Monday, February 28, 2011

Oh Wind, That Sings So Loud a Song

My wind chimes serenaded me with sweet and constant melody most of the afternoon. The strong east wind spoke, only a day prematurely, of “March coming in like a lion.” Dry leaves, carefully raked into neat rows only a few days ago, danced with the wind until exhausted, then fell to the ground, scattered in disarray. Early in the day, a sky-watcher would have seen only a few shards of blue peeking through scudding clouds.

As I write this at twilight, the air is still. The clouds have gone, the sky overhead colored with only the ghost of their silver linings. The afternoon's brilliant sun has disappeared from view, leaving behind, on both western and eastern horizons, a fleeting tint of orange surrounded by pale lavender.  I think it's going to be a lovely night.

Not today's sunset, but much like it.

Listening to the wind this afternoon reminded me of one of my favorite childhood poems.

The Wind
Robert Louis Stevenson

I saw you toss the kites on high
And blow the birds about the sky;
And all around I heard you pass,
Like ladies' skirts across the grass

Oh wind, a blowing all day long,
Oh wind, that sings so loud a song!

I saw the different things you did,
But always you yourself you hid.
I felt you push, I heard you call,
I could not see yourself at all

Oh wind, a blowing all day long!
Oh wind, that sings so loud a song!

O you that are so strong and cold,
O blower, are you young or old?
Are you a beast of field and tree,
Or just a stronger child than me?

O wind, a blowing all day long,
O wind, that sings so loud a song!

Tomorrow is also a day.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Tiny Todd Asiatic Lily

Lilium asiaticum 'Tiny Todd' PP16170

Last year, I planted several of these pretty pink Asiatic lilies in a bed on the west side of my carport.  They seem to enjoy the bright sun they get during the day and they, in turn, brighten my day when they start to bloom.  Although the plants are relatively short, the blooms are not tiny, as the name might lead you to believe, but are are about 4.5" across, not as large as some lily blooms, but still of substantial size. 

I've been checking periodically to see if there are signs of new growth.  I hope they overwintered and will bloom again, even more abundantly.

Today's Flowers is a weekly Meme created by Luiz Santilli, Jr. and currently hosted by Luiz Santilli, Jr., Denise in Virginia, Laerte Pupo and Sandy Carlson.  I invite you to visit Today's Flowers to see lovely flowers from all around the world. If you have a flower photo of your own to share, information about joining the group may be found on the 'Procedure' page.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Alternative Transportation?

I'm thinking seriously about buying an adult tricycle. My sense of balance is no longer adequate for riding a two-wheeler, but I could probably manage a three-wheeler.  The Schwinn Meridian Tricycle pictured at left looks like something I could handle.

My bank, the library and a supermarket are all within easy pedaling distance of my home, and on relatively level ground. I might turn into the 'little old lady who only drove her car to church on Sunday.'  

I had to run some errands this afternoon that required using my car and, gasoline prices being what they are these days, I tried to make the rounds in the shortest distance possible.  No longer can I afford to just jump in the car to take a casual drive. The budget won't stand it.

I can remember buying gasoline for $0.19 per gallon, for even less if there was a 'gas war' on.  (Yes, I'm older than dirt.) While gasoline prices are not yet quite as high as they were a couple of years ago, it makes me shudder to see that the price boards over the gas station have increased by ten to fifteen cents per gallon in a couple of hours.  Gas prices here have gone up more than $0.50 per gallon in the last two weeks. :::sigh:::

Tomorrow is also a day.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Nothing Doing

Image - Dover Clip Art

What I Didn't Do Today

I didn't wash the dishes;
I didn't even cook.
In keeping with my wishes,
My nose was in a book.

* * *

Tomorrow is also a day.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Liquid Sunshine

There are no dry bones around here today!  The part of town I live in received 1.5 inches of liquid sunshine in a willy-waw (deluge with high wind) that lasted only about thirty minutes.  We need the moisture, so I didn't mind it raining, but since it fell so fast and furious, I was a little bit concerned that the street on which I live might experience high water.  I shared a photo of what my street looks like after a downpour in this post.  However, since I wasn't at home to watch the water rising, I didn't spend much time thinking about it -- I was on high ground at Gardening Daughter's home. 

I had "Sweetie"- duty this afternoon. My daughter and other members of her local garden club have been working for the past two days at the Statehouse Convention Center in Little Rock, making preparations for their participation in the 2011 Arkansas Flower and Garden Show, which begins tomorrow and runs through Sunday.   Since my son-in-law works the second shift at his place of employment, when she has to be away from home in the afternoons,  I gladly stay with my granddaughter (nick-named "Sweetie," - not to be confused with Sweetie Pie, my cat). She and I have a great time together, although today she was feeling the effects of a tummy upset and took a long nap.

Sweetie's older sister, who is a junior in high school, is very active in the school's Junior ROTC,  which is assisting in a community event at the Senior Citizens Center tonight. They were to report, in uniform, at 5 p.m., which time just happened to be in the midst of the deluge. We had to dart between the raindrops to get into my car, which was parked under a deep carport, sheltered on three sides. The wind blew the rain from the entrance of the carport all the way to the back door of the house.  Wooie!   Getting her to her destination provided me with a thorough washing of my car; I don't think a paid power-wash could have done any better.  The rain all but scoured the paint.  It should gleam like liquid sunshine tomorrow.

