About Me

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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.

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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!