A Day In The Life

A Must Read? I just have to share this editorial f…
January 26, 2007, 4:16 am
Filed under: Odds and Ends
A Must Read?

I just have to share this editorial from my local newspaper.

“Women without husbands

All right, ladies, the gig is up. It’s time for all of us to get married, including you. I refer to The New York Times’ recent report. After sorting through the U.S. Census data, The Times determined that for the first time in American history the majority of women, 51 percent, are living without a husband.

The story tore through the media like a lightning bolt. A slew of ‘I am woman, hear me roar’ stories hit the airwaves. The storyline was clear: women are finally free and independent now, and the last thing they need is some sloppy spouse who leaves his socks lying all over the house.

Well, nuts to that. Look, ladies, deciding not to marry for your own well-being is one thing, but it is we you’re not marrying in the process. Your decision is killing single men–literally.

Single men partake in more risky behavior than married men. We eat badly, smoke more, and avoid doctors’ offices. We die younger. And we’re far more likely to wake up in a pile of crumpled newspapers still clutching the tequila bottle we began sipping from two days before.

The reason why is not complicated. We are social animals. Men and women are very different creatures, but we were made for each other. The Catholics call it complementarity–a man and woman, in union and harmony, round each other out.

Men need to be rounded out, too. Take dust. Because our brains take in less sensory detail than a woman’s, we don’t notice dust the way women do. Thus, married men tend to live in orderly, dust-free homes, whereas single men, says P.J. O’Rourke, clean up their place about once every girlfriend.

Though it’s not like single women are faring much better.

The Times article quoted independent women raving about their freedom and flexibility. a 32-year old woman had already lived with two boyfriends and said that if she ever did marry, she might opt to keep her own place. Another said she likes being able to sleep on either side of the bed.

Oh, just admit, ladies. You need us, too. Sleeping next to a burping, snoring lug of a husband may not be the stuff dreams are made of, but it sure beats sleeping alone. And when you hear a prowler rattling the door knob in the middle of the night, whom do you send to investigate? Your cat?

I know The Times is eager for a more progressive society to take hold–one in which the stodgy traditional marriage is kicked to the wayside–but the fact is marriage, imperfect though it is, is good for us.

Married people are happier, says the Pew Research Center. They enjoy life more–they enjoy sex more, too. Children raised by married couples fare better. Society fares better. Successful civilizations are built on the stability that traditional marriage brings.

But despite these simple and obvious truths, we keep trying to reinvent our nature. We keep trying to prove there are better ways to fulfill our simple needs–keep trying to leave every option open, so that we can be ‘free’ and ‘independent’ forever.

And we end up alone.

I can’t imagine what old folks homes will be like 40 years from now. There will be an unprecedented number of elderly single people living alone. No children or grandchildren will visit them–no spouse will care for them. I wonder if The Times will do a front-page piece on that trend, too.

All I know is that my life would certainly be better if I woke every morning in a full home in which my children are laughing and my wife is smiling, rather than the way I often wake now–with a throbbing noggin’ because my single friends and I over-enjoyed our freedom and independence at the pub the night before.

Like I said, it’s time for all of us to get married.”

Well, how about it all you single women out in blogland? Anyone want to put this guy out of his unmarried misery? I certainly won’t fight you to be first in line…or second….or third….come to think of it, I’ll just pass. I think he makes a very convincing argument for remaining single.

Welcome to Third Grade Music!! In today’s lesso…
January 24, 2007, 3:18 am
Filed under: School Buzz

Welcome to Third Grade Music!!

In today’s lesson, we will sing an African American spiritual, learn about the Underground Railroad and ride on our own rhythm train! Our musical vocabulary words are: beat, rhythm, spiritual and tempo. Let’s begin with reading the paragraph at the top of page 44 in our music books.

“Many African American spirituals were used to send messages along the Underground Railroad. What message does the song below send? LISTEN to ‘Train Is A-Comin.’ SING the song and learn all the verses.”

Before we listen to the song, who can tell us what the Underground Railroad was?

That is correct! The Underground Railroad was actually a network of many people who helped runaway slaves escape and helped them through their dangerous journeys from one point to another until they reached their final destination and freedom.

