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Happy Christmas to All

In The Home

Photography by Sally Kolar

With its festive yuletide décor, a West Lake home is filled with good tidings of great joy.

Maybe it’s the soft glow of the single white candle nestled among the greenery and red bows in each of the windowsills. Or perhaps it’s the bright lights on the multiple trees that shine through the windowpanes on the front of the house. Or it might even be Mae, the life-sized doll – with her Christmas attire, knowing expression and double chin – that greets everyone who walks through the door.

It’s hard to say which of the holiday decorations best sets the tone for a season of festivities at the West Lake residence of Dianne and Larry Prather. However, there’s no doubt that Christmas and all who love it are welcome in their home.

“It makes me so happy,” Dianne says of the Christmas décor. “I walk down the halls once it’s all done, and every room makes me happy.”

All Dolled Up
Brandon May of Brooks Haven Floral & Flowers in Grovetown helps Dianne decorate the house, which was featured in last year’s Augusta Ballet Tour of Homes, for the holidays.

“I just stand back and watch,” says Larry, president of Prather Construction Co. and a former Columbia County commissioner.

Seated in a chair in the foyer, the aforementioned Mae has been a fixture in the Prather house for at least 10 years. She exudes holiday spirit with her Christmas finery including her dress featuring a red bodice and a red, green and gold plaid skirt; sparkly ruby shoes; pearl necklace and bracelet; gold bell earrings; holly in the piles of brown curls on her head and poinsettia in her lap.

“Mae is a great hostess. She adds fun, whimsy and lightheartedness, but she only comes out at Christmas. She doesn’t have different outfits,” says Dianne. “I used to have a champagne glass in her hand. She was a lot more fun then, but she couldn’t hold onto it.”

One evening after the holiday decorations had been put away, however, Mae almost ended up with another decidedly un-festive accessory – a bullet hole between her eyes.

The Prathers thought they heard a noise upstairs, so Larry went to investigate with a pistol in hand. He opened the closet door – Dianne was armed with a cell phone, poised to call 911 – and out tumbled Mae.

Fortunately, Mae didn’t become a ghost of Christmas past on that fateful night, but nods to yesteryear are mixed in with the Christmas décor throughout the Prather home.

An 1853 vase, which made by Dave the Potter of Edgefield, sits by the front door in the foyer. Dave, a former slave who was able to read and write, signed and dated his work. The stoneware pottery of Edgefield, Dianne’s hometown, outshone earthenware pottery because it was stronger and impervious to water.

In the living room, family furnishings include an RCA Victrola, which belonged to Dianne’s grandmother, and a secretary that belonged to Larry’s mother. Larry’s old school textbooks, as well as a pair of children’s leather gloves that he wore when he was a boy, sit on the desk. His father’s pocket watch is on a shelf, and a boyhood portrait of Larry, who grew up in Harlem, hangs on a wall.

An old photograph book with a lock, which contains silver plate pictures of Prather ancestors, sits on a table in the den. Their names are handwritten inside the front cover.

Around the Globe
However, it’s not just tangible family heirlooms that were passed down from one generation to the next. As the holiday décor indicates, Dianne and Larry inherited a fondness for Christmas as well.

“My father always loved Christmas,” says Dianne. “I used to decorate with live greenery – even outside. Daddy always loved to cut holly and mistletoe for me. He put holly across his mantel. There was a huge holly tree on his property since he was a little boy, and he loved to share it.”

Two rows of eight live poinsettias – four on each side – climb up the stairs, and the handrails are wrapped with greenery and big red bows.

The Prathers start decorating for Christmas the day after Thanksgiving, and they put up six trees every year – one in the den, dining room, living room, sitting room, master bedroom and breakfast nook. The trees have no themes, but with their strategic placement in front of a window in each room, their white lights send out Christmas cheer to passersby.

Dianne decorates the Christmas tree in the den herself, and it is her favorite because of the nostalgia it evokes.

“We have traveled extensively, and the ornaments on the tree in the den are ones we have collected when we traveled,” she says. “We also have ornaments that our children and grandchildren have made on the tree. They bring back such fun memories.”

