Thursday, April 30, 2009

A Jiggly Remembrance

I was preparing a package of Jell-O (TM) this morning, and it reminded me, as preparing it always does, of a tale from my childhood.

Both Mama and Daddy were gainfully employed, and after my brother, the baby, became old enough not to require a hired babysitter, I, as the eldest, was the chief sibling-looker-after. During the summer school breaks, this meant that I had a full time job, from the time our parents left home in the morning until their return in the evening. As you might expect, the four of us got into a lot of mischief, several episodes of which involved Jell-O.

Mama kept a modest supply of Jell-O on hand, five or six boxes, stored in the kitchen cupboard. We children loved Jell-O, and could hardly wait for her to fix it for our dessert, which usually occured on a weekend, as Jell-O takes several hours to go from liquid to the jelled state. Although I had watched the process many times, Mama didn't think I was old enough to mess around with a saucepan of boiling water when she was not there to supervise so, although I did prepare the food we ate during the day, I was not allowed to make Jell-O.

Hmmm... The boxes of Jell-O were just sitting there, enticing us with the sweet-tart taste we knew was lurking behind the cardboard box and waxed paper inner container.

While we didn't dare open the box (a missing box would have been too easily discovered) I learned that if I took the ice-pick and drilled a small hole at one of the back corners of the box, through the cardboard and into the waxed paper, the dry granules would easily pour from the hole into our waiting (and no doubt grubby) open hands. Yum! Granulated Jell-O tasted even better than the prepared stuff.

The now empty box could be returned to the shelf, pristine in appearance except for a tiny, almost invisible, hole on the back side.

The Jell-O raiding parties continued sporadically until Mama decided to make a batch of Jell-O for a Sunday dessert and found all the boxes empty. I can't remember what punishment she meted, but whatever it was, I somehow had no further desire to raid the Jell-O stash.

I still like "dry" Jell-O, though.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

ABC Wednesday - "O"

"O" is for Optical Assistance

I have worn "optical assistance," otherwise known as glasses, eyeglasses or spectacles, since I was in my mid-2o's, almost 50 years. My mother told me I wore out my eyes by reading so much, but that diagnosis was not confirmed by the optician. My first glasses were "single vision" lenses, meant only to sharpen and enlarge figures and print, and I did not have to wear them except when doing close work. My eyes were otherwise fine; I could spot a hair on a fly at 100 paces!

As I grew older, that changed, and by the time I was in my late 30's I required bi-focals; optical assistance for both close work and distance clarity. Flies at 100 paces were now completely safe; not only could I not see the hairs on them, I couldn't even see the post they were sitting on. Sigh!

Getting used to wearing bi-focals took some time. For a few days, my eye-brain connection thought that I was walking on a surface that had a lot of holes in it. I did a lot of high-stepping and swerving; I'm sure I must have been comical to observe, and probably was thought to be under the influence of an intoxicant. Those feelings passed, and I happily wore my bifocals for several years. Then...

... "Tri-focals? What do you mean, I need tri-focals? Just because I can't read your silly chart, nor see the speedometer clearly, I need tri-focals?"

And, so it was, in my 50's (entirely too young) that my eyeglasses were ground with corrections for close, mid-range and distance vision.

Over the intervening years, the corrections have become stronger and stronger. I now have not only pretty strong tri-focal lenses, but also a pair of glasses especially ground for viewing the computer screen, and some cute (hah!) little reading glasses. The prescription for all of these changes (gets stronger) about every two years, and I am temporarily financially distressed when I have to get new glasses, because I generally have to replace all three.

Did I already say that I am very, very thankful to be able to see to drive, and read, and blog? No? Well... I am!

ABC Wednesday was created by Mrs. Nesbitt. Please visit the ABC Wednesday site to view others' interpretations of this week's letter, "O."

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Today's Flowers

This beautiful rose was blooming in the garden of a friend I visited last week. The petals are multi-colored, thus the name "Joseph's Coat." I caught this one in fully opened form. The major down-side to this rose variety is that the stems, both main and small leaf-bearing, are thickly populated with very sharp thorns. I'd hate to be caught in a thicket of Joseph Coat roses. I understand that this variety is recommended for creating boundry line hedges.

