Author: seizethedaymike

A native of Duluth, Georgia, I live in Milton, Georgia with my wife, Mary Donley Green. I spent thirty- three wonderful and challenging years in the field of education as a teacher and school principal. Retired four years ago, I supervise field experience students and student teachers for the Bagwell College of Education in a part-time capacity. Two sons, Evan and Will...wonderful parents, Charlotte and Bill...assorted and indispensable pet companions...many hobbies... This and more make for a busy and rewarding life!

What was the traditional holiday greeting when visiting friends and relatives at Christmas many years back?

Around these parts, the old folks used to visit neighbors and relatives’ homes around Christmas time just for the joy of sharing hospitality with one another. There might be an exchange of food, but there were no grand displays of conspicuous consumption. The simple joy of visiting was the luxury exchanged. Upon arriving at a home, the folks coming in the front door would shout, “Christmas Gift!”. Whether it was a not too subtle hint or no, the folks being visited knew to be ready with some sweets for the occasion. It just wasn’t done to withhold a tea cake or a warming cup of coffee from the visitors. The communities were small in Gwinnett County and eventually the visits would balance. I wonder if any of my cousins or long-time friends remember “Christmas Gift!”

The vintage family photograph from circa 1920 pictures my grandmother, Nellie Mae Mills Liddell with my Aunts Ruth Liddell Seay and Virginia Liddell Russell in the garden of the 1840 Homeplace which is now the site of much commercial development around Steve Reynolds Boulevard in Duluth.

These folks practiced hailing friends and family in the traditional manner. Do you remember this warm, Christmas greeting?

Mike Green
December 21, 2012


The Office (no, not the NBC sitcom)

Created in 2007 from an unused bedroom, the office has become a place for recordkeeping, reading, collecting, and watching television.

A large partners desk anchors the space. Mary and I have shared the desk and have a “wall of fame.”

Comfortable chairs, diplomas, fraternity memorabilia, recognitions, and Liddell home place image

It’s apparent that we have collected family memorabilia throughout our lives. Liddell and Donley family objects are displayed or placed in archival storage. Some of the objects are over two hundred years old. Some are from the childhoods of Mary, our sons, and myself. The collection includes the original 1818 Gwinnett County land lot deed that my great-great-great-great grandfather, William Liddell, received as a perk of having served as a soldier in the American Revolutionary War. The wax seal of the State of Georgia that hung from the document is still on its cloth tape. Original tintype portraits of ancestors find safe storage in acid-free boxes.

I researched the genealogy of my mother’s family from an early age. When I started teaching at Duluth High School in 1976, I was lucky to have a gifted artist as a student in one of my English classes. Gregory Jarrell took my rough charts and created a large family tree that I have kept framed and displayed for over forty years. I made sure that each of my Liddell aunts and uncles received full scale copies of the family tree.

Liddell Family Tree, Gregory Jarrell, artist, 1979
This detail of the chart shows the flowers of the thistle , a symbol of Scotland. The sailing ship references the Liddell brothers’ emigration to the American colonies after the Scots rebelled against British rule in their homeland.
This detail shows one branch of the seventh, eighth, and ninth generations of the Liddell descendants in the United States. As the chart is ink and poster-board framed under glass, there are obvious limits to keeping it up-to-date.
19th Century Yarn-winder
A weaver at Knott’s Berry Farm uses a yarn winder or weasel to measure and wind a skein (80 yards of yarn) Wikipedia image

A weasel’s gear ratio is usually 40 to 1. The circumference of the reel is usually two yards. The weasel pops after 40 revolutions. An 80-yard skein is wound around the yarn winder.

Liddell Family Tree , yarn-winder
Liddell House built in 1840. Photograph of Thomas Haney Liddell and Elizabeth Collier Liddell with granddaughter circa 1903
Early 19th century six board chest
Donley Store Singer sewing machine, Canton, Georgia, circa 1920
Originally a treadle machine, it was electrified at some point.
CSA Officer’s saber of Colonel George Washington Mills (1839-1910)

The chest is a pioneer piece from the Liddell plantation in Gwinnett County. It may have been used on a horse or mule-drawn wagon for storage of valuables as the family traveled from the Carolinas into Georgia in the early 1800’s. It is constructed of hand-planed pine and has dovetailed joints, wooden hinges, and a hand-forged hasp and latch.

Early 19th century powder horn
Evan Michael Green’s Challenger Space Shuttle toy 1980’s
Hitchcock stenciled chair late 20th century
Miniature steam engine

This working toy steam engine was purchased in Germany by William Donley Green while on a 2009 Stetson University Summer Study Abroad Program. It replicates an older version (missing parts) that was originally purchased for Michael Perry Green from Lenox Toys and Hobbies at Lenox Square in Atlanta, Georgia in the 1960’s.