Cross stitch ornaments that Dianne made hang from the branches, and an ornament that her grown daughter, Emily, made as a kindergartner is front and center on the tree. Ornaments from their travels around the world include a small Monet painting on an easel from France, a sombrero from Mexico, a heart from Budapest, a camel and a King Tut figure from Egypt, a doll from China and a South African mask.

“In a lot of countries, you can’t find ornaments, so you just pick up whatever you can and make it into an ornament,” says Dianne.

Her mother made the quilt that is draped across a chair in the den. The quilt includes appliqués such as hearts, a gingerbread man and a teddy bear. However, Dianne’s favorite –the quilt is folded so this one is on top – is the appliqué of a little girl with Emily’s name stitched on her pinafore dress. “Emily always wore little pinafores,” says Dianne.

Five large nutcrackers stand at attention on the raised hearth of the wood-burning fireplace in the den. All of them are golfers except for a Clemson nutcracker.

Greenery, ribbon and LED candles line the mantel, and a box with poinsettia-patterned fabric, which Dianne’s sister made, sits in front of the fireplace.

“I like a real fire, even though we’re usually outside playing basketball in shirtsleeves on Christmas,” says Larry.

Color, Fun & Whimsy
A stack of children’s Christmas books is piled high on the coffee table. Two Santas – one clad in a suit of Clemson orange and the other wearing UGA red to acknowledge the divided sports allegiances in the household – sit on the top shelf of the entertainment console. “When I buy a Clemson ornament for myself, I buy a Georgia ornament for Larry,” says Dianne.

She also collects Christopher Radko ornaments and nutcrackers for their five grandsons that range in age from 3 to 21.

In the living room, her own collection of Christopher Radko snow globes sits on a blanket of “snow” on the built-in bookshelves. Inside the 2001 Macy’s snow globe, the twin towers still are standing. A cane-bottom child’s rocker sits by the tree.

In the master bedroom, more quilts that Dianne’s mother made fill a basket by the Christmas tree. One of her favorites is a colorful quilt in which every piece of fabric has a circle on it.

“It’s just fun. I’m all about color,” Dianne says.

The master bedroom also features a four-poster bed, ceiling fan, trey ceiling and flat screen TV on the wall.

A wreath hangs on the window in the master bath, which also features tile flooring, granite countertops, a trey ceiling, a walk-in shower, two vanities and a window seat.

The sitting room, which was part of a 2011 addition to the home, was supposed to be Dianne’s space, but the room is a wonderland for any child during the holidays.

Overflowing with wrapped packages, a pair of black Santa boots stands by the tree. Not a creature is stirring – not even a stuffed mouse, with a stocking cap on its head and a teddy bear under its arm, that is curled up fast asleep in a basket. A child’s nativity scene is set up by the gas fireplace, where stockings are hung on the mantel with care.

The purpose of the sitting room – which also features a trey ceiling, chair rail, chandelier and two paintings of Edisto hammocks – was to keep Dianne from spending so much time in the kitchen. However, she says, “I still spend all my time in the kitchen.”

Sweets and Treats
That’s because she loves to cook, especially during the holidays when she bakes fruitcake cookies, date balls, cheese biscuits, pecan sandies, orange slice candy cake and caramel cake.

This Christmas, like they do every other year, the Prather family will celebrate together on Christmas Day, when Dianne prepares a pork crown roast. In opposite years they have family over at Thanksgiving and for Christmas Eve brunch, when she makes shrimp and grits.

“I just enjoy being with family and seeing the expressions on the grandkids’ faces at Christmas,” says Larry.

Full of fun and whimsy, the kitchen Christmas décor includes winged Mark Roberts fairies and Mark Roberts elves, with grins that reveal the gap between their two front teeth. The lights above the island are adorned with greenery and red ribbon as well as red, green and gold ornaments. A Lenox Holiday Tartan teapot, which is filled with greenery and berries and includes the lid as part of the décor, sits atop the range.

The table in the adjoining breakfast nook is set with Lenox Holiday Tartan china. Greenery, red balls and candy cane ornaments hang from the chandelier.

A gingerbread boy and girl sit in a chair in the corner by the bay window and sing “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” with the push of a button.

The Christmas tree includes balls, candy canes, gingerbread men and more Mark Roberts fairies with names like Candy Maker and Gift Giver. “When I take them out of the boxes, I love reading their names,” says Dianne.

