Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Music & Life

All my life I remember loving music. Some of the memories are vague because of the passage of time. Others are vivid, maybe they were more firmly imprinted in my mind because of the sheer terror of the situation. Other memories offer comfort, peace.

When I was very little, two or three, before we moved to Roanoke, my parents were evangelists and traveled pulling a house trailer all over the Southeast and southern Texas. They did the music for the services for two weeks and then moved on to another place. Camp meetings and revivals, except for the few travel days I was in church every night.

During the travel days we would go down the road and to keep me occupied we would play games. Since I could not read, we couldn't play the "license plate" or "signs" games so my mom made one up. She would tap out a song on the dashboard of the car, no tune, just the taps of the words in the right rhythm. Most were hymns or choruses as that was what I knew. I would guess the title. She said that I was quite good. In church every night? I ought to be good.

After the services they would play with me in the trailer before bed. What did I want to play? Church, of course, I knew nothing else. I was in charge of the service. "We will now sing a song," I said, "Mary Had a Little Lamb." I did the preaching as well and my topic for the evening was "Goldilocks and The Three Bears". Then it was time to pray. That week we had been with a preacher who always knelt down to pray. He would get into the prayer in earnest and start pounding his fist on the altar. So, I made my mom and dad kneel down and I did too. Then with my little fist pounding on the floor I prayed, "Oh! Lord! Take away our old sins and give us some NEW sins!!" I guess I figured that if God took something away He would have to give us something to replace it. The theology wasn't quite right but the intent was good. Mom has told me that it was all they could do not to laugh.

Music continued in my life after we settled down. I had a little record player with the small 78 rpm kids records in bright colors of blue, yellow, red and green. I started piano lessons when I was seven and took for several years. I have previously told how I felt about the piano recitals and the terror associated.

When we moved to Gary, Indiana I started taking violin lessons. My father's aunt Deliah (pronounced deel-ya) had a violin and very bright red hair. She was the only one in her family who played so she gave it to me as long as I took lessons. I could read music because of the piano and I have a pretty good ear, so the hardest part was learning finger placement and getting the bowing down so that it would not squeal and sound like fingernails on the chalkboard. This latter feat was something that my mom never was able to do when she decided to take violin as well. Even twenty-five years of music and piano training did not help her correctly bow and her practices sent all of us running from the house, screaming and holding our ears.

After I had taken for a year or two I was drafted to play the offertory in church at Christmas. At the time the church building was still under construction so services were held in the big basement under our house. A small platform had been built at one end and here the pulpit and piano were placed. Folding chairs made up the pews. Before the service I practiced with my mom who would accompany me on the piano. It was great. I tuned the strings and then (here comes the fatal error) I LEFT THE VIOLIN ON TOP OF THE PIANO. When it came time for me to play, I went up, took the violin and waited for the introduction. The song was "We Three Kings". I knew the first moment I touched the strings that something was very, very wrong. Mom did not hear the problem and forged ahead.

It is amazing what can flash through your mind and what information you can process in a microsecond. The vibration from the piano had distuned (yes, this really is a word) my violin. Since mom was continuing to play, all I could do was make a shift of my hand and play by ear. Fortunately, all the strings seemed to have gone out of tune in the same direction and of the same degree so I played the same finger placements but with a shift. I made it through. That may have been the last time I played in church. I know it wasn't very long after that I decided to give up the violin. I love to listen but not play.

So now I think I am finally old. I like the old things like classical music, old hymns, golden oldies and even elevator music. The weirdest thing happened the other day when I heard the Bangles "Walk Like an Egyptian" on the radio; at the end they called it a "GOLDEN OLDIE". Now I know I'm old.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Moody Monday: Sportive

Mississippi School for Math & Science, Lady Blue Waves, 2003-2004 Posted by Hello

"I'm a high school player. I'm a team player. I play with my friends and with some of my enemies, but I respect everyone when it comes to my sport. I know I'm not going to get a multi-million dollar contract to play professionally. I know I may not even get my name in the paper. I play for love of the game. For the pride and honor, for the blood, sweat and tears it takes to make the team, to earn the spot, to win the game. I play because I can, I play because I know that my life would be empty without the sport I play. I would have a lack of everything my sport gives me... integrity, courage, talent, fearlessness, pride, strength, stamina, will, and the heart of a champion. If I didn't play, I would lose a part of me. I'm an athlete. I'm a girl. I'm a champion, not because my team always wins, but because when we don't, we learn from our mistakes. We try to fix them, and most of all because we have fun. I have built lifelong friendships and memories because of my being an athlete. I leave everything on the field or court and continue to push myself. I am never happy with second place, but I have learned to accept it. I have learned to get over and through my anger and be the athlete and player I have always dreamed of being. I don't play for my parents, for my family, for my friends; I don't play for my coach or my teachers or my school. I play for myself but when I'm playing I represent them. It isn't about winning or losing, but I hate to lose. I won't settle for a tie, and I am not satisfied with 100%. To play, you have to sacrifice everything, your body, your time, your sweat, blood, and tears, everything... for your team. I am a player, and athlete and a champion, not because I know what it is like to win, but because I know what it is like to lose. I know what it is like to feel the anger and pain that comes along with "second best." I have been that girl with tears in her eyes, walking out to recieve the second place trophy and clapping as the other team, my opponents, receive the first place one. I know what it is like to lose, to win, to want to quit, to want to cry, to not want to get up. I know what it is like to hear the cheers and yells for you. I know what it is like to feel the pressure of everyone on your shoulders, and I know what it is like to choke under that pressure. I know what it means to be an athlete, a true player, and that is why I play. I AM AN ATHLETE, A CHAMPION, A TRUE PLAYER."
---"An Athlete's Pride"

Note: Also entry for Photo Friday, 6/16/05 - "Sport".

Memorial Day Origins

Twelve Gables,1838, Columbus, Mississippi

The first official observation of Memorial Day is said to have been held in Waterloo, New York on May 5th, 1866. However, in April of that year, a group of women in the Deep South had already decorated the graves of Civil War soldiers.

Columbus, Mississippi was not a military target during the Civil War. It was a center of food production for the Confederate troops, was briefly the state capital when Jackson fell and served as a military hospital center.

