Thursday, June 30, 2005

Willow & Max: A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes

Willow: I am sitting here on this scratchy toy, minding my own business, just chilling out. La-de-da. Oh, yeah. Mom said you can click on the pictures to see enlarged views.
Max: Oh! Look who's there! It's that big fat cat they call Willow. How come she gets to be inside and I have to stay out here?

Max: Yummmmmy! Could she be my supper? She sure would be a tasty treat, better than the diet of low calorie dry food and canned mush I have to eat now. Who's that behind that camera? It's mom! Hi! Mom! Can I eat Willow? Can I? Huh? Please!!!!
Willow: I was going to hit the ball but mom just called me a "big fat gum drop" and that was not fair. Wait! It feels like someone is looking at me. Is someone staring at my behind?

Willow: Oh! No! It's that silly dog again. What does he think he's doing? Does he seriously think I would stand for him taking a bite out of me? What nerve! I'd sooner scratch his eyes out and bite him in the neck and hit him with a right cross! He obviously does not know who he is dealing with here!!! Bless it!!! He's just a dog, he can't help it. Don't you look at me with that slobbering tongue, I'll rip it right out of your mouth!!! Yecccck!!!
Max: She sure looks good, but I doooon't know. Mom would freak out and yell and wave her arms and those claws can be pretty sharp and there IS an awful lot of hair to work through. I really don't like gobs of hair in my mouth. Maybe I should pass this one, this time. Oh! Well! A dog can dream can't he?

Willow & Max: Be sure to stop by Friday's Ark this week to visit with all our animal friends there. And as always visit Carnival of the Cats, this week hosted by Watermark; and Carnival of the Dogs hosted by Mickey's Musings. See ya'll later! Posted by Picasa

Cats: The Saga (not the musical)

I married in 1974, one day after graduation from college. I know this doesn't sound like the beginning of any cat story, but bear with me. I married a dog person. This is not to say that I don't like dogs, I do, in fact I am an "animal of any type" person. (I don't count snakes, spiders, scorpions or the Texas cockroach as animals and there are many wild animals I would "admire from afar". Although the Texas cockroach is large enough to saddle, bridle and ride.) But when you are dirt poor, both pursuing graduate degrees and have to live in bare minimum apartment housing with hand-me-down donated furniture and cars...there is just no place for a dog.

Then after a year of med school, marriage and into apartment #3, I found him. He was there in a little cage at one of those tacky mall pet stores in North Dallas, all alone. The sign said he was $10 and that he had no papers. He looked Siamese to me and when he stuck his little paw through the cage and did the little "mew", I was hooked. Ten dollars was a big deal but I forked it over and "Shamroc" came home. He turned out to be as pure a Siamese cat as I ever had. He thrived and became my "child". The GPP tolerated him and very slowly grew to like him.

Shamroc loved jerky treat, the type you feed dogs. All you ever had to do was say "jerky treat" and he would come running from wherever he was hiding. Pat your hands on your shoulders and he would jump up into your arms. He never hesitated or seem to wonder if you would catch him, he always had that confidence. He was the best traveler I had. We lived in Texas and would make the long trek to Roanoke, Virginia at Christmas time. Shamroc had a pillow in the front seat. He sat quietly for about fifteen minutes and then would curl up and go to sleep. When we stopped to eat, he would eat and drink a little and use his portable box and then curl back up and sleep. No loud crying. No hysterics. There was only one thing or creature he was afraid of. That would be Bozo.

Bozo was a gerbil. We actually had Bozo before Shamroc. He lived in a big glass aquarium with a running wheel, a little play house, a water dispenser and food bowl. He loved his cedar shavings and the bedding material he could shred into his nest. He loved sunflower seeds and as a treat, Fruit Loops. At Christmas we would give him a little branch of the Christmas tree for his own and hang Fruit loops on the short needles. Then we watched as he took and ate all the ornaments. When these were finished off, he chipped up the little branch and incorporated it with the bedding fluff in his nest. (for that outdoor smell)

Shamroc was very curious about Bozo, maybe he thought he was his next meal. We kept a sturdy wooden lid with square holes, a kind of lattice pattern, on top of the aquarium. Shamroc could get a paw down through the hole but nothing more. Perhaps it was because Shamroc once reached his paw tentatively into Bozo's home and Bozo bit his paw pad, that he became afraid of this little creature. I don't know, but he was very afraid.

Bozo became the proud owner of a clear round exercise ball. Put the gerbil in the ball, close the lid and let them out on the floor, wide open spaces, places to see and explore. Bozo quickly became adept at running one direction or another inside the ball to make it move. He could go down the hall, into the different bedrooms, kitchen, wherever he wanted. With this new mode of transportation and the freedom it afforded, Bozo set out to learn about his world. He was most curious about Shamroc, probably as curious as Shamroc had once been about him. Unfortunately, the paw pad biting incident had rid the cat of any desire to know or be in close proximity to this gerbil. He was, however, mystified by the ball. How could it move on its own? What was that fuzzy brown thing inside? Bozo sees Shamroc, his little legs start churning fast and the ball moves straight for the cat. Shamroc sits quietly, then as if he recognizes the gerbil and that Bozo is coming straight for him in the ball, he jumps two feet off the floor and starts running away. Down the hall, to the bedroom, through the bath and back to the hall, hotly pursued by a gerbil in a clear ball.