A bread bowl, which belonged to Larry’s mother, serves as the centerpiece on the oval table.

“I used to make a gingerbread house every year, but I don’t have the time anymore,” says Dianne. “They lasted several years, and that inspired the gingerbread theme.”

In the dining room, a watercolor by Beth Jones of North Augusta hangs on one wall. The painting depicts the vase of zinnias that normally occupies the center of the dining room table and the china cabinet in the background.

“I love zinnias, and I grow zinnias,” says Dianne. “The dining room is a pretty formal room, so I wanted some whimsy.”

On the dining room table, fluted chargers create a gold-rimmed layer beneath Lenox Holiday china. “It’s just another one of those things that just makes me happy at Christmas,” says Dianne. “I have been collecting the china for a long time.”

Christmas ornaments dangle from the chandelier, and red tassels hang from the china cabinet. The dining room tree includes gold ribbon, small LED candles and a crown on top of the tree. “The crown has jewels on it just like the ornaments do,” says Dianne.

However, everything in the Prather house sparkles like a gem at Christmastime.

“I just like colorful, happy things. That’s what Christmas is supposed to be,” Dianne says. “Everybody seems so happy. That’s the way it should be all year.”

By Betsy Gilliland



Augusta Plastic Surgery


Creativity flows through the walls of Augusta Plastic Surgery at its new state-of-the-art facility and through the hands of Dr. Christopher Ewart and Dr. Michael Tarakji. They have been voted the best in Augusta and Columbia County year after year based on outstanding results and a patient experience like no other. Since opening their brand new facility on Fury’s Ferry Road, the practice has launched the “Love Yourself” campaign to inspire self-confidence and a Botox Bar to provide a quick and easy way to get injections knowing your time is valuable. In addition, it is a one-stop location for your consults and surgery needs, with a brand new operating suite including three procedure rooms and an onsite medical spa.

Augusta Plastic Surgery creates a memorable and luxurious experience for every patient that walks through the door, from noninvasive CoolSculpting to the complete mommy makeover. They understand that results matter.


569 Furys Ferry Rd • Martinez
(706)  724-5611

Downton Abbey – Southern Style


Photography by Sally Kolar

Local fans of the British TV show celebrated the long-awaited movie premiere with aplomb.

Devoted followers of “Downton Abbey,” a British historical drama that ran on PBS from 2010 to 2015, eagerly awaited the September opening of the movie of the same name. These avid fans included a group of about 50 local ladies that saw the premiere together with reserved seating at Riverwatch Cinemas.

Making an event of the premiere, they dressed in period clothing for a pre-movie champagne brunch at Rosemary Inn Bed & Breakfast in North Augusta before heading to the theater.

Susan Salisbury of Evans organized the party for members of the Augusta Area Newcomers Club movie group and personal friends.

“I wanted everyone to have a happy day, go see a movie that we all like together, and then discuss it afterward,” she said.

Authentic Ambiance
A devoted “Downton Abbey” fan, Susan has visited Highclere Castle, the English estate where the “Downton Abbey” series and movie were filmed and, in real life, is the home of the Eighth Earl and Countess of Carnarvon.

The TV drama depicted the Crawley family, wealthy owners of a large estate in the English countryside in the early 20th century, and their servants. The film is set in 1927, slightly more than a year after the series finale takes place, and it features a royal visit to Downton Abbey by King George V and Queen Mary.

And stepping into Rosemary Inn was like touring the movie set – or Downton Abbey itself.

“This is the perfect house for a festive celebration like this,” said Diana Combs, who owns Rosemary Inn with her husband, Kelly. “A lot of people equate it with ‘Downton Abbey.’ They say it is the Downton Abbey of the South.”

The ladies wandered through the bed and breakfast, where “Downton Abbey” books and CDs, as well as a Life magazine with some of the show’s characters on the cover, were displayed. Period music played in the background on a player piano.

Evans resident Thelma Gilchrist, looking divine in a black dress, black shawl, elegant fingerless black gloves and black feathered flapper headpiece, snapped photos of the guestrooms on her cell phone. She says she recognized one of the bedrooms from a reality TV show.

