Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Calm Sunrise

Sunrise at Virginia Beach (Click picture for larger image)
"We can only appreciate the miracle of a sunrise if we have waited in the darkness" ~ Anonymous
This is one of my favorite photos of this year, particularly with the recent devastating storm. Right now friends from the Gulf are inundated with darkness both literally and in their hearts and minds. They have lost loved ones, their jobs and their homes. It's hard for them to grasp what has happened and even more difficult to see beyond the destruction to tomorrow. It will take time; it will take much effort by everyone, but the people will rebound. After the storm comes a calm, after the darkness comes the sunrise.

Submission for Thursday Challenge topic "favorite". (end of post)

Something Sweet

Naughty Paughty Jack-a-Dandy,
Stole a Piece of Sugar Candy
From the Grocer's Shoppy-Shop,
And away did hoppy-hop.
~ Henry Carey (1693?-1743), British poet.
When I was a little girl I received a play doctor's kit for Christmas. Inside it had a bottle of colorful candy balls to use as pretend pills. When we had used them up Mom filled the bottle back up with these nonpareils, smaller but usable. These coat wonderful chocolate candies from the Forbes company and make pretty decorations on sugar cookies.

One of my favorite cakes is Angel Food with fluffy white frosting. They used to make a "confetti" variation and we would put these tiny candy balls on top of the frosting. Later, when I couldn't find that mix anymore, I tried food coloring but that didn't work. Then I found that if these little candies are folded into the Angel Food mix they will make the speckled colors in the cake that made me so happy as a child.

Submission for LensDay topic "candy". (end of post)

Tuesday, August 30, 2005


The Gulf at Pass Christian, Mississippi. Fall 2004. (pic by Nyssa)
"For a double grief came upon them, and a groaning for the remembrance of things past" ~ Solomon ben Judah
The Weather Channel told us that Pass Christian would take the full force of Katrina's eye and that the storm surge water would be at its highest here. With the pictures from Gulfport and Biloxi, we can only imagine. There have been no reports from Pass Christian on the news channels, no reports on the internet or in regional papers. At an elevation of only ten feet above sea level and with the Gulf in front of them and a bay behind them, one can only imagine that much of the town is completely destroyed. This picture shows the normal lake-like appearance of the Gulf, still and calm. A landscape that is now gone, present only in our memories. We hope and pray that all the residents here had the forethought to leave.

Possessions are nothing; life is everything. (end of post)


Miss Chloe asleep, completely relaxed.
"Who among us hasn't envied a cat's ability to ignore the cares of daily life and to relax completely?" ~ Karen Brademeyer
This Siamese is warm, toasty and completely relaxed in her soft bean bag chair. She sleeps, not moving an eyelash even with the click of the camera. I envy her ability to seemingly relax and sleep anywhere; beds, chairs, floors, boxes, paper bags and window sills, don't you?

Submission to Photo Tuesday for topic "envy." You may also find her at Friday's Ark as well as the Carnival of the Cats on Sunday, this week hosted by Conservative Cat. (end of post)

Grandma Mary: My Father's Mother

Mary Lewis (Gould), about age 3. Posted by Picasa
"My grandmothers are full of memories
Smelling of soap and onions and wet clay
With veins rolling roughly over quick hands
They have many clean words to say,
My grandmothers were strong."
~ Margaret Walker
This is a picture of my grandmother, my father's mother, Mary Lewis Gould. I found it a few weeks ago in a box with scores of other pictures; most of the people I did not know or did not recognize and yes, most were relatives.

I love this picture; the dress, her ringlets and hairbows, the lace up shoes and small details like the delicate choker at her neck and her china doll with real hair, not the painted on kind. She looks so young, such a little girl and yet she has the same look on her face that I remember when I stayed at the farm. Some might say she looks angry or mad. Maybe she was a lot like most little kids when they have to dress up and stand still while they would rather be outside running or swinging or making mud pies. To me though the look is that of fierce determination. She never lost that look or that drive.

Grandma was a farmer's wife in southern Illinois. She was hardy; she had to be to marry a tall red-headed farmer and raise four boys and a girl during the depression. Grandma had a brother who was "afflicted". I don't like that word, but it's the vernacular of that day. I remember Uncle Guy and looking back he probably had some type of cerebral palsy. Grandma brought him to the farm after her marriage and took care of him for many years. Grandpa built him a little house with a sitting area and a bed and a stove for heat. It sat up on the rise near the barn. Uncle Guy always wore overalls and a light denim shirt with work boots. He had two pails, milk pails with covers. Every meal he would bring his empty pail to the house and Grandma would have the other one filled with food. I don't remember him ever eating with us at the house, but he was a grown man. Maybe he was embarrassed by his appearance when he ate or maybe he just liked the feeling of independence; of deciding when he would eat that fried chicken and potatoes. Uncle Guy seemed happy in his life on the farm and Grandma loved her brother and took care of him until he passed away. His little house is gone now, but I still remember him.

Grandma's farm house was over 100 years old. Until I was seven or eight they did not have indoor plumbing. The boys and Grandpa decided to dig a basement under the house. Dad said they put braces under the supports in the floor and jacked the house up off the foundation, then dug the cellar out. The floors started creaking in the kitchen and Grandma would run to the back and yell for them to stop, she was so afraid her floor would fall in. But it didn't and finally they had a cool cellar/basement ready. There they installed the first plumbing with a shower, a round one; the drain in the floor and no real tub to stand in. They also put in a full bath at the back of the house and put water plumbing in the kitchen. I remember the old pump she had at the kitchen sink and that she would let me pump (or at least try to) the water into the pot to heat for dishwashing.

With Grandpa I fished; with Grandma I learned to hull peas and pit cherries with a straight hair pin. She and I would sit on the big wrap around porch of an evening and swing slowly, counting the fireflies. We went to the chicken house together and gathered the eggs and spread the grain for the chicks. Along the back fence in the yard she had a wild growth of gooseberries. We would pick them and she made pies; I never really cared for them as it is almost impossible to get enough sugar to overshadow the intense twang of the berry.

Grandma believed in education and she loved to read. She subscribed to the Reader's Digest Condensed Books series and when she had finished several, she packed them away and stored them into the old smokehouse attached to the side porch room. I found them and would spend hours sitting in the smokehouse on a box or a blanket, reading by the light of the one small smoky window, the old smell of cured ham still in the air. Those were my best secret daydream times. I was in my own private world there. Some days I wish I could go back to that place, that time.

There are fourteen grandkids. I am the oldest by five years so for a while I had her all to myself. The younger ones lived in Illinois on adjacent farms, and I didn't so they became closer to her eventually over the years, but I always knew I was special to her. Sometimes she had trouble remembering my birthday since it came so close to Christmas, but I in my senior year of high school she sent me a heart shaped red crystal necklace for my birthday. I loved it.

My sophomore year in college I dyed my hair black. My mom noticed of course but didn't say anything. I thought for sure Grandma Brown (her mom) would notice and say something; she always spoke her mind and I knew she didn't like people to dye their hair; but either she didn't notice or she held her tongue (hard to believe the latter). I had carpooled home from Oklahoma to Delaware with two other college students. On the return trip, we took two days instead of driving non-stop for 24 hours; we stayed the night at the farm. Grandma made supper and as she cleared the table she looked at me and said, "You made your hair black. Why on earth did you do that?" In a million years I would have never thought she would notice. But she did. I was special to her.