Shamroc, the Brave, chased by a "mouse", how denigrating.
(saga to continue later)

Edloe: The Empty Place

Feline blogger friends sadly looking for Edloe. Posted by Hello

She seemed well and happy last week, but now her place is empty. Edloe, plump princess and opinionated feline of Laurence Simon, passed away after a short and sudden illness. She seemed to belong to all who visited the Carnival of the Cats and Friday's Ark. Her staff and kitty companions and all those who read her thoughts on current events will miss her deeply. Moving memorials, pictures and movies can be found at TBIFOC and other sites.
Grieve not,
nor speak of me with tears,
but laugh and talk of me
as if I were beside you...
I loved you so -----
'twas Heaven here with you.
~ Isla Paschal Richardson
The kitty crew at this site will miss her too. Miss Chloe, Miss Clover, Mr. Rhett, Miss Scarlett, Sir Nicholas, Lady Willow, and Miss Maggie. (end)

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

I'll Put My Head In A Bucket

(Click picture for enlargement)

Do all kids put their heads in buckets and walk around running into things? Do they seem genuinely surprised when they DO run into walls, furniture, door frames, cabinets, and patio doors while in this state? Do they put on the "innocent" face when these antics result in a glass shattering on the floor or a cat's tail being stepped on? And do they then return to this ostrich imitation, giggling with each bump while they wander the house? This one did. Thank goodness she survived to tell about it.

Submitted to Thursday Challenge for topic "container".
Posted by Hello


A hot summer evening at the beach. (Click picture to enlarge) Posted by Hello
The greatest gifts you can give your children are the roots of responsibility and the wings of independence. ~ Denis Waitley
Submitted to LensDay for topic "independence." (end)

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

The Itsy Bitsy Spider

A tiny spider weaves her web to welcome her lunch guests. (Click photo to enlarge) Posted by Hello
The itsy bitsy spider
Crawled up the water spout
Down came the rain
And washed the spider out
Out came the sun
And dried up all the rain
And the itsy bitsy spider
Crawled up the spout again.
~ Nursery Rhyme
Submitted to Photo Tuesday for "urban wildlife" theme. (end)

Monday, June 27, 2005

Name Spell

OK. I am a lemming. I give in. Everyone else is doing it. Follow the leader. But since I am indecisive and cannot chose just one, I decided to do two. One very uniform and sedate and the other wild, ornate and colorful.

Number 1: Uniform, predictable, sedate.

SRadio City untitled
Number 2: Colorful, ornate, wild.

Go here to get your own. (end)

If Wishes Were Fishes

This is the south pond on my grandfather's farm in Southern Illinois. He took all the grandkids fishing here. Often in the lazy hot summer the cows would stand in the shallow end and watch us quietly, only moving to swish away the flies with their tails. The sheep were more skittish and ran to the pine grove behind the barn when we approached.

The night before fishing we would water a spot behind the barn that was shady and then put down an old piece of wood or a bucket. Early the next morning , just about light, my grandpa and I would take our fishing rods, tackle, a bucket for fish (we were always optimistic), a shovel and a little plastic container to put the earthworms in and march off through the barnyard to our dampened spot. Here we would dig and collect the earthworms that had made their way up through the night. Then we headed for the pond.

As a child, the pond seemed a long way off. There was a slight rise to the land so you couldn't see the farmhouse. It was good to be alone with grandpa there. We fished with cane poles and cotton line and red and white bobbers on the line. Grandpa would get the poles ready and we would through out the line with the earthworm baited hooks and then set the ends of the poles in the muddy bank. The cows made impressions with their hooves as they walked along the bank and these were prime pole-perching areas.

Then we waited. We would lay on the bank of the little dam at the south end of the pond. Grandpa would chew on a piece of hay and I would watch the bobs intently for any movement. If it was a slow day, I would watch the cows and the dragonflies that perched on the weeds or hovered above the water. There were some bass in the pond and bottom feeding catfish. There were also turtles.

When the catfish hit on the hook, the bobber would dip a little making concentric rings that spread out from the center. Grandpa would make us wait until it hit hard, taking the bobber completely under then we jerked the pole tight and pulled as hard as we could. Many times this would fling the flopping catfish on the bank and I would laugh and jump with glee while he took the fish off the hook. Once we hooked a turtle. The bob just dipped a bit, moved slowly away from the bank and then slowly back. After about fifteen minutes of this, my grandpa knew it was a turtle. He hauled it out and took it to grandma to make her turtle soup.

When we fished together I didn't have to share him with any of the other cousins. It was time for "just us". Mine forever. I wish he were still with us. I wish we could go to that pond and sit quietly and fish together one more time. I wish life were as simple as it was then. I wish.Posted by Hello

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Sunday Re-hash

I used to have a site at Xanga, short lived and less than memorable as I can't remember the name. Of course this could be the first sign of Alzheimer's but I'd like to think I can't remember it because it just didn't matter that much. Anyway, I posted memories of my childhood there, mainly for Nyssa. No one else read them. One of the entries was about songs from the 50's and early 60's that I remember as a kid; no...young kid; no...very young kid. There that's right.

I mentioned one of the songs again this week (tagging Hoss who doesn't know me from Adam or Eve and thus passed). I thought it was perfect for him because he is the master of comedic sarcasm and looking back now, this song was pretty sarcastic, especially for the time. The 50's and early 60's still had the fluffy songs, ballads, harmony (that could come back a little) and lyrics that were very tame; I mean "I Want To Hold Your Hand"? Today's lyrics (if you can understand them at all) go way, way, way past holding anyone's hand to blueprints for violence against women, murder, defiance of authority etc. (OK, off the soapbox) OK, I'll just cut to the rehashed post and include the lyrics at the end. Perhaps I am the only person in the US who remembers this song; this could very well be. I was the only person who actually bought and registered a Honda brand built in cell phone for my '94 Accord in the entire southeast; as a result they no longer manufacture them, pity. So here is my old Xanga entry. Hope you enjoy.

