Monday, April 28, 2008

I recommend ... #1 ...

Cruising the net is fascinating.

There are just a 'ton' of sites out there that focus on home-schooling, others on family, religion, politics, travel, and some on things that just don't interest me at all (surprised?).

Every once in a while, I'll edit my "Favorites" list -- adding to or deleting, creating new folders, re-categorizing, etc.

Today, I'd like to share two more of my favorites with you.

The first is Michael Patton's.

He's been posting since 2006 on this site, and the link should take you to yesterday's post, "With This Child".

All poetry, usually with an introductory statement or two, some of which are very funny!

Sometimes I'll read the poem first, then go back to his introduction and read the poem again. I find it almost mind-boggling when (or if) I realize that my feelings have been altered.

Almost always I am tempted to leave a comment. Usually, tho, I am able to restrain myself. This second link will be to one where my restraints failed.

Some of his poetry I could spend literally hours in, indulging myself in fantasy. Others don't interest me in the slightest. Isn't that the way of it?

Poetry, in my opinion, is very personal. It should not be criticized when the author is obviously attempting to portray, in writing, his/her deepest feelings.

I have not even begun to read all of his works. Yet one more thing to look forward to. (Wouldn't Winston Churchill have hated my last sentence?)

My second recommendation is to a site composed of photographs and paintings, only (at least so far as I know), and I happened upon it just this past week. Sometimes there's a heading, others none. I'll be referring you to two specific posts.

This first one is what appeared when I was cruising. Are those feathers gorgeous, or what?!?

I immediately added it to my favorites, and took a little time later to have a 'looksee' at some of what else he (I guess it's a 'he') had to offer. The edge was taken off of my excitement just a touch, and I stopped going back to previous posts.

This one, tho, is also worth a look.

His site is still on my list. Unique offerings, to say the least!

Have a good one, guys, and I'll talk to you later, OK?

Odds and ends

No particular subject this morning. Just thought I'd catch you up on a few things.

Have any of you checked out the Astronomy pic of the day yet? I love it! Looks kind of like some sort of sea creature. You can see eyes, nose, and a mouth. (Of course, I can 'see' lots of different shapes in clouds, too. My imagination has a blast with stuff like this!)

Have received no more suspicious e-mails since the last one I reported to you. Will keep you posted.

Spent a bunch of time this weekend gathering my thoughts, writing them down, and then e-mailing all six (!) pages to a friend of mind who is thinking about getting into the business of driving seniors. Hope I was a little bit helpful.

Spring has been kind of weird this year. We're supposed to easily set a record low temperature tonite, bottoming out somewhere in the 40's (record is 51). Then, this weekend, another cold front will be making its way into town. I'm not complaining, mind you, merely commenting.

More later.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Jesus wept ...

... when He first heard the (supposed) 16-yr. old girl's distress call to 'authorities' some three weeks ago.

... when He watched as children (more than 400) were dragged from their mother's sides and loaded onto buses to transport them to -------?

... when He saw all the VERY hungry attorneys flocking to represent the 'injured'.

... when He witnessed the public's outrage (both pro and con) over this incident.

Jesus wept! My God, Jesus wept!!

I am weeping, too, but my tears are not the same. I cannot even begin to compare my tears to those of my Lord.

Tonight, tho, I am angry, angry, ANGRY!!

Local news started off with almost ten minutes of non-stop coverage ... buses, police escorts, projected destinations, mothers left behind ... you name it, they had it covered.

I ask you, folks, what business is it of ours (as in JQPublic's) ?!?!?

I apologize, somewhat, for the vent here. However, every once in a while I think that there just HAS to be a stop put to this media intervention into what is inherently, I believe, a private matter.

Current doings and follow-ups

Not much exciting going on here. Just thought I'd let you know what I'm doing and follow up on a couple of things.

Just in case you're wondering, I DID file a complaint with the ICCC Wednesday. Received an e-mail back from them almost immediately (impressive!) assigning me a file number and password. Later that same evening, I filed additional information in re e-mail addresses and names.

I'll now have to add even more information, because last night I received another!! THIS one telling me that "Sir" somebody or another was trying to inform me that I have a great deal of money coming my way if I will just give out a bunch of personal information.