(Play the recording of “Train Is A-Comin’.” Discuss the words and their message. Have the students sing the song with the recording and learn all the verses. Then ask them to sing the song from memory.)

Now it’s time to ride on our own rhythm train! Remember that beat is the steady pulse felt in music and who can give me a definition for rhythm? Right again! Rhythm is the pattern of long and short sounds found in music. Today’s new vocabulary word is tempo. Our tempo will be very important as we ride our rhythm train because tempo is the speed of music.

Our rhythm train has five different colored stations. Each station has a rhythm written on it and an instrument for you to play when your station color is called out by the conductor. I am the rhythm train conductor. I will set the tempo by keeping a steady beat. You are the train and you will move around the track as I say the rhythm train chant. Don’t forget to play each rhythm twice keeping a steady tempo and beat!

Chugga, chugga, choo, choo, movin’, movin’
Chugga, chugga, choo, choo, clickety-clack.
Chugga, chugga, choo, choo, movin’, movin’
Ride the rhythm train on down the track.

Stop the train, it’s time to play.

Find a station, don’t delay.

Blue train box cars, lead us now,
Play your rhythms, you know how!

(Repeat the rhythm train chant at different tempos calling a different color station each time until all students have a turn playing a rhythm. As a grand finale, have all train box cars play their rhythms together.)

What a great job you did playing your rhythms! It’s time for our rhythm train to move on back to your regular classroom. As I call your station color, move to the tempo and beat I am clapping and line up at the door. Pamela, you will be the engine and Swampy, you will be the caboose. See you all at our next music lesson!

The View From My Front DoorHere it is!! The view f…
January 22, 2007, 2:55 am
Filed under: Odds and Ends
The View From My Front Door

Here it is!! The view from my front door. Not the world’s greatest photography, but certainly not the worst either. The top picture is what I see when I stand in my house and open the front door. I have a screened porch that runs the entire length of my house so you are looking through screen, not a dirty window. Looks real green outside for January, huh? What you are seeing is pine, cedar and a lot of honeysuckle vine. The little willow gate in the center of the photo says “herbs” across the top. My porch is crammed full of collectibles. I have wind chimes hanging from the beams all across the front of the porch. That is a hickory tree on the right and you can see one of my three bird feeders outside on the left.

This is the view from the front door of my screened porch. There is the backside of my snowman banner, my storage shed, my very wet drive and lots more pine, cedar and honeysuckle vine out in the woods. I tried to get my dogs to pose out in the drive for you, but they said, “Are you crazy?!!! It’s raining and too cold!”

Water Music King George I assumed the the crown of…
January 19, 2007, 3:32 am
Filed under: Music
Water Music

King George I assumed the the crown of Great Britain and Ireland on August 1, 1714. He was the first British king from The House of Hanover. George supposedly could not speak English and his ministers could not speak German so right away one can see that the political climate surrounding King George I was not too serene. He was an extremely unpopular monarch. He was perceived as too German and his subjects did not hesitate to make fun of his “uncouth German ways”. King George had his wife imprisoned in a castle. She was denied access to her children and forbidden to remarry. She was endowed with an income, establishment and servants. She was allowed to ride in a carriage outside the castle, with supervision, of course. While poor Sophia was locked away, George made merry with a succession of German mistresses. Yes, George was evidently quite the party animal and one of his favorite pastimes was to take pleasure in London’s Thames river. You guessed it…..King George had a party barge.

Now in the 1700’s, monster sound systems were in short supply and, surprisingly enough, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards weren’t born yet, so King George I had to make do with what was available. He had the popular German composer, George Frideric Handel, write some music and get an orchestra together for a big party to be held on July 17, 1717. The party was described by yet another German, Friedrich Bonet: ‘At about eight in the evening, the King repaired to his barge. Next to the King’s barge was that of the musicians, about 50 in number….no singers. The music had been composed specially by the famous Handel….His Majesty’s approval of it was so great that he caused it to be played three times in all, twice before and once after supper, even though each performance lasted an hour.’

Robert Dearling writes that “The Thames was crammed with boats whose occupants wanted to catch a glimpse of the royal party. From Whitehall the flotilla sailed majestically to Lord Ranelagh’s residence at Chelsea where the party alighted and took a choice supper at 1 am. Two hours later it made it’s way back, arriving at St. James’s about 4:30 am. A leisurely trip, and time enough to enjoy Handel’s music, even if Thameside residents may have found it a little unsuitable for small-hours listening.”