Xanga ~ Friday, March 11, 2005 @ 11:46 PM

Songs I remember from the 50's & early 60's:
1. Yellow Polka Dot Bikini
2. Catch a Falling Star
3. The Glow Worm
4. The Chipmunk Song
5. Rockin Robin
6. Ballad of Davy Crockett
7. Standin on the Corner
8. Que Sera Sera
9. Banana Boat Song
10. Purple People Eater
11. Short Shorts
12. Hot Diggity (Dog Ziggity Boom)
13. The Battle of New Orleans
14. Sugartime
15. Little Boxes

I FOUND IT!!!!!! I FOUND IT!!!!!!
This has bothered me for years! I heard this song (#15) when I was a kid in Roanoke. A man sang it. All I remembered of the lyrics were, "“there'’s a green one and a pink one and a blue one and a yellow one, and they'’re all made out of ticky tacky and they all look just the same." I was beginning to think I was nuts, imagining the couldn'’t be found on any oldies playlist...but I promise it was on the AM radio when I was a kid. WELL!!!!!!! Tonight I found it online. It is a real song sung by Pete Seeger in 1962.

Little Boxes

by Malvina Reynolds, sung by Pete Seeger 1962

Little boxes on the hillside,
Little boxes made of ticky tacky
Little boxes on the hillside,
Little boxes all the same,
There's a green one and a pink one
And a blue one and a yellow one
And they're all made out of ticky tacky
And they all look just the same.

And the people in the houses
All went to the university
Where they were put in boxes
And they came out all the same
And there's doctors and lawyers
And business executives
And they're all made out of ticky tacky
And they all look just the same.

And they all play on the golf course
And drink their martinis dry
And they all have pretty children
And the children go to school,
And the children go to summer camp
And then to the university
Where they are put in boxes
And they come out all the same.

And the boys go into business
And marry and raise a family
In boxes made of ticky tacky
And they all look just the same,
There's a green one and a pink one
And a blue one and a yellow one
And they're all made out of ticky tacky
And they all look just the same.

Words and music by Malvina Reynolds.
Copyright 1962, Schroder Music Company

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Beary Fluffy

Fluffy teddy bear. (Click on picture to enlarge) Posted by Hello
Cuddly and warm, these calming creatures reassure me in the days of doubt when fears fly before reason and the world looms bleak instead of beautiful. The Teddy bear, all things to all ages, all sizes for all preferences, symbol that all is right with the world if one only believes. ~ Anonymous
Not huffy or stuffy,
nor tiny or tall,
But fluffy, just fluffy,
with no brains at all. ~
A.P. Herbert
Submitted to MacroDay for topic "fluffy".(end)

Summer Fun at the Beach

Summer on the shores of Virginia Beach (Click on picture for larger view) Posted by Hello
"maggie and millie and molly and may"

maggie and millie and molly and may
went down to the beach (to play one day)

and maggie discovered a shell that sang
so sweetly she couldn't remember her troubles,and

millie befriended a stranded star
who's rays five languid fingers were;

and molly was chased by a horrible thing
which raced sideways while blowing bubbles:and

may came home with a smooth round stone
as small as a world and as large as alone.

For whatever we lose (like a you or a me)
it's always ourselves we find in the sea.

~ e. e. cumming

Submitted to for topic summer.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Max: I Hate Rain!!!!!!

Max and the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day! Posted by Hello
If I were as rude as the rain
And came when I was uninvited
And stayed too long and ruined a dog's fun
(like going on a long walk with my mom
and eating Milkbone biscuits in the sunshine)
And made other puppies (like me)miserable,
I'd be sent to my doghouse for quiet time,
Until I learned to behave. ~ Author Unknown
I hate rain! I hate to get wet! I don't like baths or swimming pools! When it rains I have to go to my doghouse porch to keep dry. Some dogs like to be in water and don't mind the rain, but not me! Maybe it is because I was out on the streets for so long that my hair was matted in big chunks. And when those chunks got wet it was heavy and it wouldn't get dry and then my skin got infected. I was itchy but I couldn't scratch because my toe nails were too long and grew into my paw pads so it hurt to walk or scratch and hurt really bad when my paws got wet. I had to hide under steps and bushes to try to keep a little dry but then I got dirty and it made my skin worse. I was in bad shape when mom found me and took me home. She could hardly tell which end was which. It made her sad to see me that way. But she changed my life!

I got my mats and hair shaved off and my nails clipped and my paw pads cleaned out. I got a bath and my teeth cleaned and my shots. I had to have heartworm treatment but I did ok. There were big black patches on my skin where my hair fell out but mom gave me lots of good food and vitamins and my hair eventually grew back. She gave me a beautiful dog house that even had an air conditioner and when we moved to Virginia my grandpa built me this special house and I got a big mattress and a hammock to sleep on. I didn't have to sleep on the ground or under a bush.

Now I can stay dry when it rains. I am happy for that. But I guess I will always remember being lost, alone, cold and wet in the rain. I will never like the rain. Now, at least I know the sun will come out again and my mom will never let me be sad. But I will always love sunny days better.

Come see my friends at Carnival of the Dogs, hosted as always by Mickey's Musings.

Southern Illinois Bachelor Pad

(Click on pictures for larger image)

Southern Illinois Bachelor Pad.

This is a Southern Illinois bachelor pad. Not what you'd expect to see out in the middle of prime farm country. Actually, when you first pull into the gravel drive, you don't see the house, it blends so well with the landscape. A creek runs by to the left and a farmhouse sits at the front of the property next to the road with a machine shed just at the rear and to the left of the house. These shield the underground house from the country road, not that there is much traffic even on busy summer days.

The home belongs to David (pictured above); artist, woodworker, farmer, architect, my first cousin, and yes, another red head. The picture behind him on the wall is one of his paintings. He works with his brother, Rick, designing and building furniture, cabinets and other projects in addition to the farming they both do. He designed this home for himself. It sits behind his parents house in rural Southern Illinois. While an engineer helped with a few of the technical plans, he and his brother did all the construction.

The front of the house is poured concrete and there is concrete under the two to three feet of earth overlying the house. All the stones in the facade were found in the many creek beds around the area. The wood used for both inside and in the window and door framing was recycled from old torn down farmhouses, barns and other buildings or was salvaged from dead trees, cut and made into the needed board size in their workshop. The door is extra wide and heavy, found at a barn sale. The windows down the front let in light throughout the day. In addition he has three skylights in the back of the house and it is wired for electricity although he has no central heat or air.