The antebellum home, Twelve Gables, built in 1838 was used as the primary military hospital in the area. On April 25, 1866, a group of women from the local women'’s association met at Twelve Gables and decided to lay garlands and flowers on the graves of the Confederate soldiers buried in the local cemetery, Friendship Cemetery. It is said that they marched with baskets of colorful flowers through the town to the cemetery. At that time the graves were not marked with stone markers and the majority of those buried were unknown..no name, no birth date.

Buried together with the Confederate soldiers were Union soldiers; those who died in the 1862 Battle of Shiloh. These women were tired of the war and were well acquainted with grief. Mississippi had 78,000 men who entered the Confederate military and by the end of the war 59,000 of them were either dead or wounded, 76%. Some records say over 2,100 Confederate soldiers are buried in Friendship and an unknown number of Union soldiers. These soldiers were their fathers, husbands, sons, and brothers. As they looked at the rows and rows of mounded earth, they decided to place flowers on ALL the graves, both Union and Confederate; after all, the Union soldiers were the fathers, husbands, sons and brothers of other women who were just as tired and just as sad as they.

In 1934, simple marble markers were installed. Approximately 350 are identified with names found in recovered records. The rest are labeled "“Unknown Confederate Soldier" or "“Unknown Union Soldier"”.

The kindness and empathy of the women in 1866 became known in other areas of the country and inspired the writing of the following poem by Frances Miles Finch, published in The Atlantic Monthly in 1867.
The Blue and the Gray

By the flow of the inland river,
Whence the fleets of iron have fled,
Where the blades of the grave-grass quiver,
Asleep on the ranks of the dead:
Under the sod and the dew,
Waiting the Judgment Day;
Under the one, the Blue,
Under the other, the Gray.

These in the robings of glory,
Those in the gloom of defeat;
All with the battle-blood gory,
In the dusk of eternity meet:
Under the sod and the dew,
Waiting the Judgment Day;
Under the laurel, the Blue,
Under the willow, the Gray.

From the silence of sorrowful hours
The desolate mourners go,
Lovingly laden with flowers,
Alike for the friend and the foe:
Under the sod and the dew,
Waiting the Judgment Day;
Under the roses, the Blue,
Under the lilies, the Gray.

So, with an equal splendor,
The morning sun-rays fall,
With a touch impartially tender,
On the blossoms blooming for all:
Under the sod and the dew,
Waiting the Judgment Day;
Broidered with gold, the Blue,
Mellowed with gold, the Gray.

So, when the summer calleth,
On forest and field of grain,
With an equal murmur falleth
The cooling drip of the rain:
Under the sod and the dew,
Waiting the Judgment Day;
Wet with the rain, the Blue,
Wet with the rain, the Gray.

Sadly, but not with upbraiding,
The generous deed was done,
In the storm of the years that are fading,
No braver battle was won:
Under the sod and the dew,
Waiting the Judgment Day;
Under the blossoms, the Blue,
Under the garlands, the Gray.

No more shall the war-cry sever,
Or the winding rivers be red;
They banish our anger forever
When they laurel the graves of our dead!
Under the sod and the dew,
Waiting the Judgment Day;
Love and tears for the Blue,
Tears and love for the Gray.
Today, Friendship Cemetery, "Where flowers healed a Nation", is the final resting place for many local residents. Old marble carved markers from the 1800's mix with the shine of the modern memorials. The cemetery is on the National Register of Historic Places and is the setting for the annual "Tales from the Crypt" during the spring Pilgrimage. Students from Mississippi School for Math and Science research individuals buried here; write and present monologues based on their life stories. At dusk groups walk from station to station and hear the history of the people in this small southern town. The lighted path winds through the cemetery and past beautifully carved headstones, the most famous being the "Weeping Angel". I have heard the story that at different times of the day, the angel rests her head in different positions and that some have seen her face looking out over the graves. The ghost of a Confederate soldier is also said to march on guard duty towards the back of the cemetery. I have not seen either personally, but Columbus is full of such legends and ghost stories, especially with the large number of old antebellum homes. So, who knows?

Friendship Cemetery,Columbus, Mississippi, "Weeping Angel"
Posted by Hello

Saturday, May 28, 2005


I love limes in iced tea, key lime pie and above all else, Sonic's Route 66 size cherry limeade. Heaven in the summertime is a Sonic cherry limeade, a quiet swing, a gentle breeze, low humidity (impossible in Mississippi), a good book and an afternoon with nothing pressing to do. We can dream can't we?

Entry for Macroday.
Posted by Hello

Framed Friends

My daughter and her friend MM standing framed in the 2nd floor window of Court's Hall. It's her last day at Sewanee. She's happy, she's sad; all those conflicting emotions one has with change.
A friend who is far away is sometimes much nearer than one who is at hand. Is not the mountain far more awe-inspiring and more clearly visible to one passing through the valley than to those who inhabit the mountain?--Kahlil Gibran
Submitted to i-gizmo.com. Posted by Hello

Friday, May 27, 2005

Symbol of Faith

This church is where we met for our BSF women's Bible study this year. I started the study so that my mom could attend again, but in the end, I met many wonderful women and learned so much about myself and my walk with God. I am looking forward to the next year's study starting in September. I thought the church steeple was beautiful at night.

Submitted to Photo Friday.
Posted by Hello

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Chloe: A "Proper" Siamese

Chloe is Clover's sister. She is the firstborn and the only one with the "cross-eyed" look. She is now almost 12 years old and still has to make sure that all her whiskers are impeccably groomed, her tail tucked in and her front feet together when she sits. She is generally friendly and sleeps most days away with her sister. Occasionally the gets a wild hare and runs through the house or walks up to another unsuspecting cat and hits them. It is a Jekyll and Hyde thing. Her only other quirk is that she likes to eat by herself, in the bathroom, with the door shut. Only then will she let herself go. But she only calls to come out after she has completely cleaned her face and paws after the meal.

About four years ago she began loosing weight, she couldn't keep food or water down. So a trip to the vet school at Mississippi State, ultrasound of her abdomen and an upper gi scope with stomach biopsy revealed feline inflammatory bowel disease. Unfortunately she couldn't keep the steroid pills down, so our vet gave her a shot of steroids saying it might work for up to eight weeks. That was four years ago and she still seems to be in remission, now eats well, gained back her weight and retains her prim and proper ways. This is her pose. She sees a camera, she wants to pose. Everything nice and neat.