I have no intention of responding to this one, but have copied and added it to what might become a fairly extensive file. Who knows, right?

Somehow or another, I have managed to get myself onto a less than desirable list.

Well, I'm keeping records, and will keep you guys informed about any breaking news.

Today I spent a 'ton' of hours looking up property values in my immediate area ... what the appraised values are/were, what homes had sold for within the past two years, which homes had had foundation work done, etc.

What I found was interesting, to say the least! (All of this in preparation for a possible protest to the appraised value on MY home for taxation purposes, you understand. Otherwise, I can absolutely guarantee you that I have far better things to do with my time!)

OK, so what else is happening?

Yesterday morning, I got my teeth thoroughly cleaned. That's a really neat thing to do, isn't it?

Then, I tried to get my nails done. (I'm 70 yrs. old, and have NEVER had my nails done! Hard to believe, isn't it?? Well, I confess that -- for many, many, many years I was a nail-biter. In fact, it's only within the past 10-15 years or so that I stopped, and perhaps only in the last two or three that my nails have consistently grown and hardened until now -- at the ripe old age of 70, I'd like to have them 'done'.)

What I was wanting to do was get them of a consistent length (to match the shortest one, of course!), and just a clear polish -- nothing fancy. I just wanted to be pampered a little.

So, I went to the shop that I thought was the one where I would see the Oriental gal whom I'd met so often while getting my hair done just a few doors down the street.

I parked the car and went into the shop. It was nicely-appointed, but I didn't see anyone. I called, "Hello?"

Out of the back area appeared a youngish Oriental gal -- not the person I was hoping to see -- who asked, "May I help you?"

I responded, inanely, "Are you the only one here?" (Still looking towards the back, and hoping to see the person I 'knew'.)

I think I made her nervous. I'm not small, but not over-powering (by any stretch of the imagination), but still!!

She kept looking toward the back. I kept looking toward the back, hoping to see my 'friend'.

I tried to explain to her who I was looking for (perhaps I was in the wrong place?) ... she and I both kept looking toward the back of the shop ... we were at a seeming standstill!!

I exited the shop, calling, "I tried!" She locked the door behind me.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Scam artists ... (followup) ...

I began my hopeful journey this morning "to try and capture the bad guys in the act" with a query to one of Houston's local investigative television reporters.

While I was waiting for her to get back to me, I took some time to locate other investigative agencies, including the State Attorney General's office and the FBI.

What I found is disheartening, to say the least, but it's the truth.

First, tho, I'd like to share with you her response, which came perhaps an hour later. Here it is, verbatim ... ...

Thanks for contacting me. Yes, the email you received is a common one, and it is, indeed, a scam. Unfortunately, these types of scams are so numerous, we could fill our newscasts with stories on nothing but these scams and still not be able to cover them all. I'm very glad and relieved to hear you recognized it for what it was and did not become a victim.

What to do? The Internet Crime Complaint Center is a good place to start. The FBI teams up with other crime-fighting agencies to take reports, such as yours, and get them to the appropriate agencies so that, when possible, the bad guys can be prosecuted. If there is no victim, and no financial loss, it is unlikely there will be prosecution, but there will be warnings posted for others to help prevent these scam artists from claiming new victims. The State Attorney General's Office probably wouldn't be able to help, in this case, as the scammers are not likely from Texas or even the U.S. Many of these scam rings originate, as you know, in Nigeria. The Internet has been a useful tool for both good guys and bad guys, I'm afraid.

Please refer your readers to the ICCC, and thank you for being so vigilant about scammers like those who send you that e-mail. Getting the word out is the best way to stop these criminals

Since then, she has sent me another e-mail, commending my 'detective' efforts and recounting a couple of stories where people with much more monies available than I had tried to track down these thieves to no avail.

More later, if and when. Meanwhile, keep your noses sniffing!

Gardening ...

... is not now, and never has been one of my main interests, really, but I certainly am full of admiration for those who do!

Sometime down the road, I'll be finishing the memories of my mother and beginning those of my father (who was an avid gardener).

Today, however, I'd like to refer those of you who are keen on gardening and all things related to Simon's post, wherein he includes a picture of what all was in their compost bin.

Dad would have LOVED this pic!

Speaking of peacocks, ...