The house has a small living/dining area, kitchen, bath with shower and a place for a washer and dryer and two bedrooms. The front bedroom he uses for a study and exercise room. They built in bookshelves under the windows and his desk, bed, dresser, table and chairs have all been made of reclaimed wood in Ricks workshop. A large woodburning stove stands at one end of the living area. In winter, David stokes the stove at night and it heats the whole house for 24 hours. He said, that in summer he just opens the windows and occasionally turns on a fan but with the two to three feet of covering earth, the house stays cool. Another advantage: he has a built in tornado shelter.

I asked him if felt weird to know that you could walk up the little hill and be on his roof. Yes, he mows the grass on his roof and he has planted several types of evergreen trees around the base and on top of the house. I didn't see any flower beds on top, but it was January. The stove vent with a thin wisp of smoke is there near the right front. It's a great little home for a single guy, warm, sunny, peaceful, inviting and low maintenance (except for the mowing in the summer). I guess the railing along the top is to keep any nieces or nephews from accidentally falling off. If they are like we were as kids, we would be rolling down that hill like crazy. Posted by Hello

Snow & The Southern Belle

The bright orange ski jacket, Nyssa's favorite, is well worn. "But, you lived in Mississippi. Why would you ever need one that heavy?" She bought it for a trip to New York, north of Syracuse, where it snows every day and snowmobiles are a valid form of travel. And it occasionally gets cold enough for it in Mississippi, even in Virginia. This winter, our first in Virginia, we had several snowfalls with the heaviest being around four inches. In the fifteen years we lived in Mississippi it snowed 4 inches once. That four inches messed people up for days, schools were out for two days, it was a mess.

What does a Southern belle do when it snows? She flops down in it and makes snow angels for one. And she builds a snowman, or at least attempts to. The snowman ended up being about 18 inches tall. Max, our dog, studied it, sniffed it and as he is also from Mississippi, he mistook the snowman for a fire hydrant and tinkled on it. Yes, we had a yellow snowman. Fortunately, it melted in an hour.

Nyssa loves her orange ski jacket. It's bright, it's warm and she can easily be seen in a crowd. I'm sure that with this jacket on it will be easy to find her among the thousands of girls at the beach this summer. I tell her it's better than an orange bikini. Ha! Ha! Right! (much sarcasm)

Photo Friday entry for "orange". Posted by Hello

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Friday Cat Blogging: Sleeping Keeps Me Limber

Sleeping position #1 - Traditional "curled into tight ball". Posted by Hello

Oh! Good! Nicky here. I get to be the center of attention two weeks in a row. It's not easy to do that with six other cats around and me being so timid and shy. Last week my mom showed you how I like to prop against things. I consider that my job. The rest of my day, or at least twenty hours of it, is spent in sweet repose. I so love to sleep. I sleep in the sun room at night with the others but as soon as we come in the house, I grab a little bite to eat and then it is off to the grandma's bedroom. Usually, Maggie is already there but when she sees me she hisses and runs away. I wish she would stay and sleep with me but it's ok. I make a little "mew", and grandma tells me to come on up. She likes to sleep as much as I do.

Sleeping position #2 - Extreme stretch with a slight twist.

She says that I keep her feet warm and she doesn't want to get up. That is ok. Sometimes they make her get up and she tells them that she can't make the bed up because I am still sleeping. Sometimes she makes me get down so she can make it up but I get right back up there. Soon I am snoozing and snoring away. I do prop on the pillows sometimes and watch what is going on but mostly I sleep.

Sleeping position #3 - Flat on back with head tilt and toes curled.

I have a wide variety of sleeping positions. I always say,"Variety is the spice of life, why limit yourself to the standard tight curl?" The curl is ok but I really like to stretch out and make myself loooooong. If the staff can sleep this way, why can't I? It is ever so comfy and much cooler than the curl in summer.

Sleeping position #4 - Side with slight arch.

The side position with a slight arch is very versatile. You can quickly pull all four legs in tight to a curl if necessary or you can extend quickly into the full stretch. I often use this as a starting point for my naps and then evolve into the other more acrobatic looks. On occasion, I sleep so soundly that they make up the bed with me in it. I do not like this. The staff then stands back and laughs at the "lump" as I try to find my way to the edge of the bed. BAD STAFF!

Semi-sleeping or early waking position - Hello.

Even though the last picture is a waking up picture I can easily get back into my dreams from this position. I've noticed that no matter what position I decide to sleep in, I always look dapper and well-groomed immediately upon awakening. My staff can certainly not say the same. Whew! You should see the condition they are in when they get up. Ugly, and I mean break-the-mirror ugly. By the time they have finally gotten all their hairs combed into place and these cloth objects that they wear put on, I can be asleep again.

Some famous cat once said, "To sleep, perchance to dream, now there's the rub!" I don't know if this means you get better head rubs when you sleep or if he just dreamed about getting head rubs when he went to sleep. Too complicated for this walnut sized brain. I like this quote much better. It sums up my philosophy of life in a few simple words.
"I sleep, therefore I am...a cat!" ~ Famous Cat
Be sure to visit all my friends at Friday's Ark and at Carnival of the Cats, this Sunday hosted by LabKat. And my friend Edloe hosted the 144th Carnival of the Vanities this week. She really did a great job and looked so beautiful in her crown.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Tagged: Song Dedication Meme

I was tagged for the following meme by OutsideIn. Not sure that I know ten bloggers well enough yet to dedicate songs but will try my best.

Pick 5-10 bloggers, and dedicate a song to them. The people to whom you dedicate are considered "tagged" for the meme.
  1. Nystagamus: All Star by Smashmouth
  2. Sal: I Like To Eat Apples & Bananas by Raffi (for Bump)
  3. Poopie: Tennessee Waltz by Patti Page
  4. Kenju: Sweet Caroline by Neil Diamond
  5. Hoss: Little Boxes by Pete Seeger (1962). You don'’t do memes but with the touch of sarcasm, these lyrics could have been written by you and then Pete Seeger would have to pay to sing it and you would have made your pile.
  6. Mickey'’s Musings: Who Let The Dogs Out? by Baha Men
  7. OutsideIn: Circle of Life by Elton John, from The Lion King
Wow! That was harder than writing a 50 page paper.


