Thursday, December 30, 2010

Ten things

Now that 2010, and the first decade of the millenium, is almost over, I thought it was time for you to learn a few things about me. So, here are ten things that most of you don’t know. Don't you just hate this kind of post? 

1.  When I was a senior in high school, our class took our Senior Trip to Washington, D.C. and to New York City! We spent three days in NYC. Now this was equivalent to taking 66 foreign students there and setting them loose on the streets of Manhattan without a map or an interpreter. Oh sure, we did the obligatory tours on buses to Chinatown, the Statue of Liberty (well, that was on the Staten Island Ferry, of course), the Bowery of all places, and many other tourist destinations, but we also had our free time. For most of us, including myself, this was the first time we had stepped more than a few hundred feet outside our rural county. We saw a Broadway musical, “Promises, Promises”, which is now enjoying a successful revival. We ate some of our meals in an automat that was just around the corner from our hotel. Automats are interesting places. Do you remember the episode of ‘That Girl’ with Marlo Thomas, when she goes to the automat and has very little money to buy lunch? She ends up getting a bowl of hot water and mixing ketchup into it to make tomato soup. I’m telling you, I knew the feeling. I was a poor girl in the big city. Some of us girls got hit on by a street person while we we were waiting in line. We also got to watch a guy peeing on the street while we were walking back from the movie theater. The movie that the group of us saw was ‘Five Easy Pieces’ with Jack Nicholson. A very interesting film for a bunch of seventeen-year-old hicks to see when they’re out on the town. There were some strange proximity matchups between the guys and the girls while we were on the trip. Some lasted, most didn’t. I still have the lacquered, mother-of-pearl inlaid chopsticks I bought as a souvenir in Chinatown.

2.  I didn’t go to college. Well, one semester, but that doesn’t really count, does it? It is my lifelong embarrassment and regret. I was valedictorian of my class, for goodness sake. I had a full-tuition/work-study scholarship to the local branch of Ohio University. So, here’s what went wrong. I coasted through high school. Our school wasn’t known for it’s tough academics. A couple of our teachers were as old as Methuselah and about as lively. In the late ‘60s, early 70’s, most girls in rural areas weren’t encouraged to see college in their futures, and if they were so inclined, it was usually to seek out a career in a “woman’s” field; i.e., teaching or nursing. Those are two very noble professions for which I probably was strongly suited. Unfortunately, I chose to take courses in high school more suited to office Christmas parties. Typing, shorthand, bookkeeping, business math (algebra was not a required subject in those days); all of which are handy-dandy tools for living (well, shorthand, maybe not), but not so dandy for college preparation. Combine this non-preparation with a personality flaw of perfectionism and this one did not do well under college professorial tutelage...mean, critical, superiority-complexed college professors. I melted into a heap of insecurity-ridden Susan parts. So what does one do when one decides she can no longer hack it under the scrutiny of said professors? Why, she gets married, of course. Planning a wedding is so much more satisfying and gratifying than sitting in a classroom listening to a stuffy professor droning on and on, blah, blah, blah. I created my own post-secondary education by being a wife and raising children. I can hear you all out there asking yourselves “Well, why didn’t she go back to school after the children got a little older?” Good question. It was just never convenient. We either lived too far away from a school, or there was some godawful stuff going on in our lives that kept me away. Or gave me an excuse...however you prefer to look at it. That peculiar “fear of failure” has never quite left me, you see.

3.  When I talk to myself (and don’t try to tell me you don’t do it), I practice my British accent. Okay, I know that’s weird, but have you tried it? It’s quite fun and entertaining and I’ve gotten pretty good at it. Watch out, Meryl Streep, I’m hot on your heels. Maybe there’s an Oscar in my future. I could play the Queen Mother someday. In her dowager years.

4.  I’m a control freak. My husband says so, just ask him. It’s why I’m always so exhausted during Christmas, Thanksgiving, birthdays, etc. Apparently, I think I’m the only one who can “do it right”. It’s my way or the highway. I have to do it all. I’m not quite as bad as I used to be. I do let the grandchildren help me bake sometimes. I let David mash the potatoes for big dinners, and he does a pretty good job of it. Well, I think this year’s holidays finally cured me of this syndrome. I nearly didn’t survive the cooking, the cleaning, the baking, the decorating, the shopping and gift wrapping, and so on and so forth. Next year I’m having a rebirth and assigning everyone a dish to bring, a chore to do, a decoration to put up. I. Just. Can’t. Do. It. All.