Gardening Daughter got home around 6:30, and I got back to my house around 6:45.  I could see no evidence that high water had been in my yard;  I must remember to thank the city fathers for improving the drainage system. 

Tomorrow is also a day.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Dry Bones

Image - Wikipedia

Except for theme posts which recur on a regular basis, I don't create my posts in advance.  Folks who visit here generally find a few (or more) words about what's been on my mind on the date in question.  I was occupied with other matters much of the day, and didn't give much thought to a suitable subject for Wednesday, February 23, and here it is, fast approaching Thursday, February 24. 

Since returning from the mid-week service at church, I've been digging around in the nooks and crannies of my memory trying to think of something of interest (to me, at least) for today's post.  No luck.  Since I've been posting daily since the first of the year, I told myself that I was just having a 'dry spell,' and was just about to give up and go to bed when the word 'dry' made me think of 'dry bones.'  Those two words, in turn, made me think of a song my brother and sisters and I used to sing when we were kids, just for the fun of it, trying not to get the sequence of the bones mixed up. My thought processes may seem a bit strange to you, but that's just the way my mind works.

So, to 'flesh out' the dry bones (sorry), I hastened to the Internet to find a skeleton image and, if possible, a video of the old song I had remembered. Success!

My siblings and I didn't sound quite like the group in the video that follows, but we wouldn't have -- since we were three girls and one boy, and none of us could sing bass. Listen, if you will.  If you can then get the tune out of your mind, you're way ahead of me.

The Plainsmen Quartet

Tomorrow is also a day.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Magpie 54

Photograph © Tess Kincaid
Photo prompt for Magpie Tales #54

* * *


If there was a specific day
that I started to fall apart,
I can't recall it.

Mirrors now reflect
only worn and faded pieces
of the youth I remember.

* * *

Monday, February 21, 2011

A Treasure Rediscovered

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Both of my parents were avid readers. As far back as I can remember, there were always shelves full of books in our homes.  As soon as we children learned to read, we were given full access to the family bookshelves, and were allowed to read anything that was there. If my parents had any books that our mother didn't think quite suitable for us to read (yet), she kept them in her cedar chest or another 'off limits' place.  Most of my father's books were theological, mathematical or scientific; however, his collection did contain a number of volumes of classic literature.  Mother's books were fewer in number, and tended to be books of poetry, literature, and current fiction.

Among the family books that I loved to read when we lived in New Mexico was a volume containing a collection of prose and poetry.  I don't remember if my mother started reading aloud to us from this book and thus piqued my interest, or whether, when I was a young teenager, I just picked it up one day and started to read.  The book contained many amusing stories, poetry (some of it of the tear-jerker variety,) and many writings of an 'inspirational' nature.  One of the poems I especially liked, and read it again and again, until I had memorized it.

When we moved to Arkansas in 1950, the book came with us.  It stayed on my mother's bookshelf after my father died, and eventually came to have a place on the bookshelf in my own home. I read from it many times over the years.

It came as sort of a shock to me when one day several years ago I was looking for this book and I couldn't find it. I looked in every nook and cranny where a book of standard size could have been. No book. After a few days, I quit searching, and the loss of the book gradually faded from my mind. (I still have no idea where it might have gone; I'm quite sure I would not have given it away.)

A couple of weeks ago, the poem that I had loved as a teenager suddenly popped into my mind. That made me want to have again the book that I no longer possessed.  Truthfully, I had forgotten the title of the book, but not the first lines of the poem.  What to do?  Answer: Google!  And, there they were!  With the title of the book in which the poem was contained and a helpful link to, as well.  (Have I told you how much I love the Internet?)

Click. Click.  The book,  Ted Malone's Scrapbook (used, but in 'good' condition with slightly damaged dustcover) could be mine for a few paltry dollars.

Click. Click, again. The book is paid for and on its way to me.

It arrived this past Saturday.  I learned from examination that it was first published in February, 1941 and had its tenth printing in March, 1944. The material for the book was selected from Ted Malone's radio programs and a feature column in Good Housekeeping Magazine, both of which (radio program and feature column) bore the name of "Between the Bookends."

I could hardly wait to find 'my poem' (which I did; it's on page 181). I'm going to copy it below.  As you read it, please keep in mind that I was only 13 or 14 years of age, and probably in the angst of my first infatuation with a member of the opposite sex, when I read and memorized this poem.
You've been champing at the bit to ask me, I can tell.  Just what does the photograph of an elephant have to do with all this?  It will become clear; read on.


While walking down an avenue, I came upon a shop;
'Twas small, exclusive, quiet, dim, what could I do but stop?
I saw an ivory elephant up high upon a shelf,
"I'd like to have that elephant," I murmured to myself.

I priced the ivory elephant and sadly sighed to see
That little ivory elephants were never meant for me.
Sometimes I pause before the shop and there upon the shelf
The lonely little elephant still stands all by himself.

For you, O Unattainable, my love is much the same;
I know I dare not love you, but I thrill to hear your name.
I dream of your lips pressed to mine, although we've never kissed.
You... and my ivory elephant ... are bits of life ... I've missed.   ~UNKNOWN

Tomorrow is also a day.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Today's Flowers - February 20, 2011

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Lantana (variety)

The collage above is of photos I took in the summer of 2010. The various Lantana blooms were on plants  in my own garden or in that of my daughter. I'm looking forward to having more of  them this summer. I think they are lovely flowers, and they grow well in our climate. More information on Lantana may be found by clicking on the link below the collage.