... my friend, Tammy, kidnapped one of her daughters Sunday (everyone in the family knew about it beforehand except for the daughter -- neat, huh?) so they could have some quality one on one time together.

One of the beautiful photographs in her post showed a peacock, and it reminded me of years ago here in Houston, when every once in a while I would go to this really neat restaurant that had peacocks roaming the grounds. The restaurant was set in a heavily wooded area called Piney Point and backed up to Buffalo Bayou.

Upon driving in to the grounds, we would see signs alerting us to their presence and warning us not to try and approach them. Gorgeous creatures, particularly when the male's colorful feathers are on proud display, but they DO charge!

Well, this morning, on the local news, there was a feature story on -- would you believe -- peacocks!!

Seems there has been a 'colony' (right word?) of peacocks residing in a residential neighborhood about seven miles north and a little west of my house for many years. Evidently, someone had brought a pair (or more, I don't know) in some 40 years ago.

Anyway, yesterday, someone in the neighborhood called Animal Control (or City Council, maybe both!) to complain about them. Animal Control officers were sent to the area to capture the 'varmints'. All in all, eight were rounded up.

Well, all **** broke out!! Later that same day, after many irate phone calls and e-mails by non-complaining residents, same critters were returned to the neighborhood.

I heard that children were combing the area for loose ruffled feathers to add to their collections, but found none.

I find this story just hilarious, and hope it gets your day off to a good start.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Scam artists ...

... are everywhere, aren't they?

Most of you know that I've been looking around for something part-time to supplement my Social Security income. (Hopefully, I would find something that I could do from home.)

Well, I want to share with you an e-mail that I received, within the last 24 hours, from Payment Manager! []

I had received an initial e-mail contact on the 18th. I responded on the 21st, (yesterday!) saying only, "Please send more information." I filled out NO blanks with name/address/phone number/age, etc. I simply wanted to see some more information on what the offer actually entailed.

I'm going to write verbatim what the e-mail that I received, within the last 24 hours, said. Ready? Here goes ... ...

RE: Letter of Confirmation and Acknowledgement of Employment

Greetings to you,

The company is solemnly happy for the turn up made by US citizens regarding the job offer and all details you sent to us in your first mail has been filed and passed on to the database management department for updates on the first payment. I just got a call from our client in US that he has the product with him right now and he will be sending the payment out to you by the end of the next week.
The client will be forwarding the payment to you and all you need to do is to take the checks to your bank and get it cashed and then you deduct your 10% from the total you receive and send the remaining 90% to the Company's Accountant. I need to be sure of your details again and also it will be needed once again on the company's staff file, so i will want you to please resend your details once again through this mail,because it is very necessary and urgent right now and you know without your reply the payment cant be sent and i have a question for you that i will want you to answer.

Do you do this kind of Job for anyone else or any other Company? YES or NO?

(Then follow requests for full info in re name/address/phone number/age, etc.)

I don't want you to hesitate by emailing me back with this details above because, it is urgent and you know we need it to forward to our customer that will forward payment to you immediately.

I will urge you to carry out the first assignment as soon as you get the checks. The company is solemnly behind you and will not give room for any act of indulgence.

The company is wishing you best of luck as you keep working with us. I will await your immediate response and payment can be forwarded immediately.



We all recognize this scam, don't we?

I'll be making a couple of phone calls tomorrow to see how best to proceed to try and put these crooks where they belong.

Meanwhile, all y'all have a good one, and keep your suspicions handy!

Going to the movies ... (#2) ...

This afternoon I went to see 'Nim's Island'. All by myself. Granddaughter hadn't expressed any interest at all in seeing this movie.

I had a really good time ... could have tolerated another enjoyable half hour or so, at least, but the ending was appropriate, and I've been smiling nonstop ever since. I'm wondering, "Has Jodie Foster ever made a bad movie?" She's quite a talented young lady.

There couldn't have been more than five people (total) in the theater, perhaps even counting the person running the projector. How can they possibly make any money??

I thought to myself, "Oh, oh!" when a mother and daughter came in with mother's cell phone looking like it was permanently attached to her ear, but not to worry. She must have turned it off before the main feature started.

Nim, the name of the little girl in this movie, is 11 years old ... exactly my granddaughter's age. Ah well, another missed opportunity!