5.  I didn’t learn to drive until I was eighteen. The year I turned sixteen Ohio changed it’s teen driving laws to require completion of a driver education course before inflicting terror in the hearts and minds of our neighbors and their properties. There was only one driver education course available to us and that was in our high school. There was one class a semester and guess who got to take it first...seniors, of course. That meant my classmates and I had to wait it out until our senior year. Oh, how we moaned and groaned and complained that it just wasn’t FAIR! I think the State of Ohio knew what it was doing when it made that law. I was green as a gourd the first time I slipped behind the wheel. Why, I had never even driven a lawn mower! Going 25 miles per hour was like driving the Indianapolis Speedway! It didn’t help that we had a driver instructor/basketball coach/English teacher sitting in the middle of the bench seat of the big boat in which we learned. He was quite a “ladies” man and would sing romantic songs in our ears as we navigated the country byways hither and yon. And, of course, the shorter the skirt, the better the grade. Nowadays he would lose his teaching license for those kinds of antics, but at that time it was accepted behavior. Or, we were too stupid and naive to know we should report him. I got an A in English, too.

6.  I’ve written stories and poetry since I was in high school. But I always tore them up, because they were never "good enough". It wasn’t until I started this blog that I was able to show my writing to anyone, and it helped that, at the time, you were complete strangers. I still have shivers of apprehension each time I sit in front of the computer and hit the publish button. Will they like it? Will they think it’s stupid? At least I don’t have to see your faces when you’re reading my words. There’s comfort in that.

7.  I was the second woman to use natural childbirth and have daddy in the delivery room in our small town hospital. It just wasn’t done, y’know. I had gone to a neighboring city with three times the population, thinking that doctors there would be open-minded about Lamaze and a father wanting to participate in his child’s birth, but I was flatly told “No way”. It was 1975 and our edge-of-Appalachia communities were about five years behind the times. Finally, through one of David’s co-workers whose wife had been numero uno, I found Dr. Teddy Bear, who was not reluctant in the least and had told the hospital board that they could go hang when they put down their collective foot.

8.  Following the successful birth of our first child, I was determined to breast-feed. I had read the few books available at that time cover to cover until I had nearly every word memorized. I had toughened my nipples (ouch!) and prepared in every way to nourish my baby as God intended. Well, unfortunately, God put a little stumbling block in my path to sainthood, bearing the name of Jamie, my errant niece who had been kicked out of her home. We reluctantly took her in a few months before the impending birth. We soon found out there was good reason for her banishment. She made our lives a living hell, and when it came time for the magical mother’s milk to appear, it didn’t. There was no lactation consultant available, and I was as stubborn as the day is long. At first I was loathe to surrender to my mother’s and sister’s wisdom when they told me Jaye was hungry. No, no, I insisted, he’s just colicky. I was proven wrong when, at his first checkup, the poor child had not gained a single ounce after leaving the hospital. I disintegrated in the examining room at the pediatrician’s office, blaming myself for not listening and endangering my precious baby’s life. Dr. Sweetums awkwardly patted my back and told me not to worry, but that it was probably best to put him on formula. I couldn’t get to the baby aisle at the local grocery fast enough. The first week he gained 22 ounces. The crying stopped and he was happy and healthy. Afterward, I couldn’t stop blaming myself, hoping I didn’t inflict any permanent damage to his little brain. I didn’t. He turned out just fine and is much more intelligent than I ever thought of being. He teases me sometimes when the subject comes up, that he might have been another Einstein if I hadn’t tried to starve him. “Yeah, I guess so,” I usually say, “but then you would have been a lot shorter than the rest of us.”  He's six-foot-four. 

9.  I asked David if there was something about me that other people would be surprised to find out. He thought for a minute and said “You’re much more private than people think you are.” “True,” I said, “but that’s really boring.” He might have a point. I probably should have been a Gemini, because I have two faces. There’s my quiet, private self who relishes spending time all alone, sometimes for days at a time, loving every minute that I don’t have to spend attending to somebody’s needs other than my own. I’m not really a phone conversationalist, although I’ve been known to have hours-long talks with the right people, about the right subjects. I could easily live in the wilderness if I had a ready supply of necessities. But then, there’s the other me. The one who wants/needs to win all the games at baby showers. The one who is an untapped stand-up comedian. The one who would have loved to be a cabaret singer, crooning all the old standards just like Rosemary Clooney sang them. Let me entertain youuuu! Notice meeeee!

Imagine that, I found myself on Fotosearch!
10.  And because I could see myself sitting before a grand piano, singing those songs to some fuzzy audience, I took piano lessons when I was in my mid-thirties. I had always wanted to play an instrument...piano, guitar, it didn’t matter to me. I just wanted to be able to entertain myself, and if I were actually found to have any talent, possibly the entertainment of others as well. I envisioned myself singing duets with Kenny Rogers and John Denver while stroking the ivories. It didn’t happen. My piano teacher, who also happened to be a good friend, tried in vain to teach me the skills needed to NOT sound like a plodding non-prodigy. No matter how I tried, I could not match the speed of my fingers with the tempo of the music. I loved those nice, slow adagio pieces which gave my reluctant brain the time to find the right keys and chords. Just the faintest glimpse of the instruction allegro, and my heart started beating double time in horror. There was also the eensy problem of my bossing the teacher. “Susan,” she would say, “ you simply must practice this song and get it perfect before we can move on.” “Rhonda,” I would reply, “I don’t like this song and it’s too hard, so I’m not playing it.” It’s no mystery to me why I never progressed further than John Thompson’s Third Course. How could my sister Jane, who had only nine months of lessons, play every song in the church hymnal in a lively manner when appropriate, and I not be able to play at all? Life just isn’t fair.

