A Day In The Life


Something Blue
June 29, 2007, 11:48 pm
Filed under: Matthew McConaughey

Two weeks ago Tiggerlane and I attended the wedding of one of my former students.   The bride also happens to be the daughter of the superintendent of the school district I work for.  The church was beautifully decorated with candles and flowers.  The music was very nice.  The bride and groom made a lovely couple.  The reception was fun.  Lots of good food and I got to visit with a lot of people I hadn’t seen for a while.  

The whole wedding experience made me think of my own weddings.  Yep, I’ve had two weddings and two divorces.  The first divorce was painful, but the second one was a relief.    Anyway, in my nostalgic frame of mind that little bride’s verse popped into my head.  You know the one……something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.  And I had an epiphany right there at the wedding.  My whole less-than-perfect marital experiences stemmed from the fact that I did not have the correct ‘something blue.’ 

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The Rescue
June 27, 2007, 11:16 pm
Filed under: Life in the South

There are a lot of things in this old world that upset me because I am a tenderhearted soul, but I absolutely can’t abide the mistreatment of children and animals. 

My mom’s truck has been in the shop and she called me this afternoon telling me the truck was repaired and could I please take her to pick it up.  As I drove to her house, I passed a large, white box sitting in the ditch by the side of the road.  I drove on by because Mom was expecting me, but I kept thinking about that box.  It was preying on my mind because sometimes people dump puppies or kittens out on our rural dirt roads.  I told Mom about it and said I was going to stop by that box on the way home and check it out.  Mom decided that she would help me do the checking.  Sure enough when we got back to the box it was tipped over.  There was crumpled newspaper and two bath towels laying in some water in the ditch.  We walked up and down both sides of the road for a ways and we didn’t see or hear anything.  No tracks, nothing.  We picked the trash up and went back to our respective homes.

Later in the afternoon, I was settin’ on the front porch watching it rain when my phone rang.  It was one of my fifth grade students who lives in my country ‘neighborhood.’  He asked me if my mom had any puppies because he and his dad were in their truck near her house and there were two puppies in the road.  Aha!  I just knew that box had had puppies in it.  I told my student about the box and said that someone had probably dumped the puppies.  He told me that he and his dad were going to take the puppies home with them.  We hung up.  I wanted to see those pups so Jasper and I jumped in the car and headed out to intercept my neighbors on the road as they drove home.  I must have missed them because I drove all the way to Mom’s house without meeting a single vehicle.  Mom wasn’t home so I left her a note telling her what had happened, loaded Jasper back in the car and started back home.  As I rounded a curve about a quarter mile from her house, there they sat in the middle of the road.  Two painfully thin, tiny beagle puppies. 

Jasper started barking and my temper started heating up.  I couldn’t believe my neighbor just left those pups by the side of the road.  Now let me take a moment to remind you that I had just jumped in my car on a whim wanting to see those puppies.  I was barefoot and wearing an old pair of cut-off shorts and a ratty old T-shirt.  I got out of my car with the intention of rescuing those pups and I quickly understood why they were still by the side of the road.  Those puppies were scared to death and the second my bare feet hit the muddy road they took off running as fast as their scrawny little legs could carry them.  One of them took off into the underbrush of the woods and I just couldn’t follow him with bare feet.  The other one ran right up the middle of the road.  I squatted down hoping that I would appear less threatening and tried calling to it.  It paused for a moment then started hollerin’ at the top of its lungs and kept right on running.  What was I to do?  I started chasing it down the middle of the road.  Jasper started barking again, the puppy in the woods started hollerin’ and the other pup just kept running and hollerin’ like I was the devil himself chasing after it.  It finally ran into a briar patch and cowered, but I just couldn’t get to it. 

Time for a new plan.  I took Jasper home, put on shoes and socks, grabbed some ham out of the fridge for enticement and a blanket to protect the interior of my car from muddy pups because I WAS GOING BACK TO CATCH THOSE LITTLE BOOGERS. 

When I got back to the dumped puppy location, my neighbor’s truck was parked by the side of the road.  He and his son had been on their way to town to pick up his daughter after softball practice.  My neighbor had run into the same problem I did with trying to catch the puppies.  He didn’t want to be late picking up his daughter so he had left the puppy chasing for the return trip home.  They already had one of the little fellers in the back of their truck and my neighbor was stomping around out in the woods trying to catch the other one.  I won’t write what he was saying, but my neighbor used a lot of the same words that Willowtree  uses on his blog.  Regardless, my neighbor caught the little critter and I am happy to report that the puppies will have a good home with lots of love and attention from an eleven year old boy and his fourteen year old sister. 