For more information on this rose variety, you may click the link above.

Today's Flowers is a weekly Meme created by Luiz Santilli, Jr. and may be found here. Please visit to see others' lovely flower photos. If you have a flower photo of your own to share, please join us.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Camera Critters

"Sterling Darling"

Sterling Darling is my daughter Jean's Chocolate Siamese male cat. He first came into the family at the age of only a few days, having just opened his eyes. He was found on a Friday afternoon by a construction worker under a house in western Little Rock, occupying a 'nest' with an already deceased kitten of the same age, with no mama cat in evidence. He could tell the kitten was in critical condition, and took him to the closest veterinary clinic, where my son's wife worked as a groomer. There was no way this baby could survive without constant attention, so leaving him at the clinic over the weekend with only occasional feeding visits by the vet techs was not an option, so daughter-in-law brought him home with her, "home" being at that particular moment a family gathering in celebration of my 70th birthday. The tiny kitten, which fit into the palm of her hand, would require 'round the clock care which, as an employed person, she was not able to give.

Present at the gathering was my daughter Jean's husband, himself of a very tender nature. He decided that his family, with a stay- at- home mom, would take the kitten, and he put it under his shirt next to his heart, where he carried it almost constantly, taking his turn at feeding the baby, and reluctantly leaving the kitten to the care of my daughter when he was not available.

I'm as sure as I can be that it was the loving and dedicated attention to a tiny creature that allowed Sterling Darling to survive and grow into a beautiful cat. He is devoted to my son-in-law and still rides around on his shoulders for extended periods. Sterling Darling rewards his family by catching small (and, so far, non-poisonous) snakes and lizards he finds crawling about in the wood pile and brushy areas of the property. He brings them to the back door and waits patiently for someone to praise him for his hunting prowess.

How Sterling Darling got his name, I'm not exactly sure, but he is always referred to using both names.

Camera Critters is the creation of Misty Dawn. Check out this week's other critters here.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Looking at the Sky on Friday

It's been beautiful weather here for the last few days, a very welcome change from the several downpours we've had since Easter Day. On my way home from church Wednesday evening, the western sky caught my eye. Ahhh! I drove to my favorite viewing spot (overhead power lines are at a minimum there) to catch a shot of the lovely color in the sky.

Looking at the Sky on Friday is sponsored by Crazy Working Mom.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Where Did Spring Go?

I spent the first part of this week working inside, in the church office on Monday, then keeping an eagle eye on my 4 year old granddaughter at her home on Tuesday and Wednesday while her mother was elsewhere. I had hoped to work in my trashy uh, beginning-to-be-overgrown, abandoned-looking must-soon-be-mowed-and-edged yard today and tomorrow, but...

...good grief! Where did Spring go? It's after 7 p.m. as I write this, and it's 86 degrees outside -- in the shade! When I engage in physical exertion, which working in the yard certainly entails, I tend to melt into a puddle, i.e., sweat like a horse! My northern European genes don't like the heat -- not one bit!

I can see right now that I'll have to be in the yard at first light tomorrow or I'm going to have to rent some goats!
Image: Wikipedia

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

ABC Wednesday - "N"

"N" is for Nest

While visiting a friend a few days ago, I noticed that a mama Blue Jay had built a nest on top of the security light in her carport. I don't think I've ever seen a jay's nest before, and I was amazed at the size of the sticks and twigs she used. There's a plastic bag in there, too; for cushioning, perhaps? When I inquired, I learned that the light had been turned off when they discovered the nest building going on. That is a good thing; I imagine that a halogen light would put out enough heat to bake the eggs.

ABC Wednesday was created by Mrs. Nesbitt. Please visit the ABC Wednesday site to view others' interpretations of this week's letter, "N."

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Today's Flowers

Tulip - "Angelique"
Another beautiful flower from my daughter's garden.