Today's Flowers is a weekly Meme created by Luiz Santilli, Jr. and currently hosted by Luiz Santilli, Jr., Denise in Virginia, Laerte Pupo and Sandy Carlson, and the home site may be found here.  I invite you to visit Today's Flowers to see lovely flower photos from all around the world. If you have a flower photo of your own to share, information about joining the group may be found on the 'Procedure' page.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Sad Tale of Wań-tu and Cań-du

Image - Dover Clip Art

Wań-tu and Cań-du were born on the same day; not identical twins, but very much like each other.  Wań-tu grew quite rapidly while Cań-du took quite a bit longer to (as I've heard it said) "grow into her potential." However, in a few years Cań-du was, in her own way, as accomplished as her sister. Wań-tu, who was quite intelligent, was described as ‘Miss Heart and Brains’; Cań-du, more physically developed, was referred to as ‘The Strong One.’

During the first several decades of their lives, Wań-tu and Cań-du worked together with never a quarrel between them. Whatever activity Wań-tu could imagine, Cań-du would help her do it. They were a very successful team, and both of them were happy.

Then one warm Spring-like day -- a day quite like yesterday, in fact -- Wań-tu said, “The front yard looks very messy. In places, it is covered several inches deep with leaves that have fallen from our trees or have drifted into our yard on the wind.  Let’s get the blower, blow the leaves into piles, then rake them into bags. The yard will look so much better.”

Rather petutantly, Cań-du said, “I’m tired. My back is stiff. We're too old for this. The leaves will eventually rot or blow away. Why can't you just leave well enough alone?“

Wań-tu responded, “Our neighbors’ yards are neat and tidy. They have been raked and cleaned. Do you want them to think that we have become so old that we no longer care about the appearance of our home?”

Cań-du, who recently had become somewhat argumentative, said, “All right, all ready! You’ve shamed me into it. I’ll work for a while, but when I say ‘quit,’ I mean it.”

And so Wań-tu and Cań-du worked as one for almost two hours. They cleaned  the side yard, the flower beds, the walks and the driveway, using the air from the blower to push the leaves into big piles under the maple tree in the front yard.

Suddenly Cań-du, who was panting a bit, whose brow was sweaty and whose arms, knees, and back were aching, said, “That’s it! I’ve had all I can stand and I can’t stands no more.” (Lest the reader think that Cań-du doesn’t know how to speak properly, she was quoting Popeye, the Sailorman.)

Wań-tu said, “Don't stop now! We need just a few minutes more. Well, perhaps another half hour to forty-five minutes. We can do it!”

Stubbornly, Cań-du turned off the blowing machine, coiled the electric cord and carried both to the storage shed, leaving Wań-tu gnashing her teeth over an uncompleted task.

Cań-du just said, "Tomorrow is also a day."

~ The End

Friday, February 18, 2011

I'm Milking This One for All It's Worth

There are times when I am floored (almost) by what I stumble across while 'surfing' the Internet.   Is there anything, anything at all, that has not been recorded for curious browsers? (rhetorical question - I don't necessarily need to know that your great Aunt Nellie's bunion did not warrant a Wikipedia mention.)

Today's tidbit of information (a short read) I found while looking for 'things that happened on this date' and I felt I just had to share it with  my blogger friends.   It was my chuckle for the day.  Have no fear; all my links are 'clean.'  And, actually, what's reported was an historical event.  Enjoy!

Tomorrow is also a day.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Unsteady Ground

I admit it; I'm fascinated by earthquakes.   I've experienced only one -- a very small one of short duration, and I hope not to experience a large one -- but the subject fascinates me, just the same.

I live in Jacksonville (see map above).  An area about 50 miles north of me has experienced hundreds of small quakes since September of 2010.  The news today is that a quake registering 3.8 on the Richter Scale occurred early this morning. 

I think the location is too far west of the New Madrid Fault for it to be causing these quake swarms, but one never knows.  A serious movement of the New Madrid Fault would cause extensive damage in a radius of several hundred miles, which includes the area in which I live.

Should you be interested, I've included a link to the newspaper report.

As there is no other earth-shaking news, I'll close.

Tomorrow is also a day.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Mission: Success

Trumpeter Swan, Magness Lake, Arkansas

We (Gardening Daughter, Granddaughter, Great-Granddaughter, and I) enjoyed our afternoon trip to Magness Lake, near Heber Springs, Arkansas.  The lake, about 60 miles northeast of our home, is the late November to early March home for a flock (170-200) of Trumpeter Swans.  Neither daughter nor I had seen these birds before, and the experience was well worth the trip.

Magness Lake is located on the E & W Wildlife Refuge.  The area from which visitors can observe the swans is separated from the lake by a heavy wire fence which, fortunately, has openings in it large enough to accommodate the extended lens of a camera.  All my photos were shot either through the fence or by standing on tip-toe to clear the fence.

We arrived at the lake around 3:15 and found it populated by a relatively small number of swans, myriad Ring-Necked Ducks, and one Graylag Goose. The photo below reminds me of a flotilla of aircraft carriers surrounded by tug boats!