(Click picture for larger view)
I held a moment in my hand, brilliant as a star, fragile as a flower, a tiny sliver of one hour. I dripped it carelessly, Ah! I didn't know, I held opportunity.
~ Hazel Lee
Submitted to Thursday Challenge. (end) Posted by Hello

Apple Meat Loaf: Heavenly Smell

Grandma's Apple Meat Loaf Posted by Hello

This is a new meat loaf recipe my mother tried last week for the J.O.Y. Club at church. It was delicious and smelled heavenly. Of course the women of the J.O.Y. Club are the best cooks in the church and this is the absolute best luncheon to attend. The plate was empty by the end of the day.
Apple Meat Loaf:
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons butter
2½ pounds ground beef
1½ cups fresh bread crumbs
2 cups finely chopped peeled and cored apples
3 eggs, beaten
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
½ teaspoon pepper
2 teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoon allspice
1 tablespoon prepared mustard or ¼ teaspoon dry mustard
¼ cup ketchup

Saute onion in butter until soft. In a large bowl, combine onion, beef bread crumbs, apples, eggs, parsley, pepper, salt, allspice, mustard, and ketchup. Form into loaf and place in a 10" x 14" baking pan or pack into a large greased loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 1 hour. Remove from oven and let sit for 15 minutes before serving. Serves 8 - 10.
Submitted to Lens Day for challenge - "smell". (end)

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

A Site Not To Be Missed

I don't remember how I found this site but it is wonderful, she is wonderful. Her pictures are magnificent and her simple descriptions make me feel like I'm there seeing what she sees and meeting the people. She captures middle America and the now fading Midwestern farms, the small rural churches falling into decay, the hearty people working the land and the glories of nature on the plains. I highly recommend her site and look forward to each new day there. Go visit and you will be hooked as well. The Farmer's Wife.

Ex-Significant Other (Part 2) or How I Met the Boy and Lost My Mind

My previous post was primarily about my personal faux pas and the occasional problem of not taking care to filter my thought processes before moving the mouth. It was funny to me because I am not a comedian; the comedy in our family is usually left to my brother.

My ex-husband is not the "let's live close to each other so I can take the kids more often" or the "pay the child support payment on time every time" or "get down on the floor and play with the kids" type of guy. The divorce wasn't pretty or smooth or satisfying and when over I did not feel relieved, just sad and empty and with one of the worst self-esteems I've known. I only tolerate him because I have to. I don't love him and I don't like him and I don't want to be friends or talk or even see him if I don't have to.

But, that said, at one time I did love him. I could kick myself now for loving him, but I did. I sometimes think I loved his mind more than his person. This is hard to explain. To understand you have to know something about the two of us. I was from Pennsylvania in school in Oklahoma and he was from Texas. Both of us could say where we were from was only "at that moment" because we were both preachers kids. In fact, our fathers were in the same seminary class and we were at their graduation in 1955 as three and two year olds. He was a geek. A full fledged physic and math, ham radio operating, CLEP out of 30 hours, long haired, green plaid shirted, couldn't talk to girls geek. I was less of a geek, but really still a geek in my own right. I was a biology and chemistry, CLEP out of 30 hours, admitted to Yale, my nose in a book at all times type of geek. In those days I was comfortable with my geekness and was able to relate to other people, even boys. But the guys then. I have never found a satisfactory word for the male counterpart of a female "airhead", but many were just that. Maybe "mental midget" would do, yes, I think I like that.

It usually went this way. There is a campus function and a guy asks you out, you go. The next day he would suddenly start showing up at your class and want to carry your books to the next class even if you were only going from the biology floor to the chemistry floor of the science building and he(being a religion or history major) had to run across campus, carry the books and run back across campus to his own class. This is stupid. And the lines I heard: "God told me he wanted us to go steady." Excuse me, I am a freshman, 1200 miles away from home and carrying 18 hour science class load, this is the first week of school, I don't know you from Adam and I don't know what god you are talking to but I have heard no such utterance from my God so GO AWAY!

I wanted to go out with someone who would not pass out when I talked about dissecting a fetal pig or Ascaris lumbricoides and who's knowledge of chemistry was greater than was evidenced by one guy who coming into the lab said, "Oh, look at the pretty colored water in the bottle." I needed someone with a greater command of the English language than 'wow', 'far out', and 'these little flies sure have big eyes'.

I met GPP when my parents moved from Pennsylvania to Delaware the Christmas of my freshman year. A ham radio operator in their church in Delaware talked regularly to GPP, a student at Bethany where I went. So, armed with his name, I searched him out to use the radio to contact my folks. Thus it began. You should know that women, especially the smart ones not stuck on standing in front of the mirror all day, are capable of very intricate planning and investigation and will use everything and everyone at their disposal to find out information they want to know.

I thought he was cute. He had moderately long hair, to the collar, not bad for the early 70's though. He had a protruding chin, sometimes with the hair covering his head and sideburns and such, the chin was the only means of recognition at a distance. Yes, and then there were the green plaid shirts. Some looked to be cotton blend and others flannel. He had every variation of green plaid shirt known to mankind. Green on green plaid, green on brown plaid, blue and yellow on green plaid, yellow on green plaid, small green plaids, large green plaids, gold on green plaids, and even a mint green on forest green with a subtle yellow line plaid shirt. Never any purple or pink mixed in, not even a hint. I seem to remember that he had, to my knowledge, only one solid color shirt and this was a dark maroon red.