Be sure to visit Friday's Ark to see other stories about cats, dogs and other creatures and stop by Carnival of the Cats, this week hosted by Ripe Bananas.
Posted by Hello

"Look Ma, No Hair!"

Hello, Max here. I knew they were up to something when they took away my water and let me stay in a carrier inside for the night. Sure enough, bright and early yesterday morning, my mom took me in the van (I did get to sit in the front seat) to the vet. I took my new football but she made me leave it in the car. She said I made too much noise with all my woo-woo-wooing, but I just get beside myself when I go in the car. There were lots of doggie smells outside the vet shop and I wanted to smell them all but she had to go on to the dentist. I had my teeth cleaned last year so I don't have to do the dentist thing. This was it, this was the place. I don't like it here. I growl at the people with the scrub suits on and I am hysterical, a little bit that is. I did meet a new friend and we sniffed noses.

My mom told them that I needed my shots and check-up too but they already knew that. Then they took me and gave me some medicine to put me to sleep and I got sleepy and my eyes got heavier and heavier until......yawwwwn.......I just couldn't keep them open and I started dreaming about a big steak.

They are so sneaky with those shot things. I don't know how long I was asleep, but when I finally started waking up and looked at my feet......I was in shock! I'm naked!!!! I have no hair!!!! My mohawk is gone, my furry paws are shaved bare, I can see my clipped nails, and my tail....everything is shaved. They also took blood to check for heart worms and gave me shots. Not only did I get shaved but they gave me a bath....all while I was asleep!! Mom says it is easier for them ( so I won't bite) and for me. She says, "Max, if you are asleep you won't be scared." I guess she is right but I am sooooooo naked, it is embarrassing. And we had to do it when there was a Nor'easter and the high temp in Virginia Beach was 56. My dog house is warm and cozy so it'll be ok.

I know with the hot weather I will feel much better this way, but now I look like a lab mix instead of a cocker mix and I will be hiding out for the rest of the week in my dog house. I just hope those stupid dogs next door don't laugh at me.
Posted by Hello

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

A Yellow Iris: "To bind my love"

The Greek goddess, Iris, the messenger of love is the name given these flowers. They are thought of as the symbols of communication, wisdom, faith, and valor. Greek men often planted irises on the graves of their beloved wives and daughters as a tribute to Iris, whose duty it was to lead the souls of women to the Elysian fields.
Submitted to Lens Day: Yellow. Posted by Hello

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

If I Could Save Time In A Bottle

Eighteen years pass like a flash of light, in a blink of the eye.Posted by Hello
Sunrise, sunset
Sunrise, sunset
Swiftly flow the days
Seedlings turn overnight to sunflowers
Blossoming even as we gaze

Sunrise, sunset
Sunrise, sunset
Swiftly fly the years
One season following another
Laden with happiness and tears
- from "Fiddler On The Roof" by
Sheldon Harnick and Jerry Bock
Submitted to Photo Tuesday.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Intricate: Lace

Crocheted lace from my grandmother's handkerchief.
"I consider lace to be one of the prettiest imitations ever made of the fantasy of nature; lace always evokes for me those incomparable designs which the branches and leaves of trees embroider across the sky, and I do not think that any invention of the human spirit could have a more graceful or precise origin." - Coco Chanel (April 20, 1939)
Submitted to Macroday Challenge. Posted by Hello

Sunday, May 22, 2005

The Science Project

My mother taught school for over thirty years. She started in high school teaching typing, shorthand and music and worked her way down in the grades while taking more courses along the way. She ended up with a Master's degree in elementary education and in first grade. She always said she liked first grade because they were a fresh slate. She loved to teach them to read, and that look on their faces when the light bulb of understanding came on. Adults underestimate or have forgotten that joy that kids get when they can first read for themselves.

In Indiana, she taught at the school down the street from our house. In first grade the science instruction was pretty simple and kids responded as one would expect to small experiments they could watch. One year she decided to let them watch little chicks hatching. She researched what was necessary. My dad helped her rig up an incubator that consisted of our frying pan with the temperature set very low and the dial taped securely, a sealed box with cellophane inserted in a cut out so the kids could watch and a source of moisture inside the box. There was also a light for a little extra heat when the box flap was opened to turn the eggs. They had to turn the eggs daily so they put them in the pan with dish towels to cushion them. The plan was for the kids to watch the chicks peck their way out of the shells, let them then feed and water them as they grew and then, with the permission of the parents, they would take them home. Of course only five or six could do so.

They obtained the fertilized eggs from a nearby chicken farm and set it up. The children were fascinated. The parents were fascinated. Finally, the little chicks began to start pecking their way out. Mom explained to the children that they could not help them, they had to do it themselves so they could develop more strength. During this period of time, the school had an open house. The kids in mom's class brought their parents and everyone flocked around the incubator. When mom wasn't looking and over the protestations of his child, one father reached in and "helped" a little chick that was "almost out by himself anyway." It became clear a couple of days later that this chick, one of the last to hatch, had problems with his feet. The claws were curled under and he couldn't stand up.

Dad, being raised on a farm, said this fellow couldn't survive in this condition and suggested humanely euthanizing him. Of course, I went into a hissy, tizzy fit over it and begged and pleaded to take him home. "What will you do with him?" "I don't know, but you can't kill him!" Crying does occasionally get you somewhere. Not often, but occasionally. I took the crippled chick home.

I decided to make some tiny splints for his toes. We had some flat wooden toothpicks, wider than those square ones they sell now. I split them in half and made them the length of his toes. Then I straightened his toes and taped one splint to each one. They stuck out a little bit in the back and it took him a while to get used to it but he could stand on them and hop about the box. I kept him in a big box in the corner of my room. He had a soft mound of cloth to nest in and a light for warmth and food and water.