Well, as you can see, this is the “entertaining” me. Tonight there will be no parties for me, unless you consider three, maybe five, grandkids for a sleepover a party. So, I will toast the New Year in my usual way, with some nice hot chocolate and climb between my toasty warm flannel sheets to welcome 2011 in the very best way......ZZZZZZZZZZ.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

My Christmas Wishes

I wish I could say that I am the author of the lovely sentiments in my Christmas wish for you; they are from a card in a box of Christmas cards that I bought several years ago. Though I'm not the author, I try my best to walk in the path of those teachings. My wish for all of you, my dear friends, is that you will always live with hope, peace, love, and understanding in your hearts, and that you will spread those most valuable gifts wherever you may roam.

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

T'was the week before Christmas

When Christmas comes around my door,
The decorations don’t put themselves in place.
They hang around my tables and floor
In boxes and bins, staring me in the face.
There are ornaments with meaning sentimental,
And angels too still to fly.
It’s a good thing they aren’t rental,
I’ll get around to them by-and-by.
Oh, if only some Santa Claus elves,
Would visit me during the night.
They would take the tinsel off the shelves,
And dust my home with fairy light.
What’s that I see when I rub the sleep from my eyes?
Did some magic in the night occur?
If the elves came from my wishes and sighs,
They must have performed in a scurrying blur!
Oh, yes, now I remember my stake!
I’m the one who placed them there.
I must have been Bearly Awake,
When at last I positioned the ornaments with care.
If only it all would happen with such ease, 
I would already be feeling rested,
But we know fairy tales don’t really appease, 
And by this time next week, I’ll be bested. 
~Susan D.~

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Six Word Sunday

In the tradition of Ernest Hemingway, who was once challenged to write a short story in six words.
His six-word story was:  "For sale: baby shoes, never worn."

Each week I will choose a theme. It is your mission, if you choose to accept it, to meet that challenge in six words, no more, no less.
If you like, you may illustrate with a photo, or not.
Punctuation will be your biggest ally.

If you decide to play, please link back to this post, and leave the link to your post in comments here.
If you don't want to create your own post, you can write your six-word story in my comments.

The Theme:

Rescued ones make very loving pets.

Thank you for playing.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Saturday Serenade

It was rumored that Dean Martin was totally smitten (really, in love) with the lovely Petula Clark. She appeared several times on his variety show in the late sixties and early seventies. I think it's pretty obvious what his feelings for her were in this video. His daughter Deana Martin wrote a biography of her late father, Memories Are Made Of This , in which she hinted at his infatuation with Petula. Whatever the truth happens to be, they sing very well together, and there was definitely some chemistry going on there.

Comments are not required. This is for your listening and learning pleasure only.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Six Word Sunday

In the tradition of Ernest Hemingway, who was once challenged to write a short story in six words.
His six-word story was:  "For sale: baby shoes, never worn."

Each week I will choose a theme. It is your mission, if you choose to accept it, to meet that challenge in six words, no more, no less.
If you like, you may illustrate with a photo, or not.
Punctuation will be your biggest ally.

If you decide to play, please link back to this post, and leave the link to your post in comments here.
If you don't want to create your own post, you can write your six-word story in my comments.

The Theme:

Read one, just because you can.

Thank you for playing.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Saturday Serenade

One of my favorite songs is the signature song of my mother's namesake, Edith Piaf. It makes me want to learn French just so I can understand the words that she wrote and sang. There is an English version, but it just doesn't have the same je ne sais quoi. The movie "La Vie en Rose" (2007) is not always easy to watch, but Marion Cotillard's performance as the "Little Sparrow" is mesmerizing, and her Oscar for best actress was well-deserved.

I love Louis Armstrong's version, too, and always watch the credits at the end of "French Kiss" just so I can hear him sing it. Interestingly, when researching the song, Wiki gave a list of notable people who had sung it. Here are a few of the singers I would never have associated with this song:

  • Aretha Franklin
  • Barbara Feldon (Get Smart)
  • Belinda Carlisle
  • Brenda Lee
  • Connie Francis
  • Cyndi Lauper
  • Donna Summer
  • Grace Jones
  • Jack Nicholson (I forgot about his karaoke scene in "Something's Gotta Give")
  • KT Tunstall (Black Horse in a Cherry Tree)
  • Petula Clark
Who knew?

Comments are not required. This is for your listening and learning pleasure only.

Monday, September 20, 2010

TV premiere week

Yep, I confess, I'm a TV addict. I'm salivating over all the new shows premiering this week and next. I can't remember the last time I was this excited about television. My DVR is probably going to have a meltdown trying to keep up! Some of my favorite stars are returning to the small screen. Well, in our case it's a 42" small screen...kinda different from when they coined that phrase, dontcha think?