In the spring of my junior year at college, Grandma became ill suddenly and died in just four days. At the funeral all her children and the grandkids were weeping and crying; some really carrying on. I was sad but she had always been afraid of having a stroke and being unable to care for herself. I knew she had died exactly the way she wanted. She had not suffered. She had not had a long illness to wear on her husband or children. She looked exactly like I had seen her last. I knew her. Grandma was a no nonsense, determined, plain spoken woman who had never taken a cotton to hysterics and carrying on. If you scraped your knee, she would clean it, band-aid it, kiss it and then hug you. If you continued to wail, she would say, "That's enough, your not going to bleed to death, it's just a scrape." I could just see her standing up in heaven looking down on us and shaking her head. "My goodness, what is all this for?" No, she wouldn't have been pleased at all.

A year later at my wedding, Grandpa came up and put his arms around me, giving me a big hug. He told me that of all the grandchildren I was most like Grandma. "You look like her; the same height; the same build; the same staunch determination and no nonsense attitude. He didn't realize it then, but that compliment was the best gift he could have ever given me.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Why I Don't Cook Part 2: My Experience

"She did not so much cook as assassinate food." ~ Storm Jameson
In part one I told you about my cooking heritage. I even admit to being able to serve a meal without much to clean up or put away afterwards. This ability really helped a single mom working eight to ten hours a day; it allowed me to spend as much evening time with my little girl as I could. Having this ability, however, does not automatically mean I can cook.

Sure I buy cookbooks; in fact, when I moved to Virginia and packed the cookbooks, there were five boxes of them. But I rarely, if ever used them. A couple still had the shrink wrap from the book store on them. And yes I can put together a basic meal of meat, vegetable and fruit; I am particularly good at heating up canned green beans and Spaghetti-O's and making frozen peas and occasionally real mashed potatoes. I do a fair teriyaki chicken strips and baked catfish rolled in Corn Flake crumbs that are as crunchy as if fried.

Some of my cooking problems stem from the fact that I had a child who only ate certain things. She didn't eat mashed potatoes. Have you ever heard of a toddler that didn't eat mashed potatoes? She hated them and had a really unique way of showing her displeasure with them. Once out at a fancy restaurant, my mom tried to feed her mashed potatoes and I warned her not to. "Nonsense, ALL kids like mashed potatoes!" as she put the spoon of potatoes in her mouth. Yes, less than a minute later, my mom had Nyssa's mashed potatoes and everything else she had eaten all over her skirt. She ALWAYS threw up when forced to eat mashed potatoes. Yet, this child ate cold boiled shrimp as fast as I could peel them. While she wouldn't put steak in her mouth for twelve years, she would eat a tossed salad with her peanut butter sandwich. So you see part of my cooking difficulty is Nyssa's fault.

The majority of the problem, however, has something to do with me. It started in junior high school. The girls had to take home economics. Does anyone remember this? Girls had to take sewing and cooking, really, no joke! I could follow the recipe and was in the accelerated class for math and foreign language and science so the teacher figured I could be in charge of our cooking group. Two of us were paired with a girl from the special education class. She was very sweet and when the food turned out there was no limit to the excitement and joy she demonstrated. I wanted the recipes to turn out just so she could feel the accomplishment. We tried to let her do as much of the mixing and some of the measuring (with help) as we could.

One day we had to make a cake. We got the ingredients together and mixed them and put it in the oven. We watched, anticipating the nice layers to go with our chocolate icing. But nothing happened. The oven was hot, but the cake just sat there, the mixture boiled and bubbled but didn't raise and never got firm. What happened? I went back over the recipe, double checked everything and suddenly realized I had forgotten to measure out and put in the flour. I will never forget the sad look on her face when we told her it wasn't going to cook right. This was the beginning of my ongoing fight with scratch cakes.

When I got married, I had a Betty Crocker cookbook and a little recipe box with family favorites like the meat loaf from my children's cookbook that Mom always used (Paul didn't like meatloaf.), Trash Cans that were a type of sloppy joe (He didn't like that either.), my mom's lasagna (You guessed it, not a fan.), and Chuck Wagon Baked Beans (Bingo! Batting zero here.) I knew how to make a "Dr. Pepper Steak" with the tough but cheap cut of beef lightly fried and then put in the crock-pot with cream of mushroom soup and a can of Dr. Pepper. He ate this. I thought he liked it but found out years later that he didn't, we just couldn't afford anything else.

Paul did like apple pie. So I bought some apples and put them in the pie shells with sugar, butter and a little flour and baked them. I didn't know you needed a certain kind of apple to do that. When Paul cut into the pie, so nice and golden brown on the outside, the apples were dry and it looked as if it had just dried up, the sugar wasn't even mixed and there was no juice at all. That was 30 years ago. I've never made another apple pie.

Fast forward to post-divorce era after 1988. Nyssa likes macaroni and cheese, the kind from a box mix. OK, Mommy will make you some. Maybe it was because I was trying to do three things at one time but I burned three batches of macaroni in one night. She had to settle for canned ravioli.

I decided to try desserts again. We had lunches at the lab and I wanted to take something to contribute. Mom gave me a recipe for Chocolate Eclair desert; a layer of graham crackers, layer of French vanilla pudding, layer of graham crackers, another layer of pudding and then topped off with a melted chocolate top. I had the hardest time getting that runny warm melted chocolate to spread out over that pudding without getting mixed in. That step alone took me an hour. I called Mom to tell her about the difficulty and she quietly said, "Didn't you put a top layer of graham crackers on before the chocolate?" Of course; make it harder than necessary, that's me.

Dr. Parker loved carrot cake. I decided to make one from scratch for his birthday. This time I consulted my mom ahead of time and used her recipe that turned out every time. I grated carrots, measured the spices and flour and drained the crushed pineapple. I was going to make a sheet cake rather than a layer cake. (Still remembering junior high) I greased and floured my pan and while looking at it, I thought "This pan is too big for this recipe; I know I'll just double it!" That's right just double the recipe. I know I measured correctly, grated appropriately and I put the flour in. I called my mom at least six times during the process; I kept telling her that it didn't look right somehow and she kept telling me it would turn out fine. I did not, however, tell her that I doubled the recipe. It baked while I made the cream cheese icing. It just didn't look right. When I took it out of the oven, gee, this cake is heavy! I mean really heavy! But carrot cakes are a little denser than most she told me. OK, go ahead and do the icing. It doesn't look too bad but just not totally right. Dr. Parker cut into the cake and ate a piece. Bless his heart, he was so generous, he told me how good it was. He shared with others. I took a small piece. It was horrible! It wasn't just a little or normally dense; it was REALLY dense! How dense? We weighed the cake on the scientific scales at the lab. It weighted 7 pounds. I made a carrot cake that weighed 7 pounds! You could have used it for a boat anchor; it would definitely not float. I quietly threw it out. Stike two on scratch cakes.

