Monday, June 30, 2008

Caught in the Web of Words - Part 2 of ?? - Post 37

In early September, 1950, I had just enrolled as an 11th grade student at Albuquerque High School when, sort of out-of-the-blue, my parents sold our Albuquerque property, and we moved lock-stock-and-barrel to a small farm some 800 miles away near the town of Clinton, located in north central Arkansas. The reasons behind the move, the move itself, and our adaptation to country life are other stories for other times.

My father enrolled us in our various schools almost as soon as we could get our clothes unpacked. My 8th grade sister and the two younger siblings were enrolled in the Elementary School, which served grades 1 - 8; I was the lone high school student.

The school I attended was the Clinton State Vocational Training School, one of several vocational training schools in the state. No, they were not Reform Schools, although I've sometime been accused of needing to attend one! The state legislature created this type of school in 1927, " in which shall be taught the literary branches usual in high schools to the extent and in such form as shall be applicable (to) the training of students therein vocationally; and in which shall be taught the domestic arts; and training shall be given the manual arts, the commercial vocational arts and vocational agriculture, trades and industries peculiarly appropriate to the development and resources of the state of and district. The underlying intent of such training shall be to develop the student along lines appropriate to local conditions." (from History of the Clinton School District.)

The educational emphasis, I soon discovered, was definitely placed on agriculture, "shop" (wood and metal working and a bit of automotive mechanics,) and home economics (sewing, cooking and preserving food). And, lest I forget, Athletics! The school had a crackerjack basketball team, and a passable football team. It was also a "consolidated" school, meaning that students from all over the county were enrolled, not just Clinton residents. Even at that, the high school probably had fewer than 150 students, all told.

Even at the age of 16, I had higher educational aspirations, and I was somewhat taken aback by the lack of courses I thought I should be taking, and more than a bit miffed at being *required* to take two years of Home Economics, which I considered a complete waste of time.

I was rescued from this slough of teenaged despond by my encounter with Mrs. V., both principal of the school and the instructor in English and Speech, who became not only my teacher, but my mentor.

And you thought I never *was* going to get back to the subject!

To be continued. Part Three: In which Mrs. V. teaches me to love words!

PLEASE NOTE: The spider web photo is not mine. I got it from a Wikipedia article on Spider Webs. The photographer is Michael Hartl, and the photo is in the public domain.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

A Recommendation - Post 36

I invite you to visit A Vision of Eden to see a most amazing and beautiful photograph. It took my breath away. Please leave Virginia a comment to let her know you visited. Thanks.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Sky Watch Friday - Big Dam Bridge - Post 35

I had occasion to be close to the Arkansas River in Little Rock yesterday afternoon and took the opportunity to visit The Big Dam Bridge, a structure I'd read about but not seen. Lest you think I'm using an expletive but don't know how to spell, I've included a photo of the sign. This bridge, which crosses the Arkansas River a bit northwest of downtown Little Rock at Murray Lock and Dam (part of the Kerr-McClellan Navigation System on the Arkansas River), is the longest pedestrian/bicycle-only bridge in North America. While my photo captured neither pedestrians nor bicycles (I arrived coincident with a heavy rain shower and had to wait it out to get this photo), I understand that it's very popular with both. I'd love to walk it someday. Unfortunately, there is no way my camera can capture the full extent of the bridge which is 4,226 feet long. The section I've displayed here is just the part that crosses the dam itself, and not even all of that. Other details, if you're interested, may be found on Wikipedia here. And some beautiful photos may be found at the official Big Dam Bridge website here.

Sky Watch Friday is hosted by Tom Wiggers at Welcome to Wiggers World. Please visit to see stunning sky photos from around the world -- you won't regret the time spent.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

An Amazing Blog Entry, Not Mine - Post 34

Run, do not walk, to The Smitten Image post for today. It is a truly outstanding blog entry. I can almost guarantee you will be awed by it!! Please leave Hilary a comment before you leave her site so that she'll know you were there.


Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Caught in the Web of Words - Part One - Post 33

I can't remember a time when I could not read. Neither do I remember being taught to read; one day I just could, and did, and have continued to do so, for about 70 years. The first book that I truly remember was one used in the kindergarten class I attended in El Paso, TX, in 1939. Bi-lingual education in the USA is nothing new, folks. My kindergarten primer was in Spanish and was titled Juan y Maria en Casa.