The splints stayed on for two weeks. The chick was growing. Mom was getting nervous about him trying to get out of the box, but while he could walk with the wooden splints, it was an awkward gait. After the two weeks I decided to take them off and see what would happen. IT WORKED!!! His toes stayed straight, he could hop and walk around like a normal chick. It came time to give him a new home. He had been promised to a little boy in her class, IF, the experimental splints worked. So, little Cheep-Cheep #2 (I was never very original in naming the chicks) went to his new home.

This was the first time I had contrived something to treat a sick animal and it worked. Maybe this was the beginning (along with my 9th grade Biology teacher and watching actual surgery on TV when I was a kid) of my interest in science. Who knows? I thought it was great. Mom decided that it would be her last "hatching chicks" experiment.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Sewanee Dogs

This is a "Sewanee" dog. He is well-fed, and has an owner as indicated by his collar and tags, but he is still a "Sewanee" dog.

Sewanee, Tennessee is twenty miles from nowhere. Actually, it is about 45 minutes from Chattanooga, about an hour and a half from Nashville and about an hour from Huntsville, Alabama. It is on the western edge of the Great Smoky Mountains. Sewanee, the town, is located on top of a mountain here and is the home, excuse me, "Domain" of the University of the South(also known as Sewanee). The stats page on the internet says that the population is 2,361 but I don't know if that is with or without the 1600 or so students. Any way you look at it, it's small, tiny, itty bitty. When I took Nyssa to college there, I tried to find the "town". The best we could come up with was the end of University Drive where there was a small bank, electric company, coffee/sandwich shop, and a restaurant that we were warned not to eat at. The Piggly Wiggly was up the road about 4 miles and closed at 5pm on weekdays. But this was really the neighboring town of Monteagle and not really Sewanee's grocery store. Of more relevance to college students, Sewanee is 25 miles from the nearest Walmart. You get the picture.....it is remote, isolated, beautiful, but one of those places of which you can say,"You don't have to go through it to get anywhere."

Back to the Sewanee dogs. Because this is such a small place, the local pets are allowed to run free; I assume it is as long as they are tagged or maybe because there is no animal control office. There are eight or nine dogs who visit the campus consistently. They can be seen sleeping under stone benches beneath tall ancient trees, or in a corner beneath the gothic arches of a walkway. They may be following any number of students as they criss-cross the campus and have been know to show up inside the courtyard of the dorms. They are friendly, well-fed (at home and by the students), and have lovely places to roam. They even receive mention during orientation and have their own section in the university handbook.

This is one of the Sewanee dogs. I went to pick Nyssa up and he was making the rounds. She doesn't know his name; the students don't know any of their names, they just call them "puppy". He was in the Courts Hall central open courtyard, visiting one of the dorm rooms. I saw him next outside the dining hall with a group of three students and here he is relaxing in front of the library. He went on later to follow a professor as he walked across the street to class. They seem happy to be this free, yet secure in the fact that home is so close. I guess it must be good to have this dog's life; yes, it must be good to be a "Sewanee" dog.

Be sure to submit your stories and pictures of dogs you know to Carnival of the Dogs, hosted by Mickey's Musings, and visit on Sundays.
Posted by Hello

Friday, May 20, 2005

Sewanee Style: Green Variety

Nyssa dressed for a job interview. She sarcastically called this her "Sewanee Look"; Slim Fast and string cheese in one hand, fashionable low heels, upscale dress with matching sweater and the "bow" at the neckline and last, but not least the obligatory "string of pearls". She shook her head and said, "This is just so Sewanee." I thought she looked appropriate for job interview. Don't know yet if she got the job but we are hoping.

I thought this would fit with Photo Friday's theme of GREEN.
Posted by Hello

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Friday Cat Blogging: Maggie

This is Maggie or if you use her official "title"; this is Her Royal Highness Magnolia Blossom of Brevard. She also goes by Maggot or Baby. She is, like Willow, a blue mitted Ragdoll and is an older cousin of our two. Maggie belongs to my parents. She used to be an only cat, but then this rowdy group of hooligans came and took over her domain, her sun room, her sleeping lounger and the laps and affections of her parents. She is angry. She is mad. She fusses, hisses and generally is disagreeable about it all. She even looks mad, all the time!

She resembles Willow in her coloring, although her face has more of the Persian look to it, with a smushed in nose and chubby cheeks like a chipmunk. In size they are quite similar. Not in temperament. While Willow is most independent and tends to rule everyone else, Maggie is very whiney and dependent on my dad. She doesn't want to go through the cat door, she wants him to open it for her. If her food bowl has an indentation in the middle of the food, she will go find him and talk until he follows her, picks up the food and shakes the food flat in the bowl. This routine also occurs if Willow has done her pipe cleaner in the water and food trick. This doesn't affect our other cats, but Maggie gets hysterical and won't eat until her dad removes the offending item.

My other Ragdoll, Nicky, has a crush on her. He follows her around the house like a puppy. If she is on the bed, he hops up there. He wants to be friends and snuggle, but she hisses, spits and slaps him before running away. They are making progress but not much. They have both been sleeping on the bed...at opposite ends and with a pillow in between.

Most of the time Maggie hides during the day or sleeps in a chair in the living room. She only comes out after the other cats have gone "shoo-shoo" to their cushion beds in the sun room. Then she again has her castle to herself, for a time. Unfortunately, her walnut sized brain has not been able to grasp that said cats will return to her domain in the morning. So, every night she is comforted and relieved that they are gone and every morning she has another nervous breakdown when they return.

In this picture she was taking her turn under the Christmas tree. She loved to hide there, on the felt tree skirt and look up at the dangling ornaments and twinkling lights. Knowing cats the way we do, we only put the "unbreakable" ornaments near the base of the tree, giving all cats the pleasure of knocking them off.

To see more pictures of cats and other "animals" be sure to visit Friday's Ark and on Sunday, Carnival of the Cats, this week.
Posted by Hello

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Thursday Challenge: Play

Nyssa (left) and Lori (right) were best friends in Mississippi for many years. They met by peeking at each other under the fence in the back yard. They were both almost four and Lori, who had immune problems as a baby, was only then able to spend time with other kids. As they were next door neighbors, hours were spent together in each place. Dress-up was one of their favorite pastimes.