1880’s Eastlake side chair

The chair was probably part of a bedroom suite used in the 1840 Liddell house. It remained in use in the 1957 Liddell house. The chair was repaired, recaned and gently refinished in 1977. The original finish was not stripped.

Biltmore House figurine c. 1980’s
Bill Cecil, Jr. and Michael Green met at Lenoir-Rhyne College at a talk in 2007. He is the CEO of the Biltmore Company. The company owns and operates Biltmore Estate. Bill is the great grandson of George W. Vanderbilt, the builder of Biltmore House.
Kodak Brownie Hawkeye flash model camera circa 1957. The camera belonged to Charlotte Liddell Green.
Funeral program for Moses Frank Liddell (1919-2016). Frank Liddell was the brother of Charlotte Liddell Green.
Flag used in funeral of Moses Frank Liddell, a veteran of WWII

The office holds artifacts from family history. Mary Donley Green and I have enjoyed preserving old and interesting objects from our families. Some of the pieces merit more detail, but that might best be done in future blog articles.

Michael Green

January 29, 2022

Serenity Garden

I began the garden in 2011. This part of the backyard had changed over the years with the removal of several pine trees and the construction of a swimming pool. Crab orchard stone stacked retaining wall and paving stones defined a walking path and sitting area, with steps down for a grade change. The elevation and slope of the area changed. I constructed a circular paved walking area with a central planting island and a site for a bench in 2011.

When our electrician Jay Norton installed landscape lighting, he christened the area the Serenity Garden. Plantings over the years have included perennials, podocarpus, osmanthus, aucuba , hydrangea, azaleas, and hostas.

My son Evan and I placed a large cast concrete urn on a short pedestal in the center of the circular planting bed. We have used various types of flowering and non-flowering plantings in the urn. Maples, pines, and an old, heirloom pear tree have provided partial shade to plant material in the garden.

Heirloom Pear tree before removal

This year the pear tree was in decline and the trunk had split; our tree surgeon removed it. Mary and I discussed some planning of the new garden and our son Will donated spare time to remove old bedding perennials, dead shrubs, plant new shrubs and prepare the new planting bed. He planted new shrubs: podocarpus, aucuba, camellias and osmanthus. Mary and I have removed some scraggly liriope. We are planting mondo grass to reduce the brown color that dominates from the use of pine mulch groundcover. Along the way Will moved a large azalea and relocated landscape lighting wiring that interfered with new shrub planting. Mary has ordered replacement landscape lighting as needed, and Evan and Will have installed them.

I have started referring to the project as Will Green’s Garden. I located a book in our collection, The Gardens of Williamsburg, for him to take home to enjoy.

Will Green plants violas.
Will planted violas, thirty ‘Baby Jade’ dwarf boxwoods and three dozen pre-chilled red tulip bulbs.
Planting finished and boxwoods trimmed.
Mary admires the garden redo.
Fallen bloom was too pretty still to toss into compost pile.

As of April 21, 2021, the Serenity Garden tulips have not emerged. These were pre-chilled bulbs that were planted very late. It was a risk, but “you win some and you lose some” in gardening. The Terrace Garden tulips were planted in the fall, however, and bloomed well around three weeks ago.

Mary with granddaughter Charlotte in the Terrace Garden

The azaleas and snapdragons have added color lately to the Serenity Garden.

Michael Green

April 21, 2021

Adventures With Multiple Myeloma, Part 2

In June 2020 I wrote a blog entry about the seven year staging of my health status.

In this entry I reviewed the status of my multiple myeloma and its remission and treatment. You may recall that I received a stem cell transplant in 2013 to counteract the disease in my bone marrow. The transplant helps the bone marrow improve the blood chemistry and combat cancerous elements found there. Because multiple myeloma is never cured, the best that can be done is to maintain remission even though cancer cells will continue to be produced. I have been receiving some form of chemotherapy for nearly nine years and have maintained very good partial remission (VGPR) since 2013. The major side effect is a compromised immune system which leaves me susceptible to infections such as colds and flu. To help me resist illness, I have had a series of five monthly immunoglobulin infusions in cooler weather months. Another side effect to the weak immune system has been an annoying tendency for skin cancers to occur and need treatment.

Recently, a stubborn squamous cell skin cancer required three weeks of radiation treatment after two surgical removals. During radiation I could not continue chemotherapy. After the necessary follow-up CT scan and meeting this week with my oncology team at Emory Winship Cancer Institute, I received a surprise. The levels of myeloma in my blood did not increase, even though I had been without chemotherapy for three months. My oncologist suggested that chemotherapy and immunoglobulin infusions be discontinued until further notice. Labs and office visits will continue every two months. The team will monitor my blood chemistry and will evaluate medication or treatment needs.

