Saturday, September 29, 2007

Country Moonlight

Okay, so I missed the proper full moon phase but I started vacation when the work day ended. Translation: I made time to wander outside and play with my camera. When you live in the country with no city lights, you get to see the most amazing things. The moon was so orange when I took this it looked like a pumpkin. Sadly that doesn't translate well here.

It's a shame you can't get the whole effect of this little photo shoot. The entire time I was outside playing in the dark, with trusty Dog #2 Boudreaux by my side, coyotes were howling in the distance. The longer I stayed outside, the closer the sound got. I could hear Boudreaux shifting closer as well. I wasn't sure if he was protecting me... or visa versa. So I tried out my "night vision" setting after the coyotes really began singing and this is what I got.


Can you say, "Mommy?!"

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Say it Again...Please!

Last night hubby and I were watching t.v. when a commercial came on pleading we return Friday night for the fall premiere of a program we watched last season. I now understand the meaning of “harrumphed”. It’s the sound I made while muttering, “I still can’t believe they killed off the doctor on that show.” Hubby pointed out the man wasn’t a major character. I shot back,“Yeah, but he was the only normal one. Besides, he was so pleasant.” As hubby raised an eyebrow, I swallowed the rest of my sentence.

…to listen to.

Suddenly I realized it was the doctor’s accent I’d miss. Said actor doctor is a native of Scotland and although his lines were few and far between, they made me smile. His were lyrical, lilting words which made my ears applaud the audio change in diet. Had I admitted that hubby would’ve pointed out I was merely clinging to my childhood, where Star Trek’s “Scotty” was the closest to Scotland I’d ever get.

Accents have always intrigued and delighted me. I’m pretty sure I was the only little girl who sighed when Ricardo Montalban did Chrysler commercials about “Corinthian Leather”. Okay so there’s no such leather, which Montalban admitted, but his speech had such a musical rhythm, it was almost hypnotic.

Television has done wonders in spreading information and educating, yet it has homogenized our unique verbal signatures. As t.v.’s popularity rose, regionalized accents declined. Born in the midlands of South Carolina, my ears can tell you if a speaker is from the Holy City of Charleston or upstate Greenville…where they sound a lot like Scarlett O’Hara. Southerners can identify fellow southerners by state. Find an early recording of Andy Griffith doing a comedy bit “They Called It Football” and his N.C. accent is so thick, many t.v. executives were afraid to give him a show because they believed no one would understand him. Griffith never lost his accent, but the “strength” of it was watered down for the masses.

My husband finds it amusing that when watching a documentary, I’m not happy until my ears identify the Narrator. But I can’t help it. It’s like I have a dial in my head which easily switches from Southern/Bostonian/Jersey/Midwest/Californian to British, Scottish, Irish [yes, there’s a difference] to Hispanic, Indian, Australian and on and on. The sound of people’s words are just as fascinating to me as what they’re saying. I’d sit and listen to James Earl Jones read a phone book just to hear that lush voice. Ironically, he stuttered as a child. I’m glad he didn’t give up.

And I won’t give up the fight to keep my ears happy.

Amongst my senior citizens is a group of women we call the British Wives. Ranging from their mid 20s to mid 80s, they’re English girls who married American GIs. The sound of them talking brings back childhood memories of the boy across the street whose Mum was British. Her parents also lived there. Although I was sad when my friend moved, I missed his Grandfather more because he always entertained us with stories. After talking to the British Wives, I find myself using words like “lovely” and “brilliant!”. I’m not mocking them, my brain sees it as an auditory tribute. They hold a Christmas Tea for my group annually and a few years ago, one of their fathers attended. He was Welsh and as his daughter chided him to stop talking my ears off, I kept egging him on and waving her off. I hope he comes back this year.

I may quietly mourn the demise of the Scottish actor doctor, but I’ve discovered a website of Scottish poets like Hugh MacMillan and Rab Wilson reading their own poetry. It brings new meaning to the phrase, “grinning from ear to ear.” And when British Wife Jean, a Scotland native, came into my office to “translate” a poem from her homeland, I thought, “I didn’t get to Scotland, but Scotland came to me.” Insert big grin here.

Maybe my fascination is a good thing. Occasionally while watching a program with an international cast my hubby will sigh,”What did he say?”

Just call me the In-House translator.

