A Day In The Life


“Once upon a midnight dreary….”
April 30, 2007, 9:43 pm
Filed under: Nature, Odds and Ends

Last Saturday was a perfect spring day in this part of Arkansas. The sky was a vivid blue with an occasional puffy, white cloud floating by. The temperature climbed to the low 80’s as the afternoon wore on. I spent the morning watching my nieces play soccer then came home and opened my front and back doors to let the sweet smelling air drift through my house.  Next,  I hit the yard and gardens for some heavy duty outdoorsy work. Pure bliss!! I didn’t come inside until dusk.

Around midnight, I was in bed reading a good book when a large moth came flying into the room.  It was the biggest brown moth I had ever seen.  I decided I had better get up to catch the critter and put it outside.  I didn’t want it flying around and scaring me to death while I was sleeping.  I put my book down, sat up on the side of the bed and the moth decided to fly right into my face.  It wasn’t a moth.  It was a bat.  A BAT IN MY BEDROOM. 

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At that point in time, I began moving pretty fast.  I ran to the kitchen for a broom.  How else does one defend oneself from a bat?  I opened the front  door then paused in my living room as I watched the bat glide silently down the hall into my home office, then into the bathroom, then back into the bedroom.  The bat was so graceful in flight and so quiet.  Yes, even in frightful peril, I pause to observe the wonder and beauty of nature.  However, when the bat flew to the living room in my face again, I began to think Dracula thoughts. 

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After observing my face up close and personal for a few seconds, the bat calmly flew out the door and onto my screened porch.   It took me awhile to get it off my porch.  It kept stopping to hang on the screen every few minutes.  It finally flew through the screen door I had propped open and went off into the night to resume its batty life. 

I’m pretty sure the bat entered my home through the back door.  At some point after dark, I turned the back porch light on and took out garbage and recycling.  It must have flown in then.  I don’t know how it managed to stay unobserved until I went to bed.  Maybe it was hanging in a corner.  Creepy!! 

Sunday night I was working at my computer when I heard a tap, tap, tapping at the back door screen.  I promise this is true…..it was the BAT.



Spring Fling
April 27, 2007, 10:47 pm
Filed under: Nature, Seasons

A good three-fourths of my back yard is actually garden. The large bed in the foreground is right outside my back door and contains rosemary, daylilies, liatris, purple coneflowers, lilies and a host of other flowers and herbs. The bed narrows and extends all the way to the barbed-wire gate. A lot of the garden looks like lawn because so many perennials weren’t up when I took this photo in March. A strip of lawn runs from the gate to my drive way. I can’t plant anything there because the rural electric company frequently has to drive through my yard to get to power lines and poles that extend from my property down into the woods and eventually to other homes in the country neighborhood.  You can see my morning glory tee pee and a small corner of what I call my large garden where there is a section of white picket fence. 

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The east side of my yard has a parade of shrubs that extend from the front corner to the back corner. Two old-fashioned lilacs are the parade’s opening act.  Can you see the fat bumblebee in the center near the top?  One of my bedroom windows opens to the east so that I can go to sleep smelling lilacs in the early spring. 

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A large circular bed in my front yard is home to tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, crocus and snowflakes in the spring.   Here we see trumpet daffodils, dwarf red tulips and tiny Tete-a-Tete narcissus.   Creeping phlox borders one side of this bed and miniature, variegated ivy completes the circle on the other side.

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Another participant in my shrub parade is spiraea vanhouttei more commonly known as Bridal Wreath spirarea.

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After the red tulips and daffodils have faded away, the pink tulips bloom.  Then, when the pink tulips are fully opened and beginning to fade, the diva of all tulips takes the stage.  Queen of the Night is always the last tulip to bloom.  Her buds are deceptively lavender in color, but as the buds open her rich, dark purple blooms appear.  You can see a few fading snowflakes (leucojum) in the background and my Easter bunny banner. 

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All of these pictures were taken in March and early April. My spring fling is over for the year. We’ve had lots of rain and everything is growing rapidly. We should be ready for the next garden party in June!



Mozart and Morrison
April 26, 2007, 9:42 pm
Filed under: Music

A week or so ago I watched Oliver Stone’s The Doors  for the first time.  Honestly, I didn’t much care for the movie.   I didn’t even finish it.  However, the hour or so of the film that I did watch made me think and, surprisingly enough, my mind began comparing the similarities between Jim Morrison and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. 

Mozart and Morrison both traveled extensively while they were very young.  Morrison’s parents were both in the military so the family moved quite often.  Mozart’s father was one of Europe’s leading musical teachers.  He gave up his career when the young Mozart’s musical genius emerged and he began to tour throughout Europe with his young son and daughter.  Historians report that these tours encompassed thousands of miles.  The hours of travel were tedious for young Wolfgang.  He passed the time by composing music in his mind which he would later write down in its entirety with only a few minor errors.  Wolfgang also imagined complex stories about a magical place he called The Kingdom of Back.  Likewise, Morrison’s imagination flourished while traveling as a young child.  A 1947 trip in New Mexico became a pivotal point in his life.  The family happened upon a traffic accident and seven-year old Jim awoke from a nap in the backseat of the car to witness a scene of death and destruction.  “Souls of dead Indians–maybe one or two of them–were just running around, freaking out, and just landed in my soul, and I was like a sponge, ready to sit there and absorb it.”  Morrison also cited that this incident was the first time he felt fear. 