That was a great Thanksgiving blessing. For the first time in nearly nine years, I have no chemo prescription!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Michael Green

November 27, 2020

Goodbye to the “Big Oak”

Our “big oak” was a post oak that was about 150 years old. Macauley Properties wisely spared many trees in the neighborhood when our house was built in 1992. It was one of the trees that had sheltered the old home that had been on the property before the land was sold and developed into The Lakes of Enniskerry.

We have been keeping the tree maintained (pruning limbs, irrigating and fertilizing) for 28 years.  It has been under the care of a licensed arborist for ten years.

The tree declined with increasing age. Over the years the beautiful bend became very pronounced and three large decay areas in the trunk worsened.  With the loss of limbs, the old survivor began to appear rather sad. Even worse, it became a potential threat to our property.

Mary, our sons, and I came to the realization that the old friend and landmark in our neighborhood would have to be cut down.

Our HOA and the City of Milton arborist reviewed the permit requests and did inspections prior to approving the tree removal. We were very pleased that the city takes its tree protection very seriously.

The images below are of the tree and of the removal October 1, 2020.

Note the boot of the tree cutter in the lower left of the image for perspective.

Michael Green

0ctober 28, 2020

A Fragrant Delight: the Tea Olive

The tea olive is in a natural area of partial shade . It is near our Serenity Garden.
Tea olive shrubs grow well in zones 7-9.

Tea olive (Osmanthus fragrans) is a broadleaf evergreen that, true to its scientific name, produces tiny white blooms with an unmatched sweet citrusy fragrance.

The height of Osmanthus species can vary from 6 to 30 feet tall with a width similar in size to the height. The growth rate for tea olives is slow to moderate.

The tea olive is a deer resistant shrub and produces an oil that repels mosquitoes.

An added bonus: the honeybees from Will Green’s nearby beehive are enjoying it in great numbers.

The shrub pictured above grew over twenty years from a foot-high root transplant from the Canton, Georgia childhood home of Mary Donley Green.

Michael Green

October 9, 2020

Blackberry Lilies

Seasons Garden 2020

When I was an assistant principal at Parkview High School in Gwinnett County, a secretary named Jeanne Knox shared an interesting plant with me. I took the plant home to Lawrenceville, Georgia and transplanted it in our garden. That was thirty years ago. It made the move with us to Milton in 1992. The perennial has popped up just about everywhere in our gardens since then. I have never seen it in a plant nursery nor in any other gardens. It is the Blackberry Lily. Some of my readers may be familiar with it. Below are some images and further information.

Blackberry Lily blooming in the
Serenity Garden
Blackberry Lily Seed Pods
Seasons Garden
October 2020

Blackberry Lily Seed Pods
Serenity Garden October 2020

Iris domestica, known as Blackberry Lily or Leopard Lily is a perennial that is native to eastern Russia, China and Japan. The flower petals are speckled which has caused the plant to be known as Leopard Lily. The drying rhizomes are very similar in appearance to blackberries. The plant is hardy in zones 8-10 in the United States. The dried rhizome has long been used medicinally in Eastern Asia for a variety of ailments.

Michael Green

October 7, 2020

Red Banana

There are three stands of banana trees in the gardens. This stand has fruited first.

Red banana trees have flourished for years in our gardens. By the end of the growing season they are ten feet tall. Frost burns the leaves and the trees are cut down and composted. The trees return faithfully jn late spring and are a welcome food source for bees, butterflies and hummingbirds.

Our neighbor Marta says that the red banana fruit is available in grocery stores in Puerto Rico. Having been used to store-bought bananas only, I have managed a small nibble which was pleasantly sweet. I survived that sample last year and may attempt more tasting with the new harvest.

The Seasons Garden has two healthy stands that provide a pleasing tropical look.


Staging Results

This is the Cliffs Notes version of “Michael’s Adventures With Multiple Myeloma.”

Multiple Myeloma is a blood cancer that affects the blood plasma and is incurable, but treatable with varying degrees of success.

August 2011 Diagnosed with MM

August 2011 Radiation Therapy

September 2011 Spinal Fusion

November 2011 Pulmonary Embolism

January 2012 Chemotherapy begins

April 2013 Stem Cell Transplant

The results of the seven year staging post-transplant were good. The bone marrow biopsy revealed less than 5% myeloma in the sample. My condition remains Very Good Partial Remission. My treatment is successful and will be modified in some ways. Oral at-home maintenance chemotherapy in low dosage will continue and not be changed. Multiple Myeloma blood chemistry labs will be every three months.

The results indicate success in treatment of the cancer as a chronic disease.

Thank you friends for your comments, prayers and continued encouragement.

Now I return my thoughts and plans to enjoying life, as usual. The family will be celebrating Father’s Day 2020 Sunday and I am looking forward to hearing giggles from granddaughter Charlotte Jayne Green.

Michael Green

June 18, 2020