I figured out his classes, his work schedule, and his ham radio schedule. He was the lab instructor in physics and I was lab instructor in zoology and chemistry. We had keys to the science building. I stayed on the second and third floors and he was on the first floor and the basement. The fourth floor had not been finished in and held only the Botany lab and the gerbil habitat at the time. It also led to the roof astronomy observatory dome and his ham radio antenna. I studied him from afar. He really was a tough cookie to crack. He didn't date, he didn't even seem to notice any girls, not even me. People we mutually knew dropped hints but to no avail.

He finally asked me out once my Sophomore year and after that nothing. I started dating someone else seriously at the end of that year but David graduated and went on to medical school. I still had in the back of my mind that I really liked GPP. He dated a close friend of mine a few times.

When I was a junior I had to take Physics for pre-med requirements even though I was only considering this in the back of my mind. He was my lab instructor. Now this was my third time at Physics with two years in high school. It was the first time we actually had to talk to each other. It did not go well. He had a contempt for pre-med students and I was one. He laughed at us and I will have to admit that there were several in the class for whom Physics was going to be the downfall. I aced the class and knew what was going on in the lab and that irritated him. We got into each other's faces one to many times in lab and I finally decided that he wasn't worth wasting any more time on. So, I took a small piece of white cloth, a straw and a little block of wood and made a flag. As I walked out of lab one day, I put it on the desk in front of him and just said, "You win, goodbye!"

I went to Dallas to see David that weekend with my roommate. It was a good weekend, not much sleep but David was steady. I could love him. He was smart, true not that same smart aleck smart that GPP was but still, he was in med school. Then a few weekends later I was walking across campus and David appears. Surprise! He had friends to see and me and I was on cloud nine as we went into the cafeteria for supper. GPP was there, he apparently saw us (I learned later) but at that moment I didn't care. That weekend was wonderful. I could talk to and with David, we had similar goals and talk got very close to the "M" word. I think that if he had asked me to marry him that night my life would have been completely different. We talked around it but he didn't ask.

A couple of weeks went by and one night I got a phone call from GPP asking me out. Totally out of the blue. I was mystified, but I went. It was fun. He was graduating but returning the next year to pick up another B.S. in math. I was staying through the graduation ceremonies because I was one of two College Marshals who were the Juniors with the highest GPAs. We had to lead the lines of graduating seniors in all the baccalaureate and commencement ceremonies. So GPP and I spent a lot of time together before and during graduation and by the time we left for the summer, we were dating officially.

We wrote during the summer and dated all fall. I went to his home for Thanksgiving and he came to Delaware at Christmas where he asked me to marry him. My answer was one of the lack of processing classics, "Are you kidding me? If you're kidding me, it is not funny." Loose translation, Yes. Through the years it has became more clear to me that the only reason he asked me was jet lag. He had jet lag, didn't know where he was, in shock at meeting my family and just blurted it out. That is the only explanation. Of course, I already had the wedding dress, actually two of them, much to my mother's dismay. One was borrowed and one was bought. She kept saying, "What if he doesn't ask you?" I have always been practical. I just said, "He will, but if he doesn't then I'll keep it until someone I love does ask."

I planned the wedding at school, finished my senior year, got into medical school at Pritzger School of Medicine in Chicago and UT Galveston but turned them down because he was going to graduate school at North Texas State University. It was UT Southwestern in Dallas or nothing. Everyone of my professors thought I was nuts and I was. I had lost my mind. I was crazy, madly, overwhelmingly in love with this boy. UT Southwestern came through three weeks before graduation and the wedding. I thought that this was God telling me the plan was right. I couldn't see that it wasn't God driving the plan, it was me. I was in love and people in love can ignore warning signs, the small things.

Yes, there were warning signs even then. He never could come out and say, "I love you." His standard response was "What is love really?", but I ignored it. Another sign I should have taken seriously was more obvious. A close friend of mine who had dated GPP a few times received a dozen red roses anonymously from a secret admirer. She tried to find out who they were from and in doing so had asked GPP if he had sent them. This took him by surprise and bolstered his ego far above what was normal for an engaged guy. He was elated that she would think he might send her flowers even though he was engaged to someone else. He talked about it for weeks. That should have been a "hit-me-in-the-head-with-a-frying-pan" type of sign for me but by that time, any geeky, rational, practical mind I had was gone. I was in the "I can make him love me when we are married" and "He can change when we are married" mode.

So, I chose my path. I walked head long into it with the best of intentions and with an open loving heart and for the longest time (13 years) I tried to make him love me. After twelve years, he gave me Nyssa, the best and only gift he ever gave me that mattered. But he didn't love me, never did as it turns out. I believe he loves Nyssa, just in his own way. I hope it is enough for her.

I didn't want to divorce but it became too painful to compete with the girlfriend. He said he wanted us both. He didn't know what to do. Through counseling and prayer and a lot of crying, I had regained a little part of my sanity, enough to ask him the most important question he would ever hear from me. "Are you happier with her in the last few months than you were with me for twelve years?" He said simply, "Yes." With that one word he cut my heart out and the last remnants of my love for him vanished. But, I was calm, totally sane and I knew exactly how to respond. "Then you have the answer as to what you have to do, and so do I." And so I did.

Significant Other or Brain Spasm

The Photo Tuesday theme for this week is "Significant Other", but I don't have one. I could post another picture of Nyssa, then or now; or I could make a collage of all six cats, but I don't think this is what they had in mind. So, just like my Sunday School class parties where we were to bring "our husbands", I will just pass this week.

Instead, I've decided to post about my ex-significant other, although it is not so much about him as it is about one of those moments in time that is so totally burned into your brain you can't forget even if you want to. We've all had them, some more often than others, those times when a thought comes into your head and out your mouth in a microsecond without ever being routed through the mental processing center. What processing center, you ask? You know, the one which weighs the impact of your thought on others, maybe refines the wording so as not to offend or deletes those 'bad' words you are thinking in the heat of the moment. It is that processing center that keeps a lot of us out of trouble when we have disagreements with bosses, spouses, children and in-laws. Unfortunately, or comically at times, it doesn't always work. We get a short circuit or a brain spasm of sorts.

