About Me

My photo
Tennessee, United States
Retired teacher living in East Tennessee, adjusting to life in the land of round door knobs. Photographer for our local animal shelter and foster of many dogs and kitties. Don't ask me how many dogs I have, but my son got me one of those "I'm the crazy dog lady" sweatshirts.

Follow me on Twitter

https://twitter.com/A_Peabody

Monday, December 31, 2007

Welcome, 2008



New Year's Resolutions:

1. Lose more weight. I've done well on the alli diet, but haven't worked very hard on it the past two months. I've still managed to lose 4 more lbs, but I know how easy it is to gain, and I am nowhere near my final goal, so time to get serious . . . after I finish this cookie.
2. Read more and spend less time looking at the computer screen. This will be a tough one, because I have three blogs and my teacher website, and the forum I am helping host. But, truly, I waste a lot of time surfing the net rather aimlessly. I can cut down on that.
3. Be kinder and nicer to people. Always a good goal. Most of the time they deserve it.

That'll do for now. Best wishes, everyone!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Christmas Table

Christmas greetings to everyone. I hope everyone had a table to gather around for the Christmas feast and that the New Year will find you surrounded with friends, family who love you and no more snow than your tires can handle. It feels like winter here; we had sleet followed by fluffy snow this morning, the day after Christmas. The dogs are asleep on the couch. My tummy is full of chocolate-covered cashews. Life is good.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

One Semester of Spanish Spanish Love Song

This is very fun, a love song in Spanish if the singer had only had the first semester of Spanish. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Christmas Market


This morning we are heading to the Christmas market in Strasbourg, France. Forecast is for rain and wind. I hope that the weather won't be as bad as it sounds from the forecast!

The weather forecast was amazingly accurate, wind, rain, chill air and huge crowds. If shuffling your feet to walk amid hordes of people is your thing, this was great. I must go back someday when the sun is shining and the crowds are gone. We did have a nice lunch. I had the potatoes with melted Muenster cheese ├╝berbacken and a salad. The potatoes were reminiscent of Swiss raclette. Jim and Melody had the quiche with salmon and goat cheese (also yummy). We visited the cathedral, but it was so crowded and noisy with low voices and shuffling feet, it was hard to enjoy. Also, the lack of sunshine meant the beautiful stained glass windows weren't nearly as impressive as they should have been. In the markets, I bought only a Christmas ornament: a tin Santa riding in an airplane, some scented soaps and the surprise of the day: Canadian maple syrup crystals, suitable for spooning over oatmeal or in your coffee, plus a bag of maple syrup cookies that I will have to ration to keep myself from scarfing down the whole bag at once. We found these in a small market dedicated to Quebec with products from Canada, including smoked salmon, Canadian beer, and Inuit carvings.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Giving Thanks 2007

This year I am giving thanks for
Friends; it only takes a few good ones to have enough.
Dogs; they love me no matter what and only demand a dog biscuit in return.
Shelter; the house hasn't fallen down yet. There's hope for it.
My husband; a heck of a guy who appreciates me no matter what and doesn't even want a dog biscuit.
My children; although there is room for improvement and they cost a whole lot more than dog biscuits.
My birthday; I made it through another year! Woo hoo!
My body: for finally shedding some pounds. Five more pounds and I'll be out of the oh my god, this is going to kill you red severe overweight zone and into the orange, moderately overweight zone at Fitday.com. Thank you alli!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Fall Out

It's the end of another sporting season with the football team first in Europe (first European championship since 1983), the girls second in volleyball (losing in a heartbreaking close set of games), and Jim's cross country girls second in Europe.The end-of-season sports banquet lasted till nearly 9 pm (yawn), but there was lots to celebrate, so the speeches went on a bit longer than usual. The video presentations for football, volleyball, cheerleading and cross country all made use of photographs I had taken during the season. The parents, as usual, were thrilled at the good job we have done at our school working with these kids and also with the awards.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Coat Day in Trier