My brother was visiting when Dr. Martin's birthday rolled around. I was determined to do a cake again. In one of the magazines I found an easy cake that used a boxed mix angel food cake. I could make the box mix cakes fine. All I had to do was cut the baked cake in half and spoon canned cherry pie filling on the bottom half and put the top back on. Then put a whipped icing on just the top. Garnish with mint leaves and voila! Right! (MUCH SARCASM) Everything was going fine. The baked cake looked fine. It looked fine when I cut it in half. It looked fine when I spooned on the cherry filling. It even looked ok when I put the top on. Then, suddenly, right before my eyes; one side of the bottom half of the cake started to fall or scrunch down and this made the whole thing uneven; then the top half started to slowly slide off the cherry filling and the filling followed it down that slippery slope. It was like looking at a car crash in slow motion with the top of the cake and most of the cherry filling slipping and oozing off the base and onto the floor.

I couldn't believe what had just happened. It was after 11 PM. The cake was ruined; it was lying in the middle of my kitchen floor and I had just stood there and watched it happen. Well, now what do I do? I dig out my last angel food cake mix and make another one. Do I try to put the filling on again? It is now 1 AM; I have to go to work. This was strike three for my cake adventure. No way. I have one box of fluffy white frosting mix left.

My brother got up the next morning to find the remnants of the cherry and cake mess in the trash can. On the counter was a plain angel food cake, a box of frosting mix and a note. It read: "Please just make the icing and slap it on this cake and bring it to the lab." My disaster was obvious. When he showed up, the cake was meticulously frosted and he had garnished it with slivered almonds in a beautiful pattern on top.

That's it! No more scratch cakes! No more variations to box mix cakes! I will never make a red velvet cake because I will never add anything to another cake mix, ever!

So, there you have it, I do not cook well. I cook enough to get by and not starve. I don't do scratch cakes or pies at all. And don't expect anything I attempt from a cookbook to look even remotely like the picture. To be honest, I wouldn't even recommend my box mix macaroni and cheese.

Sunday, August 28, 2005


1988 Oklahoma City, Age 2 [35mm print] (Click picture for larger image) Posted by Picasa
"Before you were conceived I wanted you
Before you were born I loved you
Before you were here an hour I would die for you
This is the miracle of love."
~ Maureen Hawkins
My daughter, my little girl, now all grown up is priceless to me.

Submission for Moody Monday topic 'priceless'.
(end of post)


Loofa Sponge - Macro (Click picture to see larger view) Posted by Picasa
"Better keep yourself clean and bright. You are the window through which you must see the world." ~ George Bernard Shaw (Irish literary Critic, Playwright and Essayist. 1925 Nobel Prize for Literature, 1856-1950)
Loofa, the sponge from a gourd; used to clean faces and items from fine china to non-stick cookware.

Submission for MacroDay topic "clean".
(end of post)

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Abstract Cat

The Accidental Cat (Click picture for larger view) Posted by Picasa
Cats no less liquid than their shadows
Offer no angles to the wind.
They slip, diminished, neat through loopholes
Less than themselves;
From the poem Cats - written by A.S.J. Tessimond
This is Scarlett. At least I took a picture of Scarlett. The flash didn't flash, the picture was black and when I clicked "I feel lucky" on Picasa, a colored version of this appeared. The background looked like a computer microchip computer board with the geometric lines and in the foreground the black outline shadow of a cat. OK, let's see what it looks like in black and white; click, not too bad. Just before I clicked on the "delete" button I changed my mind and kept it. It has an appeal I can't quite place but can't squash either. Then I saw it. There, that little white spot towards the right side of the head; ah, the twinkle of a cat's eye. Yes this is Scarlett, mischievous, hyperactive at times; I bet she planned this picture.

Submission for PXITE topic "abstract". (end of post)

Just News

Nyssa. Home at last on the campus of William & Mary. Posted by Picasa
Having a child is to decide forever to have your heart go walking outside your body. - Elizabeth Stone
I normally don't just post short news things, except as pertains to the Mothers Support Group for those with daughters or children going off to college, near and far. But I had a few short items and then going to crash.
  • Just before midnight my little counter went to 10,000 visits. Confetti. Balloons. Horns. And even better, the 10,000 visitor was from, my sweat pea Nyssa.
  • If you visit Nyssa's Xanga site Nystagamus (She knows it's not spelled right but the correct spelling was taken) you will see posts about her college classes, campus, happenings and such. ALL seem to have this recurring theme: I love this school. I am finally home. Have faith out there, it just took two years to get here.
  • As you know Nyssa is a very unusual name. In 19 years she has never run into another person with the same name in Girl Scouts, school, Sunday School or anywhere. We knew others existed but today she met another 'Nyssa' at W&M, in her Latin class. How cool is that? (her words)
Good night or rather good morning. (end of post)

Friday, August 26, 2005

Why I Don't Cook Part 1: My Heritage

I come from a long line of cooks. When I was little, my grandmother made these wonderful breakfasts while we were visiting. One of my favorites was the beef hash and biscuits. We would have had a beef roast with potatoes and carrots the night before. Then she would cut up the left over beef and potatoes and add onions and make a thin almost clear beef gravy to go with them. She would bake up biscuits and we smothered them in the hash. Soooo good.

Grandpa always took at least one biscuit and broke it open slowly. Grandpa never hurried at anything, everything he did was slow and deliberate. He would take a little saucer and put a big pat of butter in it, then open the jar of sorghum molasses and they would slowly drizzle out over that butter. Then he would take a fork and mash and mix the molasses and butter together and pile it on his biscuit. He loved it; I didn't so I stuck with the hash. The other thing she fixed was fried Cole fish. I don't know what kind of fish they were, but Grandpa and I would go downtown in Roanoke to the farmer's market and he would buy a mess. They were just the tails of a larger fish and had a back bone running down the middle. That was all, no other bones in the small amount of attached fish so you didn't have to hunt and peck for them, just eat the fish off the tail bone.

Once in a while Grandma would pull one that just didn't work. Usually she was trying to fake my brother out. He didn't like cauliflower and he loved potatoes, mashed. Do you see where we are heading here? She decided that she could make him think he was eating mashed potatoes when in reality it was cauliflower. She cooked it to death, mashed it to mush, put in a little milk, maybe a bit of flour and beat them up with a beater. Stephen took one bite and said, "What did you do to the cauliflower, it's awful." She tried and tried to tell him they were mashed potatoes but he knew better. Finally, Grandpa just said, "Zula, it didn’t work, let the boy be."

Now Mom learned to cook from Grandma. For a long time (according to the food critic Stephen) our parents "boiled all vegetables until they looked like a uniform grey color and had the consistency of soft mush, no matter what they were". As a preacher's wife she had to cook for many a dinner, pot-luck type stuff and had to learn a lot of food styles from different parts of the country. In each church the ladies would put together a Mother's Day Cookbook with favorite recipes from all the women in the church. These were compiled and given as gifts to all the mothers that day. I think this was the start of her fetish for cookbooks.

You will note I used the word 'fetish'. I looked it up and one of the meanings is "an abnormally obsessive preoccupation or attachment; a fixation". This fits. She absolutely, completely loves cookbooks. She kept collecting them so Dad built her a big bookshelf for them, then another, and a third and still they are overflowing. Unlike me, she actually reads them. My mother reads cookbooks like novels. She is always reading a recipe in a book or seeing one on Paula Deen's cooking show on HGTV and then she tries it out. Because she is diabetic, many of these are things she cannot eat herself. So who are the ones who have to try it and eat it so it doesn't go to waste? Yes, my dad, Nyssa (when she is at home) and me. None of us need this. Most of her recipes turn out wonderfully. She has a blueberry pie recipe to die for and the best lasagna in the world; sand tarts and fudge for Christmas and she has even made the buttercream mints that you cook and pour on a cold slab of marble to cool then pull and pull before cutting into little mints that melt in your mouth. Hungry yet? Yes, my mom is a good cook.

