- 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
Wednesday, December 31, 2008
The New Year is often represented by a baby, because its story is not yet written; its future is still promising, and its fresh optimism offers hope that the days to come will be better than the ones we leave behind.
Things are looking somewhat grim at the moment; not enough jobs, not enough peace, not enough civility, but while there's still room for improvement, there's also still hope for us all.
Monday, December 29, 2008
For Mr Invisible, the first and last blow to his burgeoning career as a superhero was an unexpected punch that flattened his nose.
“After months of designing my costume, getting my street moves just right, it was my first week out as a Real Life Superhero – and probably my last. This tiny, tiny girl did not like me trying to calm down her screaming boyfriend. She blindsided me, I’m still bruised. It’s dangerous out there,” said the deflated would-be crime fighter last week.
Mr Invisible is cheered that at least his grey one-piece “invisibility suit” works, proven when a drunk urinated on him in an alley. But he is weary of lurking in dark, down-town Los Angeles after dark.
So begins the article: Amateur crimefighters: Holy Spandex! A herd of heroes by John Harlow at Timesonline.co.uk. It's hilarious. My favorite line from the article:
Artemis of San Diego reported on his blog that he had heard a woman screaming outside his home but by the time he had dressed up in his costume the police were already there.Apparently there is a herd of heroes on the loose in the world, inspired perhaps by comic books, TV shows like Who Wants to Be a Superhero , and dire world circumstances, but all kidding aside, it seems both a bit creepy and loopy. I can't help but think that anyone who would do this is not quite right in the head, perhaps having trouble distinguishing between reality and fantasy. After all, if you want to fight crime or terrorists, it is possible to join the police, FBI or military. If you're not qualified physically or mentally to do that, then chances are you aren't superhero caliber either. Vigilantism doesn't lead to better communities.
Be sure and check out the World Superhero Registry HERE . There are photos and information about currently registered superheroes. Maybe there's one in your city you can avoid.
Image from SciFi.com.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Monday, December 01, 2008
This issue of New Yorker magazine was published on December 8. Click on the title of this post to visit the New Yorker website.
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Those little huts you see, often in little garden communities or off in the woods, are a great German tradition. We were invited last Sunday to visit one belonging to a couple, Ella and Wolfgang. Like Jim, they are amateurfunker, amateur radio operators. They live in the industrial north of Germany, but come down twice a year to spend a few weeks in their little hut in the woods near Idar-Oberstein.
The land was once a vineyard and is on the side of a steep hill overlooking the Nahe river valley. The vines, except for a couple of stubborn survivors, all died during an outbreak of phylloxera (vine louse). Now, the formerly treeless plot is well shaded and hidden by mature trees planted by Ella's family. To reach the hut, you must park on the road and walk down a steep grassy path that zigzags back and forth a tenth of a kilometer, and when you leave, you get to experience the steep hill in reverse!
The hut was built by Ella's father and two brothers in 1960. Everything is made by hand, except for a few later additions, such as kitchen cabinets. But, even those, they found in second-hand shops and made to fit. The outhouse is a little further down the hill. There is a workshop for Wolfgang's tools next to the hut, and a guest hut next door, which they bought from former owners.
Rainwater is collected in a tank under the roof, and from there flows via hoses to the kitchen and to a couple of shower sites outside. And no, the water is NOT heated. One bathes au naturel an invigorating experience, but not for the faint of heart. The hut is heated by a stove that used to belong to Ella's aunt. It has a flat surface for cooking, and a deep container that holds a large quantity of coal or wood, so that it does not have to fed often. Electricity, used only to read before bedtime, run the amateur radio and the hair dryer (a woman must do what needs to be done!), comes from a solar panel attached to the roof. Most evening activities take place by candlelight. Cabinets are found under the windows, over the doors, wherever storage can be made. The cooler is built into the side of the hill. Like a ship, everything has a place, and efficient use has been made of every nook and cranny.
The lesson here is that one needs very little to get out in nature and relax, no house on wheels, no air conditioning, no microwave, no videogames, no internet. One can go home and have those things, all in good time.
Monday, November 10, 2008
He loves us all.
Jesus Making a Heart, pencil drawing by Jaison Cianelli
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
For those of us old enough to remember Martin Luther King and the Civil Rights Movement, today is a dream long deferred, but finally come to light. I remember his "I have a dream," speech. I remember when students first sat around singing "We shall overcome," and it wasn't trite, it wasn't overdone. It was a fervent dream of a better tomorrow for our country. Today, we took a big step forward.
Monday, October 27, 2008
The Cross Country season has come to an end. Jim started with about 20 runners around September 1 and ended with 9. A couple dropped out due to injuries, but the others apparently had allergies. Allergies to rain. *sniff* Allergies to cool weather. *sniff* Allergies to mud. *sniff* Allergies to pain. *sniff* But most of all, allergies to hard work. *sniff, sniff* They were good for the short haul, for the early, sunny runs, but when the going got tough, they got gone. The tough ones persevered. They made it all the way to Europeans, where if you aren't willing to gut it out, you might as well stay home.