When Nyssa was four she had to spend Christmas with her dad in Texas. I was alone at home and had decided it was time for a dress-up trunk. Over the years remnants of lace, satin, fake fur, and other materials had been collected along with ric-rac, beading and sequined embellishments. So all that week I sewed dresses, long with all the trimming. Maroon, blue and white, leopard print tops, polyester tops and skirts, flowing beige satin and lace, fake fur stoles and muffs and a complete bride's dress with white gathered satin skirt and top covered in white lace. The gown had long lace sleeves and I made a veil attached to a headband with hot glued white flowers. The outfit was completed with a bouquet of silk flowers and long flowing satin ribbon.

I put these and others in a medium sized trunk along with old hats and wigs collected from the grandmothers and yard sales, various pieces of old costume jewelry, plastic high heeled shoes from Walmart and regular shoes from the grandmothers as well. Parasols, gloves, tiaras, and costume masks were added, as were grass skirts, leis, and maracas. The trunk was full. I put a big bow on top and this was to be her main present.

When she got home and opened her presents, it was a big hit. Soon, Lori came over and they were digging through the trunk, giggling, making up stories, prancing around the house in crazy mixes of the outfits. This was the best present I could have ever given her. She and her friends played dress-up and stretched their imaginations for years as the little dresses that first puddled on the ground around their feet grew shorter and shorter until the hems came to mid-calf and we finally had to admit that there was no way to squeeze into them again.

The dresses were folded neatly and placed in storage, but the "dress-up" fascination remained. Dance costumes, a used graduation gown, larger grass skirts and even draped fabric pinned in strategic areas was used well into the fifth grade. (Somewhere we have a funny video of that surprise spend the night birthday party you can ask Nyssa about) One doesn't outgrow the accessories although some of the boas are now quite feather bare.

In this day of Game-Boys, cell phones and i-Pods, our children's minds are not being exercised. They are more technically aware and capable than we who were children of the 50's and 60's, yet these advances have robbed them of something most precious, their imagination. This ability to take items and pretend, making up a storyline in your mind instead of sitting numbly in front of a television or gaming screen is being lost. Riding your bike down a hill as fast as you can pretending all the while that you are on a wild stallion, acting out and reliving in your mind the passages of a favorite book; I can think of no happier thing to do. Just sitting alone, lost in the pages of a good ghost story or visualizing the details of the tree home in Swiss Family Robinson; away from the distractions and noise of the world, fully engaged in the words and the sights, sounds, smells and tastes they describe and seeing in your mind the pictures they paint; this is fun, contentment, excitement and pure joy.

Nyssa and Lori demonstrate this joy in the picture above; the wacky, goofy, impossible joy of being a child with large thoughts of castles, princesses, judges, queens, brides, mothers, dancers, actresses, models, doctors, teachers, and yes, hula girls. I can honestly say, "Nyssa, with this gift.....I did good!"
Submitted to Theme Thursday.
Posted by Hello

Winter Moon Over Illinois

A winter moon in southern Illinois, full and bright in the dark background. The leafless branches of an old tree are visible by moonlight as are the vapor trails of two passing jets. The land is absolutely flat and the sky expansive. Barn cats roam the property warming themselves by the huge outdoor wood-burning furnace that heats the farmhouse. The night was cold....10 degrees, but the wind was calm and the silence was broken only by an occasional "maoooow" from the cats.

Submitted to Lens Day Challenge.
Posted by Hello

Monday, May 16, 2005

High School Reunions

I graduated from high school in 1970, yes, thirty-five years ago June 2nd. Today, I received an invitation to the 35th reunion. It was addressed to my parents address here in Virginia Beach and to my maiden name. How they found me I don't know. Since high school I have lived in five states, nine towns or cities and had twelve different addresses. I read some of the names of classmates they are trying to find. One was the valedictorian of our class. I also recognized the name of one of the "reunion committee" members. I believe she was the thin, tall, blonde who tried year after year to make the cheerleading squad. Finally, our senior year she made it. Most of the names I don't recognize or remember. I didn't really have many "school" friends there, most were friends from church that went to our small town high school. Actually, I was a total fish-out-of-water at school, but to explain this I must digress.

We lived in Gary, Indiana for five years. I was almost ten when we moved there and in fifth grade. I had just finished ninth grade when we left and I was thirteen (to be fourteen in January). In Indiana the Junior High School consisted of the 7th and 8th grades. They offered accelerated classes in foreign language and math. We did Algebra I in 8th grade as well as French I. This required some summer school sessions there too.

Then we moved to the "High School" for 9th through 12th grade. We were freshmen, low people on the rung of high school life, peons. In 9th grade our group from Jr. High took French II and Algebra II. Everyone in Indiana took Biology in 9th grade. I remember two friends in Indiana. One was Nada Kostich. She was a brilliant mind. She had escaped with her parents and I believe her grandmother as well, from Yugoslavia during the time of the Soviet occupation. She always brought sandwiches with a dense bread that her grandmother made, spread with cream cheese and a thin slice of roast beef. The other friend was Marshall Bundren. I can't remember his face exactly but he was taller than both Nada and I. We stuck together at school, ate lunch together, were in the same classes, made the National Junior Honor Society together, went to summer school together after 9th grade to finish up Algebra II; but, we lived in different parts of the area and never saw each other outside of school. Then my dad took a church in New Brighton, Pennsylvania and we left Indiana.

Comparing New Brighton, Pennsylvania (about 50 miles northwest of Pittsburgh) with Gary, Indiana....well, there really are no similarities only contrasts. Gary was a city, New Brighton a small western Pennsylvania town; Gary was flat, New Brighton very hilly; Gary was big, New Brighton was small. In fact, the only claim to fame the town had was that Joe Namath's mother lived there. His parents apparently were divorced and he lived with his dad across the river in Beaver Falls, PA.

The differences only began with the town, and became greater when I went to New Brighton High. In Pennsylvania, the junior high was called Middle School and encompassed the 7th through the 9th grades. The high school was just 10th through 12th. So, I had already spent a year as the lowest of the low as a freshman in Indiana and now I had to turn around and repeat the same as a sophomore in New Brighton. I was also the youngest in my class; this was not that traumatic to me as it had always been that way since first grade, but it was immensely fascinating to the other students.