In addition to dressing for the part, the women brought homemade dishes for the luncheon. Some of the recipes came from the cookbook, Downton Abbey Cooks.

Countertops in the dining hall were blanketed with silver trays of cucumber, pimento cheese and egg salad sandwiches; steak rollups; potato salad; spinach salads; a strawberry congealed salad and a fruit tray with pineapple, grapes and strawberries.

A sideboard was topped with desserts such as Queen Mary’s favorite birthday cake, tiramisu chocolate strawberry trifle, blueberry scones, lemon tarts, petit fours, brownies and lemon thumbprint cookies dusted with powdered sugar.

Prizes were awarded for Most Authentic Dish, Most Beautiful Dish, Best Presentation and Best Costume. The winners received scented soaps.

Lynn Pawlak of Evans won the prize for Most Authentic Dish with her Queen Mary’s cake, a génoise with chocolate frosting, from a recipe that has been in the royal family for generations. Susan LaFrance of Martinez won the Most Beautiful Dish award for the tiramisu, and Martinez resident Betty Sneed won the Best Presentation prize for the pineapple fruit tray.

Dressed to Impress
Martinez resident Fran Weber, one of two winners of the Best Costume contest along with Phyllis Harvey of Martinez, ordered her blush-colored, fringed dress from Amazon. She accented it with a strand of long pearls and a matching headpiece.

“We feel like we’re playing dress up. We feel like we’re part of an era,” said Fran. “I’m going to start binge-watching the show again.”

Phyllis wore a gold-sequined chemise with maroon jewels. “I got the dress a long time ago at a consignment store in Santa Barbara when I was looking for a costume,” she said.

A devoted “Downton Abbey” fan, Phyllis, who splits her time between Martinez and Santa Barbara, was attending a Newcomers event for the first time.

“I thought the party was amazing. I couldn’t believe how well they put it together. I look forward to more outings with the Newcomers,” she says. “The facility was beautiful. It was so fun to go through the house and look at the antiques. I love that era.”

Evans resident Lottie Gilchrist, who had been binge-watching the show for the past couple of months, found a dress in her closet for the occasion.

“I already had this dress. I look like the dowager, but that’s OK. It’s a good excuse to get dressed up,” she says.

Pat Rickerman of Martinez wore a black dress with fringe and long white gloves.

“The gloves are my daughter’s gloves from Social, and I made the dress for her for AP history class when she was in high school,” said Pat, who bought the dress at Goodwill and added the fringe. “The headband is actually a necklace, and the hose are $5 from Target.”

She also is a big fan of “Downton Abbey.” “I love the show and the everyday drama of the characters and the upstairs, downstairs part of it,” said Pat, referring to lives of the aristocratic characters and their household servants who work at the estate.

Teresa McVeigh of Augusta never had seen the TV show, but that didn’t stop her from enjoying the festivities.

“I’m an Anglophile. I lived in England for a year,” she said. “I might have to go back and watch the show now.”

Carole Steffes of Evans didn’t know much about “Downton Abbey” either, but she certainly dressed the part. Her 1920s outfit included antique Black Jet mourning jewelry that had belonged to her great-aunt Kate, who was her grandmother’s sister.

Regardless of their familiarity with the show, the ladies enjoyed stepping back in time for a special occasion.

“This gives us an opportunity to channel our own ancestors,” said Susan. “You can tell it makes people so happy. We need these positive moments in our lives. It came from the heart. It makes me happy, but obviously, I’m not alone.”

By Sarah James

Savannah River Dermatology


At Savannah River Dermatology, your concerns are their concerns. Offering medical, surgical and cosmetic dermatology services, the highly trained team of board-certified dermatologists and assistants help you look and feel your best. They diagnose and treat all skin conditions ranging from dry skin, allergies and acne to psoriasis, eczema and rashes. Surgical services include skin cancer surgery, skin biopsies and cyst, mole, skin tag and lipoma removal. The staff also specializes in minimally invasive skin rejuvenation procedures including laser treatments, chemical peels, Botox, facial fillers and anti-aging skin care to correct skin problems and enhance skin health and appearance.

Combining the art of medicine with the latest advances in research and technology, the physicians at Savannah River Dermatology formulate personalized treatment plans to achieve unique, desired and aesthetically pleasing results.

