were on the forefront of all pop-culture (music, sports, fashion/style, etc.).  We grew up together from 4th grade through high school.  I still remember her childhood phone number, perhaps because I gave it to a kid in middle school, and I should not have (he seemed so smitten, I guess I thought he deserved the chance to chat with her. . .)  Our lives took us to different parts of the country as young adults but when we reconnected in the late 90s, it was like no time had passed. Kay was exactly as she’d always been. . . so sweet, well-mannered, beautiful, humble, and easy to laugh.  She is a part of my bedrock and my childhood foundation.   I’m selfishly proud that my husband and daughter have gotten to know her, because in a way, it’s them getting a better understanding of me.  To this day, I continue to learn from her as a daughter, sister, parent and spouse.  She’s exemplary in each role.  Thank you, Kay, for being that person in my life.  Your mark has been indelible.  Happy Birthday!  All my love, P.

Scan 5

Future Business Leaders convention in ATL our senior year. Kay, Kerrie & Shana.
Pamela Prom
Kay, the newly crowned Miss Henry County High School, and Terrie.

What did you do within the year of graduation in 1984?  I attended West Georgia College for four years and earned a BA in Anthropology.

Kerrie and Kay. High school classmates and roommates at West Georgia College.

Give us a brief description of what’s been going on in your life since graduating?  After graduating college, I began my career with Delta Air Lines as a flight attendant. I will be celebrating 26 years with Delta this month (January), and I still love my job!  In 1992, I moved back to my hometown of McDonough, and in 1993 I married a hometown boy,  Jeff Rowan.   We settled in and began a family. In March, we celebrated 23 years of marriage and are the parents of three glorious, beautiful, teenagers.

Kay on duty in the iconic Delta red dress; she’ll be collaborating with me on a series of stories about flight attendants’ beauty products and tips from around the world.

What activity brings you great joy?  Precious family time gives me the greatest joy.  The luxury of spending time both individually and all together, with each of my three children, whose personalities are all very different, is what I love most.

Do you still see any of your friends from high school?  Explain.  Only occasionally do I see friends from high school.

Hen Fest '09 004
Lake life with friends.
Kay’s beautiful daughter, Julianna, spent her afternoon with us for the photo shoot at Deep South Deli.

How do you feel about turning 50?  What does “50” mean to you?  Fifty is just another number.  I feel good about life, and I would not turn back time.  Life has been good to me.  I am blessed!


What do you do to maintain your looks? (hair, makeup, skin care, exercise, etc.)  I maintain my looks by taking occasional trips to the spa for facials.  I have a standing appointment with my hairstylist every four weeks to tweak the roots and get a trim.  I limit my carb intake and take long walks with my daughter.

Knowing what you now know, what advice would you give your 18-year old self?  DO NOT WORRY ABOUT WHAT OTHERS THINK!  Enjoy the little things.  Talk to your parents more and LISTEN to them, spend more time with them, learn from them, take notes on family histories AND make sure that you get mom’s cookbook when she’s gone.


What guilty pleasures do you allow yourself?  Guilty pleasures?  Quiet time on the porch at the lake before anyone wakes, with my very large cup of coffee.

What does the next decade hold for you?  What are your dreams and wishes for this decade? Nothing will give me greater pleasure than to see my 3 children graduate from college and find their way into successful careers that make them happy.  I will continue to work; again, I still love my job!   Jeff will retire at 55, and our goal is to move to our little slice of heaven at the lake.  We love it there.

Hen Fest '09 009
Another Hen Fest at the lake, with our Captain Jeff.

Portraits courtesy of Ann Bertschin Photography.

This Guy: Bill Jones.

In this day and age of KonMari-ing and the “life-changing magic of tidying” (aka purging stuff), there are still so many things I find myself hanging on to.  I have photos and letters and mementos from lots of people I’ve known, places I’ve traveled to, and things I’ve been fortunate enough to experience.  In the KonMari spirit, each of these things sparks joy, so I keep them.  Each is precious to me. . . a way of remembering a moment in time.

Below is a relic that I’ll always treasure.  It’s from a boy named Bill.  I was 17 and he was 19.  It was the summer of 1984, and I was enamored.  This guy was so much more than cute; he was precious. His smile, his easy laugh, his outgoing personality, plus his love of dancing all made him So.Much.Fun.  He had all the swag of Ren from “Footloose”. . . a guy from Off (in his case, from Morrow which seemed like a metropolis to our small town).  He’d been in college for a couple of years which gave him a sense of sophistication and worldliness.  And he always had a philosophical take on things.