Mozart and Morrison lived dissolute lives while producing prolific amounts of art.  Morrison was a film student, musician and poet while Mozart wrote compositions in every musical genre that existed at the time.  Both men considered themselves seekers and were enamoured with mysticism.  Morrison’s stunts while under the influence of drugs and alcohol are legendary.  Mozart consumed copious amounts of alcohol and often partied until dawn.   Both men exhibited vulgar and loutish behavior.  The Doors were fired from a gig at Whisky A-Go-Go when Morrison used profanity while performing on stage.  Mozart wrote music with profane lyrics and was eventually “kicked out on his arse” by his employer the Prince-Archbishop Colloredo. 

The deaths of Mozart and Morrison provide even more similarities.  Controversies abound to this day when it comes to how and why both men died.  Heart attack, drug overdose and alcohol poisoning are a few of the theories linked to Morrison’s death.  There is even a question as to whether or not Jim Morrison is actually dead.  Mozart battled illness after illness his entire life, but there are still conflicting theories about his death.  Some historians say Mozart’s health gradually declined before his death while others say his death was sudden and a shock to all who knew him.  There are dozens of theories about what actually killed Mozart.  Influenza, trichinosis and rheumatic fever are a few of the illnesses that are said to have caused his demise. 

Regardless of how either man lived or died, the fact remains that both Mozart and Morrison were musicians and artists of the highest caliber.  Neither man was afraid to explore new territory when it came to their musical endeavors.  They were cutting edge artists for their times.  Their music has been described as violent and sensual.  In a sense, that description quite adequately describes their lives. 



Bullies
April 24, 2007, 10:43 am
Filed under: Family

Mom and I were having a conversation about what happened at Virginia Tech. I mentioned having read “Nineteen Minutes” and described some of the events in the book. At some point, I made the statement that I had never been bullied, treated like an outcast or shunned by my peers. I honestly can’t remember anything like that happening to me as a child or as a teenager. Oh, there were definitely people who didn’t like me or who weren’t particularly nice to me, but I know that I gave as good as I got. And I never thought of childhood squabbles and teen-aged quarrels being anything other than normal in the grand scheme of things.

In the midst of my pontificating, Mom quietly said, “I was bullied when I first started school. I was picked on and some of the kids made fun of me.” What?!! I had never before heard anything like this from Mom. She went on to explain that a lot of her clothes were made from feed and flour sacks. Let me insert here that these sacks were made of cotton  material. My mom started school when she was 5 years old which would have been in 1944. She was the youngest of 8 children and her parents lived through the Depression. Everything was saved and used as much and in as many ways as possible. So Mom had dresses made from inexpensive cotton material. Her mother also had this thing about putting big bows in Mom’s hair. And Mom said she didn’t have really good, new shoes very often. Plus Mom was painfully shy and scared of just about everything when she was a little girl. Mom went on to say that the bullying didn’t last too long. There were too many other children who wore flour sack clothes and didn’t have new shoes. And Mom had a big brother with a temper who didn’t mind putting people who picked on his little sister in their place. Mom also quickly learned to stand up for herself. Her shyness and fear pretty much evaporated in the close-knit society of elementary school.

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But, I ask you, how could anyone make fun of this precious little girl?  Look at those little legs, knobby knees and bare feet.  And look at that dainty collar on the flour sack dress.    

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Look at the work my granny put into this dress. The lace on the collar, the fancy buttons.   And that precious face.  I love that face more than any other in the world. 

I tell you…..I got all heated up listening to my momma talk about being bullied.  I was ready to “whup up” on some folks.  I don’t care if they are almost 70 now, they were messing with my momma!!



On Being A Good Neighbor
April 22, 2007, 12:06 am
Filed under: Odds and Ends

I love my nearest neighbor.  She lives about a quarter of a mile down the road from me, closer if I walk through the woods.  She is a widow and will be 82 years old this summer.   Now you may have the image of a plump, little gray-haired lady in your mind, but that does not describe Mrs. M.  She is blond.  Yeah, it isn’t her natural color, but when you’re almost 82 I think you should be able to have any color hair you want.  And she is styling.  She goes to the beauty parlor every Friday for her coiffure.  Mrs. M. tells me that is her one extravagance.  She is slim and trim and when she dresses up she often wears little suits that bring Jackie Kennedy to mind. 