I paid really close attention to the upcoming films, and found absolutely none that captured my imagination. Well, maybe Harrison Ford's latest 'Indiana Jones' sequel. I'll ask her if she's interested in going to see that one!

You know, the possibility certainly exists that she just doesn't want to go with grandma! I'll just have to accept that if so.

Meanwhile, I recommend the movie. Fun!!

Monday, April 21, 2008


I have three fetishes.

Just what is a fetish, anyway?

My dictionary, circa 1976, only has one word listed under its third definition of this term. That word is "fixation".

Wiktionary (as of April 2008), on the other hand, expands its third definition to include such terms as "irrational", "abnormal", and "preoccupation".

Almost ALL refer to some sort of sexual abnormality.

I never thought of myself as having a sexual abnormality. Perhaps I should?? What I DO know is that I have three fetishes, the first one stemming from many years ago -- whereupon leaving the house, I inadvertently left the coffee pot plugged in. When we returned many hours later, we discovered that part of the counter top had melted.

The whole counter had not yet caught fire, but damage was done. That was the origin of my first 'fetish'. I (to this day!) do not leave the house without first checking to see whether or not I have unplugged the coffee pot.

My second 'fetish' appeared when, not that long ago, I returned to the house only to discover that the garage door was wide open! (Unless I am going to be returning within the next 10-15 minutes, I almost always shut the garage door. In this particular instance, I was gone for most of the day!!) I found that un-nerving.

My third 'fetish' is only recently acquired.

I was feeling tired, and went to bed. Woke up several hours later, and thought I smelled something 'hot'.

My first thought was, "It's the computer!" Ran into the other room. It wasn't the computer. Checked my messages and e-mails, etc. Then, leisurely, went into the kitchen.

There, the smell was a little stronger. (I had already gone past the furnace area, so it couldn't be THAT!) I thought, "What the devil?!?"

My foot stepped on something that 'crackled'. I looked down. It looked like an eggshell. Upon further inspection, I discovered that it was an eggshell! I thought, "What the devil?!?"

Finally, I remembered that I had been hard-boiling some eggs the night before. I looked in the refrigerator. Hard-boiled eggs were not there. I looked in the sink. Hard-boiled eggs (in their pan) under cold running water were not there.

I looked at the stove. There, about to burst all over kingdom come yet once again, were the remainders of my hard-boiled eggs in a pan that had long since run dry!! I grabbed a couple of oven mitts to remove the poor pan from the over-heated area, and thanked my lucky stars that the whole place hadn't caught on fire.

OK. I need some input from you guys. Am I using the term 'fetish' correctly? Whatever the proper term is, however, I now have three.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

CB memories ... (part four) ...

Although the great majority of my driving was done in the lower tier of the United States, I spent many hours on the road in the Midwest and a couple of times went as far east as New York. Always with my CB radio handy.

The realization that folks in the South were much friendlier than those in the North caught me by surprise. I'm speaking in generalities here, only. Certainly, there were exceptions.

... ... (a confession) ... ...

I was coming in to Green Bay, on my way to visit my dad in Munising. As most always, I had my radideo on -- and, as per usual, no one wanted to talk to a gal who didn't know how to pronounce her vowels correctly.

Do any of you know anything about Green Bay Packer fans? They are vitriolic, rabid, nearly consumed by their fanaticism, and to be avoided at all costs (unless, of course, you happen to agree with them!).

Well, folks, the devil had his way with me that day. I grabbed the mike and shouted, "The Packers SUCK!!"

Then I quickly drove into the middle of a parking lot, grabbed the telltale antenna off of the roof, and snuck as quietly as I could out of town before they could find and lynch me. (Giggling all the way.)

... ... "The Undertaker" ... ...

Later, same trip. I was driving Dad to Minneapolis, and we were traveling through Wisconsin.

(And NO, I didn't tell him what I had done! You think I'm insane?? Don't answer that, OK? I'll admit to being a little weird at times, but that's as far as I'll go.)

We were traveling on roads that were, for the most part, two lanes (one each direction). All was pretty quiet, CB-wise. Every once in a while, I'd give a 'shout out', hoping that I'd get a response so Dad could experience talking over the airwaves to a complete stranger.