Our family moved to Las Vegas, NM, where I completed the first grade. Shortly thereafter, during the early summer of 1942, we moved to the much larger town of Albuquerque so that my mother could seek employment, my 55 year old father having been conscripted by the U.S. Army to be an instructor of automotive mechanics almost immediately after Dec. 7, 1941. That's another story for another time.

By the summer before I turned 9, I was spending my school vacation time in the Albuquerque Public Library. Albuquerque was still a relatively small town at the time, and it was quite safe for me to walk alone for the some 8 or so blocks from where we lived. I would stay at the library for as long as it took me to select as many books as I could carry (6 -10) from the children's section (and they weren't "picture-books," either); then I'd lug them back home and read. And read, and read, and read. My two younger sisters and my brother were being cared for by a housekeeper/baby-sitter, and I'm sure she was most happy to not have me under her feet as well.

In a day, two at the most, I'd be finished with those books and back to the library I'd go for another load. Before we moved (1944) to a new home about five miles from the library, I think I had read every book (of any interest to me whatsoever) in the children's section. The librarian also allowed me to browse in some carefully selected sections outside the children's area, and helped me select books that were not 'too adult' for me.

After we moved, I didn't have easy access to the library so I read my mother's books. I remember that she was quite flustered when she found me reading A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, by Betty Smith -- promiscuity, several stillborn babies, and like ilk; Mama did not think I needed to read about that when I was 10 years old. However, I don't think she took it away from me. Truthfully, I don't remember much about it. It must not have warped my psyche too badly.

My father had a very large number of books, which were stored in boxes in our garage since there was not sufficient bookshelf space in our new home for them. Most were theological tomes from his days at Seminary and books of a religious nature he acquired while he was an active church pastor. I think I must have attempted to read some of them (readers must have books), but they were not the sort of thing that would hold a young girl's attention for very long, I'm sure. However, he did have some books of poetry (notably The Song of Hiawatha by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow), some Shakespeare plays, and a few other non-theological books that I did read.

At that age, however, I was more interested in Carolyn Keene's 'Nancy Drew' books, and novels such as Lew Wallace's Ben Hur, Lloyd C. Douglas' The Robe, Dr. Hudson's Secret Journal, and The Magnificent Obsession. NOTE TO MY READERS: If all you know about The Magnificent Obsession is the 1954 film staring Rock Hudson, do yourself a big favor: Read the book! And Dr. Hudson's Secret Journal, which is directly related to The Magnificent Obsession. They're a pair.
To be continued. Part Two: in which we move from Albuquerque to a small Arkansas town, population 400 (if you count the cows), and my literary and vocabulary education continues.

PLEASE NOTE: The spider web photo is not mine. I got it from a Wikipedia article on Spider Webs. The photographer is Michael Hartl, and the photo is in the public domain. For a more close-to-home, and beautiful, photo of a spider web, check out Dot's blog, Strolling through Georgia (and sometimes Alabama), here.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Sky Watch Friday, Anyone?

If anyone's still looking for my most recent Sky Watch Friday post , it's here. I think I've learned how to make more or less permanent link that I can post on Wiggers World next time. Thanks for bearing with me while I'm in the learning curve.

For other Sky Watch Friday photos from this most recent week, please visit Welcome to Wiggers World.

Friday, June 20, 2008

A Ruckus on My Roof - Post 32

A tall tree on the west side of my yard is, as I discovered this evening, home to a whole family of raccoons! I was reading the Sky Watch Friday blogs when I heard not-so-light footsteps on my roof. I've known for some time that there are raccoons in our urban neighborhood, but had not yet spied anything except some tell-tale evidence in the grass.

I normally don't go prowling around outside after dark, but I picked up my best flashlight and slipped out the door into the back yard. A scan of the roof over my office showed nothing, so I stepped back a few paces and shone the light across the roof and then up into the ivy-draped tree. Eight little spots of light glittered back at me -- 4 raccoons! Any person in the vicinity could have overheard me having a not so sweet and definitely one-sided conversation with them. They just listened to my rant and blinked their eyes. In less than a minute, still another one came trip-tripping across a limb which overhangs my den to join the others. I estimate that the latter one, which I could see in profile as it scampered across, was at least a foot long from ears to base of tail. It was too dark and the ivy too thick to see his/her bushy tail.

