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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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Under the Ash Cloud

In a scenario no one expected to ever see, the skies over Europe have been shut down for days. Sorry, your flight has been canceled because Eyjafjallajokull, an Icelandic volcano a thousand miles away from your destination, is erupting is not what one expects to hear at the airport. I haven't seen any figures on how many Europeans were stranded on other continents when the airports shut down on Ash Friday, April 16, but it must number in the thousands.

For my school district, it was Spring Break, and while the majority of students, teachers and staff had traveled by car or other ground transportation on holiday, those who had flown to far-flung locales, like Turkey, Greece, the Canary Island, or Ireland, found themselves stranded and uncertain how best to manage their return. Journeys normally measured in hours, recently been measured in days.

A colleague told of sleeping on her husband's lap in an Italian train station side by side with other travelers because all the hotels were full. Others took two-day ferries to get back to Italy from Greece to spend another day on the train getting back to Germany. Flights that would normally have gone all the way to Frankfurt, Germany landed instead in cities like Prague, the Czech Republic and Salzburg, Austria. Those disembarking then continued their journey by train, car or bus. Other colleagues in Turkey still wait with bags packed for word that they have a flight and should head to the airport.

Thankfully, there have been no accidents, no airline disasters, so while some may criticize the experts and question why so much caution was applied in this case, I would rather my friends get home a week late, than not have them come home at all.

Photo from NASA.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Pale Blue Dot

This video has been around for a couple of years, and yet fewer than a million people have seen it. I wish everyone in the world would watch it. We all need to be reminded how small our planet is in the universe, how precious it is, and not that we are insignificant, but that we need to keep ourselves and our self-importance in perspective, and that's what this video is about, perspective.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Lambchops & Ewe

Friday afternoon my friend, Mary, and I walked down to the corner of my street to get a closer look at the ewes and lambs. Up to now, my husband and I have been drive-by viewers, like tourists in a safari park. They came running over in an enthusiastic bunch and lined up expectantly. They were rewarded, but not by us, when one of the neighbors came over and threw apple peels into the field. I realized then, that just as with turkeys, you don't want to be in the middle of the flock when they are expecting dinner. They were friendly, however, and liked having their heads rubbed. The little ones are cute, but the mommas have loads of personality, and if I had the time, it would be fun to sit and observe and assign them names. I've already named one Martha Stewart. She's the dignified one that shows up near the end. See if you can spot her.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

When I was a Nerd

This my painful nerd story. Every geek has one.

I was in high school in the mid 1960s. At the end of my Freshman year my school had a big awards assembly. I got a letter saying that I was to sit on the stage with other award recipients. I had no idea what award I was to receive or even what awards were to be given, but I was an above-average student, I played the violin in the school orchestra and was a National Junior Honor Society officer, so expected it would be something to do with one of those. I had also been president of the pep club during football season, more on that later.

I remember my English teacher, Mrs. Smith, a very proper lady, saying to us in a high-pitched quavery voice, Too much levity, class! whenever we got a little out of hand. I thought this was hopelessly uncool, but I never forgot the word levity. She also took us on evening field trips to a community plays, which were presented at a theater in the round. We were wonderfully close to the action. I got my picture in the newspaper when we made posters for one of the plays, You Can't Take It With You, as a class project, and my poster was displayed in the theater. Our geeky English teacher helped me develop both a love of words and of theater.

I had little in common with cheerleaders and the other girls in the pep club. I had not been in the club prior to my stint as president. Some of the cheerleaders guilted and flattered me into taking the job when they couldn't find anyone else willing to take it. I enjoyed working on the Homecoming float and thought the matching jackets we wore were kind of cool, but was glad when the football season came to an end.

Sitting on the stage of that awards ceremony, I wasn't expecting anything major to come my way, so I was surprised when I received the "Best All-Around Girl" award. They gave me a certificate and little charm, which have been lost in the dust of history. Not lost is the pain I experienced shortly after the applause ended.

I was feeling happy and even a little giddy about my award, until upon exiting the stage I overheard a group of girls, gathered in a tight circle around Carmen the Cheerleader, comforting her and lamenting the injustice of me winning the Best All-Around award, because surely it should have gone to her, the most popular girl in the Ninth Grade. Really, I'm not kidding. This was my life playing out like a scene in a cheerleader vs. the nerd movie.