Exile
June 26, 2007, 10:44 pm
Filed under: Books

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I finished this book several days ago and it is still weighing heavy on my mind.  It is a fictional legal thriller set in the very real struggle that is taking place in Israel, Gaza and the West Bank even as I write.   David Wolfe, an affluent American of Jewish descent, and Hana Arif, a Palestinian exile, meet and become involved as students at Harvard.  After their graduation, Hana returns to the refugee camp in Lebanon where she was raised.  She marries a Palestinian man from the same settlement and they move to the West Bank where they both teach at a university.  Thirteen years later, David is practicing law in San Francisco and is engaged to Carole Shorr, the daughter of a Holocaust survivor.  Hana, her husband and child have traveled to San Francisco and she calls David.  Interspersed within the narrative of David’s and Hana’s lives, the author weaves the stories of two young Palestinian men who are preparing to become martyrs in a shocking event that will change the course of history. 

The story is gripping, well-researched and full of factual and historical information concerning the struggle between the Jewish and Palestinian peoples.  Both sides of the struggle are well represented through dialogue among the fictional characters.   The author describes atrocities suffered by the Palestinians at the hands of the Jews.  There are also descriptions and accounts of the horrific suffering of the Jews at the hands of the Palestinians and during the Holocaust.  As I read the book it became much easier to understand why peace seems to be such a distant and unreachable goal in the Middle East.

On the day that I finished reading Exile, I received the July 2 edition of Time.  Within its pages I found an article entitled “How to Deal With Hamas.”  A large picture, almost two full pages, accompanies the article.  In the photo, a militant in Gaza is seated behind a desk in a Fatah office seized by Hamas on June 14, 2007.  The militant is wearing a black ski mask and holding a gun.  Even more chilling is the reflection in mirrors along the wall behind the desk.  The photographer is reflected quite clearly and in the shadows near him are what appear to be several more masked militants. 

I leave you with a quote from the Time article.  “Crushing Hamas may be a chimerical goal, but reforming it need not be, if the U.S., Israel and its allies can devise ways to work with the Islamists in areas of mutual interest…..That kind of engagement holds at least as much potential for progress as the U.S. policy of weeding out extremists and dealing only with pliable, so-called moderates.  Reaching out to Hamas could curb the militants’ extremist behavior toward Israel.  Or may end in failure.  In the Middle East today those odds are about as much as you can hope for.” 



Pretty in Pink
June 25, 2007, 10:22 pm
Filed under: Life in the South, Music, Nature

“Summer time and the livin’ is easy. Catfish are jumpin’ and the cotton is high. Well, your daddy’s rich and your mammy’s good lookin’ so hush, little baby, don’t you cry.”

I just love “Summertime”  from Porgy and Bess.  I sing it a lot this time of year.   I don’t raise cotton, but look what I do have reaching high in my garden.

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This is what I see when I look out my kitchen window. I wish you could see it in person because this picture just doesn’t capture the absolute beauty of all these flowers. I did a post in early May with a picture of the southern most third of my garden and you should check it out to see what a difference there is! If I’m remembering correctly, I actually took that picture in March.   Anyway, what you see here are purple coneflowers, bergamot and rudbeckia.

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Purple coneflower echinacea purpurea is a perennial that returns year after year and requires very little care.  It will produce flowers all summer long, but it looks its prettiest in late June and early July before the heat and humidity start sapping its strength.  Butterflies and bees love the flowers,  some of which grow to six inches in width. 

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Bergamot monarda didyma also called Bee Balm or Oswego Tea, is an herb.  I love the unique shape of the flowers which attract bees and hummingbirds.  Bergamot has an interesting history as a “Freedom Tea” and dates back to the Boston Tea Party, when patriots threw the highly taxed English tea into Boston Harbor, in protest.  Indians of the Oswego tribe showed the colonists how to use this plant to make a minty substitute tea from its fragrant leaves.  The tea from this native American plant became one of the most popular teas of the American Revolution times. 

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The yellow flowers are yarrow achillea millefolium which is also an herb.  This plant is an old-time medicinal herb.  It received its name from Achilles who is said to have used it to stop the bleeding of wounded soldiers in the Trojan Wars. 

Stay tuned for more garden pictures soon! 



Books, Books and More Books
June 24, 2007, 7:52 pm
Filed under: Books

Swampwitch asked us to post pictures of book shelves or stacks of books. In typical teacher fashion, she expanded  the assignment to include storage shelves in our garages or shelves filled with treasures, but I stuck with books.  

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These shelves are in my junk room home office and are filled primarily with fiction.  As you can see, I need to move the treasures off the shelves so I can get all my books standing upright.  The birdhouses across the top are all handmade.  The first and third houses from the left were made by my dad.  The bottom shelf holds a collection of antique hymnbooks along with video spillover from my entertainment center in the living room.  Some of the authors whose works grace my shelves are Rita Mae Brown, Harlan Coben, Michael Connelly, Pat Conroy, Patricia Cornwell, Robert Crais, J.F. Freedman, John Grisham, Greg Iles, John Sandford and Scott Turow.  If you are familiar with any of these authors then you should know I like reading suspense/thriller-type novels.  There are also some classics on my shelves like Gone With the Wind, To Kill A Mockingbird, The Great Gatsby and East of Eden. 