575 Furys Ferry Road, Martinez, GA 30907
(706) 691-7079

Picking on Pumpkins


Lots of people love Halloween, but National Pumpkin Destruction Day is a smashing idea as well.
There’s a fun way to get rid of all the Halloween candy around the house once the holiday has ended – eat it. And now there is an ingenious way to dispose of your lovingly carved jack-o’-lanterns or your plain old pumpkins as well. It’s called National Pumpkin Destruction Day.

The first Saturday after Halloween has been designated National Pumpkin Destruction Day by no less of an authority than Chase’s Calendar of Events, the go-to reference guide on all special events, holidays, federal and state anniversaries, historical milestones and more that are celebrated worldwide.

And National Pumpkin Destruction Day got its humble beginnings at The Rock Ranch, founded in The Rock, Georgia by the late S. Truett Cathy of Chick-fil-A fame.

‘Smash It, Don’t Trash It’
The event started in 2007, the second year of the property’s efforts to promote agritourism, after hundreds of the ranch’s pumpkins did not sell before Halloween. The concept was the brainchild of Adam Pugh, senior director of operations and marketing at The Rock Ranch.

“We’re all about good stewardship and taking care of the land, and we thought it would be a good way to recycle pumpkins,” says Pugh. “We were going to compost the pumpkins and see if the cows would eat them. Before we compost them, we have to smash them up anyway.”

So why not get a little creative with the process and invite people to share in the fun?

After Pugh talked things over with Jeff Manley, the general manager, The Rock Ranch held the inaugural event the Saturday after Halloween.

They initially came up with several inventive ways to destroy pumpkins. Smash them to smithereens with a giant mallet – check. Pulverize them with a vibratory packer – check. Flatten them with a steam roller – check. Knock them to bits in a game of pumpkin bowling – check. Drop them from a 40-foot lift crane and watch them splatter on the ground – check.

“There are a whole lot of fun ways to pick on pumpkins,” say Pugh.

Their ingenuity has grown through the years, and The Rock Ranch has expanded its repertoire to about 15 ways to smash pumpkins. Now, they also take pumpkins up in an airplane and bomb an old tour bus with them. They blow them up into an explosion of orange; they shoot them from a cannon that propels them for half a mile – and then shoots out candy for children to scoop up at the end of each blast. They put them atop junk cars and ride over them with professional monster trucks. Or people can puncture them with darts or arrows in spirited rounds of pumpkin darts or pumpkin archery. Many of the pumpkin-smashing activities take place all day long, but some of the demolition takes place during scheduled events.

At the end of the day, ranch personnel scoop up the smashed pumpkins with tractors and feed them to the cattle or compost them into fertile soil.

“We encourage people to bring their own pumpkins, and we gather them up from area pumpkin patches,” Pugh says. “Smash it; don’t trash it.”

In other games, children can reach into a receptacle and see what they pull out – a handful of candy or a handful of pumpkin guts. For $6 per person, visitors also can ride in a monster truck.

Making Memories
Last year the ranch pulverized more than 6,500 pumpkins, and more than a dozen places in the United States and Canada now celebrate National Pumpkin Destruction Day as well.

“I hope in the next 10 to 15 years, it becomes what you do with your pumpkin,” says Pugh.

However, pumpkin smashing isn’t the only attraction at the 1,500-acre working cattle ranch. Others include cow-a-bunga zip lines, a carousel, a locomotive train, Tiny Town, a giant jumping pillow, tractor wagon rides, a corn maze, pony rides, Farm Land animal zoo, a corn bin, a cow train, pedal carts, gemstone mining, cane pole fishing, a rock climbing wall and family tug-of war. The Rock Museum, which houses more than 5,000 Georgia gems and minerals and a fossil dig station, also is available for exploring.

The ranch, which grows fresh produce, is dedicated to “Growing Healthy Families” as well.

“We want people to get outside, be healthy and make memories. We trick them into exercising,” says Pugh. “We try to make a positive impact with everything we do and use our property to benefit as many people as we can. Hopefully, when they leave, they’ll be happier than when they got here. The Rock Ranch is a neat experience for families that want to escape for a day.”

