An Essay on Family

The Pioneer Spirit

This essay on family, heritage and change is dedicated to my mother, Charlotte Liddell Green and my uncle, Moses Frank Liddell of Duluth, Georgia. They are the last of the family to have been born in the log house of 1840 that sat on the land of the Creeks.

Nine generations of Liddell family descendants have called Gwinnett County home since a distant day in 1820. On that day, important to American Revolution veterans and to the widows of veterans, parcels of 250 acres of land were drawn in a lottery system that gave land away. This lottery provided a compensation for those men serving in the United States Continental Armed Forces. The land distribution had resulted from the expansion of the white man into the newly ceded Native American territories. This system opened up primeval Creek and Cherokee lands in the state of Georgia, allowing surveyors to divide up the wilderness that had been home to the Creek and Cherokee Indians.

William Liddell served his country as a young patriot in the war for American Independence. He received one of the precious land lots which would allow him to start a new life in a state deep in the south of his new country. Along with his wife Ruth and their family, he had become part of a movement over the years, a drifting of enterprising folk to vacant lands in the south and beyond the mountains to the west.

William Liddell would have had to take quite a leap of faith in order to envision a future that would bring his family a sturdy roof of protection and a mule trail to the county seat of Lawrenceville or the stagecoach inn at Pinckneyville. These were the centers of business, gossip, government and opportunity. It would be decades before Atlanta became a name on the new maps.

William’s people would manage to prosper in their new home. Wars that would tear at the quilt of civilization would leave their marks on the family. Economic upheavals that threatened to kill the pioneer dream would hone the survival instincts of the family. Through it all, the old Liddell log home that William’s son Daniel built would continue to shelter the generations of children that would call the farm home in the new county of Gwinnett.

None of these children became Nobel laureates, none rose to the heights of political success and none amassed legendary fortunes. True to their Scots blood, Liddells worked hard and earnestly, seeking to better the farm and to provide small comforts for their children. They didn’t know it then, but the weight of time would prove them careful custodians of a legacy. That legacy was simple to say, but harder to practice. Good people always help their neighbors. And with that as a simple credo, the family became community leaders and helpers. Many families in the Pleasant Hill area would look to the Liddell’s for some relief during a “tight” when such was all too common in the “thirties.”

The Liddell children became community stewards serving as grand jury men, ministers, teachers and school administrators. Hundreds of school children, young adults, teachers, staff, and parents have been influenced by the teaching and leadership skills of Liddell descendants.

The Liddell surname has just about died out in a Gwinnett County that has changed exponentially in the last nearly two hundred years. The log homeplace of 1840 was razed in the late 1950s, shortly before US Interstate 85 bisected the farm that had grown into a Gwinnett plantation. The old homeplace grounds have been resculpted into a large restaurant and entertainment complex. Somewhat miraculously after the years of commercial development, the old Creek landmark known to all Liddells as Big Rock, shimmers in the woods with its freshwater spring hiding beneath.

The last Liddell left the homeplace thirty years ago. The old community had ceased to exist as neighbors enjoyed their own close-knit society. The old pioneer concept, the struggles, the failures and the landscape that had remained undisturbed for one-hundred and sixty years of Liddell stewardship became virtually unrecognizable. Only incomplete memory and legacy remain, but these are ripe for rediscovery and extension for those who want to reconnect with family history.

Michael P. Green

Milton, Georgia

August 28, 2011


I’ve Taken to my Bed

August 28, 2011, 12:23 am

For years I knew that to write fluently and with catharsis, a person had to actually put words onto paper or some medium every day without failure. I knew that the length of time spent writing was not the goal, the goal was to get words forming into phrases that would form thoughts that would capture the perception of the writer. If an idea became fluent and expressed an idea in a pleasurable way, then a writer was finding his voice. The D Word had to raise its head: Discipline

I’ve heard that the writing process would “be a good outlet.” As a former teacher, I know that writing can unlock the mind. So, write, I will.

Even in bed, watching the esteemed and miraculous Sir Paul McCartney inspire with “Jets” on Saturday Night Live. I think that Mary and I have seen him in concert about a half dozen times. In an interview in the September 2011 edition of the e-magazine, “Project,” published by Virgin Atlantic, he speaks of his continuing to perform out of the love of performing, of making music, rather than making money. I believe him.

My buddies are with me, but they are in total cat repose. Birthday Girl hasn’t made it back to join us, yet. And yes, it does take a bit to bring a stubborn fellow down and keep him down. Even a night out at a horror movie… It was one that I’d been trying to get Mary to see, without even a chink in her no-way armor.

Will agreed to see “Fright Night” with me, though. I experienced one of the campiest, cracked, 3-D, vampire-spurting-blood flicks I’ve ever had the guilty pleasure to view. A weird, unlined-with-age, Colin Farrell chews the scenery with infective charisma. Even the titles implode from dripping blood into projectile sprays into an eager audience. Perfect guy-movie without the least serious whiff of artistic merit!

I rest easily tonight with a ton of blessings.




Evan and Sarah Return

August 27, 2011

Evan Green and Sarah Plancon have spent a wonderful week in Asheville and Highlands. Here, they are seen in the view from the Music Room looking into the Winter Garden at Biltmore House.

Other important news in our family: Mary celebrates her birthday, tomorrow, August 28th.


DOD, Flying Biscuits and ROC

August 26, 2011

Friday started with SeizeTheDay grabbing hold at 5:45 am and getting ready for the day: dialysis pickup of my mother in Duluth (Dear Old Duluth) at 11:00 am and radiation treatment number 9 (remind anyone of a song, besides me?)