This raccoon family doesn't realize it yet, but their cosy home is slated for demolition -- soon. The tree in which they are dwelling is leaning against a fence which separates my yard from a (as still yet) friendly neighbor. Well, it's more pushing against our mutual fence (from my side to hers) than it is leaning. And several branches of said tree are about to overhang her house. It's time for the tree to go -- either in its entirety or severely topped off and all the offending branches removed. Earlier this week I had spoken with the 'tree man' who will come this weekend to give me an estimate. An estimate is necessary so I won't go into cardiac arrest when the bill comes!

Ricky Raccoon, and all your family, it's time for you to move on!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Sky Watch Friday - Hello! Can Any One Out There Hear Me? - Post 31

When passing by my church's bell the other evening, I looked up into the still bright sky and found a tiny moon showing amidst some criss-cross cloud patterns. (It's at about 11 o'clock above the bell.) The image found its way into my camera, of course. The bell reminded me of a megaphone and thus this post's title was born.

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Sky Watch Friday is hosted by Tom Wiggers at Wiggers World. I invite you to visit his site to see sky photos from all over the world. Thanks, Tom!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Working in the Yard Again, & More Daylilies - Post 30

The Good Lord woke me this morning at least three hours before my usual getting-up time, and I actually got up instead of rolling over and catching a few more 'zzzzs.' It was not quite daylight, so I had a couple of cups of coffee and read email and blogs while I waited for good sunlight. It was cool this morning for a change. A front must have moved through last night. When I hit the back door, it was just over 70 degrees, with a nice breeze from the east; most pleasant! I didn't mind starting up the lawnmower and finishing the job I started yesterday morning (yes, I know; most folks can mow their yards in one episode, but remember that I'm an old lady, and it takes me two days!) Besides, I had to stop and smell the daylilies! I've had most of these lilies for over 15 years, and while I remember the names of a few, others I have completely forgotten.

At some point after I started acquiring daylilies, I had thought about engraving permanent markers for the clumps, but that idea got sidetracked somewhere and it just didn't happen. I remember "Dearest Love" and "Butterfly Kisses," and they are represented in the first two photos here.

When I was still active in my Personnel consulting business, I often traveled to El Dorado, an Arkansas city just north of the Louisiana state line. On one such visit, during the late Spring, I passed by a beautiful garden just smack dab full of gorgeous daylilies! I slowed almost to a standstill on the highway to ogle them, but had an appointment to keep and couldn't stop. As fate would have it, I had to return to that city the next week. Propped up against the front fence of the home with the daylily garden was a sign "Day Lilies for Sale." I made sure I left my client in time to stop by the garden to check it out before I headed back home.

Presiding over the sale was an older man, who was at that time about as old as I am now. He was most gracious in showing me all the lilies (which were clearly marked with their names) and told me that many of them had been hybridized by his wife, who had died some months before. He was in the process of selling the day lilies (almost 5 acres of them) and had put their home on the market, as well. Since the fans (as individual clumps of lilies are called) were not inexpensive (actually, they were pretty pricy for 15 years ago) I think I bought only two or three varieties at that visit, probably spending all the cash I had on my person. "Dearest Love" was a lily of his wife's creation, he told me, and I was very pleased to buy it.

I learned through the Internet today that "Butterfly Kisses" is a well-known variety, and one can find it for sale through various Daylily sites. Actually, I can't recall if I bought "Butterfly Kisses" in El Dorado or at another nearby daylily grower (not a hybridizer.)

I really thought I would have remembered the El Dorado hybridizer's name (I visited with her widower several more times during the course of that year), but for the life of me, I can't come up with it. I spent over an hour on the Internet this morning after taking the photos, looking at Arkansas Daylily hybridizer sites, but no names jumped out at me. I truly regret that I can't remember her name; her lilies are beautiful!

Perhaps her name will yet come back to me, or I'll find someone in the daylily world in Arkansas who remembers her; if so, I'll be sure to give her credit for the enjoyment I have received from looking at "Dearest Love" all these years. Its blooms are huge, and they grow on quite tall stems which lift the blooms above others in the same bed. It's difficult to tell from photographs without some reference point, but the bloom in the first photo is about 8" or 9" across. Other lilies pictured are somewhat smaller; "Butterfly Kisses" in my garden grow to about 6" across.