Sunday, October 19, 2008
Saturday morning a week ago was foggy. Jim and I left the house around 7:45 a.m. and were heading into school to get set up for a cross country meet, when I spotted a baby wild boar sitting in the road. Being a lover of animals, I yelled for Jim to pull over, thinking that it had just gotten separated from its herd and I could shoo it off the road. I jumped out of the car and took a photo as another car pulled over and parked. Sorry about the blurry image. I was on the move.
My first shock came when the Fraulein walked up to me, pulled a large hunting knife out of its sheath and handed me the sheath with a request to hold it for her. I thought, "Oh, crap," but then she pulled out a cell phone and started talking to someone, and I felt better.
It all makes sense, of course. The piglet probably had a broken spine and was beyond saving, but she was only 5 or 6 weeks old. The woman, it turns out, is one of the hunters from our village. In Germany they are responsible for managing the wildlife in their area. She did the pig a favor; she did what was practical and needed. I accept the outcome, even as I regret the cutting short of a very short life.
Later in the day, we realized as we were handing out certificates to the runners, that one of the school had not identified its middle school runners, which meant that our data was all messed up. Even though they run in one race, the high school and middle school runners compete only against each other. Hence, it is important to know which is which.
After working so hard, I felt like I'd been hit by a car I never saw coming. Then, as I was waiting for that pain to pass, I felt the woman stick a metaphorical knife in my gut and I resented being stabbed. At the end of the day, I couldn't help noting the parallels between the pig's fate and my own (I admit I should be feeling more grateful. I am alive. The pig is dead.). I keep searching for a karmic lesson, but it all feels so random. Why that little pig? Why me? All I know is I feel even more sympathy now for the pig.
Saturday, July 12, 2008
I'm still trying to understand why anyone would want to to purchase surplus army pizza or deli meats. *burp*
What caught my eye on this sign? Zigzag Bail Bonds, of course. There's a name that captures the essence of a thing, whether failing to follow the straight and narrow path that leads to redemption and a law-abiding life, or the zigzag path of the perp's perpetual attempts to evade law and justice. I keep seeing a scene in the movie, The In-laws the FIRST movie, not the remake, in which Peter Falk tries to teach Alan Arkin the finer points of dodging the bullets being fired at them by telling him to run in a serpentine fashion "Serpentine, Sheldon, serpentine!"
If you find yourself in trouble with the law, consider calling Zigzag Bail Bonds. I have a feeling they will understand your situation.
Saturday, June 21, 2008
But, a couple of months ago a former colleague and friend we respect sent us an e-mail which said "You have to get on Facebook." I took this as a royal command, while he probably only meant that it was a prerequisite to viewing his page. I have no regrets. It's been a fun ride so far and I have barely dipped one foot in the water. I have some lovely plants, have played more Scrabble (in the form of Scrabulous) in the past week than in the past year, and a few things have supposedly been thrown at me, although I haven't felt any ill effects. I have found it to be a remarkable tool for keeping in contact with people, and for reconnecting with people once thought lost forever. There's a friendliness and lack of pretension there, or at least I haven't seen anything otherwise. Who knew I had 75 friends?
The most recent practical use of the website has been to establish a group page where people can go to keep up with the medical progress of a colleague who was diagnosed with a brain tumor the last full week of school. He's now in the States and will have surgery at the Sloan Kettering Clinic in New York City next week. The group page has only been up 5 days and there are already 93 members at this writing. I expect that number will top 100 easily and soon.
It's not a cure for cancer, but it is a remedy for what often ails us, feeling helpless, like there is nothing we can do, and not knowing what is happening to someone we care about. Being able to visit the page and leave good wishes, share a fond memory, upload a photo and read the wishes left by others has brought a lot of people together as a community and created a little corner of personal empowerment on the Internet.
You can visit Coach Reilly's Locker Room, but you have to join Facebook to see it. You can take that however you like.
Monday, June 16, 2008
As promised, here are some wisdom nuggets from Jacob Lamoureux's commencement address on the topic of CARING.
Perhaps the most important power that lies within human beings is the ability to care, because what we care about controls what we do.
We don't even have to be good at something at first. We just have to care about getting good.
Caring is not just a fleeting desire; it is a lifestyle.
Indifference to what we become and what we do is a bad form of selfishness. We rob ourselves of our potential and others of the contributions we would have made to society if we had cared. We will not be significant if we only live to have fun. I challenge you to think of one great person in history who was lazy, passive, or undedicated.
Truly caring about something provides the motivation to beat laziness and indifference, so that we become skilled at what we are passionate about.
At the end of our lives, we are guilty of every problem that we were capable of solving, but did not solve.