I drove Big Red, the overhauled Yukon, with MDG along for relief-drive and dialysis data-keeping. Mary has Friday “off” from full time, on-campus KSU, Argosy U online and University of Phoenix online. Needless to say, her ride with me…much appreciated!

After DOD, it was on to lunch at The Flying Biscuit in Peachtree Corners. Delicious, indeed!

Big Red nuzzles onto 2-85 towards ROC, Radiology Oncology Clinic (It is actually Services, not clinic, but allow SeizeTheDay a little poetic license, please) at Saint Joseph’s Hospital. An early arrival…Friday for staff!…

The session was routine, although I mismanaged my movements getting upright from the radiation treatment table. Change the routine, add a different face in the room and I find my concentration wavers. Nice guy, just a new face to throw me… He liked the tats and we made friends… Perceptive, he understood that I had failed to visualize getting off the radiation table in the way that keeps my ninth thoracic vertebra from throwing me into Wince Mode. I attempt to visualize and implement the individual movements of my body as I get upright and off the table without pain and without tearing a hole in a wall or cursing in an undiscovered language.

Scene averted…No holes, no new curses and SeizeTheDay ends his blog at 2:57 pm ready to head Big Red back to Casa Green with MDG the Patient.

Sweet reward for the day from Theo’s Brothers Bakery: an assortment of delectables such as:

Chocolate Swedish Wedding Cookies
Raspberry Macaroon
Lavender cookie
Little Strawberry Tarts

They are going fast, I’m afraid.


Let’s Go to School, continued

The meeting with the KSU student teacher and her excellent Kindergarten Collaborating Teacher was a very smooth one! Even on pain meds…maybe, a little better for it (insert chuckle, here). The school is below Marietta and is just a pleasure to experience, upon entering. As a school principal, I can smell a good school. My teacher friends will know what I mean. The curb appeal, the office staff, the students in the hall practicing routine, the teachers and support staff catching a quick conversation while doing seven things in perfect harmony…I get it just at a glance.

The Student Teacher and Collaborating Teacher and SeizeTheDay had less than fifty minutes while the kiddos were at PE to meet, go over process, look at instruments, schedule my four observations and plan. Did it, networked, left and got into my chaffeured ride with William Green, young tenor extraordinaire.

Returning to Roswell, lunch was on Father and a stop at Theo’s Brothers Bakery and Sandwich Shop was very much in order. Sandwiches and pastries tucked into the car, we went home for a nice lunch. Next stop, SeizeTheDay drives to ROC radiation.

Cruised down 400 at a clip in the ‘vette, backdooring it into ROC at Saint Joseph’s…just five minutes off-time… Nice entrance…

I received a notarized handicapped authorization from The Only One, Merriman. She is a card.

The session was typical; it was number 8 out of 20. Visualization of the table exit was good. Not much crud-movement pain.

Headed to a Starbucks for after RT treat and then, to Casa Green. 3:36 pm


Let’s Go to School

August 25, 2011

Mary, Will and I went to see “The Help” last night and ended the evening at Pure Tacqueria in Alpharetta. The film was an interesting and funny movie with some tremendous a-ha, old south growing up moments!

I planned to meet with one of my Kennesaw State University Student Teachers and her Collaborating Teacher today in the field. I planned to follow that with my Radiation Therapy in the afternoon. The visit to RES went well and now it’s off to RT.


August 24, 2011

Today is Wednesday, a busy one. Will and I went to Duluth for MawMaw’s Dialysis. Will is a natural as my apprentice for caring for his grandparents. He did the data book, meds and mail.
His attention to detail is remarkable, as if I did not already know about this apple and the tree.

Will took me from Duluth to the Radiation Clinic early for my appointment. I lost my arm ID, so the timing was good. I introduced Will to Trish at the clinic who was extremely interested in networking Will at her church.


August 23, 2011

One of the aspects of pain meds is the hack job done to uninterrupted sleep. Rising at 5:30 am was never my forte,’ but turn it to advantage even in semi-retirement, Mike.

We all thrive under routine, so I start the garden path sweeping, container watering and coffee drinking outside. It seemed cooler outside at 7:00 this morning. I appreciated that and the gardens seemed to be sighing with contentment.

Now that I have a vertebra out of commission, the heavy stuff to run several garden rooms on a big lot has to be contracted out. The commercial Toro lawn mower has been farmed out to son Evan…no more Lawn Maintenance by MPG at Casa Green.

Planning, deadheading, light pruning, watering containers and gardens that need it by hand are jobs that I do fairly well now. I am getting a lot of help from Mary, my parents Charlotte and Bill and sons Evan and Will. Jobs for all from a master delegator…can I get an AMEN?!

It takes a village to run my gardens, it seems.

This afternoon at 2:45…radiation treatment number 6 out of 20
Treatments are short and no pain; getting off of the flat table: Wince Time and breathless




Good Night Moon

Excerpt from a favorite children’s book…I can wrap my head around this tonight.

With apologies to Margaret Wise Brown, “Goodnight Moon,” copyright 1947 by Harper & Rowe, Publishers

Goodnight moon
Goodnight cow jumping over the moon

Goodnight light
And the red balloon

Goodnight bears
Goodnight chairs

Goodnight kittens

And goodnight mittens

Goodnight clocks
And goodnight socks

Goodnight little house

And goodnight mouse

Goodnight comb
And goodnight brush

Goodnight nobody

Goodnight mush

And goodnight to the old lady
Whispering “hush”

Goodnight stars

Goodnight air

Goodnight noises everywhere