I loved Maura Tierney in ER. She played nurse-turned-medical student-turned doctor Abby Lockhart in 189 episodes. Despite having been raised in an upper-crust family from the Hyde Park district of Boston, she played middle-class Abby with distinction and truth. There was never a false moment in her portrayal of a woman who is fragile and vulnerable on the inside, but tough on the outside, and who is afraid to love and let someone into her heart. Now, after a year of fighting breast cancer (in which she gave up the lead role in "Parenthood", and I'm glad she did), she has the lead in a new courtroom drama called "The Whole Truth". I have no doubt she will be awesome in the role.

Also making a comeback is Sela Ward. Remember her as "Teddy" Reed on the series "Sisters", for which she won an Emmy. She was the only reason I watched the show. Her stint with George Clooney (before his movie career took off) as Falconer was my reason for living at that time. Sela also starred in the highly-acclaimed series "Once and Again", again winning an Emmy for best actress. I've never watched a "CSI" show before, but I will have to give "CSI: NY" a try. She is playing a crime scene forensics expert (what else?) after Melina Kanakaredes' exit from the show.

And now I totally get "Glee". I've been hearing accolades from several sources, including Char from ramblins. The show won several Emmys this year. The songs are great...ones I can sing along with, it has much better dancing than "Dancing with the Stars", and Jane Lynch is fabulous in the role of head cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester. Never has there been a more ruthless coach (with a teensy soft spot in her heart) in cheerleading history. I recently caught up with a few of last seasons's episodes. I loved the storyline between Rachel (Lea Michelle) and the rival glee club coach played by Idina Menzel, who defined the role of Elphaba in the original stage production of "Wicked". Their duets were powerful and moving and perfectly in sync. I can't wait to see the season premiere on Tuesday. Oh, I almost forgot! It's set in Lima, cool is that?!!

Top on my list of returning shows is "The Good Wife" which will be premiering its sophomore season. This drama stars another of my favorite actresses, Julianna Margulies. I didn't think she would ever get another role equal to Carol Hathaway on "ER", but her portrayal of Alicia Florrick, wife of a Chicago politico (who was disgraced and imprisoned over a nasty sex scandal), who returns to work in a law firm to support her family, is nuanced, layered and perfectly on pitch. The show has a wonderful ensemble cast, including Archie Panjabi, Chris Noth, Alan Cumming, Christine Baranski and Josh Charles. But make no mistake, it is Margulies' show. The writing is superb with subtle twists and turns and I'm riveted to the screen from beginning to end, and then can't wait until the next week's show airs.

Then there are my favorite comedies to look forward to. "The Middle" with Patricia Heaton seriously makes me laugh out loud, guffawing even. The parents are inept and detached, but loving, and they usually get it right in the end. The kids are just hilarious, each one having his or her unique quirks. And it's set in Indiana, but it could just as easily be right here in Ohio. There's very little difference.

I've gone back and forth on "Modern Family", but it won so many Emmys that I'll have to give it another chance. "30 Rock" is just insane. Alec Baldwin cracks me up with his deadpan delivery. "Cougar Town" is my guilty pleasure...Courney Cox is a hoot.

Shows that have captured my attention, but I'll reserve judgement until I've seen a few episodes:

  • "Blue Bloods"--starring Tom Selleck, this generational family cop drama is getting great first notice from the critics. I don't agree with his politics, but you gotta give 'Magnum' credit, he knows how to wear a 'stache.
  • "The Event"--starring Jason Ritter, Blair Underwood and Laura Innes. NBC has been keeping this one a mystery, but word has it that it centers on a conspiracy to do harm to the President of the United States. I'm not sure I can handle a whole season of an arcing storyline, but I'll give it a try.
  • "Body of Proof"--starring Dana Delaney. I've loved her since "China Beach", 'nuff said.
There are more returns from last season, but I'll spare you the rest. Just know that I probably won't be getting a lot of reading done. Gotta run, "Chuck" is on. But you can watch a clip from "The Middle".

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Six Word Sunday

In the tradition of Ernest Hemingway, who was once challenged to write a short story in six words.
His six-word story was:  "For sale: baby shoes, never worn."

Each week I will choose a theme. It is your mission, if you choose to accept it, to meet that challenge in six words, no more, no less.
If you like, you may illustrate with a photo, or not.
Punctuation will be your biggest ally.

If you decide to play, please link back to this post, and leave the link to your post in comments here.
If you don't want to create your own post, you can write your six-word story in my comments.

The Theme:

Babysitting grandkids makes me crave it.

Thank you for playing.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Saturday Serenade

Thank goodness, it's almost over.

If you've never listened to Heywood Banks, you don't know what you've been missing. 