Last week, I had another photo of "Butterfly Kisses" along with a bright yellow "spider daylily," whose legal name has been lost to me. I call it "Aztec Warrior," because it just seems to suit it. It's *real* name is probably "Montezuma," or something similar, and the word association just stuck with me.

Whilst I was taking photos of my beauties, it became evident to me that I must-must-must! divide the lilies after they bloom. That means, of course, preparing new beds for them, and in the less-than-good soil I have, that's somewhat a problem. I shall probably move some of them to my front yard if I can find a sunny enough spot (I have trees, and not very much front yard to start with,) and give some to my green-thumb daughter.

I'll show some photos of my other currently blooming daylilies in another post, and I'm still waiting for my bright orange double-day-lilies to bloom. I saw some buds this morning, so it won't be too long.

Ta! I'm going back outside to run the Weed-Eater.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Sky Watch Friday - Post 29

We CAN have blue skies here! I got the proof earlier this week, before the rain (again.) Yesterday was a no rain day, also, but the sky was so unclouded it was not very interesting, Sky Watch-wise, anyway.
Sky Watch Friday (which actually starts on Thursday evening, Greenwich Mean Time (England), is hosted by Tom Wiggers at Welcome to Wiggers World. Please visit his blog to see wonderful sky photos from around the world! It's worth the time.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

One Hot Mama - Post 28

Hey, if Abe Lincoln can post about "Virgins" and running naked through the cornfield on his blog, I'm going to take credit for being a "hot mama." I worked in my back yard this morning, while it was relatively cool -- just 89 degrees, and only a few clouds to block the sun occasionally. Right now, I am not a "thing of beauty" since my UK ancestor-genes do not take kindly to this level of heat and humidity. A common saying in the southern states of the U.S. is "horses sweat, men perspire, and ladies glow." If you could see me at present, you'd just give me a bag of oats!

I have errands to run this afternoon, so I'm taking my "cool-down" time to post, since I haven't done so for several days. So this won't be a total waste of your time, I'm including a couple of photos of my day lillies. I'll try to post a few more photos later. I took quite a few after I did the mowing. Have I told you I "love" day lillies?

All the rain we've had in the past week or so has turned my back yard into a veritable jungle. I used the weed-eater on Monday to trim the perimeter and around the flower beds, but left the center unmowed as it was threatening rain, again, and rain it did -- another severe thunderstorm. However, it didn't last long, and we didn't get a whole lot of rain with this particular storm. Yesterday was a rain-free day for a change, so things had an opportunity to dry out a bit. I chose this morning to try to get the mowing done.

I sprang out of bed (hahaha), dressed, swallowed my obligatory daily prescriptions, made a cup of coffee and bopped out the door -- not too early, mind you; the dew needed to dry off a bit -- only to be unable to start the lawnmower. The pull rope broke off inside the mower! RATS! I got on the phone to my wonderful son-in-law who brought me one of his mowers -- a self-propelled one, at that! He took the other mower with him to be repaired. Good guy!

Now... please notice that I have not said that he volunteered to mow the lawn for me! My children (and their spouses) have learned over time not to assume that I cannot "do things," even if I am an old lady. When I need/want help, I'll ask for it, and they are very happy to oblige me when that occurs. I've found that it's better for my all-round health and mental well-being to do as many things as possible myself. I call it "healthy activity;" my children sometimes call it "stubbornness."

OK -- I'm cool enough to get in the shower! Ta!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Sky Watch Friday - Stormy Weather - Post 27

I captured this image a few days ago, about 24 hours ahead of yet another torrential downpour in our area. I haven't checked lately, but I'd venture to say that our precipitation year-to-date is not on the 'minus' side.

Sky Watch Friday is hosted by Tom Wiggers. Check out his site for Sky Watch photos from around the world.

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Blog-Absent, but not Gone - Post 26

It's been a busy week so far, with more to come before the week is over. My stamping partner and I are hosting a "Stamp Camp" this coming Saturday afternoon for 15 to 18 rubber stamping enthusiasts. The week prior to a Stamp Camp is pretty much filled with preparation for the event. I've been up to my eyeballs in card stock, decorative papers, ribbons, etc., and writing easy-to-follow instructions for assembling the six greeting cards they will be making.

Stay tuned. I'll be back to normal (whatever that may be) soon.