Well, it happened.

When "The Undertaker" identified himself, I was shocked silent for just a second, but then came back with this inanity, "You're an undertaker?!?"

"Oh, no," he said, "that's just my handle." When I asked how it was that he had come to choose that particular handle, he explained, "I'm the last person to let you down."

Dad and I laughed and laughed over that one!

Then, I asked if he had time to exchange a few words with Dad. He did. They did. A few moments that I still savor.

When I first started driving a taxicab back in 1989, I didn't have the CB in the car with me. I figured there wasn't much of a point in doing so.

There's a HUGE difference in CB-land between driving in the city and driving in the country.

In the country, you're concerned with safety, staying awake, directions, road and weather conditions, smokeys, etc. In the city, there's a seeming preponderance of 'land-based' (not on the road) advertising of wares, generally of the female persuasion. You get my drift, I'm sure.

And so, MANY years passed.

(I was just interrupted in my own train of thought here, as I was getting ready to close out this series, by a memory of conversations between myself and one of my regular taxicab customers. I'd like to share that memory with you. As with all of my stories, it's true.)

I saw this customer no more than twice a year, usually only once. We first met at one of Houston's two major airports (either Hobby or Intercontinental) by 'chance' --I was the first cab in line, and there he was.

We got along. Had a pleasant conversation. I invited further business. He acquiesced by asking me if I could pick him up the next day at such and such a time. He had a number of errands to run, he said. I would have to set aside 2-3 hours. I said, "Let's do it!"

Turns out that he worked offshore. He had lived in Houston at one time, and still maintained bank accounts here. In addition, he had friends in Clear Lake who kept his mail. We went all over the place!

A couple of years later, I learned that his mother (his dad had recently -- within the past year or so -- passed away), who now maintained a residence in Lower Michigan, still drove regularly between her new home and the 'old homestead', some 60+ miles away.

He was very concerned about her safety.

I suggested a CB radio. He nixed that idea. Said that both he and his brother (who was a truck driver and had a CB) had tried to get her to do the very same thing, and had been met with a huMONgous "NO!!"

I related a bunch of stories from my CB-traveling past, and encouraged him and his brother to keep trying. If she was traveling the same route each week (to and fro), surely -- I thought -- she would eventually come across at least one familiar-sounding voice!

He accepted all of my well-intentioned excerpts, I know, but I still got the feeling that he was despondent about the whole situation.

Well, a year or two later, he surprised me with the news that -- not only had his mother accepted the CB radio and agreed to try it out -- she had acquired a new friend or two along her frequently-traveled way. Isn't that just the neatest thing??

O.K. Here we are, many years later.

I hope you have enjoyed reading about some of my experiences in CB-land. I know that I have taken a great deal of pleasure in remembering and then recounting them for you.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

CB memories ... (part three) ...

Traveling with someone else is usually a 'good thing'.

I've already told you a couple of stories that were safety-related. Here are a couple more.

I was on my way to Atlanta from Houston for a national conference. I almost never made that trip without stopping to rest somewhere along the way.

My routes varied. If I was traveling up US Highway 59 northeast through Texas, then I would continue directly east at the TX/LA border towards Birmingham, AL. There was a Howard Johnson's on the north side of Birmingham that I really liked. I stayed there two or three times. I always requested a room on the highest floor looking north so I could see the tremendous cuts being made in the hills for a new Interstate. I'd have had to get a fairly early start on my trip if I was going to take that route. Birmingham is not 'just around the corner'.

If I got a REALLY early start, then I would take I-10 east to I-12 at Baton Rouge, catching I-10 again as it came back up from its southern swing through New Orleans and continuing east to Mobile, AL, where I would then go almost directly north to Atlanta. The only stops via this route would be to eat, get gas, or go to the bathroom. This was a tough trip, and I think I only did it once.

This one year, tho, I had gotten off to a much later start than normal. I decided to take I-10 east, catch I-12, and then continue northeast on I-59. I had never taken this route before, and knew that I'd have to stop somewhere along the way to rest. (I figured I could find a decent motel in Hattiesburg, MS.)

It was about 10:30 at night. I was on the I-59 leg of my trip. I was feeling pretty good. Had the CB on, some soft music playing on the car radio, when -- all of a sudden -- over the CB came the shout, "Howboutcha there, little white wagon, you gotchur ears on?"