No comments required...this is for your listening and learning pleasure only.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

other things

Since we came back from vacation, there has been plenty to keep me busy. Two days before we left for Pennsylvania, the husband brought this home and said, "Can we keep it?" "Sure, why not," was my reply.

I've been scurrying around looking for items to outfit it in time for some weekend camping this month and next. That has been a fun project. I can't wait to take it out for its maiden voyage.

A few shots of the inside...notice in the upper right hand corner the repurposed CD rack that is now a perfect towel and wash cloth holder. I replaced the bedspread that came with the "queen-sized" bed with one of my quilts...much cozier. The camper sleeps eight...I'm guessing they're talking little people, not full-fledged adults, although the dinette is fairly roomy and the sofa makes into a very comfortable air mattress bed. It also has two bunks near the bathroom. I realize that some of you may not consider this to be "real" camping, but I'm old and I need my own bathroom, especially in the middle of the night. No tents for me.

These little guys have been occupying a lot of my time this summer. Now that they're back in school, I have a little more free time.

(Lauren wears an eye patch every day to correct amblyopia. She loves feeding and petting the chickens. Matthew is such a good talker at two years old. He was collecting acorns and trying to walk the plank at the same time. Not easy.)

(Gaige and Nathan are working on posters that now grace their wall at home, and here, too. Kaitlyn is trying to figure out how to combine Barbies and farm animals. I don't really think Barbie is much of a farm girl though. I've also been babysitting my grand-dog Loki a bit.)

And some pictures for you lichen likers.

This is what I will be doing for the next couple of months. I'm the Popcorn Kernel, (yes, I said Popcorn Kernel ) for our Cub Scout pack. That means I am in charge of sales, ordering, distribution of product, and awards for the lucky sales winners. Of course, everyone's a winner if they sell anything at all. We can't have upset Cub Scouts, y'know. There is one thing I will not do and that is wear the ridiculous foam ear of popcorn hat. I don't look good in green and yellow.

Finally, no really, finally...last Sunday I made the best pizza I think I have ever eaten...anywhere...and you know I don't like to brag on myself, but it was that good.

I made a half white and half whole wheat crust. Grilled some eggplant, zucchini, thick-sliced onions, and all colors of sweet peppers until they were almost tender and had some good grill marks. But first, I brushed all of the veggies with olive oil, then sprinkled with salt and a good garlic-herb seasoning (my favorite is Trader Joe's 21 Seasoning Salute). Except for the eggplant, which I left in circles, I rough chopped the rest of the veggies.

To assemble the pizza:

Pat out the dough and cover with your favorite pizza sauce.
Top the sauce with sliced mushrooms, any variety, and frozen, thawed spinach, squeezed dry.
Top with mozzarella first, then a medium sprinkling of shredded asiago cheese.
Arrange grilled veggies on top of the cheese. Then sprinkle with Parmesan, or if you prefer, parmagiano reggiano.
Bake at 500 degrees for about 12-15 minutes, depending on how dark you like it. I start checking mine at 10 minutes.

I ate until I was stuffed. Yum-oh!

Monday, September 13, 2010

What I did on my summer vacation

I know there are a couple of dedicated Swamp rats (you know who you are) who have been anticipating my return from my self-imposed exile. I'm easing my toes back into the murky depths of Bear Swamp with a back-to-blog pictorial essay.

Our trip to Pennsylvania.

Our visit to State College, PA, home of Penn State University, brought us to this old farm on one of the best trout-fishing streams in the eastern part of the state. I spent some time exploring while David got his line wet.

There were stone posts around the perimeter of the yard. I think they were once linked by fencing material.

The yard was very shaded by hardwood trees and enormous firs, making for some interesting moss and lichen formations.

It almost resembles a globe, don't you think?

After we left State College, we visited friends near Bethlehem, PA. This is one of several bridges built in the early 1900's that cross the Lehigh River. We were walking along the river to MusicFest, where my twelve-year-old goddaughter Sofia was dancing with her Irish Dance academy. (At the end of the post you will get a chance to see her in action.)

When we arrived in Tunkhannock, PA (near Scranton-Wilkes Barre, and of which David will never learn the correct pronunciation), we were delighted by my online choice of our bed & breakfast called Sharpe's House, owned by Harry and Dorothy Sharpe. We didn't get to meet Dorothy, because she was in Michigan having a reunion with several of her high school chums. Harry was a wonderful host though, and Dorothy had left several choices of nut breads for him to serve each morning. He's a very good slicer. He also did very well cutting up large dishes of summer fruits and made a perfect pot of coffee. He even made us hard-boiled eggs each morning. He was friendly, but not intrusive, and so accomodating. We were the only guests the first night, and since we would have had to share a bathroom, Harry turned down two last minute requests for rooms on the subsequent days. Isn't it wonderful to be liked?

There were walking paths with discoveries, both whimsical,

and sublime.

Finally, the wedding day of our dear friends' daughter, Sharon, arrived. I loved the setting of a simple country church with summer flowers befitting their surroundings. The ceremony was meaningful and full of humor. And the bride was lovely.