 Trumpeter Swans and Ring-Necked Ducks
gathering at the edge of the lake to eat shelled corn thrown by visitors

It's hard to judge the size of the swans in a photograph, but for comparison purposes, the Ring-Necked Ducks are 17" long.  The swans are huge!  And noisy! I wish I could have captured the sounds they were making.

The bulk of the flock leaves the lake early in the morning to graze on distant fields and does not return until just before dark.  Unfortunately, we could not stay at the lake to see them.  Perhaps I can make the trip again sans young children and stay until the returning swans fly in. It must be a wonderful sight to see.

Sorry -- fuzzy foto

I got only one photo of a Trumpter in flight, and that one was on the far side of the lake, taking off with a great "whump, whump, whump" of wings beating against the water.  Even at a distance, though, it was easy to see that its wing-span was amazing  -- from what I've read about them, the wing-span is around eight feet.

I took a lot of photos, but I found upon examination that I am more successful in capturing a flower (which doesn't move around) than I was at capturing wild life.  I need more experience! 

 At center is a Greylag Goose, which also enjoys the free corn-handouts. The goose is about 34" long

Bottoms-Up! Juvenile Trumpeter Swan (note dark feathers) diving for corn thrown by Granddaughter

I judge this beautiful swan to be an adolescent - mostly white, as are adults,
with some remaining grey-brown feathers on head and  neck.


Young  Royalty

We were treated to a nice light show on the way home. I do love to see Crepuscular Rays.

Tomorrow is also a day.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

On a Mission

Trumpeter Swans in Flight
Photo by Gerald Plowman

A few days ago, I wrote about Trumpeter Swans in Arkansas.  Today, Gardening Daughter, my six year old granddaughter, and  my great-granddaughter (age 18 months) are making a journey to Magness Lake, a little over 60 miles north of where we live, to see if we can get a glimpse (and a few photos) of these magnificent birds before they depart.  Fortunately, it's warmed up considerably, so we won't have to climb snow drifts to see them-- assuming they are still there.

If you can't wait to find out more about Trumpeter Swans, there's a wealth of information at the Trumpeter Swan Society website, the link to which is shown immediately below the photograph.

Wish us success.  I'll let you know what we find.

Tomorrow is also a day.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Magpie #53

Photograph © Tess Kincaid
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The image above was offered as a writing prompt by Magpie Tales.
Click on the link to see others' contributions.

* * *

We were a beautiful pair, Pepper and I. 
I still recall the day that Lucy, at her bridal shower,
 tore the wrappings from our box.
How we sparkled when she held us to the sunlight. 
 "Oh! Joe and I will love and care for these forever," she said.

The glass-front china cabinet in the dining room, 
second shelf, up front, under a light, was where she kept us
except on Sundays, or when company came for dinner.
On those occasions, she would  put us on the table
for her guests to admire.

"Are these Waterford? Beautiful.
 I love how they catch the light."

Then the children began to sit at table,
and we learned to dread Sunday dinners.
Knocks and spills became the order of the day.
I can't begin to count the number of times
we left trails on the linen cloth,
or were unceremoniously tossed across the table
to small, impatient, waiting hands.

All Joe said was "Boys will be boys!"
Lucy sighed.

She finally stopped urging them to be careful with us
until one sad day, my partner's shattered remains lay on the floor,
a casualty of an all too hasty "pass the pepper."

I now sit on the top shelf of the china cabinet,
pushed to the back, out of sight.
Alone, and in the dark.

* * *

Happy Valentine's Day

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You can tell it's been several years since I made this greeting card, because the postage stamp I used as the focal image was, at the time, current postage.  I made this in a rubber stamping class taught by my friend, Sheila.   I sent the original card to my sister in Virginia, but I scanned it before I put it in the mail.

I'm glad I saved the image because, as I perused my Picasa files for 'heart-y' things, I thought this one would do quite well to convey my Valentine's Day greetings to my blog readers.

Pretend you got one just like this in the mail today.  You will cherish it, of course, and for a few days display it proudly on your mantel, or on the highly polished table next to your favorite chair; some prominent place where you can see it and feel all warm and fuzzy inside because that woman in Arkansas thinks you're SPECIAL!

The card pictured above is probably a more appropriate greeting for the general reader than the one I posted a few weeks ago, "Bosom Buddy."  But, if you'd rather be my bosom buddy, you can pretend you got that one in the mail.

I hope you are looking forward to, having, or had a wonderful day.  I will work in the church office this morning, and this afternoon I will babysit my six year old granddaughter. Perhaps we'll make Valentines for her parents and sisters and eat a few pieces of chocolate candy.

Tomorrow is also a day.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Books - 2

Photo taken in the Esther D. Nixon Library - Mystery Section

In an earlier post, I wrote about unearthing an old pocket calendar/journal in which I had noted the books I read in 1999.  It was fun to look at my notes and to try to remember not only something about the story line, but why I chose to read some of them.