On Jim 's birthday, we drove to Trier and met up with Sylvie, Yolenne, Gunther and Sylvanie, but our main purpose was to acquire a houseguest, Alexi, an American exchange student going to high school in France. Before we met up with them, we visited one of the exhibitions on Constantine near the cathedral. After lunch, we did some walking around and not-too-serious shopping. It was "Coat Day" in Germany, the Sunday before All Saints and All Souls Days (when the Germans go to the cemetery to decorate the graves and show off their new winter coats). Alexi tried on a coat in H&M, which appeared to be a steal at 29,90, but the price was not for the coats on the rack (of which there were many), but for a couple of dresses. Anyway, she looked cute in the coat, and you can see the main square of Trier in the background, including the restaurant where we ate lunch (on the left) and later had kaffee und kuchen.
Alexi went to school with us for four days, carved a pumpkin, and went trick or treating with a group of students, mostly cross country runners. She had a good time back in an American high school hanging out with and chatting in ENGLISH with American kids, and we enjoyed having a young person in the house again.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Really big hog spot


On the day we found the garden in the trees, we also found this memorial to a really big dead pig . . . er, wild hog killed on this spot by a forester back in 1898. Must have been an epic battle to get a memorial and not just a barbecue.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Friday, October 12, 2007

Hochteil Garten


While walking near Baumholder a few weeks ago scouting for a location for our home cross country meet, Mary, Jim and I came across the Hochteil Garten, which is turns out is not a garden at all, and the "hoch" or "high" in German referred to an extremely elaborate outdoor climbing garden involving platforms, hanging tires, climbing walls, and all kinds of high wire set ups, some low to the ground, others quite high for the adventuresome set. To one side was an open air but covered area with a number of sets of climbing apparatus and helmets.

We were amazed at how complicated and elaborate it was. Someone or some organization must have put a lot of time, planning and money into designing it and building it incorporating the existing trees. Many platforms were built around the trees. It's like Swiss Family Robinson's playground outside the tree house, but only for those brave or skilled enough to make use of it. If I were younger, I would want to give it a try, but I'm afraid those years are behind me. I don't have the strength or agility now.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Back to School

The beginning of school is always hectic, frenetic and harried, and this year no less than any other. I am teaching a class (Spanish 2) I have not taught for several years and started the year with not enough books to go around. I took a while to get that sorted out. Coming up with new lesson plans and dealing with learning deficits in some of my students is taking up a lot of time. Jim is coaching cross country again. I like this design, even though it didn't go on this years' shirts, because it represents the type of course they run and the persistence needed to run the distance. I was able to use the design on the certificates for our home meet, however, so it wasn't wasted.

Ultimately, the kids chose a different design. I still like this one. So for now it will sit on the back burner. Maybe another year.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

"LA RUE ET TOI"

Monday, August 13, found us visiting Silvie, Morgane and Yolaine in France. Our friend, Mary, tagged along as we were going to be going to the annual art exhibition in Ruette, Belgium. We first went last year when I bought my chickens painting, which originally was going to be a gift, but is hanging in the hall outside my kitchen door! This trip, I was hoping Morgane would be willing to sell one of her paintings, and so it seemed. She was willing to let me have a very dreamy picture of a boat on a Scottish loch. She is leaving soon for a year as an exchange student in the States, where I am sure she will impress everyone with her many talents, which are not limited to art.
I was also enchanted with the illustrations by one of the other students in the school. Sylvie believes he will one day be a very well-known artist and suggested that purchasing one of his pieces now might be a good investment. I fell in love with this illustration, which he called "Potatoes" and the wonderful loving feeling it portrays between mama potato and her little one.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Windows with a view


The reason we don't have money this year for a fence in Tennessee is because we are having all new windows and external doors installed in our house in Germany. This is VERY EXPENSIVE. But, the old windows were metal (steel), big, clunky, ugly and some were starting to rust, which was causing damage to the walls. So, out, out damned spotty windows! Out with the old and in with beautiful, new white windows that are transforming the whole look and feel of the house. The job isn't done yet (four more windows and the front door to go), and the finishing work remains, so stuff is piled everywhere out of the way. You can see some of the mess through the French doors in the final photo. We had to sleep in the guest room for a couple of nights, but have since uncovered our bed and are sleeping comfortably. The first thing we do each morning is raise the rolladens so we can see our lovely windows!

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Summer Fun, Finally

Most of our vacation in the States was taken up with doctor's appointments and helping our son move, but we finally got away on a real vacation to Tennessee. We met up with our friend, Melody, her son Ivan and two of her grandsons at Dollywood where we had a funtastic day on the rides, watching a magic show and doing a little shopping. We especially enjoyed visiting with Ivan, a former student, and his two boys, ages 5 and 8 (I think). The park has several good roller coasters. We all about pooped in our panties on The Mystery Mine, which I'm glad I hadn't read up on, because the features of this ride came as quite a surprise.

