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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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Hope for the Future

This photo of my nephew Sam with his hand lying next to that of his newborn baby is one of my favorites.

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

Superdelusional

From the Believe It or Not category.
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.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Foggy Boggy Froggy

When I woke up this morning, Jim said, "It's really foggy out there," and you know how one thing leads to another, in this case, a poem.
Froggy in a boggy,
sitting on a loggy,
a very soggy loggy
in the middle of the
foggy
boggy.

Froggy feeling groggy.
Along comes a doggy.
Froggy not so groggy.
Boggy still quite foggy.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Vetting the White House Dog

I love the cover of this New Yorker magazine. I would not be a good dog vetter. I would want to take the first dog I saw, and the second, and the third.

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

My Three Pies

Here's my contribution to today's Thanksgiving feast.
From left to right: pecan pie, pecan/pumpkin pie, pumpkin pie.
I'm hard pressed to say which one is my favorite. They all look yummy.
With possibly tough economic times ahead for many, I hope everyone can still find many blessings to be thankful for. The food is just a perk.
Still, we must do our duty. Eat while you can.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Ladybug and First Snow

Winter is here, not officially, of course, but the first snow has fallen and all creatures great and small have sought shelter. Earlier in the week, I found a ladybug on a glass drying on the dish rack in the kitchen. When I gently tipped it off the glass onto my hand, it lay there on its back waving its miniscule little legs in the air. Ah, good, it was alive.

I moved it a very short distance and dropped it on the African violet that sits  on the counter next to the rack, wondering what circumstances had let it to settle on such an unforgiving and useless surface as a glass, when next to it was a perfectly good plant with soft dark leaves. That will remain a mystery. I checked back later. No sign of the ladybug. Hopefully, she is deep within the world bound by the plant and its pot and will emerge again come Spring.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Getting away from it all - Die Hütte


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

The Next Civil Rights Movement

Even as America celebrates bringing down the race and gender barrier to the White House, the not-so-new prejudice against homosexuals, currently exemplified by Proposition 8 in California, shows we still have a long way to go on our road to spiritual perfection. Homosexuals are always going to be a minority. It's just a statistical reality, and they should not have to depend on the majority to allow them basic civil rights. These should be guaranteed by the Constitution.

It is not a crime to be a homosexual. People who are homosexual pay taxes, hold jobs, buy property, raise children, and have the same basic needs and desires as anyone else. They want what we all want, security, love of family, and to be a welcome part of the broader community. Like the children of Martin Luther King, they each deserve to be judged on the content of their character, not on a genetic disposition that God gave them. 

Jesus didn't waste time chastising people for their sexual practices. He was too busy ministering to their souls. The only group he got really mad at was the moneychangers. Like him, I despise thieves, but people who are loving and law-abiding? Isn't that what we want? To some, a philandering heterosexual male is still preferable and more forgivable than a loving, monogamous homosexual male, despite the clear lack of character of the former.

When my children were teenagers and asked me about this topic, I told them, I don't care who you love, but I care that you treat people well. Don't cheat in a relationship. Be faithful. Be kind. These are the qualities that I believe Jesus demands of us. These are the qualities that matter.

There is so much suffering in the world. We should be addressing that, not imposing undeserved suffering on our brothers and sisters. He died for us all
He loves us all.
No exceptions. 

Jesus Making a Heart
, pencil drawing by Jaison Cianelli
You can purchase Jaison's art at Cianelli studios.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The Dream Come True


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.

Some people voted the other way and have their own fears to deal with. Hopefully, the next four years will go a long way to reassuring them that the boogeymen they were warned about were fabrications of the opposition. Hopefully, the people will join together to repair the damage that has been done over the past 8 years to our economy, our infrastructure, our military, our standing in the world.

But, however people may feel about the particular issues, the fact is that from now on we have broken down the barriers. From today forward America will be able to choose its leaders based on ability, not color of skin or gender.

Change has come to America. God bless us every one.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Allergies


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.

Congratulations to all of the runners from all of the schools, a fine bunch of young people with their shoelaces knotted twice, their heads on straight and their priorities in order.  

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Stuck Like a Pig

I've put off writing about this, because it is a sad story. It certainly counts as one of the more bizarre experiences of my life, and it left me in a gloomy state of mind all week.

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.

As I approached the piglet, a large, sturdy German woman from the other car called out to me not to touch it. She spoke German, but I understand "Nein," and had no intention of touching it, anyway. It was sitting in the road, and aside from turning its head to look at me, made no attempt to get up and move on. A bad sign.
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.

A car approached and I turned to face it and wave it around us. We both looked at the pig and I pointed out there were some blood spots on the road, but the pig did not appear to be bleeding. I wondered how long we would have to wait for someone to come get the pig and save it (the optimist thinking again).

Another set of cars approached, one from each direction. I paused to direct them around us. When I looked back, the pig, lying on its side now, was bleeding heavily from a wound in its chest. Oh, I thought, they decided to kill it. As I stood watching, the pig raised its head a little. It made no sound during the whole time. The woman bent over, carefully inserted the knife into the original wound, pressed it in, I'm sure to be sure she penetrated the heart, then twisted the knife. A few seconds later, the little pig gave up the ghost and lay still.

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. 