Many of the hundreds of books I read during the slightly over three year period of August, 1996 to October, 1999, were brought to my attention through a volunteer job I had with AOL.  I was one of many 'hosts' for a book-readers' chat room named Bookaccino.   I usually hosted the chat room two or three evenings a week, for two hours per shift.  Although it was sometimes work, it was interesting and a great lot of fun, and I had the opportunity to meet, if only online, not only readers of all genres but, frequently, well-known authors, as well.  Hosting the chat room was an unusual experience that broadened my reading interests, and one I will not soon forget. 

I  resigned from my hosting duties within a few weeks after I developed a passionate interest in rubber stamping.  When I left Bookaccino, I also left my long-established habit of reading several books a week.  I found that it's impossible to hold a book when you've got your hands full of papers and stamps.  I suppose I could have turned to audio-books, but listening to someone else read is a slow and discomforting process for me since I can read faster than any one can speak, at least intelligibly,

From my calendar/journal: Books I read in February, 1999.

Mortal Fear - Greg Iles
The Body in the Belfry - Katherine Hall Page
Medusa's Child - John J. Nance
The Body in the Bouillon - Katherine Hall Page
Rites of War -  Cyn Mobley
Too Many Cooks Spoil the Broth - Tamar Myers
Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Crime - Tamar Myers

It seems to have been a month for 'cozy' mysteries, as over half of the books listed fall into that category.  It must have been a cold February, just like this month.

Right now, my plan is to create one post each month (for the remainder of this year) in which I list the books I read for the corresponding month in 1999.  Forewarned is forearmed!

Tomorrow is also a day.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Bits and Pieces

One of my baby sister's orchids in her Virginia home

As my regular readers know from previous entries on this blog, I have eclectic interests.  Much of my curiosity is temporarily satisfied by browsing various articles found on the Internet, where I glean bits and pieces concerning things that interest me at the moment.

I already knew, for example, that today, February 12, was the birthday of Abraham Lincoln.  This historical fact was reinforced by my morning visit to fellow blogger Bob Brague's blog -- rhymeswithplague.  As I have an inquiring mind, I was quite sure that there were other historical items of note that share this date with the commemoration of the birth of "Honest Abe."

Following are a few of the many things I discovered  (links provided, should you wish to investigate on your own):

1924 - George Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue" premiers at Carnegie Hall.   A YouTube video is embedded below, should you care to listen.

 1915 - The cornerstone is laid for the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.

1908 - A New York to Paris auto race (via Alaska and Siberia) begins in New York City.  Does anyone else remember the 1965 film "The Great Race" starring Jack Lemmon, Tony Curtis, and Natalie Wood?  I still think this is one of the funniest movies I have ever seen.

1879- The first artificial ice rink in North America opens at Madison Square Garden, New York City

1594 - Lady Jane Grey was beheaded after being charged with treason. She had claimed the throne of  England for only nine days.

1773 - Savannah, Georgia (USA) was founded by English colonist James Oglethorpe.

1809 - Abraham Lincoln (16th president of the United States) is born.  Note: I read with interest that Abe's family was more well-to-do than we thought.

1809 - Charles Darwin, English naturalist and author of On The Origin of Species, among other controversial scientific works, is born.  There is much fascinating information about Mr. Darwin here.

1892 - Abraham Lincoln's birthday was declared to be a national holiday in the United States. (This holiday is no longer observed on this day.  The commemoration of his birth has been combined with that of George Washington, whose birthday is February 22,  and is now observed as Presidents Day on the third Monday in February.)

1940 - The Mutual Broadcasting System presented the first broadcast of the radio play "The Adventures of Superman."

I shall now be "up, up and away!"  (Who said that?)

 Tomorrow is also a day.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Hot Foot

"Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds" *

I donned my cold-weather gear early this afternoon and went out to clear the snow from the area leading to my mail box.  The twelve-foot walk on the north side of the house is covered by a deep roof overhang. Because of the wind, the walk had almost as much snow on it as did the open yard.  The only disturbances to the blown snow, other than for a few tiny bird tracks, were the deep imprints of the postman's footwear, which had crushed and melted the snow all the way down to the concrete. However, the bitter cold had frozen these footprints into size 13 chunks of ice about a half inch thick.  The broom I was using moved the snow easily, but didn't begin to budge the icy reminders of the postman's visit.

My gardening tools include shovels of several sorts but no flat blade shovel, which is what I really needed.  As a substitute, I selected a gardening hoe and used it to chip away at the icy footprints.  It took me a good fifteen minutes to get the tracks broken up and swept away.  I worked up a sweat, and have definitely had my exercise for the day.

The next time I see my postman, I'm going to ask him if he wore heated socks during this most recent snow storm. If he did not, he's got the hottest feet in the country!

* Note:  The quotation is NOT the official creed/motto of the United States Postal Service, although it is often referred to as such.  I learned that from our good buddies at Wikipedia, in this article.

Tomorrow is also a day.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Evening Shadows

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"Look round and round upon this bare bleak plain, and see even here, upon a winter's day, how beautiful the shadows are! Alas! it is the nature of their kind to be so. The loveliest things in life, Tom, are but shadows; and they come and go, and change and fade away, as rapidly as these!"

~ Charles Dickens (Martin Chuzzlewit)

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Same Song, Second Verse

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The photo above was taken in my back yard one year ago yesterday. That bush looks much the same this afternoon, only more so. It has snowed steadily since early morning, and we have about 7"-8" on the ground. A light snow is still falling and the temperature is in the low 20 degree range (F). It will be even colder tonight. Fortunately, there has been no rain, therefore no ice on power lines, etc.