The biggest contrast with Indiana and the one which cemented my "fish-out-of-water" feelings were my classes. In Pennsylvania, the sophomores took Algebra II, Foreign Language II and Biology. I had already had these. The only classes I had in common were English and History. So the school put me in Chemistry and Geometry with the juniors. This only exaggerated the difference in our ages...I was still 13 and most of them were 15 or 16. I didn't really belong to either class. In fact, when I was a junior and they were seniors, I had more classes with the senior class than my junior class.

Then they graduated, and left me behind. I had to complete a senior year; take the only remaining math course the school had, retake Physics (one was called PSSC Physics and the other was less theory, less difficult) and finish up English. Suddenly, I had to take all my classes with my class. I barely knew my class. John G. Klepic III had gone to Yale and left me there. They had all gone and left me with strangers. Yes, I knew the kids from my church who were in my class at school but that seemed separate. We didn't have a cafeteria so everyone who did not ride the bus had to go home for lunch. Maybe that's one reason I didn't get to know the other students very well. I didn't go to dances and other than football, sports wasn't that big there and with the church functions there wasn't a lot of time for clubs at school.

My best friend in high school was Sandy Greathouse; at least for part of high school she was my best friend. It was a complicated friendship. It was a complicated time. Ours was a complicated story best left for another post. This was New Brighton; a small western Pennsylvania town where "six degrees of separation" was probably two degrees too many in most cases and where everyone knew everyone else's business.

Will I go to the reunion? Probably not. I didn't go to the 10th, 20th, 25th, or 30th; in fact, I don't think I even got a notification of any except the 25th. I do wonder about some of the people from both New Brighton and Gary. I did a people search the other day for Nada and Marshall. There is one Nada listed in Florida, but I don't know if it is the same person as the last name is the same. I would have thought she would have married. I wonder if she became a doctor or, heaven forbid, a lawyer. I don't have the nerve to actually call. I also found a Marshall Bundren, still in northern Indiana. He is in charge of a ministry to seamen, presumably those working the great lakes. Somehow, this doesn't surprise me.

I know a little about where some of the kids in our church youth group in New Brighton ended up but not about any of the class members who were not in our church. I was curious about John G. Klepic III who was in the class of 1969 as I had an immense crush all through school. My search yielded only one, in eastern Pennsylvania, living less than a mile from the QVC headquarters. Isn't it a small world? A few years ago we toured QVC as we passed through that area...possibly just a mile from this same John.

No, reunions are not really my thing.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Moody Monday: Forbidden

The wonderful glazed, fruit-filled, cinnamon sugared, cream-filled, chocolate coated, sprinkled, powdered, cake, twisted and pudding-filled doughnuts for sale within the bakery here are prohibido, verboden, vietato, interdit, forbudt, verboten and forbidden. THEY ARE NOT ON THE DIET!!!!!!!!!!!! Posted by Hello

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Trucker Dog - Name Unknown

Making the trip from Sewanee, Tennessee to Virginia Beach, Virginia is approximately 12 hours; if it isn't raining and if everything works right. Knoxville, Tennessee cannot be avoided whether you go I81 through Virginia to I64 or if you go I40 to Asheville, North Carolina and on to Virginia Beach via Hwy58. Knoxville doesn't have a true bypass and there is always road construction going on. Four lanes (one direction) suddenly go to two and then three other overpasses have entrance ramps on to the two lane section. We didn't see any fire engines, police or rescue vehicles, but we were cruising along around 60 mph when suddenly the traffic ahead was completely stopped. For about five minutes it inched forward a bit and then stopped, dead, no movement.........for over 30 minutes. Cars backed up around five miles behind us, cars on the overpasses, a bus, a dumptruck, a truck pulling a flatbed trailer with two golf carts, and many, many large trucks.

Everyone finally started shutting down the engines of the cars, bus, and those big trucks. Doors opened, windows opened; people got out of the trucks and cars; they walked around and talked to each other. I40 had become a huge parking lot.

There was a big white semi-trailer truck beside my van. I looked over and up to see this dog sitting in the passenger seat, calmly looking out the window. He didn't bark or hang his head out the window; he just sat in his seat and looked, at me. He looked big, a bit intimidating, strong, like a dog you would think a trucker would have. But when his driver got out of the truck, he finally lost his cool and barked. Wouldn't you know it, he had a high pitched bark, not manly and deep at all, more like a Pekingese. When the driver got back in his rig, the dog took his seat and resumed staring. Soon, the obstruction was removed (we never did figure out what the problem was) and we restarted our engines and resumed the trip. I have wondered since then how many truckers have companion traveling buddies such as this?

Be sure to check out other dog stories and pictures at Carnival of the Dogs, this Sunday, hosted by Mickey's Musings. Posted by Hello

Thursday, May 12, 2005


Clover (left) and Chloe (right) are littermates, sisters. Chloe is the eldest and most crosseyed and Clover is the darkest. They sleep together most of the day; side by side, back to back and in the strange "heart" shape posted for Mother's Day. Their mother was Susie and sisters include Savannah and Puddin. I believe they had one brother but don't know where he ended up. Clover is more vocal. Chloe is more mild mannered and loves to cuddle and purr. Clover likes to be covered up and in boxes while Chloe doesn't like closets or any other enclosures.

They occasionally have spats like all siblings, but these are quickly resolved and they resume their positions, curled up side by side, paws draped over each other, heads nestled together. They clean each others head, neck, chins, and ears. Their vet says they have the cleanest ears he's seen in two cats. They must do a good job, I certainly haven't ever attempted to clean their ears.

I don't know why they get along so well, perhaps it is because they grew up together. Maybe they had to get along to survive the invasion of the other cats. Most of the time they really are "two peas in a pod."

To see pictures and stories of more cats, and dogs, and birds, oh my......go to Friday's Ark, and be sure to stop by this weeks Carnival of the Cats, hosted this Sunday by Aptenobytes.
Posted by Hello


Lilacs , purple traced with white, delicate, fragrant, stand in my father's garden.