Part of me thought they were pretty dimwitted for not getting that a Best All-Around award from teachers would be for students who participated in a variety of school activities and got good grades, not for the most popular girl around the locker room. Ironically, they had helped me get it when they chose me to be president of their pep club.

I realize they were probably the original source of a long string of dumb blonde jokes, but their comments stung. They did not see me standing behind them and I quickly ducked out of sight around a corner. It's not like they deliberately set out to hurt me, but my sensitive 15 year-0ld-self imagined this was what "everybody" thought.

I told myself, just forget it, but I walked into my next class, Algebra 1, as my teacher, whom I shall refer to as Mrs. Sour Lemons, was telling the class that not everyone agreed with all of the award choices, but there was nothing to be done about it. I knew from the quick flicker of her beady eyes she was talking about me. Mine was the award that not everyone agreed on. Mine was the award that had generated negative buzzing in the halls.

I remember sitting there feeling miserable, trying not to cry or let my emotions show. Somehow, I got through the class and home without breaking down, but instead of feeling fortunate and recognized, as was intended, thanks to the unkindness of the popular crowd and one teacher, I felt cheated and alone, wishing they had chosen anyone but me.

I haven't written about this before, because I don't like whining, mine or anyone else's. I have mostly happy memories of high school. But, except for a few fellow nerds, I don't miss my classmates. I haven't kept in touch with them. I moved on and out, out of the city, out of the state, out of the country. I attended one high school class reunion, and that was enough for me. Not surprisingly, I learned that Carmen the Cheerleader was between husbands, while I attended with the same man I've now been married to for 37 years. So, there is that.

It isn't easy to be a nerd/geek/dork in high school. Fortunately, it's becoming the new cool. Bill Gates has shown us that being a billionaire makes up for not being able to throw a football or do the splits. So, if you are a nerd, it's okay. Learn a few social skills and remember, you're going to be their boss some day.

If you liked the video, check out Dave and Brian's Website.

If you liked the jewelry, you can purchase it at Badali Jewelry.

Saturday, February 13, 2010


What a nice surprise this week to see three, then four lambs among the flock in the corner paddock. How charming to see them frolicking around in the snow, full of new life, a reminder that Spring is just around the corner. The spotted one is such a darling.

The reminder from a lunchtime conversation in the teacher's lounge that lamb is quite tasty and most of us have eaten it at the Greek restaurant we favor took my enthusiasm down a notch. I hope the birth of these young ones wasn't timed for Easter dinner.

I don't eat as much meat as I used to, but I'm not a vegetarian, either. Sometimes I remember to do as the Native Americans and thank the animal for the gift of its life, which makes me feel better, but it is so after the fact, I doubt the message reaches to the animal soul.

We seldom think about the life behind the meal. Perhaps we should.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Groundhog Day 2010

I dreamed that night that there were flowers growing under the snow, and the next day my Tai Chi instructor said that she could smell Spring in the air; so, even though we were hit with a blizzard on Groundhog Day, the 8th straight day of snowfall here in Germany, I also believe that this was this Winter's last big blow.

Here is one glimpse of the big storm of 2010, as reported by me, and yes, I know I misspelled Groundhog Day in the title. Please overlook the brain fart and enjoy the images.


This video captures one of those true meaning of life moments that are genuinely unpredictable, absolutely free, and without price.

A Concern Regarding Raccoons. from Merlin Mann on Vimeo.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Winter sheep

We pass these sheep every day on the way to and from work. Their little field lies at the entrance to our street. I wouldn't go so far as to say they recognize our car, but they seemed interested today as we drove slowly by on the very slick snow-covered road, as though to say, "We aren't concerned, but really?"

Friday, January 01, 2010

Time Marches On

Whiz, bang, blink, and 2009 is gone, just like that. And it's time to think about what to call it. Two thousand ten was fine with me, the next step after two thousand nine, but it turns out I was wrong.

Twenty ten is the way to go, I find, since that is the pattern we have followed through the ages. Sometime after the year 1,000, we had the eleven hundreds . . . fifteen hundreds . . . nineteen hundreds. Now, it looks like we are in the 20 tweens. I doubt I'll see the 20 hundreds. They're only 90 years away.

What are my resolutions? Honestly?
  • Ask more questions, give out fewer answers.
  • Listen more, tune out less.
  • Think before I speak (always a good one).
  • Spend more time walking, less time sitting.
  • Play more, work less.
  • Win the lottery.
Wait, I'm not sure that last one counts as a resolution. I think those are supposed to be doable. Sigh.