For overnight stays guests can reserve a limited number of Farm Stay houses or Conestoga wagons to sleep pioneer-style.

If You Go:
What: Pumpkin Destruction Day

When: 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. Saturday, November 2

Where: The Rock Ranch, 5020 Highway 36, The Rock, Georgia

How Much: $22.24 general admission; $20.01 per person for groups of 25 or more

More Info: (706) 647-6374 or therockranch.com

By Morgan Davis

Photos courtesy of The Rock Ranch

Care More Animal Hospital

Pet Care

Care More Animal Hospital is a full-service, AAHA accredited veterinary medical facility, located in Martinez, GA. The professional and courteous staff at Care More Animal Hospital seeks to provide the best possible medical, surgical and dental care for their highly-valued patients. We are committed to promoting responsible pet ownership, preventative health care and health-related educational opportunities for our clients.

Care More Animal Hospital strives to offer excellence in veterinary care to Augusta, GA and the surrounding areas.

Please take a moment to contact us today, to learn more about our veterinary practice and to find out more information about how Care More Animal Hospital can serve the needs of you and your cherished pet.

4016 Old Blackstone Camp Rd
Martinez, GA 30907
Phone: (706) 650-1839

Or visit our website at caremoreanimalhospital.vetstreet.com

Martinez Animal Hospital

Pet Care

ALL THE BEST DAWGS GO TO Martinez Animal Hospital!
Services: • Preventative Health Programs • Wellness Exams • Orthopedics • Surgery • Laboratory • Ultrasound • Radiology • Thermal Imaging  • Vaccinations  • Dentistry  • Boarding • Equine  • Exotics

3942 Washington Road Martinez, GA 30907

(706) 863-1223

Please visit our website at  martinezanimalhospital.vet

Still Waiting

What's New 2019

Augusta University Health system has been waiting for the go-ahead to build a hospital in Columbia County on Gateway Boulevard in Grovetown for nearly five years, and the waiting game is not over yet. Columbia County is the largest county in Georgia without a hospital.

According to AU Health officials, construction cannot begin until all certificate of need appeals have been exhausted.

Doctors Hospital has opposed the proposal, and on April 30, the Georgia Court of Appeals affirmed the lower court decisions, which upheld the Georgia Department of Community Health decision to grant AU Health the certificate of need to build the county’s first hospital.

In May, however, Doctors Hospital filed a writ of certiorari, which orders a lower court to deliver its record to a higher court for review, to the Georgia Supreme Court. In response, AU Health and the state Department of Community Health filed notices on June 10 and 11, respectively, asking that the court disregard this latest appeal by Doctors Hospital.

AU Health officials says it could be four or five months before they know if the state Supreme Court will hear the appeal or not. If the court declines to hear the appeal, then AU Health will have a clear certificate of need and be able to move forward with planning and construction.

According to the master development plan, the campus would include a 28,000-square-foot urgent care facility; a 100-bed, 259,649-square-foot hospital; a three-story medical office building; a two-story medical office building; a 50,000-square-foot health/wellness village where businesses that provide health and wellness services could lease space; about 1,800 parking spaces and a hotel/conference/fitness center with 500-plus parking spaces.

Orthopedic Associates of Augusta, P.A.

Resource Guide

Since 1969, our practice has provided quality, comprehensive orthopaedic care in the CSRA. Our physicians are board-certified by the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery, and are available to provide general orthopaedic care as well as specialty care, including hand and upper extremity surgery, sports medicine rehabilitation,  arthroscopic surgery, foot and ankle surgery, and treatment of spinal disorders. Our total joint replacement program is second to none, and includes the newest minimally invasive procedure for hip replacement.   For the convenience of our patients, we have locations both in Augusta and in Evans, as well as an orthopaedic surgery center that provides a comfortable and caring atmosphere for most out-patient surgical procedures.   We also offer an after-hours clinic for orthopaedic urgent care at our Evans location from 5:30 – 8:30 pm Monday through Thursday.  Walk-ins are welcome at the after-hours clinic.

University Professional Center
811 13th Street, Suite 20 | Augusta, GA 30901
(706) 722-3401

Evans Town Park
2511 Associates Way | Evans, GA 30809
(706) 854-2140

VISIT OUR WEBSITE AT www.oaapa.com