Now, THAT got my attention!!

The 'little white wagon' referred to my Honda Civic. The 'you gotchur ears on' question -- in everyday English -- was, "Do you have your CB radio turned on?"

I immediately responded with, "Yeah, you got the 'Dodger', come on back."

"Well," he said, "I don't know how long you've been on the road, but I noticed you've been weaving a little bit. Are you tired?"

Jiminy crickets! Up until that point I hadn't felt tired at all!! However, when he asked that question I realized that I did feel just a little drowsy. I told him the reason for my trip, and that I had hoped to find a motel in Hattiesburg to rest up in before continuing on my way to Atlanta.

He responded with, "OK, I'm atchur back door."

We continued on up I-59 for a while, exchanging comments every now and then, until I realized that I wasn't going to make it to Hattiesburg! I told him that I was going to have to pull off and try to find a place to rest. He came back with the info that there was a truck stop up ahead that would be safe.

We pulled in. He parked his big rig right next to me. I flattened all the seats and "crashed".

When I woke up several hours later, I tapped on his window. (We had talked about 'catching an eyeball on' each other over a cup of coffee when we were both awake again.) There was no response. I could see that he was still sound asleep in his cab. He never had told me how long HE had been driving! I didn't want to tap too loudly. I figured he needed his sleep. I left a note under his windshield wiper. Hope he got it!

... ... (pill popper) ... ...

We hooked up over the radideo just outside of Tucson, AZ, in 1984. I was on my way back to Houston from Phoenix, and was hoping to make it all the way without stopping (except for gas, eats, and bathroom, of course!).

When I first realized that I was going to try and get back to Houston all in one fell swoop, I began broadcasting same on the CB just outside of Tucson, and there he was!

I felt really fortunate to meet up with this person. He was on his way back to Florida from California, and was planning to make the trip non-stop (except for gas, etc.) on I-10. My goodness!!

I asked him how he thought he could possibly stay awake for that period of time, and he told me that he had pills he was taking to combat fatigue. (Later, during our trip together, he disclosed that this was the second half of his non-stop trip. He had begun the trip in Florida!!!)

He had my front door by maybe a mile. I had to reset my cruise control perhaps five mph higher so that I could stay within earshot. (Also, I think he 'lowered' his a bit to try and accommodate me.)

We were now in Texas. The road was getting extremely bumpy. He started giving me information on when (using mile markers) to get into the left lane and how long to stay there. It seems that the very hot sun nearly 'buckled' the far right lanes in places.

I don't remember how late at night (or how early in the morning) it was when I told him that I didn't think I was going to be able to drive much further.

I said, "There's a rest area coming up. I think I'll pull in there."

He responded, "NO, Dodger! This one isn't safe. There's another one about fifty miles ahead. We'll talk all of the time on the radio so you can stay awake. Do you think you can make it?"

Well! Obviously, I did. I'm still here. ... ... More later.

Friday, April 18, 2008

CB memories ... (part two) ...

First introduced in "Starry skies" when, while I was writing that post, so many memories just came flooding back that I decided another post or two focusing on that subject alone would be fun. Here are some more of my experiences. Hope you enjoy reading about them!

There were so many 'handles' out there. I think (not sure) I had only three -- well, maybe four. I might have started out with "Roadrunner", but discovered that there were a gazillion other 'roadrunners'.

I quickly changed to "Schoolteacher". Then, for a very brief period of time -- while in the process of obtaining my first divorce -- I used the handle "Fancy Free". It didn't take me long to discard that one! Not only was it in bad taste, but I found it much too suggestive. I went back to 'Schoolteacher'.

The "Artful Dodger" came along, of course, after I went into the art business. It was usually shortened over the airwaves to "Dodger", and I've had no reason to change it since. It's a good handle, and one that could be interpreted in many different ways. Certainly a good discussion-provoker.

The following stories have been encapsulated, title-wise, into one or two words ... and, they are in no particular order either alphabetically or in preference, just as my mind recalls and my fingers skip over the keys.

... ... "Wild Man" ... ...