Handel took enormous pains in composing Water Music. He wrote music to suit every eventuality the evening might present including quiet floating music, ceremonial fanfares, sounds to aid digestion, loud music to announce the king’s passage along the river and so on and so forth.

Can you imagine witnessing this spectacle? The women and men in their ornate Baroque clothing and wigs. The banquet of food, the wine, the fireworks, the clandestine and not so clandestine liaisons, the intrigue….. all accompanied by Handel’s magnificent Water Music.

If you are unfamiliar with Handel’s Water Music, I strongly suggest you take the time to listen to it. I recommend the recording by Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields conducted by Sir Neville Marriner. You might recognize a few of the tunes as they are frequently used in weddings, the Olympic ceremonies and various other modern day events. There are twenty separate movements in the orchestral work so the listener is sure to find some bit of music that suits his or her fancy.

As the music floats through my headphones tonight, I think of the word ‘effervescent’. And, though perhaps not historically accurate, I imagine the bell-like tones of crystal goblets filled with champagne as they meet in a toast to the pleasures of life.

I’m Just Saying……Tonight the thermometer on m…
January 16, 2007, 3:07 am
Filed under: Nature
I’m Just Saying……

Tonight the thermometer on my screened-in porch reads just below 20 degrees, but for most of the winter we, in western Arkansas, have had spring-like temperatures. It was this cold for about four nights the first full week of December and that was it. Until tonight. In fact, it didn’t get above freezing all day today and that was a first for this winter season.

I’ve been looking at ice and snow pictures across the blogosphere and….there’s no other way to put it….I feel left out. Not that I want catastrophic weather events or anything like that, but I would like some real winter weather. I don’t want my daffodils to bloom in January, but if Old Man Winter doesn’t stick around this time, I will be posting flower pictures soon.

Anyway, I decided to post some pictures of The Ice Storm that hit this area in 2000-2001. I’d never seen anything like it when the storm arrived and, honestly, I don’t want to see anything like it again. I like cold weather. I love a good snow. The ice can stay in Antarctica.

This is my drive. I couldn’t go anywhere because there were trees completely across it. I couldn’t go anywhere anyway. All the roads were covered with ice! Eleven days with no electricity. I had gas for heating and cooking, but no water. I didn’t spend the entire eleven days in my house though. My sister lived in town and her electricity was restored before mine so I spent part of the time at her house.

Trees along the road bedecked with their ice jewels.

This is the road running west at the end of my drive. I live about 4 miles from the Oklahoma border. Doesn’t this shot make you feel a bit claustrophobic after looking at Vicki’s wide open spaces?

This morning I found a lunch charge envelope decor…
January 13, 2007, 3:38 am
Filed under: School Buzz

This morning I found a lunch charge envelope decorated with hearts in my high school mail box. In the envelope was the following letter:

“This is sloppy! My bad! Hello, Mrs. (my name),
I have decided to get my GED….it’s probably not the best thing, but this is what I need! I just wanted to inform you that it was your class; 1st hour choir that kept me going this long! Ya know just wanting to come to school so I could sing is kind of crazy! I know I can sing, but I’m just shy 😦 ! That’s what I love doing is singing, dancing and art stuff is pretty much me! I just wanted to say I loved your class and the people in it! I’ll miss you and the class! I (heart) you! (student name) !!”

I read this letter at least ten times throughout the day. How grateful and honored I am to know that my choir class touched this girl’s life in such a positive way. How saddened I am to lose her smiling face and beautiful voice. How frustrated I feel that a sixteen year old fell through the cracks of our educational system. How strongly I hope that this young lady will stick with her goal to obtain her GED. How fervently I pray that she will have the strength and determination to rise above the personal circumstances of her life and seek positive changes for her future.

Letting them go is so very, very hard.

This One’s For Betty!! I found the perfect illust…
January 10, 2007, 10:47 pm
Filed under: Odds and Ends
This One’s For Betty!!

I found the perfect illustration for Betty’s recent rant about Medicare.