Here is Sofia's promised dance. No, that isn't her real hair; they all wear insanely curly wigs. They're big into uniformity.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

See you in the funny papers

We're going to Pennsylvania to visit friends and for David to get in some fly-fishing. Then we will be ending next week with the wedding of our friends' daughter.

I've made a difficult decision to take a vacation from blogging as well. As much as I love it, it consumes so much of my time that I never get any major projects done these days, and there are quite a few that I would like to tackle in the weeks to come. I'm sure I'll be checking in on your blogs from time to time so you won't forget about me, but I won't be posting anything in the near future. Don't y'all have too much fun without me!

"See you in the funny papers!"

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Saturday Serenade

Remembering Nicolette Larson (July 17, 1952 - December 16, 1997).

No comments required...this is for your listening and learning pleasure only.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Friday Funnies

This is for amusement purposes comments are required, unless you feel compelled to do so.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Monday Movie Meme: Repeat after me...

Molly at The Bumbles has chosen Highly Quotable Movies as her theme this week. I love quotes from movies, probably because at heart I'm a plagiarist and someone else's words almost always sound better than my own.

I know it's technically a mini-series, but it's a great movie to me...just extra choice is Lonesome Dove.

"I hate rude behavior in a man. I won't tolerate it."

"I'm just tryin' to keep everything in balance, Woodrow. You do more work than you got to, so it's my obligation to do less."

"Well, I'm glad I ain't scared to be lazy."

"Well, hell, boys. I'd damn sight rather be hung by my friends than by a bunch o' damn strangers."

"I'god, a man could get rich in the grave digging business around here."

"A man that will talk to a pig ain't no better than a farmer."

"Well we don't rent pigs and I figure it's better to say it right out front because a man that does like to rent pigs is... he's hard to stop."

"I never noticed you having accidents with ugly girls."

"It ain't dyin' I'm talkin' about, it's livin'."

"Well, Gus; there you go. I guess this will teach me to be more careful about what I promise people in the future."

[This list doesn't contain any of the memorable exchanges between Gus and Woodrow.]


Sunday, August 1, 2010

Six Word Sunday

In the tradition of Ernest Hemingway, who was once challenged to write a short story in six words.
His six-word story was:  "For sale: baby shoes, never worn."

Each week I will choose a theme. It is your mission, if you choose to accept it, to meet that challenge in six words, no more, no less.
If you like, you may illustrate with a photo, or not.
Punctuation will be your biggest ally.

If you decide to play, please link back to this post, and leave the link to your post in comments here.
If you don't want to create your own post, you can write your six-word story in my comments.

The Theme:

Our wedding day, July 28, 1972

Beyond the wedding lies the marriage.

Thank you for playing.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Saturday Serenade

If you would like to learn more about the great Anita O'Day, go here.  Her fascinating story Anita O'Day: Life of a Jazz Singer is available on Amazon, Netflix, and on The Documentary Channel, Monday, August 9, at 6:00 PM. If you love jazz, you'll love Anita.

I did it! I did a whole week's worth of posts! In case you were wondering why the frequency. Just a little mini-challenge for myself.

Comments are not required for this's only for your listening and learning pleasure.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Friday Funnies

This is for amusement purposes only, so no comments are required, unless you are compelled to do so.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Purging my bookshelves

It's painful for me, but I really need to give away some of my books to make room for the many, many, many that I have bought over the last six months. Most of the new-to-me books have been found at Goodwill and the library's discard shelf and they're stacked fifteen deep on top of my desk. I don't have room for more bookshelves, so some of the old ones have to go.

So, I'm stealing borrowing an idea from Stacy at Stacy's Books. This stack of books is the first to go, and it's a first-come, first-serve basis. So let me know which one you want and I will get it to you. One per customer, please!

From the top:

1The Dive from Clausen's Pier by Ann Packer. This is actually a NTM book, but I forgot that I already had a hardback. How much loyalty do we owe the ones we love? Would you stay or walk away if your fiance' was suddenly rendered helpless. What if you were only twenty-three?

2. Coastliners by Joanne Harris, the author of Chocolat, which I also bought. After living in Paris for ten years, a woman returns to the island where her estranged father lives in hopes of reconciling with him.

3Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Sorry, couldn't get into it.

4The Double Bind by Chris Bohjalian. I've read four or five of his books, including The Midwives which was made into a TV movie starring Sissy Spacek. This novel is about a woman who is attacked while riding her bicycle through Vermont's back roads. Her life is forever changed. This story is very twisty-turny and totally captivating.

5Women of the Silk by Gail Tsukiyama. Young women who work in the silk factories in China in the mid-1920's. Fascinating.

6"And So It Goes" by Linda Ellerbee. The story of Linda's life and career in the news bidness, up to 1986, that is. Had this one a while.

7Mirror, Mirror by Gregory Maguire, the author of Wicked. In his ongoing quest to retell every fairytale in a skewed way, he relates the real story of Snow White who hooks up with the Borgias. Fractured Fairytales, for sure.