We spent the next two days hiking around in Smokey Mountains National Park and walking in Gatlinburg. We also rode the kabinenbahn to Ober Gatlinburg. We also took a spin around the area where all the craftspeople have their shops and made enough purchases (a doll, a broom, some pottery, a basket, a table runner, etc. to fill a box to mail home). The weather was beautiful, warm, but not hot. We had a lovely cabin with a hot tub on the deck, a red heart-shaped jacuzzi and the most comfortable bed I've ever slept in. We got some well-deserved rest and relaxation before heading to Greenback, Tennessee and the home of our friends, Shirley and Heinz. We checked on our house in Maryville, did some minor repair work on the front steps (a couple of loose bricks) and cut back one plant which had aspirations of being Jack's beanstalk. It was aiming higher than Mother Nature meant for it to aim. I trimmed the sycamore tree, which was either suffering from a hard freeze or other cause. Hopefully, it will do better now. We also checked into fencing the yard, but discovered it would cost an arm and a leg, neither of which we have right now . . . but you'll read why in the next post. Here are Jim and Heinz horsing around at the Maryville library.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Independence Day Heart Attack

For the 4th of July holiday, we were invited to Arkansas to join other family members at my youngest brother, Jerry's home on top of Boston Mountain. After an extra long trek on Tuesday afternoon of the 3rd down HWY 13 with everyone else from Missouri due to the flooding which had closed all other southern routes (such as HWY 71), we pulled in just as the hamburgers were being put on the grill. Some of the cousins jumped in the pool. We chowed down and visited and talked about hiking down behind Artists Point to a waterfall, and maybe swimming in the lake or floating down a river on the 4th itself. Around midnight we soaked in the hot tub at the cabin we had rented with my sister and then hit the sack.

We woke the next morning to find that Jerry had finally allowed his wife Lisa to take him to the emergency room because the tightness in his chest, which he had been experiencing for six days was getting worse. He had collapsed at least twice while trying to get things ready for the family reunion, but had attributed the problem to indigestion and felt better after he rested. But it wasn't indigestion, he'd had a heart attack. He felt bad that we all ended up hanging around in the emergency room and later ICU waiting rooms instead of out doing all the fun things he had planned, but what's a family to do? Life trumps everything else. The cardiologist later confirmed Jerry had nearly complete blockage of the artery leading to the left ventricle of his heart. We still enjoyed visiting with our nieces and nephews and everyone, except Lisa went back to the house for supper, which I prepared. Then they watched TV, swam in the pool, and shot off the fireworks. Some traditions must be observed after all. Jerry was released from the hospital on Friday evening after being rotorootered (angioplasty) and having a stint put in place. He'll be taking it easy for a while whether he wants to or not.

On the way back to Kansas City, we stopped in Bella Vista, Arkansas, for a short visit with Jim's Aunt Sammy and Uncle Hawley. We had a wonderful lunch at their home, watched photos from Jim's cousin Linda's wedding, surveyed the yard and talked about the past and future. We always enjoy visiting with them, and are always impressed with their humor and resiliency.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Kansas City Sights to See


We've been in Kansas City and decided to visit the new World War I museum, which is under the monument built just after the war and close to Union Station. The museum is beautifully designed. They did an especially good job on their videos. One is shown on a very wide piece of muslin hung behind a battlefield replica, so the film seems to spill on to the battlefield. They had very interesting artifacts and we found it captivating. I took a picture of the sign above. Now we know where that expression came from!

After lunch at the Plaza, we moved to the Nelson Art Gallery. They have a very nice collection as well. We prefer looking at the very old art from ancient civilizations, but they also have some very nice modern art. We enjoyed the Chinese furniture collection. There was one modern piece, I forget the artist, of Venus rising, except she's hidden by a big piece of canvas. It was a spoof of the original, and cleverly done. Another piece I liked was one done by a modern artist (I'm sure he's famous, but I'm hopelessly undereducated in this area). He had done a life cast of his head and one arm. His head is resting on his hand, who's elbow is on a table and he's looking down at a chessboard. Clever and interesting. Sorry, no picture. Should have taken one.