My dad has become a pretty good cook. He has the male problem of cleaning up while cooking (he can't do it) and it is hard for him to multi-task right now. He has to cook one thing at a time to keep on top of things. However, he is the absolute supreme gravy maker in the world. He can take the drippings or juice from any type of fried or roasted meat and make gravy that is just the right thickness, just the right consistency, chunky or smooth whatever is called for. He is also pretty sharp with the homemade soups and stews.

Even my brother is a good cook. Actually he is a gourmet cook, very fussy with food. I assume he gets this from traveling all over the world and eating at wonderful restaurants. Stephen had to have back surgery while traveling with Phantom of the Opera (he ruptured a disc while pulling the monkey heads out of the trunk in the auction scene). He came to Columbus and had it there where he could stay with me and do his post-op water therapy. He was with us for eight weeks. After he felt better, I would come home from work at five and supper would be on the table. This was incredible. He would hold out a plate of sliced fresh mozzarella cheese and tomatoes drizzled with olive oil and some kind of herb and say "appetizer". I just looked at him with a dazed 'dear in the headlights' look and asked, "What's an appetizer?" We didn't do those. When Nyssa and I hit the house at 5:30 pm and she was ready to eat 'RIGHT NOW', one did not do appetizers. One does what one can microwave in one minute and thirty seconds.

Stephen tends to do complex dishes requiring every pot and pan in the kitchen. He does roast duckling with orange sauce, souffle, a meatloaf with some kind of hard to find Chinese sauce in it, and Martha Stewart mashed potatoes. Living in Europe, he has started doing local delicacies as well like boiled tongue. His one main failing is that it takes a small army to clean up after him. Yes, it must be a man thing.

All those years of cooking just for myself and a small growing child helped me develop a strategy. I can cook a full meal with meat, two vegetables, salad, and drink and by the time I call Nyssa for supper (which will still be hot I might add) said supper will be portioned on the plates, the leftovers will be in sealed containers already in the refrigerator and all cooking pots and utensils will have been washed or rinsed and put in the dish washer before she gets there. After supper the only things to put away are condiments and the only dishes to rinse are the plates, salad saucers, glasses and flatware. In organization of a meal I excel.

In the cooking department, however, I pretty much stink. (To be continued in Part II)

Tranquility Amid Chaos

Chloe and Clover sleep quietly and serenely amid the chaos that exists in the room around them.
"At times our lives seem like that of a tranquil island in a sea of chaos. The battle is to keep this sea of chaos at bay and not let it wash us away into utter chaos."
~ Sanjeeva Ananthan
Photo Friday's theme "Chaos" is really appropriate for today. Max, our sweet but somewhat damaged rescue dog had to go to the vet for grooming under sedation. He won't let anyone touch his feet or stomach unless completely out. It is easier for him and all concerned. On the drive to the vet he sits in the seat next to me singing this high pitched "hooting" song of his: (sounds like) " nauseum" all the way to the vet. This is chaos number one for the day.

I return home, pick out the appropriate picture (above) for my entry, discarding the one of Nyssa's desk at MSMS her senior year (it really was not chaos, but organized chaos in the pic) and started Hello to upload with BloggerBot. Joy! BloggerBot is offline! I don't like Flickr so I'll try the loader that comes with Blogger. As you can see it managed, barely. Took forever! I have tried to find out what BloggerBot's problem is but as we know with most things, you start a help ticket and get an automated reply e-mail. The answer might come three weeks from next Tuesday and be totally irrelevant because it will be fixed (whatever it was) by then. So this is chaos number 2.

These events make the actual picture seem serene. Of course these two older ladies can sleep through and on a significant amount of chaos. I think they do an outstanding job fulfilling the advice in the quote. If only I were as equally equipped. But guess what? I feel better now.

This post is late for Friday's Ark but I will send it anyway so that the "girls" can hang out with their other kitty friends. They will also be hanging at Carnival of the Cats this Sunday, hosted by Annoying Little Twerp.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Thank You

College Landing Park, Williamsburg, Virginia (Click picture for larger view) Posted by Picasa
"There are those who pass like ships in the night, who meet for a moment, then sail out of sight with never a backward glance of regret; folks we know briefly then quickly forget. Then there are friends who sail together, through quiet waters and stormy weather, helping each other though joy and through strife. And they are the kind who give meaning to life." ~ Anonymous
At 5 AM this morning as I was getting ready for a quick trip to Williamsburg, I checked my site and found that it was Michele's site of the day. What a surprise! Thank you Michele! Since I was out of pocket for the morning, it may take time to visit everyone who so graciously left comments here, but I will eventually make it.

My daughter is at William and Mary as a transfer student, as many of my online friends know. She is only an hour away, compared to twelve hours last year. I made the first of the "Mom, I can't find my brown shirt...oh, it's there in the closet?...I was going to wear it Friday to the convocation...could you bring it up...and by the way could you bring the cleaning supplies too and maybe we could have breakfast " calls. I got away by 5:30 am so my van with one person would still be legal on the HOV lanes, made it through the tunnel across the bay and found my way to her dorm by 6:40AM. Then I waited for about 50 minutes for her to appear. I anticipated this based on past experience so I took a book to read. Having been through move-in day just last week, my knees said "No more stairs please" so I didn't go to see her room. It's just that if I don't see it I can still create a fantasy room in my mind where all things are neat and orderly. Why deal with the cold hard reality of a really, really small dorm room filled too full?

We had a nice breakfast and the requested items were transferred to her car. We got Starbucks and sat in the air conditioned coolness of Barnes & Noble for a while. She had classes starting at 11 AM so I dropped her off on campus and headed back.

There is a small park off the road I took back to the interstate, College Landing Park. It is just a small park, a wooden bridge to walk out over the wetlands, a few benches under the trees and a little ramp to the water. There is little traffic there. Two cars were parked at one end, one car empty the other with two people in it. No, I didn't stare to see what they were doing but words such as "lover's lane" and "public displays of affection" should be enough for you. An older couple pulled in after I did, stayed awhile and left. It is peaceful there. Nyssa and I visited here another time this summer but it was raining so difficult to take pictures.

Today it was perfect. Not too hot. Not too humid. Sunshine and a little north breeze. The Canadian geese were gathered, two different groups on opposite sides of the waterway, honking at each other and occasionally meeting in the middle to have a little spat with pecking and flapping of wings, then retreating to their respective sides. A couple of Great Blue Herons were fishing in the marshes; quite successfully too. Along the banks in the mud were hundreds of Red-jointed fiddler crabs with their one large claw (indicates the male), scattering quickly with any movement on the bank; some were in their mud burrows with only the claw protruding. It must have been low tide as the water usually covers the mud of these marshes. There were two or three varieties of butterflies and grasshoppers as well as a few wasps. It was a photographic paradise and so I stayed there clicking away for almost an hour.