8Mostly True: A Memoir of Family, Food and Baseball by Molly O'Neill, former food columnist for the New York Times Magazine. She also happens to be the sister of Paul O'Neill, retired right-fielder for the New York Yankees. She grew up in Columbus, Ohio in the fifties and sixties. I loved it.

9Clear Springs by Bobbie Ann Mason. Memoir of her life growing up in central Kentucky. She's the author of In Country, about a wacky, messed-up Vietnam vet which was made into a movie starring Bruce Willis. Good movie, great book.

10The Boy Who Loved Anne Frank by Ellen Feldman. Ever wonder what happened to Peter van Pels after World War II and his incarceration in a Nazi concentration camp? This is his supposed life.

11Back When We Were Grownups by Anne Tyler. I've read 8 or 9 of her books and never been disappointed. This one, not so much. I only made it to Chapter 3, but maybe it will be your cup of tea.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The days go by...

13,870 of them, to be exact, not taking into account Leap Year days. Thirty-eight years since we said "I will", not "I do". Most of the days were happy ones, or just ho-hum. Some of them were heartbreaking and sad beyond belief. It's easy to get through the happy and ho-hum ones. The real test is getting through the not-so-happy ones. We've passed the test and the glue we've spun is holding fast.

Happy Anniversary to my love

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The leaves will bow down

I love a good thunderstorm. It's a love that was fostered by my dad when I was a small child. He would set me on his lap on the front porch of the old farmhouse. There were two huge maples, probably more than a hundred years old, in the front yard not twenty feet from the house. I remember squealing with fear and delight when an ear-splitting crack of thunder and the following lightning would be so close you could almost feel the electrical charge and smell the sulphur in the air. Daddy would hold me tight and tell me to not be afraid...that it was only noise.

One day we were enjoying the unleashed forces, when the inevitable happened. The maple tree to the left of us was struck by a huge bolt of lightning and crrrrackkkk half of the tree was gone...split right down the middle. Lucky for us, the falling half of the tree fell away from the house. Daddy rushed inside with me, fearful that the rest of it could go any second. It didn't and all was well, except for a power outage that seemed to last for days in a little girl's mind, but in reality was probably only five or six hours. Daddy cut down the rest of the tree, and that was the last time we sat on the porch to watch a storm. Oh, we still liked watching them, but from the relative safety through the window.

When my children were little, we would kneel on the couch in front of the big windows and watch the trees thrash and the rain blow hard against the panes. Hail always made it extra exciting. They never feared storms and always looked forward to the show. If the power went out (which it often did because our electricity was from a rural co-op), we played word games and read by candlelight. One of my favorite games was to name all the states and their capitols. I'm still pretty good at it.

I can think of only two times when I was really frightened by a storm. The first was when Aimee and I were home alone and a storm came up that was so fast and furious, it made me a little nervous. When lightning struck the deck after a thunderclap so loud it hurt our ears, we both clung to each other until it was over. That storm gave me a lot more respect for them, especially as a mother protecting her children.

The second time was on our famous trip out west in the camper. We were camping in a private campground on the edge of Glacier National Park. In the summer, the sun doesn't set until ten or later. After supper, David wanted to take another short hike, but I was pooped and decided to stay in camp. He took the kids and was gone and gone and gone some more. You are warned when you're in the mountains that storms can come up very quickly and it can get freezing cold just as quickly, but when they left, the sky had been completely clear with no sign of impending weather and they hadn't taken any rain gear or jackets to keep warm.

Of course, a vicious thunderstorm blew up around 9:00. I was huddled in the camper, hoping for a sign that they had arrived safely back at the site. At ten o'clock, the storm had blown over, but they still weren't back and it was nearly dark and I was getting hysterical, so I headed to the camp office to have them call a park ranger to get a search party together. About the time the campground manager located the ranger and was explaining the details, I saw our mini-van come rolling into the parking lot. I didn't know whether to cry with relief or to give David a good tongue lashing about endangering the kids' lives and his own. I think I did both. He explained that it hadn't even rained where they were and had no idea I would be so worried. This was long before cell phones, and they probably wouldn't have worked there, if we had owned one.

We could use a good thunderstorm in our area. The weather has been nearly unbearable and everything is drying up. We did get a little break when one danced all around us a couple of days ago which made it a little cooler. We heard some thunder off in the distance, but we only got a quarter-inch of rain and I'm having to water the garden. So, hats off to thunderstorms...may they bring you entertainment, relief from the heat and a thirst-quenching rain, but not any harm to you and your loved ones.

This song reminds me of my dad and me.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Gone is just another word....Magpie Tale #24

I sit in the chair facing the last scene of our entanglement. You're gone now, but the scent of you lingers in the linens. I can't bear to sleep there even though my eyes are heavy with the want of slumber....and I can't bear to freshen the bed with line-dried sheets and pillow coverings with not a trace of that wantonness that lingers still in the back of my mind.