Friday, September 21, 2007

The 100 year Contract

My husband once made me promise, before we got married, that I would never, EVER involve him in one of those "25th Anniversary Renewal of Vows". I made him a deal. If we did it right the first time, he wouldn't have to do it again. But I also locked him into a 100 year contract. I still tease him from time to time that if he feels the need to jettison me when he's 123 to look for a new wife...well, good luck.

I've kept my end of the bargain...we passed year 27 in August, with not a "renewal" in sight. Which is fine with me. I don't like being the center of attention. I'm more of a behind-the-scenes person. An Indian happy not to be the Chief.

The secret to our success? He makes me laugh. Still. I met 17 year old him when I was a shy sixteen. It's like we grew up together. Unlike today, we simply dated through high school and college, living at home with our separate parental units until we got married. I know. Archaic. Maybe, but we're still together. So here's an ode to hubby, who makes me laugh when life gets tough...and won't let me sulk. You know a person really understands you when they can just start laughing, knowing you'll fall right in. For no other reason than love is often a shared giggle.

Make me laugh.
Make me smile.
Make me forget for a while
That life doesn’t play fair…

…even if I do.


Make me giggle.
Make me swoon.
Make me believe in over the moon
Even if gravity binds me here…

…against my will.


Make me adventurous.
Make me try.
Make me never wonder why
You still believe in me…

…after all these years.


Make me courageous.
Make me take flight.
Make me know that in the night
You’ll still reach over to hold my hand…

…telling me it’s okay to fail if I'm willing to try again.


Funny. As kids we use to taunt
“You can’t make me!”
And yet, all I want
is for us to stay happy…

…and giggle for 73 more years.


Thursday, September 20, 2007

Odds and Ends

The Information Highway is an odd and curious road. Recently I've discovered some of it's more charming moments...which allowed me to exchange thoughts with a poet WAY across the pond.

My current curiosity concerning Scotland led me to an interesting blog entitled, "Dark Mutterings from Drumsleet". Its creator is a Scottish poet named Hugh McMillan that I discovered while feeding my insatiable need to know. I originally found McMillan and some of his fellow poets on a website that allows you to listen to them recite their poetry. What a beautiful lilting sound! I found myself listening at first, then I began searching for written copies of the poems so I could read along as that lovely cadence filled the room. I hesitated, for about 60 seconds, then left a message on his blog. He's answered and provided me with a suggested reading list. If you're a wee bit curious yerself, his blog is at http://drumsleet.blogspot.com/
The poets' site can be found at
http://www.dgcommunity.net/dgcommunity/MiniWeb.aspx?id=263&menuid=5339&openid=5249
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Saw a bumper sticker today that read, "You should only worry about people who worry about you."
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Today's quote came when I typed in "don't give up".
"Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. you wait and watch and work: you don't give up."

Time will tell.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Perspective

Sometimes you get the coolest shots when you just sit down
and look up.




Saturday, September 15, 2007

Ouch!

It's no secret that I love trees. Never climbed them much but I admire their beauty and diversity. And their shade...especially in the south.

I've always joked we bought this tree and our house came with it. Our house is a 124 year old farm house. The neighbor next door told me of swinging from her branches, claiming the tree's been this big since he can remember...and he's 75. Contrary to popular belief [or first glance] it's not an oak...it's a pecan tree. Sometimes I wish she could talk, tell me who sat beneath her branches or walked past on their journey. There are a whole lot of generations who've enjoyed her company thus far.

Pecan trees tend to bear heavily one year, then take a break the next. Two years ago we had a wicked ice storm and Mother Nature did one cold job of pruning my girl out front. Looked like someone had dropped a bomb in the top of the tree it was so splintered. The fall after she was "broken" by Ma Nature was her off year and over the past two years, she's healed. At least aesthetically. This year we were amazed how many pecans were forming. But take this summer's drought [in spite of our watering her], the weight of the pecans, weakened limbs from that ice storm, add thunder, lightning and torrential rain...and you get a recipe for disaster.


Our 105 lb. chocolate lab Boudreaux is sitting in front of the tree to give you a sense of scale. Plus he couldn't figure out why there was a stick that big lying across the driveway. It happened the night before during a moderate thunderstorm. The sound had been horrible....like listening to someone rip apart wood with the strength of Sampson and then the SWOOSH! as the whole thing came tumbling down. We actually felt the "thump" inside the house.

But our gal's tough. In fact the limb didn't total snap off. If you follow the limb up toward the right hand side of the picture, it's still hanging on by a thread. Well, until this morning.

