Leila S. Case: Live longer with books, blooms

Published 11:30 am Saturday, March 16, 2019

Our week had many highlights with each day filled to the brim with all the wonderful things I love to do to make life fun and stress free. However, the stress thing perhaps I will never shed —it plagues me.
Reading is one of my greatest pleasures and gardening is as well; however, the latter is not on my agenda anymore although I love to dig in the dirt. I have an unwelcome visitor named Arthur Rightus who is quite rude and won’t leave. He doesn’t know fish and company stink after three days. I’ve sure told him.
All this to say I was thrilled when Merle Geiger of Dublin and Lake Blackshear read a selection she clipped from a health publication the other night at the Calvary Episcopal Book Club meeting that I share with you below. The advice fits my lifestyle perfectly.
“Read on … to live longer. Book club members live longer. It’s not that readers are necessarily healthier than nonreaders, but getting together to talk about books appears to provide health-promoting effects that are comparable to those of regular exercise. Combining friendship with reading and other mental activities is a “win-win” because it lowers stress, increases serotonin (a feel-good brain chemical) and may even promote the growth of new brain cells. Happy reading!”
Speaking of books and writing, my good friend Joni Woolf and I had a delightful time at the 94th Macon Writer’s Club breakfast at Idle Hour Country Club in Macon the other day. What a great experience from the ambiance of the facilities I had visited in the past to meeting and mingling with women and men far more talented in the writing craft than I but most of all hearing the outstanding speaker, Janet Elizabeth Croon of Fairfax, Virginia, who edited and annotated the newly released “The War Outside My Window: The Civil War Diary of LeRoy Wiley Gresham, 1860-1865.”
Croon talked about the life of Gresham, born in 1847, to a slave-holding family in Macon. An invalid, the educated, inquisitive, perceptive, and witty 12-year-old began keeping a journal in 1860, writing almost daily until the war and his life ended because of a debilitating illness (tuberculosis which at that time was not too successful in curing) in 1865. She also discussed the copious amount of research that went into the book, from hunting down ancestry records to doing some medical detective work, and more.
Her talk was lengthy but also a fascinating account of the collapse of the Old South and the final years of a privileged but afflicted life. The book is available online.
Don’t throw away those dusty and yellowed-with-age letters in the attic. There may be a book in them.
Meanwhile, missing the dreary, raining winter we’ve experienced is Yasmin Hasnain who has returned from an extended visit to see relatives and friends in Pakistan, her native country. And those celebrating birthdays this month that I am aware of are Rebecca McNeill, Nancy Gaston, and Anne Isbell who was here on her birthday but skipped town for a fun excursion of New York City with Jane Hendrix. The two arrived in a snow storm that didn’t hamper their plans. Headquartered in Manhattan, they went to two shows, “Kiss Me Kate” and an off-Broadway production, “The Imbible — A Spirited History of Drinking,” that combines music and comedy that Anne said was hilarious and has a five-star rating. They also enjoyed dinner at an out of the way Italian restaurant, Lavagna, on the lower east side that also has a five-star rating and dropping in at Joe Allen’s, a neat place where actors gather after shows.
And speaking of good ratings, Sumter Players “Peter Pan” production at the Rylander Theatre was a hit, drawing good audiences for the four performances. Glimpsed at the Sunday matinee was Clara Grace Shivers with her grandmother, Lori Shivers. And John Stovall is sporting a new “do,” after being freshly coiffed by stylist extraordinaire Meredith Owen at The Look Salon.
Then earlier in the week, Council of Safety Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution presented two camellia plants — a Frank Houser that bears large, deep-pink blooms, and Grand Marshal that has red and white striated flowers — to Magnolia Manor in observance of Arbor Day and re-greening.

Leila Sisson Case lives in Americus.

Camellia lover Rebecca McNeill collaborated with Mickey Moore, another camellia aficionado, to obtain the Frank Houser from Massee Lane Gardens, headquarters of the American Camellia Society, between Fort Valley and the quaint town of Marshallville, and John Fowler donated the lovely Grand Marshal.
Leila Sisson Case lives in Americus.