The grackles came in droves this morning, completely cleaning out my bird feeders. It made me sad to see my 'sweet birds' (cardinals, gold finches, house finches, juncos, nut hatches, and a variety of sparrows)  trying to find something to eat, so I donned my Nanook of the North outfit, put on my gloves and leopard-print wellies and made a supply run.

The minute I filled the feeders and turned back to the house, the grackles, and a host of starlings, which had been lurking in the trees, made a mad dash for them, flocking to them so heavily that the sweet birds, which are much smaller than the grackles and starlings, could not even approach the feeders, much less get a bill in edgewise.

I finally just stood outside under the porch overhang, like a fat scarecrow. The grackles and starlings would not come down from the trees when they saw me, but the sweet birds seemed not to fear me at all, and came quickly to the feeders, even to the one that was less than four feet from where I was standing. They must have been hungry. I stayed out there for about 15 - 20 minutes, just watching them eat.

The sweet birds were twittering (even without Internet access) and giving thanks for their seeds. I love to hear them 'talk' to each other.  There are a great many juncos that visit my feeders, or the ground beneath them -- little 'snowbirds.' I don't think I've ever before noticed the sound they make. It's really pretty.

When my toes froze, I came back inside. In the hour or so following, I made several trips to the back door to scare away the hordes of black birds, but they came back as soon as I closed the door. Oh, well. Everything has to eat.

Besides feeding and watching birds, I've done little else today, just a bit of laundry and basic housekeeping stuff. I did manage to make a batch of cheese dip, the kind with Velveeta® and Ro-tel ® tomatoes and green chiles. That was a mighty good snack for a cold, snowy afternoon.

That's about it.  Tomorrow is also a day.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

It's Coming, Really It Is!

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But not for a while!

The weather forecasters are warning us that more white fluffy stuff is going to fall from the sky tonight and tomorrow -- the heaviest snowfall of the season to date. :::sigh:::

I (and half the population of the city) made a trip to the grocery store today to stock up on essentials and, in my case, bird seed.  Barring power failure, I'm set for the duration. 

One of my purchases this morning was a jar of crunchy peanut butter (store brand, and on sale).  I intend to mix some of that with a generous (yea, even copious) amount of bird seed and use it in place of the suet blocks that I have been using.  An advantage to the home-made mixture is that it can be 'blocked' or, while a bit more spreadable, stuffed into holes/cracks in trees to provide some nourishment for both birds and squirrels.

Gardening Daughter has already let me know that if the power goes out here, I am to report to her wood-heated house, pronto! I haven't yet figured out just how I would get there if it snows a lot, because her home is situated at the top of a hill. The street I would have to travel is uphill both ways.

I picked up a book from the library and I'm keeping my Kindle charged up, just in case.  We shall see what we shall see.

Tomorrow is also a day.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Magpie Tales - #52

Photograph © Tess Kincaid
The image above was offered as a writing prompt by Magpie Tales
which is observing its first blogaversary.  Click on the link to see others' contributions.

* * *

After dark last night, while the snow was still falling,
I swept the walk and covered it with salt.
I don't want those nosy Parkers who live next door
banging on my door and
threatening to call City Hall
because it's dangerous.  Sissies!

I should have left the walk alone.
It would have been fun
to peek through the curtains
and watch'em fall on their backsides.

The steps?  

 I'm not going any where.
Let the snow cover'em;
the deeper, the better.

Icy steps discourage visitors.

* * *

Happy Birthday, Charles Dickens

(image - Wikipedia)

It's a slow news day so, this day being the anniversary of his birth, I offer you some of my favorite quotes from Charles Dickens.  Happy birthday, Mr. Dickens.  You were a remarkable writer.

"That was a memorable day to me, for it made great changes in me. But, it is the same with any life. Imagine one selected day struck out of it, and think how different its course would have been. Pause you who read this, and think for a moment of the long chain of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers, that would never have bound you, but for the formation of the first link on one memorable day." ~  (Great Expectations)

""Oh, gracious, why wasn't I born old and ugly?"  ~  (Barnaby Rudge)

"I wear the chain I forged in life....I made it link by link, and yard by yard; I girded it on of my own free will, and of my own free will I wore it."  ~ (A Christmas Carol)

"There either is or is not, that’s the way things are. The colour of the day. The way it felt to be a child. The saltwater on your sunburnt legs. Sometimes the water is yellow, sometimes it’s red. But what colour it may be in memory, depends on the day. I’m not going to tell you the story the way it happened. I’m going to tell it the way I remember it."  ~ (Great Expectations)  6/27/11 - POST PUBLICATION NOTE: I learned today that this is not a Dickens quote, but rather from the 1998 film Great Expectations based on the Dickens novel. The screenplay was written by Mitch Glazer.  I like it, anyway.
"He would make a lovely corpse." ~  (Martin Chuzzlewit)

"Happiness is a gift and the trick is not to expect it, but to delight in it when it comes" ~ (Nicholas Nickleby)

"I have been bent and broken, but - I hope - into a better shape."  (Great Expectations)

Tomorrow is also a day.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

My Travels - Crete: The Church of St. Titus

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One of the many places I visited while visiting my daughter on Crete in 1993 (which I wrote about here) was the ruins of the Church of St. Titus, located at Gortys.  What remains of the church is located in a complex with other most interesting ruins.  The link to Gortys, above, has photos and descriptions not only of the church ruins, but of the other archaeological sites near it. My visit here was both thrilling and humbling, when I realized that I might be walking on ground also tread upon by a saint of the Christian church.