Today's Flowers is a weekly Meme created by Luiz Santilli, Jr. and may be found here. Please visit to see others' lovely flower photos. If you have a flower photo of your own to share, please join us.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

ABC Wednesday - "M"

"M" is for Minnie Mouse Quilt

In 1939, when I was 5 years old, our family lived in El Paso, Texas. My mother had a dear friend, Mrs. Barney P., whom we children called "Mrs. Pahdough" because we couldn't properly pronounce her last name. I don't know for sure, but I think the P. family did not have children of their own, and sort of adopted me and my younger sister. But "Pahdough" and I especially loved each other. At some time that year, so that I could have my very own quilt, she made a series of twelve quilt blocks, each featuring Minnie Mouse, a Disney character that was all the rage at the time. Each Minnie is dressed in a different outfit, with a different umbrella, hat and shoes.

As fate would have it, our family moved from El Paso to New Mexico before the quilt could be constructed. My mamma kept the blocks put away in tissue paper, pending the day she would have time to make the quilt. In 1950, we moved to Arkansas, and the quilt blocks moved with us, sheltered safely in Mama's cedar chest.

Finally, in 1954, in the summer before I was married, the ladies of my mother's Sunday School class constructed a quilt using "Pahdough's" blocks, and it was given to me by my mother as a wedding present.

What does a 20 year old with her head in the clouds know about taking care of a hand-made quilt? I used it on my bed until my children were born, then it covered their beds in turn. It had milk and hot cocoa spilled on it; it went to the laundromat; it was used to wrap breakables when we moved. By the time I had sense enough to realize what a treasure I had, it was just about worn out.

But, wait.... it's the surrounding QUILT that's worn out... not the blocks, even though the colors are a bit faded (but not as much as I would expect from fabric 70 years old), a few of Minnie's ears have worn spots, and there are one or two places where the applique stitch is beginning to ravel. I still have hopes of carefully removing the blocks from the worn out pieces that hold them together, and having them reset into a quilt for a grandchild, or a great-grandchild.

(detail from a block)

In the meantime, the bed covering I have always called "Pahdough's" quilt is resting, wrapped in tissue in my own cedar chest.

ABC Wednesday was created by Mrs. Nesbitt. Please visit the ABC Wednesday site to view others' interpretations of this week's letter, "M."

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Today's Flowers - April 12

A fringed tulip from my daughter's garden

Wishing everyone a blessed and happy Easter Day.

Today's Flowers is a weekly Meme created by Luiz Santilli, Jr. and may be found here. Please visit to see others' lovely flower photos. If you have a flower photo of your own to share, please join us.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

A Poem


We were buried in the dark, rich earth,
Our bodies covered with the fragrant soil
Of Kansas plains. We slept,
And within us, life stirred,
Impatient to be born.

In due time, we burst from our shrouds,
Thrusting our heads through disappearing snow
Which sheltered us from bitter cold
And from wind which would have ripped us from the womb.

The sun warmed us; Earth nourished us;
And for a season we grew tall,
Bending our golden heads to gentle rains and summer winds
Gaining strength that we might meet our destiny.

Then, it was time.

They took us from our birthplace.
They set us free to fulfill our purpose,
To begin our journey into a world where men
Have treasured us, long before recorded time.

We were dispersed to the corners of the world,
Welcomed by peasants and kings; then crushed,
Never again to exist in previous form.

We were joined with water, proved by fire,
Then broken and consumed. The dust of our bodies
Became men's flesh. We received life from Earth;
Our deaths returned life as a gift to man.

But, some of us were saved, and in the fullness of time
Will repeat the cycle of death and birth;
Will be buried, then spring to life again.
The soils of nations far from our beginnings
Will be the tombs from which we rise.

Patricia Phillips, 1992

For the background of this poem, and how it came to be written, I invite you to read yesterday's post.

Friday, April 10, 2009

What Starts Out One Way Ends Up Another

In my blog profile, I state that I am an amateur poet, and that I am: a gross amateur. I don't think in poetry like some folk do, and never (or almost never) have written a poem just because I wanted to write a poem; I usually have to be inspired, and it can be years between inspirations.