Note to Nyssa: While walking along the grassy shoreline, guess what I "stumbled" on? That's right, a hole. It was just a small hole in the ground, but you couldn't see it for the grass. If there is a hole, I will find it, step in it and fall to the ground. Hoping the little elderly couple wouldn't think I was hurt or having a seizure, I whipped my camera up (after wiping the dew off) and started taking pictures from the sitting position, trying to look like "I meant to do that". I thought it was quite effective. No worse for wear and the dampness from the grass dried before I left.

As I was about to leave this woman arrived with her bright blue plastic kayak. I saw her put a book down inside and earphones on her head. She paddled silently away from the shore only disturbing the geese from their gathering at the ramp edge. I'd like to believe she was headed for a secret quiet place, only she could find, away from all prying eyes; a place where she could sit in the shadow of an overhanging tree, the water lapping at the side of the boat, reading to her heart's content and listening to the quiet music of Vivaldi or Debussy.

All in all, it was a joy to simply stop and look closely to find small wonders of God's world. Just the sound of the breeze, the chirping of the crickets and the honks of the geese for music. The warmth of the sun with the coolness of the north breeze and the ability to just be quiet and still.

I had a good morning.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Let's Play Hide and Seek!

Nicky hiding under the bedspread.
He likes to "help" make the bed in the morning. (Click on picture for larger view)
Posted by Picasa
A cat determined not to be found can fold itself up like a pocket handkerchief if it wants to. ~ Louis J. Camuti
"Some animals are secretive; some are shy. A cat is private."
~ Leonard Michaels
Nicky is private and often quite shy. He loves to sleep on my mom's bed as it has the memory foam cover that retains heat. He is her sleeping companion in the early morning now, keeping her feet warm. He doesn't like to move for them to make the bed. Here he is at the bottom of the bed, hiding under the bedspread, helping to hold it in place. "If they would just leave it like this, I could hide all day. What joy."

Nicky: "Be sure to visit more of my friends this Friday at Friday's Ark and on Sunday see them at Carnival of the Cats, this week hosted by Annoying Little Twerp. (end of post)

Another Splash Of Sunshine

Yellow lilies. (Click picture for larger view) Posted by Picasa
The lily was created on the third day, early in the morning when the Almighty was especially full of good ideas. ~ Michael Jefferson-Brown
I seem to be always early here. Yesterday, I posted another yellow flower for no reason at all; just to have something bright and cheery on a rainy day. Rather than just submitting that entry for Lens Day, I decided to add even more color to boost my spirit. Another splash of pure sunshine.

(end of post)

Back Home Again In Indiana

The house on Sunnyside Court. Note the split-level design and the metal antenna on the roof. A time before color TV when reception was marginal and only three or four channels were the norm. Yes, and houses were painted really tacky colors. (Fall 1962 - Summer 1963) Posted by Picasa

I was seven days into fifth grade when we moved from Roanoke, Virginia to Gary, Indiana. I left my best friend behind and I thought my nine year old life was over. Gary was a steel mill town on the south end of Lake Michigan. It was flat, you've never seen flat until you hit Indiana and Illinois, and it was dirty. The church was old and downtown. We have pictures showing huge water stains on the walls where rain seeped in from the unpatchable holes in the roof. Mom had to play the organ for services so I had to sit and take care of Stephen who was about nine months old. I made a new friend, Valerie but we never were as close as Mary and I in Virginia. She had a little sister. If the babies acted up in church we could take them down to the basement to the nursery. Stephen actually was better in church than Valerie's sister so sometimes I would pinch him to get him to make noise and then take him out; not often enough to get caught but occasionally.

The church didn't have a parsonage so the first year we were there they rented a house on Sunnyside Court. It seemed like a mansion to me. A split-level. Three bedrooms on one level then four or five steps down to living room, dining room and kitchen; then five or six more steps down into a paneled den. I remember this one having a built in bar that we got to use as a playhouse and a separate laundry room and storage. Here Stephen had his first birthday and his first haircut from a barber in our church. I remember the basement flooding and my cardboard Barbie Dream House getting soaked and falling apart in my hands. I remember my cousin, who was four at the time, visiting with her family. I had to sleep with her and in the middle of the night she had an accident and wet the bed. I had to get my mom to change it and then I really wanted to sleep on the floor for the rest of the night.

This house had a back entry into the kitchen; up about four steps to a small stoop. The stoop was about 3½ feet up from the ground and we kept the garbage cans next to it. One night as we came in from church, Mom had Stephen and I went up first to hold the storm door open. It was dark and I had to take a couple of steps back letting Dad get to the lock. Unfortunately, "two steps back" was one step too many and I stepped into air. I fell backwards off the stoop. Fortunately, I suppose, the lid was off of the metal garbage can. I fell bottom, buttocks, butt first into the can. There I was feet up, arms up and butt down in the can. Mom was hysterical. She thought I was dead. I was not dead. I was stuck; in the garbage can! Then when they realized I was not dead or bleeding or even scratched, it became funny, but only for them. I was still stuck! When they finally regained control of themselves (i.e. could stop laughing) Dad pulled me out. I thanked God for small miracles that night; not thankful that I hadn't been hurt, but rather grateful that it was dark and that their laughing had not disturbed the neighbors with their bright backyard spotlight.

I'm glad we only lived in that house for one year.

Notice the loafers and white socks; the buck teeth not yet fixed by the braces and the long "machine gun case" purse Mom carried with her white gloves. More signs of the times.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Just Because I Felt Like It

A flower at her foot. (Click for larger image) Posted by Picasa
"The best things in life are nearest: Breath in your nostrils, light in your eyes, flowers at your feet, duties at your hand, the path of right just before you. Then do not grasp at the stars, but do life's plain, common work as it comes, certain that daily duties and daily bread are the sweetest things in life."
~ Robert Louis Stevenson (Scottish Essayist, Poet and Author of fiction and travel books, 1850-1894)
There are no ulterior motives behind this post, no rants or raves, no news, no daily photo entries to make, just a flower and an out of focus foot. Why? I just needed a sunny flower to look at me from this page, a lift of the spirits, a reminder of God's creation and that He still has a plan for me. That's it. Not a very enlightened or special post but in the words of the irrepressible Nyssa, "It makes me happy!"

(end of post)

Implied Faith In The Future

The College of William & Mary (Click picture for larger view) Posted by Picasa
"The past is a source of knowledge, and the future is a source of hope. Love of the past implies faith in the future." ~ Stephen Ambrose
The history of our country is short compared to that of Europe and parts of the Middle East. Although it is relatively young, our history is rich and our children need to learn of this history. This is the second oldest college in the United States and it brings alive the birth of a nation. It's past students helped build a nation, it's current students will help build our future. All should remember the following advice.
"Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it."
~ George Santayana (1863-1952)
Submission for Photo Tuesday topic "implied". (end of post)

Monday, August 22, 2005

The College Girl Called Yesterday

Cooling down with a water hose. Posted by Picasa
"What dreadful hot weather we have! It keeps me in a continual state of inelegance" ~ Jane Austen (British Novelist and Writer, 1775-1817)
The voice on the other end of the phone is cranky. "It's sooooo hot. Heat index is over 105 degrees and we had to walk around everywhere. It takes 30 minutes for that bus to go from campus to the dorm and then the humidity is so bad that it is too hot to sleep. The fan just blows hot air. I can't get dry after a bath. EVERYONE else has an air conditioner. I just can't take the heat." I know it's hot. It is to cool some today and a little more tomorrow. After much Googling and BizRating and such I found a de-humidifier that will work in her room. That should help. An air conditioning unit is out, there has to be a physician statement that the student has asthma or allergic rhinitis and that if so she has to have had skin testing and they must know what medications she is on. Oh! Well. The de-humidifier is on it's way, it shipped out today from so by the end of the week.......