Titus was a companion of St. Paul and, according to tradition, was ordained by Paul to be the bishop of  Crete, specifically the church at Gortys.  Paul's letter to Titus is one of three pastoral letters written by Paul, and is found in the Christian New Testament.

I read with interest that the early Roman church did not establish a feast/commemoration day for St. Titus in the original Tridentine Calendar.  His name was added in 1854 and his feast day was assigned to February 6 -- which happens to be today's date.   That's no longer the case, however, since in 1969, the date was changed to January 26.

Note: my decision to post about St. Titus today was not influenced by the foregoing information; I didn't discover that particular tidbit until I was reading the Wikipedia article about Titus.

That having been said, I shall close. Tomorrow is also a day.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Clear Skies

Just a dusting of snow left on the tree limbs

The morning brought bright sunshine and, although it was still below freezing, the sound of drip, drip, drip from the eaves. Streets that last night were snow-covered (only about 1/2 inch, but covered nonetheless) are clear except in shady patches.
Looking out my kitchen window this morning while waiting for my coffee to brew, I beheld a yard full of diamonds.  There was enough sleet in last night's wintery mix to create light-catching shards of ice that glittered and glimmered on the surface of the snow. I tried to capture the sparkles in a photograph, but gave up after a few chilly tries, so you'll just have to use your imagination.
All's right with the world here.  I hope you can say the same.
Tomorrow is also a day.

Friday, February 4, 2011

A Touch of Color

"Lantana" - Watercolor by M. Koziar

Snow showers with intermittent rain seem to be the weather for today.  An Autumn Clematis, still clinging to one of my front porch supports, has icicles hanging from the vines.   Brr!

Rather than dwell on the weather, I went searching through my photo files for something more cheerful, and found the image shown above. The photo is a detail from a watercolor painting of Lantana by my talented younger sister.

"M" and her husband moved to Arkansas 18 years ago, after living in Portland, Maine for over 20 years.  (Talk about BRR!) They live about 70 miles southwest of my home, and I am able to drive to see them several times a year.  I visited with her by telephone earlier today to be sure she had no objections to my posting her art work.  She told me that they are snowed in.  Keep in mind that "snowed in" in Arkansas doesn't mean 10 foot drifts; two or three inches of snow accumulation on the street is enough.

I'm working on the story of how I came to be at a dinosaur museum in Alberta, Canada (the subject of yesterday's post.)  I'd like to get the whole thing written (in installments) and photos assembled before I start to publish it.  It may be a while before it's ready.

It started snowing again in early afternoon. Great huge flakes. I ventured out to the library to pick up a book I ordered before any of the downy white stuff stuck to the streets, only to find the lights out and the doors locked.  So much for that!

Tomorrow is also a day.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Hot Tea and Dinosaurs

(image from

This afternoon, I became a bit chilled and decided to brew a cup of hot tea. I use the term “brew” loosely; what I really mean is that I heated some water, placed a tea bag in a cup and poured the just-under-a-boil water over the tea bag. A few up and down dunks and, voilá, I had a cup of tea.

“What has tea to do with dinosaurs? “ a reader reasonably might inquire. I’m glad you asked (otherwise I could end this post right here.)

The cup I selected for brewing my tea was a cup I acquired in July, 1991, from the gift shop of a wonderful museum in Alberta, Canada. The cup, made of white porcelain and emblazoned with a small silhouette of an Albertosaurus and the name and location of the museum, used to have a bright gold rim, now mostly worn away from frequent use. Every time I use this cup, I recall with delight my visit to this unique place.

My youngest sister and I had spent the previous night in a hotel in Calgary, and were awaiting the late afternoon arrival of her husband from Washington, D.C.  An Arkansas friend, who knew I was going to Calgary, had strongly urged me to take the time to visit a museum in Drumheller, about 70 miles east of Calgary. “You won’t be disappointed,” is all he would tell me.

After assuring my sister that we would return in plenty of time to meet her husband’s plane, we checked out of the hotel and drove east over the flat wheat-lands of Alberta. Tall, waving wheat, hundreds and thousands of acres of it, was a beautiful sight to behold, and we were enjoying our drive. Suddenly, the terrain, and the highway, took a steep downward slope. It was not quite like driving down into the Grand Canyon, as the cuts in the earth from eons of erosion were not so deep, but similar. However, unlike the magnificent colors of the Grand Canyon, the earth could be described only as a cool gray-white, with a few colored sedimentary bands, as shown in the photo below.

(Horseshoe Canyon near Drumheller - image from Internet)

 (I've since learned to recognize this earth color as having the possibility of containing dinosaur fossils. Similar-colored earth can be found near Dinosaur National Monument, on the Colorado/Utah border.  I visited that site several days after my Alberta trip. That's a story for another telling.)

Drumheller, just outside of which was our primary destination, is located in the valley of the Red Deer River, which is responsible for carving the remarkable canyons, much like the Colorado River created the Grand Canyon. There are many places of interest in Drumheller but, as the time we had to explore was short, we headed directly toward the object of our journey.