My head lolls with the supreme effort of staying awake. Why can't I just let myself fall into sleep? Am I afraid that when I wake, the nothingness will no longer be a hazy unreality....but harsh clarity in the glaring light of the noonday sun?

This is my first attempt at Magpie Tales. Visit here to see all the entries. Photo supplied by Willow at Life at Willow Manor.

"Tin Can Trust"

For fans of Los Lobos, the Grammy-winning American-Chicano rock band, NPR has a special treat for you. Until the release on August 3, you can listen to their new album, "Tin Can Trust", in its entirety.


Sunday, July 25, 2010

Six Word Sunday

In the tradition of Ernest Hemingway, who was once challenged to write a short story in six words.
His six-word story was:  "For sale: baby shoes, never worn."

Each week I will choose a theme. It is your mission, if you choose to accept it, to meet that challenge in six words, no more, no less.
If you like, you may illustrate with a photo, or not.
Punctuation will be your biggest ally.

If you decide to play, please link back to this post, and leave the link to your post in comments here.
If you don't want to create your own post, you can write your six-word story in my comments.

The Theme:


1999 White House Christmas Ornament

The Scales:  slowly grinding into balance.

Thank you for playing.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

I'm not one to brag, but....

Hey! Guess what? A few months ago, a representative from Mother Earth News contacted me about some photos I posted on their website photo uploading page. She was interested in seeing more, so I submitted four or five pictures for her consideration. In a few weeks she contacted me again saying that a couple of them might be published in one of the summer issues. Honestly, it was so long ago that I had forgotten about it.

This morning I went out to the mailbox and in there was an envelope with three Aug/Sept issues of Mother. I was puzzled as to why there were three...did they mess up my recent renewal by sending me extras instead of extending the subscription?

It didn't dawn on me until I turned to the CU pages. I looked at the featured pictures and thought "Gee, that one looks familiar, and...WHAT!!!" There they were, one on each page, with my name underneath.  AAAAAHHHHHH!  You would have thought I had won the lottery! Too bad I didn't get any money for them, but it was really fun seeing them in a national magazine.

The first photo is one I shot for LensUsTogether... the theme was 'abandoned' and I think it was the second week.

The second one you will probably remember as one of my headers last year. I also used it in my post 'The Bridges of Union County'.

I'm thinking of submitting a few to the magazine 'Country'. I think I'm hooked!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Six Word Sunday

In the tradition of Ernest Hemingway, who was once challenged to write a short story in six words.
His six-word story was:  "For sale: baby shoes, never worn."

Each week I will choose a theme. It is your mission, if you choose to accept it, to meet that challenge in six words, no more, no less.
If you like, you may illustrate with a photo, or not.
Punctuation will be your biggest ally.

If you decide to play, please link back to this post, and leave the link to your post in comments here.
If you don't want to create your own post, you can write your six-word story in my comments.

The Theme:
Red or White

Red ones give me a headache.

Thank you for playing.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Because I'm desperate....

....I'm glomming onto Char's 7-link challenge. Of course, she borrowed it from Susannah, who borrowed it from Darren at problogger, so maybe I'm not such a thieving wretch after all. And here we go.....

Your first post...Here I Am...where I introduce myself as a chicken farmer, Grammy and potential writer.

A post you enjoyed writing the most...was actually a series I call "Mystery Ladies" and it begins with Bon Voyage, Ladies. The subject is a photo album which I found at an antique store of three women who embark on a Trans-Atlantic journey. There are seven posts and they are photo heavy. There's a ringer in the middle called 'Let's Play Tag'. You can just move on past that one, if you decide to check them out.

A post which had a great post about birth order called Youngest, Oldest, Middle, Only. I loved the give and take on this one.

A post on someone else's blog you wish you had written...well, that would have to be my pal Ruth at synch-ro-ni-zing. While it was difficult to pinpoint one out of the hundreds of eloquent, deep, thought-provoking, and gorgeous posts that she writes, her recent offering of "Wheat" put her in the realm of short-story writer extraordinaire. If you look at just one of the links I've cited here, you should look at this one. Of course, most of my friend followers are already hooked on Ruthie.

A small disclaimer has to be added here that all of my blog friends are wonderfully talented women who write and photograph with great skill and creativity.

Your most helpful post...I guess that would have to be Susan's Helpful Hints and Susan's HH II...kinda obvious, huh?

A post with the title you are most proud of...was the post about our camping vacation in the '80s with our kids called "Are you crazy? Three weeks in a pop-up camper and...". That was a fun post. First runner-up:  He floored me. Second runner-up:  1-800-JENNY-20. You knew I could never pick JUST one!

A post you wish more people had that tells a little about my growing-up years called Random thoughts from my childhood. My writing and photography skills have made progress since then, but this one is dear to my heart.

I would love to see your own answers to this challenge. Want to join the party?

And, just because the post feels naked without a picture...