Background: My ex-husband is an engineer. Ok, I know that it really burns him up to be called that, that's why I did it. (no brain cramp here) He has a Ph.D. in Physics and is in to all things technical. He had his pilot's license and once owned a small Cessna pilot trainer plane. He saw the movie "Altered States" and built himself an isolation float tank in his garage; using hundreds of pounds of Epsom salts which brings to mind pictures of dump trucks and house high mounds of salt, but I digress.

Then he delved into 'meditation'. Riley, one of his friends, was deep into 'meditation' and was taking, I guess you could call it a 'course' in levitation. Yes, he was trying to learn how to levitate, without much success to that point. Riley got my ex into the group. He (the ex) spent a lot of money taking his girlfriend to 'meditation weekends', was given a mantra and actually had a 'meditation instructor' whom he consulted with often. All of this was after the divorce, except the girlfriend, she was before the separation.

Even though we were well past a year into the divorce and he had 'other' human interests, he still felt the need to call me almost every week. He talked about his feelings of seeing his dead ancestors as he floated in the isolation tank. He talked about his sessions with the meditation group and that so far the levitation consisted of scrunching up and squeezing the buttocks so that when relaxed they would produce a little 'hop'. He would talk and talk and talk and I would either listen, SILENTLY, or occasionally say, "UmmHmm" or even put the phone down and go wash a few dishes, only to come back and hear him still talking. I usually had nothing to say back.

Story: One day the phone rings (before I finally got call waiting) and it is my ex. He wants to talk. "How are you?" "Fine" "What are you doing?" "Working (as if it were any of your business now)", and so forth. Note, my answers are the one word type and the words in parenthesis were processed out before I spoke. He continued talking about his work, his meditation weekends, Riley, Stacey (the girlfriend and don't ask me why, I don't know), and other fluff.

Suddenly he made one simple short statement that I will never forget: " I went flying with my meditation instructor yesterday." That's it. Nothing really unusual. Short, sweet, no excitement, just a flat statement.

And here is where my brain spasm came in, where the thought came into my head and out my mouth in a microsecond, bypassing that ever so important processing center. My reply? "With or without the airplane."

Again, my reply was short, flat, to the point and said matter-of-factly without any emotion whatsoever. But another millisecond later when my thought had finally fully processed in my head, the whole concept struck me as very funny; meditation instructor, levitation, flying. I then dissolved into peals of laughter over the phone; side splitting, stomach holding, body shaking laughter that you cannot suppress. I couldn't stop.

Have you ever read the comic strip, The Born Loser? In one of these, the husband reads the paper and says, "Did you know that every time I breathe out, someone dies?" The wife barely looks up from her knitting to reply, "Have you ever thought of trying a good mouthwash?" The next three frames show her laughing hysterically and the cloud over his head and smoke out of his ears billowing up. The last frame has her, still chuckling, look at him and say, "Hmm, Sorry."

It was that kind of moment, only over the phone, but you could see steam coming from the receiver. All I could do was say, "Hmm, Sorry" and hang up.

Sunday, June 19, 2005


A cloudy day is no match for a sunny disposition.
~William A. Ward
Nyssa, age almost 3, in Oklahoma City. We went to a local park on a Tuesday, my afternoon off. By then it was just the two of us. Emotions for me were still quite raw and the world felt cloudy even on a bright sunny day. For Nyssa, life was good, she was still too young to feel the full force of the divorce. She could smile and prance and twirl and laugh and her face would shine with an absolute joy for life. How could I see this face and not smile? Her light could brush away my sorrow, if only for a little while.

Now she is grown and better understands the past. I have never thanked her for the rays of sunshine she brought me during that dark time. Thank you, my Nyssa, my daughter, my love, my life.

Submitted to Moody Monday for topic "Sunny". (end)
Posted by Hello

My Father's House

My Dad resting in his lounger, channel surfing. Posted by Hello

My father is a Midwestern farm boy from southern Illinois. He is the second son of five children, born with bright red hair and freckles. My uncle tells me that dad always had a hard time telling a lie even when the truth would get them both in trouble. Once my grandmother caught them under the table with that we've-been-into-something look that only a mother can recognize. She asked and dad spoke right up, "We've been eating brown sugar". That was the truth, but also a transgression. It was during the depression and sugar was gold. Needless to say, his truthfulness led to punishment for both.

Dad went to school in a one room schoolhouse from first grade to sixth and walked with his brothers the mile to school. His only sister was born when my dad was thirteen. Two of his younger brothers went in to farming and still farm land in Illinois. His older brother became an engineer and the baby girl entered the Air Force, later going into computer science.

My dad became a Christian at a young age. He felt that God wanted him to be a minister so after high school he attended Asbury College to that end. There he met my mom. He chased her until she caught him. After her graduation they married; that was fifty-four years ago this month.

Dad has never been a flashy preacher, he would never be confused with the television evangelists. He delivers God's Word to his congregation, not with threats or fiery rhetoric but with love; not just with words but with his life. He lives his faith. And this has touched more lives than he will ever know. He listens patiently and speaks slowly, weighing his words to find those most helpful.

My dad is not just a preacher, he is a pastor. He is the first they call when someone is taken to the hospital, he comforts families when death comes, he counsels couples in preparation for marriage and dedicates the new babies in the church. He is retired now but he still has a group of people to care for, his Sunday School class. The "Older Youth" class of retirees are a funny bunch but they appreciate his teaching and he in turn keeps his mind sharper with lesson preparation.

As a father he was always there to take care of us when the stomach flu hit. He resuscitated half frozen chicks, built dog houses, put together swing sets, stayed calm when our dog walked into church and on to the platform during the service, took me to pony rides, listened when I broke up with my first boyfriend and wanted to die, walked me down the aisle at my wedding and then performed the ceremony, dedicated my only child, supported me through a painful divorce, and helped me start my life over. He came to Oklahoma to help me move as a single mom to Mississippi, even though he was in the midst of a severe gallbladder attack. He has always been there and I am so fortunate to have him with me still.