I was thoroughly intrigued by the surrounding topography, the wonderful museum and the fabulous exhibits, but disappointed that we did not have more time to spend in the area since we had to be back in Calgary by 4 p.m. to meet my brother-in-law's plane.  I won’t recount here the many attractions of the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology because, if you’re interested, you can read about it here.  If you’re not interested ---.

Fodder for another post is how this Arkie came to be in Alberta at all. It’s a multi-stage story. For the time being, I’ll just tell you that it was because of a dream.

Tomorrow is also a day.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

One, Two, Three, Alary *

Trumpeter Swan
image - Wikipedia

One - I like to learn something new every day, if I can.  Today, I learned from an article in this morning's Arkansas Democrat - Gazette that I have lived in ignorance of a wonderful thing that is almost next door to me (well, within 60 miles).  Around 200 trumpeter swans are currently in residence at a small lake in north central Arkansas. The swans have been coming to this private lake for almost 20 years (my ignorance is that, until today, I didn't know that), arriving with the full moon in November and leaving with the full moon in February. The article was accompanied by some wonderful photos which, of course, I cannot reproduce here.  Therefore, I  offer this YouTube video of a special report on Arkansas' trumpeter swans that was produced by television station AETN, the PBS station in central Arkansas.  The video is about 9 minutes long, but I hope you'll watch at least some of it.

Trumpeter Swans in Arkansas
Produced by AETN

Two - There are several things that push my 'hot button.'  Education or, more specifically the lack or poor quality thereof, is one of them.  Another article in the above mentioned newspaper pushed that button.  According to a front page article written by Evie Blad, more than fifty percent of the 22,342 first time students entering Arkansas' (public) institutions of higher learning in the fall of 2010 require remedial course work in at least one subject - mathematics, English, or reading.  Inquiring minds want to know... why? What in the world has happened to our educational system? Is it just in Arkansas? If the system itself is not to blame, who is?  I solicit your comments.

Three -  It's official.  With this post, since the first day of January, 2011, I have published as many posts as I did in all of 2010. 

Alary! * If you have no idea what this means, you never played a children's game that was a popular recess activity when I was in elementary school. (I know, I know -- back in the Dark Ages!)  Male readers, you are excused; this game was played exclusively by girls, as far as I know. As I remember them, the accompanying words to the game are "One, two, three, alary; four, five, six, alary; seven, eight, nine, alary; ten alary, postman." 

Tomorrow is also a day.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Another History-Filled Day

It rained steadily all night, leaving almost three inches of liquid sunshine in my rain gauge.   That's much preferable to what some of my neighbors to the west and north are experiencing.  My prayers are with them as they face the worst storm of the winter.

I've stuck close to home and inside most of the day. I made a late morning run to Gardening Daughter's house to let the dogs out, and to return two books to the library and drop some mail at the postoffice. Otherwise, I've been on another 'explore the Internet' trip.

 Everytime I learn something new (which I try to do every day), I find out how much I do not know, have never before heard or read of, or of which I am just plain ignorant.

Following are some interesting (to me, and I hope to you) notes about events that happened on February 1:

1709 - The anniversary of the rescue of Alexander Selkirk, a Scottish sailor who had been put ashore (in September 1704) on the uninhabited island Juan Fernández, at his own request, after a quarrel with his captain. His adventures formed the basis for Daniel Defoe's book Robinson Crusoe.
1790 - The Supreme Court of the United States met for the first time in New York City, with Chief Justice John Jay presiding.
1859 Victor Herbert was born in Dublin, Ireland. [I also found interesting information on Herbert at a Library of Congress site here.]
1884 – The first volume (A to Ant) of the Oxford English Dictionary was published.
1898 – Travelers Insurance Company issued the first car insurance -- against accidents with horses.
1901William Clark Gable was born in Cadiz, OH
1902 Langston Hughes is born in Joplin, MO
1909George Beverly Shea, Canadian singer was born.  [ Note: I heard him sing at the Billy Graham Crusade I attended in Little Rock in 1951. He is now 102 years old, and will receive a Grammy Award later this month. ]
1920The Royal Canadian Mounted Police began operations.
1937 – Don Everly, of The Everly Brothers, is born in Brownie, KY
1946Trygve Lie of Norway is picked to be the first United Nations Secretary General.
1968Lisa Marie Presley is born in Memphis, TN
2003 – The Space Shuttle Columbia disintegrated during reentry into the Earth's atmosphere, killing all seven astronauts aboard.

February 1 also marks the observance of Imbolc (Celtic Calendar)  -- For an interesting, first-hand report on this event,  I invite you to pay a visit to Hillside Cottage, an English blog I read regularly

Also, today is the first day of:

American Heart Month;  International Boost Self-Esteem Month; Library Lovers’ Month; National African-American History Month; National Bird-Feeding Month; National Care About Your Indoor Air Month; National Cherry Month; National Mend a Broken Heart Month; and last, but not least, Spunky Old Broads Month.
I hope you enjoyed exploring some of these sites.

You know what tomorrow is, of course: Groundhog Day and Candlemas but, unless providentially spurred, I'm not going to post about them, since I've already done it -- here.

Tomorrow is also a day.