I tried to handle the situation with grace and humor and see that the runners were correctly identified as to their place, but I could feel the animosity from some in the crowd (not from the kids). The worst was a parent, of course, who got in my face and kept saying that that she had driven a long way and felt entitled to better, and clearly felt I was to blame. She claimed that she had come last year and that it was a "disorganized" then, too (NOT!) I was thinking that it was her team that wasn't organized enough to send a simple roster by email, and we hadn't had any problem with any of the other schools at our two meets. Hmm. No point in arguing, though. When someone has decided to look for fault in you, they will find it.

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

Signs Seen

Somewhere in Tennessee, just off Interstate 40.

It's hard to know where to begin on this one, how to spell "dining" or the real meaning of the word "forever." *sigh*

Bates City, Missouri, just off Interstate 70

I'm still trying to understand why anyone would want to to purchase surplus army pizza or deli meats. *burp*

Blue Springs, Missouri


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

Facebook

I'm always amazed at what you can do on the Internet. It's hard to keep up with all the changes. It's so fluid, like watching liquid mercury flowing and blending and changing shape. I feel like I am way behind the kids on this, but doing my best to stay semi-current. I have received periodic invitations to join this or that networking website the past couple of years . . . kind of glad I passed on MySpace. I'm not sure I'm up to that.

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

On Caring


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

Raining on the Inside

Those little white streaks in the photo are streams of water coming down out of the wall/ceiling.
The workmen tore out the tiles on the balcony outside this week, which they then covered with some plastic, but this was not attached to the house, and, much to our surprise, water started flowing and dripping all along this wall during a heavy rain storm. It was coming in where the rolladen covers extend into the room.

We put out trash cans and buckets, pots and towels to catch the water. We can only hope at this point that it did no permanent damage and also that we won't have another big rain storm like that before the workmen finish the job, but I think we'll have a word with the architect on Monday and let him know what happened.

The water left deep muddy ruts in the yard. It made quite a mess. I hope it dries out tomorrow!

Graduation 08 and the Lamoureux Effect


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

Terrace Done, Balcony Next

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

Spanish Love Song - The Sequel

¡Buen trabajo, muchachos!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

If only!

A closer look at the excavation revealed hidden treasures!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Destruction Phase

The destruction phase has begun. On Wednesday while we were at school, they brought in the backhoe, took out part of the fence and a bunch of trees and bushes. It has dug a deep pit under the dining room window, and there are big piles of rubble from the patio and patio extension that it busted up. Things sure look ugly before they get to look pretty again.

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

Out With the Old

Today the workmen started removing the glassed in patio on the side of the house. They ripped off the covering under the balcony and found lots of soft wet wood up there. The whole thing has to come off . . . every home owner's nightmare and a cash cow for the renovation business. Who gets to be lucky and find that their old house isn't falling apart? I'll be updating this as the work progresses. Today, they removed the glass, side walls, insulation and ceiling of the patio enclosure. We can see now how nice it will be when it is just an open patio with a slight overhang from the balcony. Something to look forward to. Must go back to work now and earn money to pay for this. Tomorrow they are bringing in a bulldozer. Why do I keep seeing images of this enormous carnivorous plant saying, "Feed me Seymour, feed me!"?

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Bernkastel

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.

Alles gutgeschmeckt!

Until next year, ladies!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Magnolia Magnífica


The magnolia in front of the house was magnificent for a few days this year. The most and most glorious blooms ever. I took a plethora of photos, of which this is my favorite, looking up through the blooms to the sky.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Friday, May 02, 2008

Thinking Outside the Box

A recent Spanish exam featured a Mexican fable involving a jaguar and a cricket. The jaguar was offended by the cricket's croaky creaking and wanted him to be quiet. He challenged the cricket to a race. Whoever reached a rock first would win and decide the question. The cricket, being smarter than the jaguar, jumped onto the jaguar's tail and then worked his way forward until he reached his head. Just before the jaguar reached the rock, the cricket jumped onto the jaguar's nose and from there to the rock, beating him by, er, a nose.

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:


"If you want a cricket to be quiet, you step on him."

Sure, he missed the point, but his strategy would have worked better than the jaguar's.


Thursday, April 24, 2008

Woman in Art



This is great fun to watch. One woman. All women.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Out with the Old


 •  In with the new
I seem to have photographed the foliage again,
while trying to photograph the wildlife.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Spring Greening


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.

So, I guess I subconsciously wanted to take a photo of the bush,
because I did.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Oh, dear!

How many cannibals could your body feed?
Created by OnePlusYou
The Caffeine Click Test - How Caffeinated Are You?
Created by OnePlusYou

Monday, April 07, 2008

April Blows Snow

I'm posting this video so you can see the snow we had on this first Monday of what is euphemistically called Spring Break. It looks more like Winter Break than Winter Break did. The dogs, however, made the most of it, enjoying a romp in the snow.

April Showers are Supposed to be Rain

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!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Need a Hug?



If you've been giving

more hugs

than you've been getting

or looking out for others,

but feeling left out,

take a moment or two

for self-affirmation

and remind yourself

just how special you are!


Click on the title of this post.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

False Spring


The flowers were springing up glorious
But Winter is always notorious
He sent us a blow
Followed up with some snow
Then laughed cause it was so hilorious.