While I don't remember him ever being angry with me to the point of yelling, I do know I was angry with him at times. He set rules and we were to obey them. Disobedience reaped consequences. When he said "Yes" he meant it and when he said "No" there was no point in arguing. Yes, he spanked on occasion but only after talking about the transgression and telling me why the rules were there, how they had been broken and that it hurt him more than it did me. I believe he did hurt more when I was disobedient than I did upon being spanked. As for me, knowing that my actions hurt or disappointed him was the most severe punishment.

His ability to be calm in high tension circumstances and to be slow to anger, in spite of the red hair, has served him well. Over the years he had to handle a drunk man with a loaded shotgun, the same drunk man with a bulldozer in the middle of the night, my ex-husband the night before we moved, a type A personality wife and a type A++++++ personality son. I of course was only an A- or B+ type, so more like my dad.

Now days he moves a lot slower and he tires easily because of his atrial fibrillation. He putters in the yard and in the house and helps with the cooking. He gives in too much to my mom's whims, but he still sees her as that bright eyed young girl he married. They argue lovingly, back and forth but with this mischievous twinkle in their eyes. He rests more in his lounge chair and snores when he falls asleep there. He channel surfs and this annoys mom. He still tells me how to drive and which way to turn when I drive them to church, even though I have done it every Sunday for a year. I just let him.

My dad is not computer savvy, actually he is technology challenged. I have had to show him how to do an OCR scan and get the page into Word for editing about ten times now. He loses e-mails he writes and doesn't realize they are just hidden by another window and he is in no way ready to start the "cut and paste" process. But he tries. He is addicted to the Shanghai game on his old Mac. He has finally learned to call and receive on his cell phone if he can remember to take it with him and turn it on.

My daughter says grandpa is quirky, sweet, funny, huggable, and cute. I don't know if these descriptions are what I would say but it doesn't matter, she loves him a lot. I know he is and has been the best father I could ever have. He has guided me, loved me, cried because I cried and been there when I needed help in any way. Dad also let me go; to marry the wrong man, to find my way in life, and to ultimately come back home. I'm glad he had the wisdom to do this.

I love him. I know he won't be with us forever, but I'll appreciate every minute, every hour, and every day we still have.

Happy Father's Day, Dad!

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Linz, Austria

Painting of Linz, Austria by Stephen Gould Posted by Hello
Art, like morality, consists of drawing the line somewhere.
~ G. K. Chesterton (1874 - 1936)
My brother, Stephen, is a classical opera singer, a Helden tenor. He will be in Bayreuth, Germany for the next two months performing at the Bayreuth Wagner Festival. When he first went to Europe, he contracted as a house tenor with the Linz Opera and performed there for three years.

Linz is an old European town where German with an Austrian accent is spoken and very little English. Everyone goes to the opera; small children in flowered dresses, grandmothers with old hats and crocheted shawls, women in formal attire, men in casual jeans, and teenagers, some in slinky spaghetti strap dresses and others in black leather with metal studs and bare midriffs.

They know their opera, the stories, the music and they come to adore their performers. The smiling usher could only speak broken English, but he bowed and grinned and kept trying to say, "Stephen, brother, we love, great singer" as he clasped his hands together in the universal symbol for "bravo".

The town is beautiful, old with angled rooftop lines and narrow cobblestone streets. The Danau (Danube) River runs through the town and hills and mountains are noted in the distance. This is only a portion of the painting which is a view from the Linzer Schloss Museum.

Submitted to Macro Day as entry for "Art".
(Click to see larger version of full picture)

Marathon Max: Let's Go For A Walk

Nothing excites our rescue dog Max more than the red walking leash, unless it is something that involves food. Yes, Max loves to go for a walk. He isn't the easiest dog to walk but I've had worse.

The biggest hurdle is getting him to sit still long enough to put the leash on. He twists and turns, shakes his head, tries to lick you hand, pants, shivers with excitement and looks for his toy football, all at the same time.

Once the leash is in place the question becomes, should I take him through the sun room to the garage or just the long way around the house through the gate. Hmm. The sunroom involves passing by two dishes of cat kibble and take the chance that he consumes enough to choke him before I can drag him through the garage door.

But then out in the open space he turns on his nose. Boxwood, a small utility box and ivy surrounding the mailbox base are key points to stop and smell and tinkle. Then it is off to the races.

Max runs ahead, ears flapping to the extent the leash will allow. Then just as suddenly he will find some scent to explore and more areas to deposit his calling card. He must tell all animals in the area: "MAX WAS HERE!!" You would think that there would be some sixth sense a in a dog that would tell him, "Hey! I am going for a walk. There will be lots of places to stop and leave my card. I should save a little up for the end." But there is not. So most of the cards are given away before we reach the corner. He continues to think that he has a deposit to make, but sadly this is a figment of his imagination.

Max is a sprinter, not a long distance runner. He starts out full of life, running ahead, straining at the leash to the point of choking himself, but by the time we go half way around the block, his run has lapsed into a walk. Another half a block and he is walking steadily by your side and by the time we get to the corner of our street again, he is utterly pooped, sometimes stopping to sit and looking at you with an expression that says, "I am not moving any further. You will have to carry me."

At this point he has to be pushed to go, walks behind you and you often have to tug a little on his lead. But, if you can coax him to give it a little bit more and reach the point where he can see "HIS HOUSE" again, the excitement floods his eyes, the ears go up, the energy returns and it is a race to the finish line.

He runs down the sidewalk, across the street, up the driveway, through the back gate, around the house to the big orange water dish where he quenches his thirst with a long drink of water. Then it is on to find his beloved football and hop on his hammock for a long lazy snooze in the shade. Such a tired but happy puppy.
Posted by Hello
Submitted to Carnival of the Dogs, hosted by Mickey's Musings.