All of this reminded me of how she coped with the heat as a little one. This was taken in Oklahoma City, her birthplace, the summer she was two, a year before we moved to Mississippi. The heat was more intense there than in Williamsburg. The humidity was less. That summer temperatures got as high as 109 degrees without factoring the heat index. One day while we were out for only one hour, the electricity went off. The air conditioner compressor had been running almost non-stop and heat continued to build up after the fan stopped from the power outage. Had I been home, I would have turned the unit off for a few hours. Unfortunately I wasn't there. The power came back on in about 30 minutes and when it did the compressor exploded. New compressor. Three days with no air conditioning, continued heat and a cranky two year old. This is how we tried to keep cool, playing with the water hose, dousing the t-shirt with cool water and staying in the shade.

So, Nyssa, until the de-humidifier gets there. Spend time in air conditioned student unions, libraries and even on the slow bus. Take a book and make several trips around the town on the COOL bus. Think water hoses, get bottled water for the fridge, move slowly, it will get better.

(end of post)

Sunday, August 21, 2005

The Center

Sunrise at Virginia Beach. (Click picture for larger view) Posted by Picasa
"The Sun, with all the planets revolving around it, and depending on it, can still ripen a bunch of grapes as though it had nothing else in the Universe to do."
~ Galileo Galilei (1564-1642)
The ancient learned men believed that the earth was the center of the universe; that the sun and all the heavens revolved around earth. It was quite controversial to buck this opinion. Now we know that the sun is the anchor of our small portion of the universe. The orbits of our planets are centered around the sun. It brings warmth to the earth and seas so fish may multiply in the oceans, crops may grow in the soil and life may continue. Yet even with these important tasks it still treats man to the glorious colors of sunrise and sunset daily. How can one not believe in God?

Submission for Moody Monday topic "centered".
(end of post)

The Joys Of 3rd & 4th Grade

This is the last of my old Xanga entries. I closed the site down and pulled myself back into my turtle shell for a couple of weeks before finding It's appropriate that the entry reflects the last two years I lived in Roanoke. When you get older, it is not so much the detailed events of childhood you remember; it's a sound, a smell, a physical sensation such as wind in your face as you pedal your bike down a hill, or just a vague picture in your mind's eye. Parents remember the specifics and it seems as if you do too, having heard the stories over and over. Are they even relevant? I think so. I hope they are. They are all we have really, our history. We should know our history and our children should know our history; what other way do we have to hold precious the good times or to learn from the bad times? So here are my memories from 3rd and 4th grade.
Xanga Entry - Wednesday, March 16, 2005 - 6:45 PM

Third grade was different. I had a wonderful teacher, Mrs. Scott, who would take a class of third graders and teach them for two years....third and fourth grade. We left Virginia after I finished fourth grade and mom gave her a lot of her teaching materials (she also taught fourth grade in another school) and they kept in touch over the years. She came to my grandmother's funeral about 11 years ago. It is unusual for a teacher to keep up with one of her students for over 30 years. She was an excellent teacher.

I told my first big in school lie in third grade. One Friday, we were in the class towards the end of the day, and Mrs. Scott was called out into the hall. We had already picked up our chairs and put them upside down with the seat on the desks. She told us to stand quietly by our desks until she got back. The chairs had legs with metal tips covered in felt on the ends of each leg; they swiveled a little and when they swiveled, they squeaked....loudly. Several of us started working at them and we had quite a sound going when Mrs. Scott walked in. Immediate quiet. She said that everyone who had made the noise had to stay after school and then asked who had been squeaking the chairs. Some of the kids who had been doing the deed raised their hands but I didn't. I had never had to stay after school. She didn't say anything else and when the bell rang, she let the rest of us included. That weekend, I couldn't sleep, I couldn't eat.....I felt miserable, like everyone knew what I had done. I finally broke down and told my dad, sobbing. He said that I knew the right thing to do, so on Monday I went to Mrs. Scott and confessed what I had done and offered to stay after school or whatever punishment she thought best. She very quietly sat me on her lap and told me that she was proud of me for telling her the truth. She had stood at the door of the classroom for a few seconds before coming in and had seen all the culprits. She saw that I had been involved but didn't say anything, probably knowing that I would have an awful weekend. I don't think she even made me stay after school. Guess she thought three days of guilty anguish was punishment enough.

I had my first crush in third grade. My third cousin (on my mother's side) Ricky Meador, was in my class. His older brother was in fifth grade. They lived on the street that I took to walk home. Mom made arrangements for me to stay at their house after school until she got there from her school to take me home. Ricky was ok, but Mike was much more grown up and really, really cute. If Ricky picked on me, Mike would come to my defense like a knight on a white horse and I was absolutely, hang-your-mouth-open in awe of him. This continued into fourth grade as well, he was a sixth grader, almost going to junior high. Unfortunately, towards the end of fourth grade he lost interest in anyone who was not a sixth grader.

In fourth grade we read a story about rabbits. I don't remember what it was or the plot but somehow the story stuck. I decided to make it into a play, so I did. Mrs. Scott liked it and said we could put it on for the other classes. The school had costumes.....remember the 2nd grade we used them. I wrote the play (adapted from a written work), cast the play, directed the play and played the piano for the play (at the beginning)....."Country Gardens". We put it on for all the fourth grade classes and under and even had the parents come. Weird how I cannot remember the actual name of the story.

Other than these events I don't remember much about school in Virginia. Easters in Virginia, Best Friend in Virginia, and Brothers Born in Virginia....I remember those.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

The Plastic Pens: A Short Story

Plastic pens (Click picture for larger view)Posted by Picasa
At work, the authority of a person is inversely proportional to the number of pens that person is carrying. ~ Author Unknown
This reminds me of a funny incident. Nyssa's favorite restaurant in the world is Don Pablos. We have one in Chesapeake and I took her to supper there in early June. It was obvious by the number of dropped plates and glasses and the hysterical looks on the waiter's faces; there were quite a few new trainees. One fellow was thin with red hair and glasses. He looked nervous. His shirt was tucked in and he had on his little pouched apron that held his order pad and pen. I should say pens. Many pens. Over a dozen, maybe close to two dozen. Different sizes and colors and he had them all organized in a row, hooked into the pouch pockets from the longest pen to the shortest. All separated according to color; black, blue, red, & green. Not a pen out of place. He was the only one with this arrangement. All the other waiters had one, maybe two pens and these were thrown haphazardly into the apron pockets. I'm thinking obsessive compulsive here.

We visited again a couple weeks ago. Yep, you guessed it. The OC waiter is still there and his pens are still in his pocket, all in a row according to size and color.