Once upon a time, I did consciously decide to write a poem, but it didn't turn out all like I had intended. The background story (I'll try to keep it succinct) is as follows:

I worked in downtown Little Rock, in an area filled with businesses and a variety of eating establishments which catered to the lunch crowd. One of these, quite close to my work place, was called Your Mama's Good Food, run by a married couple. He was the cook; she was the server/front person. They specialized in "home cooking" and their yeast rolls, made by the husband, were, as they say, "to die for," the best I think I have ever eaten. I often would ask for a half-dozen extra rolls to take home with me for supper that night. One day, after consuming a roll, or maybe two, with my lunch, I said to the wife, "These are so good someone should write a poem about them. I think I'll do it."

And so I did.

To keep this story brief, suffice it to say that it took me quite a while to give birth to this particular poem -- more than a year, actually, through many strike outs and re-dos. The end result was not about their yeast rolls at all; the idea "morphed" into something completely different. I will leave it to my readers to decide whether or not it is actual poetry.

The title of the poem, Resurrection Song, was given to it by a lovely, lovely man by the name of Harding Stedler. Mr. Stedler, Professor Emeritus of Shawnee State University (1995), is a member of the Executive Board of the Poets' Roundtable of Arkansas and vice-president of the River Market Poets (information I found on the Internet after Googling his name tonight.) In 1996, he lived in a nearby town, and sponsored a poetry class at the local library for "interested persons." I was privileged to participate in his class for a brief period, but this poem had already been written. When I submitted it to him for his critique, he helped me "clean and polish" it a bit, gave it a title and added it to a few poems he published in the local paper at Easter that year. So -- I am a published poet, be it ever so humble a publication.

I have some trepidation about posting a resurrection poem that is not about the resurrection that most Christians around the world, myself included, will celebrate on this coming Sunday, although I believe that, if one sort of reads between the lines, it does have a spiritual meaning.

I will post my poem tomorrow, Saturday, April 11.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

ABC Wednesday - "L"

"L" is for

The building shown above is the newest addition to the municipal buildings in my city. A part of the Central Arkansas Library System, the grand opening of the Esther Dewitt Nixon Library was held on February 14, 2009. This building is a much-needed improvement on our former library, which was housed in an old and relatively small, flat-roofed building. All things considered, the accomodations might have been OK except that the flat roof gathered and held excessive amounts of water during heavy rains, which we often have here. Twice in the last five years, parts of the roof gave way, causing extensive flooding in the library, and even worse, much damage to the books in the stacks.

To my discredit, I haven't been involved in community affairs to any extent during the years I've lived here. However, I am a book-lover and the last episode of flooding caused me such consternation that I went straight to the mayor's office to express my displeasure and to urge the funding and construction of a new library building. I don't assume to take any credit for influencing the final decision to do just that, but was delighted to see it come to fruition during my lifetime. I've watched the progress of construction from ground-breaking to the grand opening. It doesn't hurt a thing that it is located within walking distance (on one of my good days).

The interior is spacious and well-arranged, the stacks are full of books with new, transparent covers (even the old books look new again), there is a generously-sized meeting room, a new and cleverly decorated children's area, benches and chairs upon which to sit and read, and an ample area designated for the new computers, which are available to any library patron. All in all, a wonderful improvement.

Not seen in the photograph because of the angle from which I shot is is the gently pitched roof! No more water accumulation!

ABC Wednesday
was created by Mrs. Nesbitt. Please visit the ABC Wednesday site to view others' interpretations of this week's letter, "L."

Being a Pessimist... not necessarily a bad thing. I suspect that I've been a pessimist all my life, even as a child.

I try not to be dismal in my pessimism, nor infective, and I tolerate, yea, even love, my optimistic friends. However, as a pessimist, I am hardly ever disappointed. Also, when I discover that things didn't turn out to be as bad as I expected, I experience many joyous moments.

A JOYOUS thing is this snippet garnered a few minutes ago from the local ABC television station (KATV) web site:

"Chilly across Arkansas this morning, but for most of us the sub-freezing temperatures did not occur. The reason...winds remained high overnight and kept the coldest of the air from settling down to the surface. "

Yes, the winds remained high. Each time last night that I stirred in my bed to the point of semi-consciousness I could hear my windchimes, and the turbine vents on my roof, one of which has a slight squeak as it turns. Music to my ears!