Before we left, Eric communed with this lovely lion.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Farewell to School


Yesterday was the last day of work for us, putting everything way, sorting through worksheets and getting them back where they belong, so I can find them next year. Saying goodbye to those who are leaving; some I will miss, others not so much so. The usual sign-out sheet came with a suggestion page with questions: What did you like most about this school year? The students and some of my co-workers. Any suggestions for improvement? None. The last line said RETURN BEFORE LEAVING. I wrote, How can I return before I leave? Nothing serious from me. I prefer my complaints and suggestions be anonymous.

Next is the rush to get ready to fly to the States in just a few more days. The lawn is high, the dogs are dirty, the house is dusty, the suitcase is unpacked. But, it will all get done. It always does. Hopefully, our time in the States will be productive. More about that later.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Triathlon . . . or Jim runs amok!


The first Saturday in June Jim ran in a three-man team triathlon in Kusel. He was asked about three weeks prior by a German friend of a friend, Johann, and our assistant principal, Chip. Johann was going to do the biking leg (60 km) and Chip was going to do the swim leg (1.25 km). They needed a runner. Jim stepped up his training and they entered the race. It was a beautiful day; there were many families, just a real community thing. Not a small thing, however. 140 teams started the race. Johann was near the back of the pack finishing, but Chip is a powerful swimmer and managed to move them up a lot, but then Jim got confused about where he was supposed to go and ended up crossing the finish line before completing his second lap. It took a while to sort out the confusion and get him back on the track, and they ended up finishing dead last. But, everyone was on their feet and felt that had the path been better marked, they wouldn't have won anything, but would have had a respectable finish. They plan to compete again next year. I didn't have to watch alone, a friend of Chips and our pal, Luci joined me and we enjoyed ourselves immensely, espsecially when one old fellow climbed out of the pool and started off the wrong way flashing us a big view of his swim trunks halfway down his elderly butt. More than worth the price of admission (free)! Too bad my camera was off at the time!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

The stuff we leave behind

Cleaning up after my father's death was an eye-opening experience. Someday each of us will die and others will go through our stuff and pitch out much of it, save a few things to remember us buy, sell what they can. That scripture about not storing up our treasures on earth has a clearer meaning for me. After helping my siblings and sisters-in-law nearly fill an enormous dumpster, I think I should go home and clean out my own drawers, closets and the garage. So much meaningless junk we hang on to.

Those who worked outside got bruised and cuts from the work. Jim and I went and got tetanus booster shots to protect us, because we figured it had probably been 10 years since our last one.

My father had started widening the porch in front of the house, but the job was incomplete, like every other project he started. My brothers laid out some of the concrete slabs they found to make steps of a sort from the lawn to the porch, but they tended to wobble, only marginally better than stepping onto the mess of rocky, weedy, trash-strewn ground to either side.

After my brothers left and went home to Oklahoma and Arkansas, I dug up the ground and laid the slabs into the ground to make a pathway. As I dug, I uncovered many of dad's rocks that he collected through the years, and used them to line the path. I used bricks, also just found lying around, to cover up the exposed insulation along the base of the wall. There wasn't anything any of us could do about the equipment and lumber piled to one side of the door, but all-in-all, the yard and porch are less of an eyesore, safer and more inviting than they were.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Mother

The best part of funerals is being with family and friends. The hardest part is dealing with the grief, in this case my mother's. She is a strong woman, but even when you've been married to a difficult man ("my jerk" she called him), the end result is that you are alone and must cope alone.

My brothers, my sister and their spouses, my son and I have all worked hard to try to clean up the mess my father left behind. He was one of those packrats of the awful kind, never letting go of anything that might be useful some day or might be fixed or might be sold, but of course none of those things happened. The mess was both inside the home and outside, extending to rotting trailers and rusting cars in the back field. We got a huge dumpster and the only reason it isn't full is because the rains came and haulted the work. My brothers went back to Oklahoma and Arkansas. I am grateful for all they and their wives did, because it was a tremendous amount of work.

The house will be in much better shape when we leave, but it remains to be seen whether the cats will be able to change their habits and use the litter box and not the fireplace. We are ordering a new tempurpedic bed for Mom, which should help her mood and her health by giving her better rest. Having lain on the store model, I am tempted to get myself one when we move back to the States.