Our neighbor has a tree service and his crew was out front, trying to decide how to tackle our tree. The picture doesn't do the sheer size of the job justice. I'd heard chainsaws and grimaced. I felt this huge THUMP and shook my head, imagining they'd gotten to the point of surgically severing limb from it's main body. As the men walked back and forth, gathering limbs, I walked on the porch to see my husband shaking his head. At first I thought it was because he was viewing this through male eyes: "Wow! We sure lost a lot of pecans. But what a mess. Glad I didn't have to clean it up." My view was more along the lines of "My poor tree!"

Hubby turned toward me and said, "They were standing there talking, trying to figure out how to tackle where the limb was still attached. One of the guys walked under the limb and as soon as he cleared it, the thing came crashing down! You probably felt it all the way in the house!"

That tree has seen a lot in her years. It'll take more than a guy with a chainsaw and a plan to get the best of her.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

A different kind of 9/11 Memorial

We all know the date’s importance to Americans. The media runs as many specials as possible, newspapers are filled with commemoration pages and everyone who has a flag remembers to fly it. The only bit of this “Americana” that I participated in was when a friend requested I keep my headlights on as a tribute. I commute...it seemed like a good idea.

Now don’t think I don’t appreciate what happened that day. I do. It was horrible and our safe little world cracked wide open. Land of the Free got smacked in the face when we’ve always believed we were invincible. After all that stupidity between the North and the South, we learned fighting on home soil was not progressive or productive. The old saying about learn from history or be doomed to repeat it is still important.

But so is living in the present. And hoping for the future.

I did two “pro-active” things yesterday that will make me think of 9/11 in a different vein. There are people in our lives we cherish and those we…tolerate. Often the ones on the Try-to-be-nice-to List aren’t lovable or have many redeeming qualities visible to the naked eye. I’ve discovered two folks with 9/11 birthdays: one is a lovely lady named Ruthella who attends my senior center and the other is the maintenance guy at the bowling alley we visit each week. Ruthella comes from a generation, the “greatest generation” and would feel wrong about bemoaning the fact that “her day” is now a dark day in American history. We’ve told her that her ability to make us smile, not to mention she’s made each member who attends lunch a handmade quilt, makes her a good reason to celebrate the day.

For the past couple of years, we’ve mailed the Maintenance Guy at the bowling alley a birthday card. After all, the seniors have been bowling there for 8 years now and they’re treated like family, not customers. Maintenance Guy has the kind of personality that you wait to see which way the wind is blowing before you speak, unless you like having your head handed to you during one of his off days. He is tolerant of the seniors but finds me, the junior member of the group, his target for terror. It’s like being in 3rd grade again and having pigtails that he likes to pull. In fact one summer, as I approached the line to bowl while sporting a ponytail, he actually snuck up behind me and tugged on it. If I didn’t have good reflexes, he would’ve been the proud possessor of three balls as I was at the point of my swing where the ball goes back before being launched.

I tolerate this guy only because there is the occasional, if small, spark of human decency that comes out at the oddest times. Sometimes I think it’s sparked by jealously, because the group loves the Asst. Manager. Literally. They almost hug him to death each week as he holds the door open for them. On days hugs are abounding, Maintenance Guy seems kinder, as if wanting the same, but that razor sharp tongue keeps everyone at arm’s length.

Yesterday, we turned the tables on him.

We called during our weekly lunch and sang Happy Birthday to him. When I got back on the line he was speechless. Oh, it was only momentary and followed with an appreciative, “Oh shit. You people are nuts.” This guy, who has an answer for everything, proceeded to stumbled all over himself for the next couple of minutes. We sang to Ruthella next. We may have sounded better the second time, but I think somehow the first chorus was more heartfelt because we knew we'd touched the heart of a man we were sure didn’t possess one. I do wonder what he’ll do to us on Friday when we come to bowl, but I’m guessing we might actually see a smile before he starts to verbally berate me.

The second unusual marking of 9/11 came from a friend concerning e-mailing a marine. I don’t know what Marine, just one whose commander is sick and tired of believing Americans want the Iraq deal over and done with because they’re sick and tired of hearing about it. I’m pretty sure the Marines are sick of it too, but they’re obligated to stay. The request was simple: e-mail an upbeat thought, even if it’s just the word THANKS, so every member in that Commander’s outfit receives a real message from an actual every day American. I’m about as everyday as they get and we all know how I like to write.

So I did. I hope it helped. If nothing else, it came from my heart.

Something simple for a person I know and one I don’t. Doesn’t matter. We’re all Americans right?