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Next we move the dining room shelves where I took a closeup so you can read titles.

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Last, but not least, is this little bench/shelf that is at the end of my bed. As you can see it is full of my gardening books.   The photo albums on the left are full of pictures I’ve taken of my flowers, shrubs, veggies and herbs.  I have a seventeen year pictorial history of just about everything I’ve grown or tried to grow.   The photos are useful when I’m planning new beds or expanding garden space plus they are just pretty to look at! 

My reference books are on the shelves of my computer desk.  My Bible and other religious-type books are in a basket in my bedroom.  I have some of those over-sized glossy ‘picture’ books in my living room and I have stacks of school-related music books and sheet music on my dining table because I’ve been planning for the next school year.  That about sums up all my books.  Fly on over to visit Swampwitch and see what everyone else has on their shelves!



Skimmed Milk
June 21, 2007, 11:28 pm
Filed under: Matthew McConaughey, Music

Last week Tiggerlane asked me to listen to singing sensation Paul Potts’ rendition of “Nessun dorma.” By now you’ve probably all at least heard of him; the 36-year old mobile-phone salesman who won the British equivalent of American Idol.   I listened to his performance on YouTube.  It was a good performance.  Hard to tell what Potts is really capable of with such a small portion of the aria being sung, but what he sang was nice.  I think he has a long way to go in his quest to become Britain’s greatest opera star, but I suppose the exposure he has received has put him on the right track. 

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I happen to own this recording of Turandot.  “Nessun dorma” is found in Act III.  For those of you who don’t recognize any of the singers’ names listed above, let me assure you that this is an all-star cast and the recording is superior.  I listened to Act III today just to satisfy myself that I am correct in saying that Paul Potts has a long way to go.  Pavarotti is one of the greatest voices of all time and comparing his performance of “Nessun dorma” to Paul Potts’ performance is like comparing a bowl of rich, lucious cream to a juice glass of skimmed milk. 

I was happy to read today that Paul Potts will invest some of the prize money he received in dental work for himself.  Having his teeth fixed will not only improve his appearance.  It should improve his voice.  The lips, tongue and teeth are articulators and very important to vocal production and technique.  I can’t help but believe, and I expressed this thought to Tiggerlane,  that opera’s popularity has suffered due to caricatures of unattractive opera singers belting out arias with unintelligible lyrics.   This is such a shame because operas contain some of the most beautiful music ever written.  My sincere hope is that Mr. Potts will help promote opera to the masses.  However, I believe opera’s acceptance and popularity would be wildly increased if the tenor singing “Nessun dorma” looked like this man. 

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It may be true that “ladies swoon when the tenor sings,” but I’m feeling a bit faint without a single note being sung.  🙂



Visitin’
June 19, 2007, 11:45 pm
Filed under: Life in the South

Thanks to all of you for your doggy birthday greetings!

We began the day with a nice long walk on our muddy road. Then Jasper had a bath to wash the mud off his undercarriage.   I was invited to a luncheon at a friend’s house; sweet tea, salads and great conversation….who could pass that up?!  But, after I got back home, Jasper and I went visitin’. 

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Visitin’ is an important southern pastime.   It usually involves settin’ on a porch or sitting in a kitchen and drinking lemonade or sweet tea.  Now, I didn’t misspell any words in my previous sentence.  My upbringing taught me that you ‘set’ on a porch and you ‘set’ outside, but you ‘sit’ inside. 

Jasper and I made the short trip to my dear neighbor, Mrs. M’s house.  Jasper got a birthday treat and went outside to explore while Mrs. M. and I settled in sippin’ our tea and visitin’.  As our conversation meandered from one subject to the next, Mrs. M. began to speak of being the only member of her generation in her immediate family that is still living.  She then reminisced about her mother, Miss Ola.  I can remember Miss Ola.  She lived in a perfectly square, white-framed house and grew beautiful flowers and a big vegetable garden every year.  She also invited us (my church youth group) in for hot chocolate when we sang Christmas carols at her front door.   Today, Mrs. M. told me about Miss Ola’s hair. 

It was considered unseemly for a woman to have short hair in the years when Miss Ola grew to adulthood.  Consequently, she had a head full of thick, long hair that she almost always wore up in a twist.  In her mid-life years, Miss Ola began to have severe headaches and after much discussion, her mother (Mrs. M’s grandmother) told Miss Ola that she was going to have to cut her hair in order to ease the pain of the headaches.  A cousin was asked to cut Miss Ola’s hair.  It was quite an event.  Mrs. M. remembers several family members being present and Mrs. M. said it liked to have killed her mother to have her hair cut short.  Miss Ola shed a lot of tears after the deed was done.  “You know, years later when Momma died I was going through her things and packing up the house,” Mrs. M. told me.  ” I found a box made of cedar in the back of her closet and when I opened it up, there was all of Momma’s hair that had been cut that day.”