Billy Dean Stearman, 1928-2007

My father passed away on Thursday, April 26, 2007. The good thing about Dad's passing is that he saw it coming. He was told that he was dying and had days to live, so he was able to say goodbye. I talked to him on the phone the day before he died and he told me he was not afraid of dying, not at all, but he wasn't in a hurry either and would try to be there when I arrived, but he passed the day before. My dad loved to talk, and even though he would have to stop and catch his breath, and his voice was wheezy, he talked and sang his way to death's door. He decided to die at home, and so arrangements were made for hospice care. He gave directions to the ambulance drivers and told them, just a quarter mile now, but those were his last words. As they were wheeling him into the house on the gurney, they look down and saw that he had gone still. They got a faint pulse, but he passed quickly. He made it home, but just.

The Memorial was organized very quickly, but everyone worked on their part of it. It was a beautiful service, lasting for an hour-and-a-half and attended by around 100 people. There were four ministers, including a catholic priest with whom dad was friends and shared a birthday (year and date). He joked before his death that he had been administered to by ministers from our church and given absolution by Father Kaiser, so he was prepared to go.

I organized a slide show with photos I had scanned at home and photos sent to me by other relatives. I selected the song: "I'll Fly Away" from the movie soundtrack of "O Brother Where Art Thou." I liked the message, but also the old-time country gospel feel and sound. I knew my father liked classical music and had originally thought to go in that direction, but this song changed my mind. When I played the slide show for family, my nephew Luke recognized it immediately as one of Dad's favorite songs, one that he listened to in the car and sang along with. Later, my brother, Jerry, told me it was probably the last song Dad ever sang, because he sang it to his roommate in the hospital.

On Tuesday, May 1, Dad's urn was placed in the mausoleum at the Veteran's Memorial Cemetery in Higginsville, MO, receiving full military honors.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

How NOT to cut down a tree

A couple of Saturdays ago we decided to cut down a double tree (two main stems from one base). Part of one had broken off during a windstorm and weakened one side of the tree. I felt confident that we could do it by looking online at a HOW-TO video, but I didn't reckon with Jim's weakness at gauging distance.

The first tree section fell beautifully just where we had wanted it to go. Hooray!
The second section Jim cut into too deeply and when it fell over, it split and fell backward right against the house, just what we had hoped to prevent happening by cutting it down.It required tying a rope around it to pull it down the side of the house. The only damage was to three tiles along the roofline (the bill will be here shortly). Jim wonders if it wouldn't have been cheaper to pay to have the tree cut down, but I know he never would have hired anyone and so the job would have remained undone. Anyway, the job is done now, the tree has been removed, and Gidget still enjoys playing in the wood chips!

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Fire Drill

We had an unscheduled Fire Drill on Friday (a student pulled the alarm on his last day at school). Stupid is as stupid does and he was quickly caught out. Duh. It was a nice, sunny day and I grabbed my camera on the way out the door. We had to wait a while for the fire department to arrive and the 8th grade science teacher decided to continue with the lesson. I caught this on film and couldn't resist playing around with it.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Counting rings

The sunny spring-like weather of Presidents' Day weekend proved perfect for finishing the job of disposing or our downed trees. Jim got our chainsaw, which had bit the sawdust when he used it to cut up the fir tree that fell on our patio, back from the repair shop. He finished chopping the trunk of that tree into sections and then went to work on the plum tree.

We were amazed by the beauty of the inside of the tree. On the outside, the bark is rather dull, but the inside of the tree was full of color.

We hauled off three truckloads of limbs and branches to the local pig farm. We will miss our plum tree, but it appears to have a young self growing up from the roots that we shall leave to grow and replace its parent.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Gone with the wind . . .

The hurricane force winds of January 18 sheared off part of one tree and lay it uncomfortably close to our back door. We were at school. I expect it must have been a surprise for the dogs, but fortunately they had sense enough to get out of the way. Still, Rocky was even more leery of going outside as the storm continued. Gidget, as usual, was fearless and would leap, barking at the big wind gusts.

When I looked out the kitchen window, I could see our old plum tree being shoved by the high winds. It was apparent to me that it was tilting from the roots, and that as soggy as the ground was, we were probably going to lose it. It reached the tipping point before we went to bed.


On Saturday the wind and rain, while not so fierce, continued, but we went out that afternoon and were able to cut up the long tree limb that lay on the patio and haul if off into the yard. Then the chain saw threw its chain and, as it was starting to get dark, we gave up for the day. The big fruit tree will be an even bigger job, to cut up, and then we will need to haul everything off. Hopefully, someone who wants free firewood will step up and volunteer to help out.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

The New Year 2007


It's been a year since Gidget joined our family. This time last year she was a puppy, full of energy, and with little use for us big people. Now, like Rocky, she needs her snuggle time every day.