The sun is shining. It may be only 42 degrees outside, with a wind chill of 36, but it's beautiful, and my patch of Stars of Bethlehem is still bravely standing!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Spring? and An Anniversary of Sorts

Star of Bethlehem
Ornithogalum umbellatum
Lily family (Liliaceae)
I show the above photo as a reminder to me that Spring was here, if only temporarily. The temperatures are supposed to drop below freezing tonight, and the lovely flower, a photo of which was taken in my back yard two days ago, may be brown mush tomorrow. Only the passage of the night will show if the the weatherman is correct. We've had strong winds today, but until around 6 p.m. there was a lot of sunshine. Then the clouds moved in. Both clouds and wind are to go away overnight, allowing the cold front to drop in here and do its dastardly deed. Our church children will probably have a chilly Easter Egg hunt on Sunday, too. This weather is supposed to hang around for a while.

If I've calculated correctly, today is my one-year blogging anniversary. Also, if correct, I've posted 177 times (this one included), giving me a somewhat dismal record of posting on only 48% of the intervening 365 days. Ah, well. The other 52% of the days were spent doing something else: reading other folks blogs, reading books, working at church, taking care of dogs, cats, and grandchildren (not necessarily in that order), and leading a quite ordinary life.

When I started blogging, my main intention was to record some of my remembrances while I still had the memory to do so. I've done a bit of that, yes, but much of what I want to record is as of yet unwritten. Some of my dredged up memories are a bit hard to deal with, and I'm not sure they will ever be recorded, at least in a blog.

I've participated in theme posting to some extent, although I've let some of that go by the wayside of late. I've become very much interested in photography this past year, have acquired a new digital camera and some nice lenses, and am taking a lot of pleasure in trying to improve my skills in that area. I've learned a lot, in theory at least, from some excellent photographer/bloggers (too many to mention here, but they are listed in my side bar) and it gives me great enjoyment to read their blogs and look their photos. Thanks to you all!

One of the greatest pleasures of being a member of the blog community, however, is the contact I've made with other bloggers around the world: England, Europe, South America, Australia, Japan, India, Africa, and many, many places in the United States. Thanks to the Internet, it's a small world, after all.

Off now, to get a blanket for the bed. I may have some hot cocoa before I turn in, too. Surely, real Spring can't be too far away.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Today's Flowers - April 5

A white daffodil/narcissus in my daughter's garden. She thought the variety was "Iceberg" but I couldn't find such online anywhere. I did find mention of an older variety called "Thalia" which description fit the appearance of this one. There are three flowers at the tip of each flower stalk, and they look like small orchids; very beautiful, with a slight fragrance. I love all the little violets in the background, too.

Today's Flowers is a weekly Meme created by Luiz Santilli, Jr. and may be found here. Please visit to see others' lovely flower photos. If you have a flower photo of your own to share, please join us.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

ABC Wednesday "K"

"K" is for Kwanzan Flowering Cherry Tree
prunus serrulata 'Kwanzan'

The Kwanzan Flowering Cherry tree, also known as a Japanese flowering cherry tree, is one of the most popular cultivars of the flowering cherry trees. This deciduous tree rapidly grows to height of 20 to 30 feet. The blooms are a clear pink, double flower (multiple petals like a carnation). The blooms tend to last 3 weeks, yielding to a light green foliage with a red tinge.

I was visiting my "green thumb" daughter this afternoon with camera in hand. Her large yard is a riot of color, with all sorts of blooming plants, and I need to stock up on photos of such.

"I need a "K" photo," I said, "but that tree in the courtyard is beautiful; I'll get some shots of that while I'm here."

"Ha!" she replied. "There is your "K! That's a Kwanzan Flowering Cherry."

Ask, and ye shall receive.

ABC Wednesday was created by Mrs. Nesbitt. Please visit the ABC Wednesday site to view others' interpretations of this week's letter, "K."