I went through spring rush at UGA when I was a senior in high school.  Bill drove me to Poss’ Lakeview in Athens where AOPi had their beautiful event.  It was a huge outing for me; an introduction to a bigger scene.  And Bill was the one to navigate me through the Greek process.  He knew the ropes; he was my first date to wear The Uniform (khakis, blue blazer, button-down, tie, and “dirty bucks”).   He left his sporty, souped-up VW bug at home and borrowed his mother’s Volvo sedan to drive me to this formal.  When we left the party (it was a catered affair, but with my nerves, I couldn’t eat), and at my request, he drove me through Arby’s for supper.

Bill was a shooting star on my radar.  He burned brilliantly for a few seconds; then I was off to Athens, and he on to his life.  He reached out to me on Facebook a few years ago.  He was a proud father of a beautiful son, and his philosophical outlook on life was very much in tact.  By the looks of his page, he was a well-loved man; respected by peers, friends, and family in our McDonough community.  I wouldn’t have expected anything less.  I was aware that Bill had some serious health issues, but it came as a shock to learn of his passing last October.  I immediately went straight to my attic and found this letter.  It’s so full of pride and wisdom, especially for someone of his 19 years.

Bill, wherever you are, I hope there’s a rousing field party.  And a pony keg.




Bill Jones2

Project Fifty: Andrella

Andrella Barnes. . . Heyyyy-eyyyy. . . It’s Your Birthday!  Happy 50th!  I’ve known you since, well, forEVER.  Always a stellar student, involved in extracurricular activities at school, and a fellow honor graduate.  You’re as impressive now as you were then.  It was such a pleasure to reconnect with you last January.  Wishing you all the best. . . the invitation’s open whenever you make it over here to Charleston!  Thank you for being a part of this Project: 50!FullSizeRender-5

MAC Pro Longwear Concealer, MAC Power Point eyeliner (Buried Treasure), MAC Powder Blush (Peachy Keen & Warm Soul), Paint Pot (Rubenesque), MAC Cremesheen Lipglass (Star Quality).
Portrait by Ann Bertschin Photography
Andrella, Sam & Lori

Date of birth:

August 14, 1966.

What did you do within a year of graduating HCHS in 1984?

I attended Gordon Junior College in Barnesville, GA

Describe your life since graduating high school.  What are you doing now?

I graduated from 3 different colleges and worked in the healthcare industry, banking, local government, and wireless telecommunications.  Currently, I am a Project Manager with a wireless telecommunications company in Cobb County, GA.  

What activity brings you great joy?

Watching college football on Saturday afternoon with my family.

Do you still see any of your friends from high school?  Explain.

Yes, I still see several of my friends from high school through various activities.

How do you feel about turning 50?  What does “50” mean to you?

I feel that God has blessed me to live to become half a century.  It is a true blessing to be in good mind, body and spirit.  “50” means exactly what it is “50” living half a century and I’m grateful to be here. I do not see much changing in my life other than living it in a way that brings joy and happiness to me each and every day. 

What do you do to maintain your looks? (hair, makeup, skin care, exercise, etc.)

Hair – I like to keep it simple – let my stylist handle it

Makeup – pressed powder, lipstick, eyeliner and sometimes eyeshadow and mascara

Skincare- Cetaphil gentle cleanser and moisturizing lotion

Exercise – workout 4-5 times a week  (Andrella is a buff workout queen!)

Knowing what you now know, what advice would you give your 18-year old self?

Live everyday like it was your last – do everything you think you want to do – love your family and friends – do not be afraid to try it – get all the education you can while you are young – never stop learning – always love and trust God – trust your instincts

What guilty pleasures do you allow yourself?


Name a couple teachers who were important to you in your educational years, and why.

Dr. Cecelia Floyd – she was my first grade teacher – she was very patient and nice – she taught me how to use the library (which was great because I still love to read today) – I will never forget her.

What does the next decade hold for you?  What are your dreams and wishes for this decade?

That’s a loaded question – I pray for good health, peace and happiness.  I pray and wish that my son graduates college and becomes a successful adult; and that my family is well and happy.