Georgiann Potts

Writer’s Note: On January 17th entertainer Betty White will celebrate her 98th birthday —nearly 10 decades of life! In that time she has been recognized for many outstanding achievements — for being a television pioneer; having the longest television career of any entertainer (80 years); being the first woman to produce a sitcom (“Life with Elizabeth”); and for being a fierce advocate for animal rights. Along the way, she has earned Emmys, GRAMMYs, and the title of honorary Mayor of Hollywood.

While it is a challenge to name one thing that White has done in her stellar career that stands above the rest, I believe it was her role as Sue Ann Nivens on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Running a close second was her role as Rose Nyland on The Golden Girls. In both, White’s ability to portray a slightly ditzy character who somehow managed to get in the last word was astonishingly well-done and hilarious!

As we begin this third (!) decade of the 21st Century — a decade older and hopefully a decade wiser — I turn to a quote from White that should be a clarion call to us all. It reminds us — from a lady who has nearly 10 decades under her belt — that life is for living, every single day.

White says, “Don’t try to be young. Just open your mind. Stay interested in stuff. There are so many things I won’t live long enough to find out about, but I’m still curious about them. You know people who are already saying, ‘I’m going to be 30 - oh, what am I going to do?’ Well, use that decade! Use them all!”

Here’s to 2020 and the decade ahead! Let them both mark a new beginning for us all . . . GP

Resolutions and

‘Making Do’ in 2020

New Year’s Resolutions — the annual ritual that almost always amounts to nothing. An anonymous quote that I love when I think about the burden of making New Year’s Resolutions is this one: “A dog’s New Year’s Resolution: I will not chase that stick unless I actually see it leave his hand!”

There’s a lot of wisdom in that. How many of us begin reacting before we even know the entire story? Feel dread before we have all the facts? Expend way too much energy — mental and physical — on things that actually do not matter? Making New Year’s Resolutions is one of the ways that we foolishly try to “correct” our life’s course. The end of each calendar year offers the perfect “new beginning”. How much more significant then is the beginning of a new decade?

Full disclosure here: I gave up making serious New Year’s Resolutions years (OK, decades) ago. Early on I learned from harsh, light-of-day experience that I clearly wasn’t making the right ones. The ones I made were undoable over the long haul. I dashed them out of existence usually within the first week.

I truly admire those of you who can come up with Resolutions that you can actually keep. Other than resolving to eat dark chocolate at least once a week, I frankly cannot think of a single Resolution that would have a long-term chance with me.

The ‘Make do’

Generation . . .

Over the past number of years, I have been fascinated by the growing attention that is being given to the need to preserve, repurpose, and sensibly maintain our environment. One reason that all of this attention to the need to reuse things rather than toss them caught my interest is because I grew up very much under the influence of what I call the “make do” generation.

My first experiences with the concept of reusing rather than throwing away came at Kenilworth Plantation through the example of how that remarkable place was structured during the 1950’s and 1960’s.

When I was just a small child, I loved to accompany my grandfather when he gathered the eggs. While the occasional snake occupying the nest was off-putting, still the memory of those gatherings is positive.

When we actually used the eggs, their shells were carefully saved and placed out on the back porch to dry in a basket. When there were enough of them, Daddy Moore would crush them and add them to the table scraps that were part of the chickens’ food. He taught me that it put calcium in their diet, a necessary ingredient for their producing more eggs with stronger shells.

When I was a little older — probably still a preteen, I noticed for the first time two lovely little portraits hanging in the dining room at Kenilworth. They were each about 5”x7” in size. One was the silhouette of a young boy, and the other was the silhouette of a young girl. The style was simplicity itself, yet elegant.

When I asked about them, I learned that my mother had made them when she was a little girl. These, and others made by young girls like my mother, were carryovers from the Victorian era when they were cherished as sentimental keepsakes.

Using crisp black paper and very sharp scissors (in Mother’s case, a pair “borrowed” from her mother’s sewing basket), Mother carefully cut out the silhouette from the center of the sheet of paper, leaving the rest of the paper intact. When the silhouette was cut out, she would place silver paper behind it, creating a silver portrait “framed” in black.

Here was my second lesson about “making do” —learning where my mother got the silver paper. It seems that Mother had carefully retrieved and saved the silver papers that covered sticks of gum and lined cigarette packs back then. She smoothed out all of the wrinkles and kept them safe between the pages of one of Daddy Moore’s books until she could use them to highlight her artwork.

A New Generation

‘Makes Do” . . .

Organizations like Ouachita Green (a spinoff from the Ouachita Business Alliance’s Beautification Committee), led by dynamo Stuart Hodnett, have made significant progress in educating the public about the need for caring for our environment. Through a series of activities that emphasize litter abatement, beautification, and recycling, Ouachita Green has been at the forefront of engaging volunteers in meaningful activities.

The Monroe Garden Club was one of the earliest groups to participate in Ouachita Green projects and embrace the importance of beautification and recycling. A special committee was formed several years ago within the club’s organizational structure to address this issue within our community.

Several weeks ago I was reminded once again of just how much this “new” push toward environmental awareness has become a part of our everyday life. At the annual Christmas Celebration of the Monroe Garden Club, members were invited to create seasonal tablescapes to celebrate the holidays. There were a number of stunning ones, each beautiful in its own way. One, however, stood out from all of the others – the one created by the MGC Conservation Committee headed up by Kari Scott. Working with her were Johnette Mintz, Gretchen Dean, LaVerne Bodron, Anne Erskine, Pam Hansen, Kathy Chandler, Angie O’Pry Blades, Shelia Dickson, and Debby Edgerton.

What made their tablescape so interesting was that 100% of the materials used to create it were either recyclable or compostable.

They called their design “Responsible Entertaining” with the goal of creating a beautiful table while starting a meaningful conservation conversation at the same time.

The tablecloth and napkins were burlap and 100% cotton. Centering the table was a centerpiece featuring a “vase” made from a recycled food can covered with sticks that had been collected outdoors and glued on the can’s exterior. Standing tall inside of the can was a large oak limb that was bedecked with poinsettias crafted by the ladies from discarded pages from old books. The plates were bamboo, cutlery was wooden, straws were made from hay, and the goblets were clear plastic water bottles that had their bottoms removed and which were then inverted onto clear plastic “champagne feet” collected from some damaged champagne goblets. The finishing touch was a charming deer constructed entirely from straw and wood.

The ladies made their point, and made me think. As always, a little research seemed to be in order.

Waste Numbers

Are Staggering . . .

The world’s population is growing, and so is its garbage. A quick review of available research reveals the reason why there is growing concern.

Here are a few facts that I found startling.

• Each day, over 1 million plastic beverage bottles are purchased throughout the world. Every year, 1 billion plastic toothbrushes are thrown away to become landfill or waterways trash. The biggest culprit is cigarette butts. It is estimated that 3 trillion of them are tossed away each year, many of which have plastics in their filters. Millions of rolls of plastic food wrap are used once and then tossed. Plastic pollution is one of the growing problems that makes recycling so urgent.

• Last year, 24.2 billion pairs of shoes were made. Shoes present a particular challenge to recycling because they are made of several types of plastics and other materials and are glued together.

• An estimated 60 million tires are in landfills today in the United States alone.

Looking Toward Future Generations . . .

Some progress has been made, but there is more to be done if we humans are to mitigate these environmental hazards. Any the real change may very well begin with our children. As American educator Bill Nye said, “If you want grown-ups to recycle, just tell their kids the importance of recycling, and they’ll be all over it.”

And maybe — just maybe — it’s time for me to make a New Year’s Resolution.

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