Submission for MacroDay topic "plastic". (end of post)

Friday: 10:38 PM

I am too tired to post a picture, even if I had one.
So, a short synopsis of the day: (Well it turned into a long synopsis)
  1. 5:30 AM - trip to William & Mary from Virginia Beach - 50 minutes
  2. 6:45 AM - walk into IHOP for breakfast. The Nys has her favorite "Chocolate Chip Pancakes", these tend to gag me. The place is overwhelmed with college students. Resident Assistants eating breakfast, colorful t-shirts indicating which dorm group they belong to. One small group of guys who were thin, lanky and slight of frame had bright blue t-shirts with "Sweating for You" written in bright yellow across the back. These are designated move-in helpers to carry boxes, trunks, refrigerators and more up to the third floor. They cater to freshmen however.
  3. 7:30 AM - park in Hughes parking lot. Construction is still going on. The road has potholes from the equipment and it has rained, filling the holes with water. My van is prone to getting stuck. I bravely go through these anyway. Now my van looks like it has been white washed by Tom Sawyer. In the parking lot we discover that check-in is in Munford Hall, next door, down the street, we must walk. Outside there is a slight breeze, inside it is hot. They are not ready. "Give us a few minutes. We will try to start early."
  4. 8:05 AM - exactly five minutes late, the check in begins, the flow of money to the school continues, $20 for a dorm janitorial fee on top of previous deposits. Get the key. Go check out the room. It is very, very, very small. Two windows, bunked beds, one built in closet, one wardrobe, one built in chest of drawers, one free standing, two desks and two chairs in a 12 x 12 foot room. But, it has a suite bath.
  5. 8:06 AM- let the games begin. I know at once that everything in the van will not go in this room, not with a roommate as well. What can we take back to the storage unit? The desk chair is the first too bulky item to go. Then the trunk, only limited linens transferred to the underbed storage box. The metal roll around storage bin is next and then the capuccino machine and most of the kitchen utensils along with the box of decorations and the floor lamp. In the end at least one third of the contents of my van are returning with me.
  6. 8:30 AM - we have managed to get the van closer to the door of the dorm. We are nowhere near unloaded. It is now raining, hard. Rain from 8:30 AM until 1:00 PM. Good. Bicycle is in outdoor rack (no room in room) at least the lock works. It will now rust again.
  7. 11:00 AM - I have made too many trips up the stairs and my knee hurts, my face is red, I have sweated myself to nothingness and my clothes are plastered to my skin. But the top bunk is made, the fridge is in place and cooling ginger ale, and the hang up clothes are in the closet with the shoes, ironing board and laundry supplies. Nyssa has taken a bath.
  8. 11:30 AM - drop her off for short orientation transfer meeting. Takes her ten minutes. She gets a huge green package of material and is to be back here at 1:30 PM. The transfers will walk together (in the rain) to the welcoming address of the college president and begin the afternoon of meetings, information and get-to-know-each-other mixers.
  9. 11:45 AM - pick her back up and go to register her car. Because her dorm is 3 miles off campus she may have a car as a sophomore...for the small registration sum of $205. At Sewanee, in the boonies, it was $25. More money flowing out. But it is done. Something about two stickers. Don't forget to put them on the car in the morning, Nyssa.
  10. 12:00 PM - get drive through lunch. Sit in van in rain and eat. Back to dorm where I put all the suitcase clothes in the chest of drawers and try to wash up, change clothes and make my now dripping wet mass of short curls smooth again. Oh, yes, the clean pants I want to put on fell in a puddle of water on the way in....good thing I have lightning fast reflexes even at this age....just a couple of damp, gravel gray spots. Nyssa unpacks and validates computer and gets small microwave on top of fridge.
  11. 1:30 PM - I drop her off at the student union. It is here we say good-bye. I don't understand how they expect parents who have moved their kids into dorms all morning in 85 degree temps with 115% humidity are expected to look or smell decent enough to attend a welcoming convocation by the president with their students. I look over the family orientation meeting schedule and see that it is almost identical to those I attended last year at Sewanee. Most are for freshman, first time away from home type kids and parents and I decide not to go. So, I'm sent on an errand to get a bathmat, bathroom rug and shower caddy at Target. I am to leave these in her anteroom at the dorm and then I will be heading back to Virginia Beach. This is good-bye. "I'll see you in a couple of weeks" she says as she gets out of the van. "Bye-Bye, love you." And that is that.
  12. 2:00 PM - I have found Target. I found my e-mail from Sal and call. She and Bump will meet me at a nearby Starbucks in 20 minutes. For once I get in and out of Target in record time. Mission accomplished.
  13. 2:20 - 3:30 PM (or so) - I finally meet Sal. She is lovely. Her little Bump has wide round eyes and an appetite for muffins. I wish I had a little truck for him. He is such a little gentleman during our visit. This part of my day allowed for a little rest, and this is the first blogger buddy I have met in person. I enjoyed our time.
  14. 3:30 PM - back to dorm, leave packages and a little card for Nyssa. The rain has ended. It is now just hot and humid. Time to go.
  15. 4:15 PM - leave Williamsburg.
  16. 6:45 PM - pull into driveway in Virginia Beach. The trip that this morning took 50 minutes has taken 2 hours and 30 minutes. There were several "pockets of stupidity", those areas where it is just stop and go for no reason at all; they seem to come up quickly and after 15 or so minutes of a snail's pace they go away just as suddenly. There was one real wreck and a couple of stalled cars to the roadside. Of course the usual four lanes going into two slow down and then just before the tunnel it stopped completely for five minutes. All in all the worst part was the three miles just prior to the tunnel. That stretch took 40 minutes.
  17. That's it. I'm here. She is there. I am too tired to unload and reassemble the mess in the back of the van. I really am too old for days like today. (Except for seeing Sal, I could do that everyday)
  18. PS: She called; full of excitement. "Oh! Mom, I met so many completely cool people today. I didn't meet anyone who was stuck up and everyone was so friendly. And the president is so good. We learned to sing the Alma Mater and it is so beautiful. Then we went to the president's office later and sang it to him. It is a tradition every year, he pretends to work late and pretends not to know they will come and the classes sing and he comes out to say hello. ........ She is happy. She is busy. She is a happy tired. She is taking another shower. (Why does that not surprise me) Her roommate (apparently not a transfer student) will probably be there tomorrow. I think she feels like she is finally home.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Friday: 5:30 AM

We're off, as usual, like a herd of turtles.
Transfer student, new college, new friends, new setting.
Here she comes William & Mary!
I hope you're ready!


One (Click picture for larger image) Posted by Picasa
"It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad."
~ C.S. Lewis quotes (British Scholar and Novelist. 1898-1963)
One large goose egg found half-in and half-out of the shallow water at the lake's edge. One lone egg exposed to the heat of the day and the cold water of the lake. No parent watching, warming, turning or caring for it. Just one solitary egg, the gosling inside now dead.

Submission for Photo Friday topic "one".
(end of post)

A Balancing Act

Chloe drinking out of the faucet. (Click pictures for larger view) Posted by Picasa
"The cat would eat fish, but would not wet her feet." ~ English Proverb
Chloe is usually very graceful, every hair in place, every paw perfectly placed. Here she lets her love for dripping water overcome her and she balances precariously on the edge of the sink to lap a little water. Never mind that she has two electric water fountains with filters and dripping water available to her at all times, this is just better tasting. At least she has the "turned head technique" down pat; Rhett goes at the water head on, the drips hit his head and deflect just out of the reach of his tongue. Chloe does not want her head wet, nor does she wish to wet her delicate feet.