False blue,

Colour of lilac,
You have forgotten your Eastern origin,
The veiled women with eyes like panthers,
The swollen, aggressive turbans of jeweled Pashas.
Now you are a very decent flower,
A reticent flower,
A curiously clear-cut, candid flower,
Standing beside clean doorways,
Friendly to a house-cat and a pair of spectacles,
Making poetry out of a bit of moonlight
And a hundred or two sharp blossoms.
- Amy Lowell

Theme Thursday entry for "flowers".
Posted by Hello

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Crash Time

There are no pictures, no long winded memories, no funny dog stories, no cats. Just a post so that should anyone actually read this, they will know the long trip is over. I think I know where I am but do not say this with great conviction.

Left Monday morning at 2 AM for twelve hour drive to Sewanee, Tennessee. I either misjudged the trip or drove a little too fast (probably the latter) because I got there in eleven hours even after considering the time change.

About 1 PM I walked into a freshman girl's dorm room. I cannot say anymore. Well a little bit. There was no one there. The doors were open. Boxes, half full, were everywhere as were shoes, clothes, food items, toiletries, mementos, computer cords, dishes, fans, bookshelves, dust on some things at least one-half inch thick; these were just some of the things I saw. The occupants were in exams. I started loading the things I knew were my daughter's. She finished her exams and showed up to pack, tote and sort. After seven hours of packing, climbing up and down stairs with boxes, suitcases, trunks, lamps and all other manner of things; after having the campus police come to cut the bicycle lock from her bike (it was half in and half out and would not budge); after loading a Honda Odyssey and a Honda Civic to the maximum we were finally done. I had hoped to get to Chattanooga that evening but decided we still had additional "chores" to do.

So I stay in motel for the night so she can vacuum her room (at least her side of it) and say good-bye to a few friends. This is a bit traumatic for while she hated Sewanee's social scene in general because of the general party attitude, she had a few friends she would miss. Tuesday we turned in keys; to the old room, to the new room, and to the music practice hall. We had to hit the registrar to arrange for the new school to get the final grades; the student post office to make sure of forwarding addresses; the student book store to sell back some books; the library to say goodbye to her boss; and the final farewell to her friend and my second daughter Blount. This takes much time and effort and we do not get away until around 11 AM CDT.

On the road like a herd of turtles, we caravan. She has her satellite radio and I have an audio book, The Old Curiosity Shop by Charles Dickens. We walkie talkie each other occasionally. We are doing pretty well along the way until Knoxville, Tennessee. This is always a challenge to get through, no bypass to speak of and always a slow-down. Not today! Today we come to a complete stop.....for 30 minutes. Semis just turned off engines, opened doors and drivers walked around, talking to each other. I never found out or saw remnants of what happened. We started back up and within a few seconds the speed was back up to 50 MPH. Tuesday night we stay in Roanoke, Virginia. Fortunately, no drama.

Today (has it really only been two and a half days) we drive on into Virginia Beach, arriving at 1 PM. But then we unload a room full of STUFF into the small house here and DRIVE to the airport to pick up my brother.

But we are here, we are safely back. Now there is just the next step in this journey of life to figure out; but not right now. Right now, I am just too tired. The hours on the road have finally caught up with me and I am almost asleep where I sit. Maybe I'll download the pictures of the mountains I took while driving up the road, or the dog in the passenger seat of the semi in the next lane........Tomorrow.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Happy Mother's Day

Chloe and Clover demonstrate how they "LOVE" their mummies on Mother's Day by sleeping together in the shape of a "heart". And a Happy Mother's Day to all the Moms out there in blogland. Posted by Hello

Saturday, May 07, 2005

My New House

Hello! My name is Max. I am a rescue dog. This is my new house. My grandpa built it when I moved to Virginia. My old house in Mississippi was a bit bigger and had an air conditioner, not for me but for the dogs that used to live there. It had two dog doors and it took me a long time to not be scared to use the flap. It was too heavy to move here so I got a brand new one. This house is insulated. It has a linoleum floor and a covered porch so I can eat or rest and not get wet in the rain. I also have a fan in the back to pull air through in the summer and a light to keep me warm in the winter. My new mom even put a digital thermometer inside so they can tell if I am too cold or hot. As you can tell, I love my house. I also have a lot of toys and "chewbies", see I have one right now. Right now I need a haircut. My mom said she would put a "before" and "after" here when I get groomed. That is sooooo embarrassing. When I get my hair cut I look like a small fat lab instead of a cocker mix and I usually hide in my house for several days because I feel naked. You'll see.
Bye for now.

P.S. My story is going to be at Carnival of the Dogs along with stories about other nice dogs. I wish I could play with the other dogs I see there sometime.
Posted by Hello

My Friend

I lost a friend on Friday. One day she was there and the next gone. It was not expected and I know her family, her friends and those who work or have ever worked for her are in shock. I'm sad for them all, and for myself. We'll miss her smile, her laugh, her joy that was so infectious, her love and her friendship. Yet, I am not really sad for her. She had her heart and life grounded in her faith in God and I know, I don't have to think I know, I really know that she is with her Savior in heaven as we speak. That is all the comfort I need.

I was sitting here trying to remember how I met Donna. Nothing is as well developed in a small town as the local "grapevine." It is the best known method of advertisement. She had started a small sandwich shop/gift shop about six months before and the fame of her "homemade chicken salad sandwiches, potato salad and desserts" had finally circulated up to our lab. My daughter and I went in for lunch one Saturday and were hooked. It became our weekly ritual...sleep in on Saturday then lunch around 11 AM at The Front Door. Donna, as owner, was there and she was so open and friendly, she seemed to know everyone. We started talking each week and getting to know one another.

She had a rough life with many trials, setbacks and discouragement, but she felt that her small restaurant was her ministry to the community. She promoted Mississippi artists in her gift shop and included many unique and lovely items of faith. Even when I knew she didn't feel well, she always had a smile and hug for her customers. She treated each one as if they were they were special.

One Saturday after Nyssa and I had been eating there for about seven months, we were running late. We had not gotten our act together and it was about 11:30 AM. My phone rang and it was Donna, "Just checking on you, making sure everything was ok. You and Nyssa hadn't gotten here and I was worried." Another time during the local "Pilgrimage" (her busiest time of the year), she called and asked if we were coming in. That time she put a reservation on a table for us as a crowd was expected. Such is the advantage of a small town and a friend with such a big heart.