December 2006

Early in December, we traveled to Sylvie's house in Ugny, France for a Christmas concert. She and her daughter, Morgane, both sing in a local choir. Morgane had a solo, short, but beautiful. She is very talented!

We thought we would be just the two of us at home for Christmas, but were invited over for Christmas dinner at the house of colleagues. We took along our Rummy Royal game and introduced them to the joys and frustrations of this old family favorite. A few days after Christmas, Sylvie and the girls came for a visit and I cooked an American-style Christmas dinner for them. We introduced them to a lot of American games, including Poker, and tried to teach them to shuffle cards the American way! It was a challenge. They brought a special cake that has a hidden prize, if you get the right piece. Ours was a tiny Virgin Mary. They also brought some wonderful French cheeses and special Christmas ice cream. We've had some, but are hording a few pieces for later. On New Year's Day we had some of our colleagues over for lunch and more Rummy Royal and Frustration, another favorite card game. In some ways it was tiring, but left to myself, I tend to become a hermit. It is good for me to be with friends.

The Friday before returning to school we had the Martins, with their six adopted kids over for lunch. More energy in their little fingers than in my whole body, but we had a good time. Dru and Cathy, on the other hand, are looking a little tired!
Here's Artur, photo taken by by Milena:

Here are da girls:

and da boys:


In between visits and being visited, we spent a lot of time cleaning and reorganizing things downstairs, trying to get a handle on the mess. In early December wind storms tore the cover off our chimney and loosened some tiles, and we are still waiting for repairs. The best week to work on the roof was the week between Christmas and New Year's when everyone goes on vacation. Fortunately, in spite of more wind storms, no more significant damage is apparent and we are still dry!

November 2006


We took the week of Thanksgiving off and flew to San Francisco for the wedding of a former student, Amanda. Megan flew up from Tucson. We were disappointed that her significant other had to work, but we enjoyed our time with her. We drove to Monterey, and really enjoyed the beaches, the surf, the trees, birds, fresh air. It was all great. We got to visit old friends, the Dougans and the Severs. We had a delightful Thanksgiving with Amanda and Casey and enjoyed meeting both of their families, young and old.

The wedding was on a boat at Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco, with an evening cruise out under the Golden Gate Bridge and back. We visited Chinatown, which personally I wasn't real impressed by, but saw enough of San Francisco (which was full of tourists enjoying the after Thanksgiving Day shopping and the sightseeing), that it would be nice to go back some day. If I were rich, I could live around Monterey or Big Sur. It wouldn't be a sacrifice!

October 2006 - Don


On October 16, 2006, Jim's father passed away and we flew back to the States for his funeral. He had been very frail and in declining health for a long time, but not uncomfortable. His final decline was relatively fast and we are glad that he did not suffer long. We learned of his death during our first period classes at school and were able to make arrangements to fly home the next day. Thus, we were able to go with Jim's brother and help in the planning of the services. I was able to get a quartet together to sing, something I was unable to do for Jim's mother, when she passed away. I hope she appreciated it this time! We sang "God Will Take Care of You," an oldie that I'm sure Don appreciated.

We enjoyed the visits with the family and appreciated that so many people came to show their respect and love for Don. He was a good man, a busy, productive man. I'm sure the last years, when he was so helpless and dependent, were hard on him, because he was such a doer for others in his life, but there are some things that I expect we just can't avoid, no matter how much we would like to.

Today, as I write this would have been his 96th birthday. Happy, Birthday, Don!

October 2006 - Verdun

On October 12 I traveled to Verdun, France with the JROTC.

I was hoping to catch what I thought then were ghost orbs on camera during the visit. I have since learned that the orbs that people catch on their digital cameras are caused by dust and moisture. There was plenty of that at Verdun and I captured some orbs in my photos, but I also captured something on film that I had never seen before. I have searched various ghost and paranormal sites on the Internet, but have not seen anything else like this.

Here they are close up:

This photo was taken of a side hall which was blocked off from a main hall of Fort Douamount by a grill. I sat the camera on the grill and to hold it steady in lieu of a tripod. It's interesting that this hall is near a location where 19 soldiers were killed by an artillery shell and that shortly before taking this photo . . . and before I knew about the room and the artillery shell, I heard an explosion, as something heard way off in the distance. Definitely, not a typical experience for me!