Mrs. M. has a big dog that bears a remarkable resemblance to Scooby Doo.  The dog’s name is Tiny which just goes to show that my neighbor has a great sense of humor.  Mrs. M. has children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, but none of her progeny live around here.  She is fiercely independent.  Her husband was in the military and they spent several years in India, but that was after Mr. M. had retired from the armed forces.  He was working as a civilian engineer when they were overseas.  They moved to Arkansas because this is where Mrs. M. was born and this is where she grew up. 

I enjoy visiting and talking with Mrs. M.   She tells great stories and imparts a lot of wisdom.  She loves working in her yard.  Her house is always spotless even when she thinks it is a mess.  She has some “girlfriends” that she socializes with and she has nephews that live in the area.  She works crossword puzzles and watches the news every night.  I drop in to see her at least once a week and sometimes she and Tiny go for a walk with Jasper and me. 

A couple of weeks ago, I stopped by Mrs. M.’s and found her working in her flowerbeds.  She had a shoe on her left foot, but her right foot was encased in a Walmart bag with a ribbon tied around her ankle holding the bag securely in place.  When I inquired about her choice of footwear, she explained that she had tripped in the house and stubbed her big toe.  It was swollen and painful so she couldn’t wear a shoe on that foot.  I offered to take her to the after hours clinic, but Mrs. M. declined.  I told her I would be glad to run errands for her, pick up any groceries that she needed, take her to the beauty parlor or whatever.  Mrs. M. assured me she would call me if she needed me.  Did she ever call?  No, of course not. 

I have stopped by on one pretense or another more frequently in the intervening weeks since the toe injury.  Today Jasper and I walked over and there Mrs. M. was working in the yard with shoes on both feet.  She was quite excited about fixing up a corner of a flowerbed by her garage.  She had a massive potted plant….really, the plant is almost as big as she is….sitting on a square paving stone.  Mrs. M. gleefully explained how the plant was far too heavy for her to lift so she pushed it on the floor from her dining room to the door way into her garage.  Then she placed her ironing board across the steps from the door to the garage floor, scooted the plant on the ironing board and slid it down to the garage.  She used the ironing board again to get the plant from the garage floor to the paving stone.   I praised her resourcefulness, but I had to ask, “Mrs. M., why didn’t you call and ask me to help you with the plant?”  “Oh, honey,” she replied.  “You work so hard all week and you need your rest.  Why, I wouldn’t be a good neighbor if I bothered you with something so silly on a Saturday.”  

I hope I can be that good of a neighbor to someone when I am almost 82. 



And the Winner Is…..
April 20, 2007, 8:54 pm
Filed under: Odds and Ends

Pamela from The Dust Will Wait. And why, you may ask, is Pamela a winner? Well, I’m sure she is a winner for many, many reasons, but in this instance she is the winner because she posted comment number one thousand on my blog.

“I’d love the lecture on birds of prey.  Is this anywhere near the sighting of the woodpecker that was considered extinct?”

This was Pamela’s comment on my recent Cossatot post.  Yes, Pamela, you would have loved the lecture!  I didn’t mention in my post that the lecturers actually had several birds with them.   The birds we saw had all been injured in some way and were no longer able to survive in the wild.  They were still magnificent.  We saw a screech owl, barred owl, barn owl, great horned owl, Cooper’s hawk, red-shouldered hawk, red-tailed hawk, kestrel, black vulture and, the star of the show, a female bald eagle.  And, to answer your question about the ivory-billed woodpecker…..no, the Cossatot area is not really close to where the woodpecker was sighted.  That was all the way across the state in the southeastern wetlands. 

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This is your prize, Pamela.  It is a terrific book and CD set from the Metropolitan Museum of Art which introduces children to classical music through great works of art.  I know you have grandchildren and, really, the book/CD is highly enjoyable at any age.  The narrative points out sound clues in the paintings, then gives prompts for listening to the music.  There is also an illustrated introduction to musical instruments and background on the artists, composers, and the works of art featured in the book.   I hope you enjoy it and thanks for being such a faithful reader!!



Poetry
April 19, 2007, 8:26 pm
Filed under: Odds and Ends

I found this lovely poem on one of the VA Tech memorial blogs and just had to share it with you. It captures my own fanciful thoughts and feelings connected to the spirits of all I’ve loved dearly.

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When Somebody Dies

      When somebody dies, a cloud

turns into an angel and

flies up to tell God to put another

flower on a pillow.

A bird gives the message back to the world,

and sings a silent prayer

that makes the rain cry.

People disappear,

but they never really go away.

The spirits up there put the

sun to bed, wake up the grass,

and spin the earth in dizzy circles.

Sometimes you can see them dancing

in a cloud during the day-time,

when they’re supposed to be sleeping.

They paint the rainbows and also the sunsets

and make waves splash and tug at the tide.

They toss shooting stars and listen to wishes.

And when they sing wind-songs,

they whisper to us, don’t miss me too much.

The view is nice and I’m doing just fine.

–Author unknown–