After a while, it became known how much I loved her shop and everyone began going to Donna for gift ideas for Christmas and birthdays. She never steered them wrong. But you see, I wasn't the only one she knew this well. That was her talent, her gift; she could make anyone feel special and loved.

When Nyssa turned sixteen, Donna hired her to work at The Front Door on weekends and in the summer. Nyssa could not have had a better introduction into the working world. She may never have another employer that held her workers up in her prayers every day; nor one that actually cared about the person she was becoming.

When my job vanished there and I didn't know what to do, she cried with me. When her daughter moved to South Carolina, I cried with her. She loved her kids. She knew the move was the best thing for Chrissy and that it was God's will so she endured. She wanted to eventually move there too, but that was not to be.

I moved to Virginia a year ago. I went back to Mississippi once when my house sold and we had a lovely time of fellowship together that I will always cherish. Nyssa made the trip back to Columbus from college several times this past year, including her birthday trip two weeks ago. She ate at The Front Door as she always did, saw many of her previous co-workers and hugged Miss Donna. I'm glad Nyssa has that memory.

I don't know what will happen to her "mission". I hope there will be someone else who feels the call to share their life with Columbus the same way Donna did. I hope The Front Door will continue as a testament to her life and the love she gave others. I know she is now finally able to see the fruits of her labor and know how many lives she has touched. I wouldn't be surprised at all if Christ did not meet her as she entered heaven and say, "Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord." (Matthew 25:23)

I'll miss her, but I will see her again, someday.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Make Way For Ducklings

It's a "Noreaster", well sort of. It's a storm blowing in from the northeast. Actually a low moving up the coast and we are still on the topside. It has been raining since last night, the wind is blowing sustained around 30 mph with gusts to 40 mph....average Oklahoma wind. The sky is dark, gloomy, and blowing rain. There has already been about an inch and more expected. The high today should be around 52 degrees. Absolutely miserable.

In all of this, my mom wants to go to the knitting shop. She doesn't want to drive because she is feeling "funny in the head". What does this mean? I question her but even my physician history taking skills can only get the "I just feel funny in the head". I have no clue. But, it really doesn't matter, I don't like her driving by herself even if she felt "right" in the head. Rain, wind, traffic, no way. OK, bundle up, hobble to the car, go.

We have turned on to Baxter Road and I see some black specks in the road ahead. The car in the next lane has stopped and so do we. There is a mama duck and eight little fuzzy brown and yellow ducklings, lined up in a row behind her....crossing the street. They are very good and obedient children, staying in a single line, close together waddling across the busy four lane street. Mama duck waits in our lane until the last little straggler makes the hop up onto the median. Then she groups them back together and heads on to start her brood across the next two lanes of traffic. They have probably taken their morning swim and she's looking for some dry place to rest...who knows.

This reminded me of all sorts of things: reading Make Way for Ducklings to my little girl, the duck who recently hatched her clutch of eggs at the Treasury department, and how wonderful mothers are in God's plan. So for ALL the mothers out there; big or small, fat or thin, old or young.....HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY!!

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Friday Cat Blogging: Miss Scarlett

This is Miss Scarlett, sister to Mr. Rhett. They are my yard sale kitties. Scarlett "mothered" Rhett for one year. He would lay next to her and knead with his front paws while he licked her belly. She washed his head and ears. It didn't matter how many times you separated them, he would come right back. Then, it stopped. I don't know if she just got tired of having a wet stomach or if Rhett outgrew his need, but it was done, finito. Now they only rarely sleep together or clean each other; they have an "I'll tolerate you most of the time but stay out of my face" relationship.

Miss Scarlett has many of the characteristics of her namesake in Gone With The Wind. She loves to be the center of attention, circling around and around your hand to be petted, purring so loud you can hear it across the room, nudging with her head, and meowing with her squeaky voice. She makes visitors think she is woefully neglected, that no one ever pays her any mind and that she may faint or fade away if they don't respond to her advances. Unfortunately for her, just one look at her rounded, rotund, bowling ball figure tells her true story.

Yes, she is a bowling ball, once evidenced in Mississippi where she was coming down the stairs a bit too fast and her backend got up over her front end and she actually rolls like a bowling ball. She is a cat who will not be able to turn right side up if dropped on her back. She is obviously not neglected nor hungry.

She is however, the ultimate actress. She has many perceived fears. These have been obvious to all, including the other cats. She is afraid of the other cats because they pick on her. They pick on her because they have learned they can. In response to this, Scarlett has developed an elaborate drama queen routine. Should she be chased, swatted at or simply cornered by any cat, she performs her routine. The other cats often get bored, so for a good show, they irritate Scarlett.

Sitting in another room, I will suddenly hear the most horrible racket with hissing, screeching, howling, spitting, and yowling. Imagine the sounds of a cat fight at night with three or four cats involved. I jump up, run to the other room and there is Scarlett in one corner of the room. In the opposite corner or corners, generally ten or twelve feet away from her will be her brother Rhett, or Willow......doing absolutely NOTHING, just looking at her. All the hissing, spitting, screeching, howling, yowling cat fight sound effects are coming from the mouth of ONE cat. She thinks she is under attack but she's not. True, they chased her into the room, but that's all. Then they just stop, sit and watch the show from across the room. If she would just ignore them they would go away. But that wouldn't be very Vivian Leigh of her, would it?

She loves Nyssa, but since she is at college, she has taken up with her grandma. They sit together and Scarlett helps her knit, sleeps on the back of the chair in a tight ball, sits on the arm of the chair to watch TV or in the kitchen next to her chair during meals. She loves to hide on the chairs under the table and sit in the dining room window looking out at birds, snow, people, whatever.

She has started to love ice. Open the freezer door and she's there, waiting for a piece to fall on the floor. Every morning we have started giving her a little bowl filled with ice cubes. She will sit there hunched over in the corner, licking the ice until it's gone. It seems to be her treat for the day. Mom keeps saying she looks a bit thinner....but I just don't see it. I'm sorry Miss Scarlett, but all the corsets in the world will not give you an "hourglass" figure or even a Siamese one.

To see more Friday Cat Blogging go to Friday's Ark and remember to check out this weeks Carnival of the Cats, hosted by Conservative Cat. Posted by Hello