There is no neutral profession. In fact, the job hardly matters at all. In any career, being a nice person is the best thing we can do, because we take our character with us to all aspects of life.
It's exciting and fulfilling to transform whatever talents and passions we have into a way to help people. It is my humble opinion that this is the purpose of life, and the purpose of life deserves every bit of care we can muster up from our souls!
Care is an action word! When we care about something, there is always something to show for it, whether it is the clean house we fixed up for Mom whom we care for or the bags under our eyes caused by studying for a class we care about.
Saturday, June 07, 2008
Another crop of seniors have walked the stage in their carefully selected new shoes (Megan W. gets my vote for cutest shoes . . . I think there were polka dots and a ribbon.) and thanked their family, God and friends, with an occasional mention of their teachers and coaches. There were lots of musical selections, because this was a small class . . . only 24 made it. A couple didn't have the credits. Three were banned for the vandalism they did to the school three weeks ago.
The highlight of the evening was the Valedictorian's address by Jacob Lamoureux. I'm told he wants to be a writer some day, and he has the gift. As one teacher said, "I wanted to take notes!" Me, too. He quoted others, mainly Thoreau, but much of his speech was peppered with his own nuggets of wisdom, wittily expressed and shared with his inimitable and energetic style.
The topic was caring and how having that one quality leads to greatness in all endeavors, whether athletic, academic or personal. Caring makes all the difference in the world. One of Jacob's images was of all humanity on one great ship, which we can either sink through infighting and selfishness or keep afloat through selfless caring for the greater community of which we are all a part.
If I can get my hands on Jacob's speech, I'll share some of his Lamoureuxisms with you. They bear repeating. Stay tuned.
Friday, June 06, 2008
After the pile of rubble came the big hole in the ground. The walls were waterproofed (black paint) and then the hole was filled in and tamped down, fortunately just before a big storm, or we might have had a muddy pit. Timing is everything!
The terrace is in place, but now there is the equipment the next set of workmen are using the tear off and rebuild the parts of the balcony that are water-damaged. They hauled off a big load yesterday
End result, it's a process, and it is proceeding. We hope it will be finished before we fly to the States. Then the fun part begins . . . paying for it! Stay tuned!
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Sunday, May 25, 2008
Thursday, May 22, 2008
We take the dogs out now. Gidget needs to be on a leash, because she's a wanderer and doesn't have any car sense, but Rocky just pads along beside us. He never goes far and isn't tempted by the gap in the fence. He knows his limits!
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Sunday, May 18, 2008
On Saturday I had a lovely lunch in Bernkastel-Kues at an Indian Restaurant with what's left of my NLU master's cadre: Keri, Judy and Stephanie to my left and our mentor, Sue on the right. We had a long, leisurely lunch in an Indian Restaurant, then did a walkabout and finished up with ice cream.
Steph found the "little house in the middle of the street" that she remembered from her childhood.
We were reminded to say "käse" instead of cheese and saw some really nice metal garden sculptures, which we decided we could NOT afford at the current exchange rate. The frog fountain that spit out water at regular intervals was much nicer than it sounds!
Good food, good friends, good conversation and a little bit of shopping thrown in on the side.
Until next year, ladies!
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Friday, May 02, 2008
One of the questions the students had to answer about the story was to explain the moral of the story (in English). Those who successfully translated the story and understood the events, typically gave answers similar to these:
•Never underestimate your opponent.
•Don't judge by size or appearance.
•Don't be overconfident.
•If your opponent is bigger or faster than you are, use your brain.
But, today, a student who was retaking the exam in an attempt to raise his grade, earned the chuckle award, because his answer made me chuckle:
Sure, he missed the point, but his strategy would have worked better than the jaguar's.
Thursday, April 24, 2008
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Sunday, April 20, 2008
I submit this bush, that got in the way of my photo of the soccer game, as proof that spring is making an appearance, although belated and still chilly and wet.
This reminds me of a scene in the movie "Semi Tough" (Burt Reynolds, Kris Kristofferson and Jill Clayburgh) in which the character played by Jill returns from an African safari and shows her portfolio of travel photographs to the character played by Kris.
Nice photos of trees, he remarks.
I was trying to take pictures of the giraffes, she replies, and points to a giraffe partially visible behind the tree.
To which he responds that she only thought she was trying to take a photo of the giraffes, but her real intent was to photograph the trees, because that is what she did.
because I did.
Thursday, April 10, 2008
Monday, April 07, 2008
When I joked about the snow on the daffodils, I truly thought it was almost over, that Spring was just around the corner, but that corner is turning out to be much further away than expected. Here it is Spring Break, and I had hoped to be sitting out in my yard and doing gardening and other yard work, tree and bush trimming, but that just so isn't happening. I realize the week isn't over and Spring weather can change quickly, but this is starting to feel ridiculous. No cute poems or limericks this time, just a fervent wish for the snow to end and the sun to shine!