To see more cats and dogs and other creatures be sure to visit Friday's Ark and remember to stop by the Carnival of the Cats this Sunday hosted by Running Scared. (end of post)

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Packed, Yes. Ready, ??????

Honda Odyssey packed to go (front) Posted by Picasa

View from back (Yes there is a method to my madness; it's just not always obvious)

Things went more smoothly today than expected. The van is packed, not stuffed to the gills like last year but full. This year I can still see out the back window. Her car is packed, trunk and back seat. It is 10 PM. One last load of clothes is drying. I have a couple of t-shirts to steam smooth and have packed a small overnight bag for myself, just on the outside chance that there is some parent meeting I have to go to. That way I won't show up in jeans, scrub top and tennis shoes with curly hair wet with sweat and all make-up gone.

Van contents include: bicycle, 8 X 8 ft berber rug, floor lamp, small bookshelf, desk chair, medium trunk, cleaning and laundry supplies and basket, floor stick sweeper, iron, ironing board, metal roll around storage bin, two plastic storage bins (3 and 2 drawer), backpack with textbooks, box of DVD's & CD's, box of plates, cups, utensils and popcorn bowls, coffee maker, 4.3 cubic foot refrigerator, small off brand microwave, box of shoes, medicine, music bag, linens, mattress foam pad, two comforters, body length pillow, two "decoration" boxes, tea, hot chocolate mix, cereal, oatmeal, posters and an under the bed storage box with a variety of things. Her car holds the clothes, phone, printer, computer and the dolly I will use to get the refrigerator up two floors.

Yes, I think we're ready. The stick vacuum doesn't have a filter; I ordered them but they didn't get here in time. I doubt this matters as she probably won't vacuum until Thanksgiving. I'm sure there will be things we have forgotten. At least she isn't twenty-five to thirty minutes from the nearest Walmart.

She's nervous but excited. I think she may wear a Sewanee t-shirt tomorrow and I think this is a bad move but what do I know. Her Grandma told her goodnight. She won't be up when we leave at 5:15 AM.(Got to get through the bay tunnel before the jam begins) This leaving is really not as sad as last years. It is going to be fine. I really, really believe this; I'm convinced that there will be no tears; and then I walk to her door to ask a question, she answers and I suddenly realize....

her room echoes.

(end of post)

Tropical Remnants of Charley

Tropical Storm Charley in Virginia Beach Posted by Picasa
"The first rule of hurricane coverage is that every broadcast must begin with palm trees bending in the wind." ~ Carl Hiaasen (American author and columnist)
Hurricane Charley left massive destruction in Florida last year. By the time it's rain reached Virginia Beach it had been downgraded into a tropical storm. There was very little wind but a significant amount of rain in a short period of time. This resulted in flooding on our street. We had street flooding in Mississippi but I had never experienced water rising so fast. One minute the street gutters were full of rushing water and the next the whole street was covered and water was rising onto the driveways and grass. We managed to quickly move all our cars out of the way but some didn't. This type of flooding didn't last too long, it seemed to recede almost as fast as it happened. Hopefully, this will be as close as we come for a few years.

This is my entry for Lens Day topic "tropical." I know it's lame but I've never been to the Caribbean or Hawaii and my best picture of a Bird of Paradise plant is buried somewhere in a storage unit of stuff. (end of post)

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

These Hands

Nyssa's hands playing Beethoven. (Click picture for larger image) Posted by Picasa
This is the magic of music.... it touches every key of memory and stirs all of the hidden springs of sorrow and of joy. I love it for what it makes me forget and what it makes me remember. ~ Unknown
These are my daughter's hands. She bites her fingernails to the quick and has a habit of clicking them when watching a movie. She writes phone numbers on her hands and her friends draw pictures in red, blue, teal, green, pink, and black ink. Sometimes they are stained from picking blueberries. They have been dirty from playing outside and from cleaning her car. These hands have dribbled basketballs and pulled off lay-ups and free throws. They have also held cheerleader pom poms and freshmen maid roses at homecoming.

These hands are most amazing at the piano. They played their first offertory when she was six and her head couldn't be seen by the audience over the platform railing. At seven these hands played Beethoven's Fur Elise, the entire original piece. At age nine they played Bach's Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring all five pages. (Mom can only hold her breath for four pages) The music from these hands won Outstanding Elementary Piano Student, six years straight. Then they took Outstanding High School Piano Student four years straight. These hands continue to make music in college, not to prepare for a professional career but simply for sheer pleasure. The satisfaction that comes with mastery of a piece and the calming sounds of the melodies and rhythms are priceless.

These hands are able to do what her mother's hands cannot; they not only play the music with technical precision, they play so that those who listen can feel the music in their hearts. The music made by these hands can make you laugh for joy or bring tears of sadness.

I love these hands.

Submission for Thursday Challenge topic "hands". (end of post)

A Question For The Mother's Therapy Group

My younger brother Stephen, now 43, on his first birthday. Posted by Picasa
"Every mother generally hopes that her daughter will snag a better husband than she managed to do... but she's certain that her boy will never get as great a wife as his father did." ~ Unknown
This is probably not true, at least not completely, but it does lead to my question. I've read the comments on Vicki's site and while a few "mothers with sons" have weighed in, most are "mothers of daughters". I was wondering, not having a son myself, if there is a different way of looking at the son leaving home for the first time or is it the same? Is it harder to let a boy go than a daughter? I think in many ways it was harder for my mom to let Stephen go than it was for me to go 1400 miles away to college. I thought there might be more mothers with sons leaving for college this year that might want to join as well.

Another Light Show

Virginia Beach gets rain and a lightning show.
(Click picture for larger image)
Posted by Picasa
"Thunder is good, thunder is impressive; but it is lightning that does all the work" ~ Mark Twain (American Humorist, Writer and Lecturer. 1835-1910)
I was lucky again (with the camera that is)and caught this flash of lightning with the old CoolPix 995. We had rain. It has piddled rain a little here and there but this was rain for about an hour and a half. It actually had some blowing wind with it and a nice lightning and thunder show. Today it is cooler, at least for right now. So much to do, so little time.

Here is where I would say that the picture is my submission for Lens Day, but the subject is "tropical" and unless I can think of something hereabouts that is tropical to photograph I will have to resort to a picture of our encounter with Hurricane Charley (a tropical storm when it went over Virginia Beach).

Update 8/24/05: Of course the day after this was posted, I found that this next week's Thursday Challenge is to be "weather". This is my best lightning shot. I do have one more recent but the flash was so bright the picture is a white sky and dark trees; the multi-forked streaks across the entire sky were wiped out. Needless to say, I decided to go inside after that. I may be crazy but I'm not dumb. I know there are professionals and others out there with great cameras and tripods and cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean that have some awesome lightning shots; this is not one of them but I like it.
"A poet is a man who manages, in a lifetime of standing out in thunderstorms, to be struck by lightning five or six times".
~ Randall Jarrell (American poet, 1914-1965)
Sometimes it's good NOT to be a poet. (end of post)