I was traveling east on I-10 towards Mobile, AL -- what CB-ers called the 'hole in the wall', the reference being the tunnel dug under the Mobile River -- with Wild Man. He had my 'back door', and it had been that way for many miles.

All of a sudden, in an attempt to light a cigarette, I was appalled to notice my car's cigarette lighter 'spiraling' (I kid you not, it was turning into liquid right before my eyes!!) out of the dashboard.

I screamed this information to Wild Man, who immediately said, "Pull over and get out of the car!" I did.

Within a half minute, this humongous rig had pulled up right behind me. Out of the cab jumped a fellow (Wild Man, of course) wearing an asbestos glove that looked like it went all the way up to his eyeballs!

He reached into my car, grabbed the offending object, and gave it a mighty heave right out into the Gulf of Mexico. (A slight exaggeration here, OK? The Gulf was probably a few miles away. However, it is accurate to say that he gave it a 'mighty heave'!)

It's really unusual when you actually get to "catch an eyeball on" (in other words, meet face to face) the person or persons with whom you have been traveling or talking.

... ... (bulbous nose) ... ...

I am truly ashamed to say that I do not remember this person's handle, and he was such a nice man, too! Just terrible of me!!

Darling Daughter (DD) and I were traveling back to New Orleans from Houston on I-10. I was driving. There was an almost constant clamor from her to talk on the radio. (She was really wanting to practice her newly-acquired 'Nwahlins' accent.)

I didn't let her do it. I was much too concerned with the weather. It was AWful! The wind was coming directly out of the north at a pretty good clip, and we were being blown all over the road in our little car!! (Not to mention the fact that it was raining heavily.)

Then, 'nice man' (I just can't bring myself to refer to his nose again, I'm sorry. While true, I wish I had some other way of telling you who was talking.) said over the radideo, "We're going to put you in the 'rocking chair'. Don't be scared, OK?"

The next thing that happened was there was an 18-wheeler in front of me, an 18-wheeler directly to the left (north) of me, and yet one more 18-wheeler behind me. I mean, DD and I could have had a picnic out there, we were so shielded!

(By the way, the term 'rocking chair', in CB lingo, could mean a couple or three things. ALWAYS, it means that you are neither in the front nor are you in the back. In this particular instance, we not only were not in the front or the back, but we were completely protected from the side! [Heavens to Betsy!!])

We continued on in our 'cocoon', as it were, for some miles. Then, nice man said that he and his fellow travelers were going to be stopping in Baton Rouge for some coffee and a bite to eat. Did we want to join them? (They really were not interested in continuing on east until they'd had a chance to stop and rest for just a bit.)

We joined them. (That's how I know what he looked like.) I have since questioned DD about this incident, but she doesn't remember it.

All was NOT always "peaches and cream".

Every once in a while, I found myself in a rocking chair situation with fellow travelers when someone traveling the other direction would take it upon himself to try and cast aspersions towards my sex, my traveling companions, the reason/s for my being on the road in the first place ... well, you get the picture, I'm sure.

Normally, we just ignored the unwelcome stranger's comments, as it would soon become apparent that he was going the other direction. We were quite willing to see/hear him go!

This one time, tho, I was traveling west (along with three or four others), on my way back 'home to the Dome'. We were still in Louisiana at the time. We could hear -- and had heard, over a period of several miles -- a VERY loud voice coming over our radios (and, indeed, even drowning out some of our conversations!).

I shut my mouth. (Hard for me, you know?) Everyone else in our convoy tried to get him to shut his! But no, he would not be silenced. Perhaps every obscenity known to man at that time escaped his mouth.

I waited, trying to hide. (How the devil do you hide a small 4-wheeler amongst the big rigs? You can't, of course!)

He 'blew by me'. I got his license plate number. Then, I blew by him, beating him to the mandatory weigh station at the Louisiana/Texas border and watched as the state police yanked his radio. THAT was sweet!!!

I can hardly believe I'm saying this, but I am. ... ... ... More later.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

CB memories ... (part one) ...

I said, " ... perhaps even soon." How's this for soon?

I used to do a fair bit of long-distance driving -- some for my art business; other times to attend out of town bridge tournaments, to visit family and friends, and to go camping and exploring in Big Bend.

I guess I first bought a CB radio in the late '70s. Cell phones were in existence then, but my opinion was that, if I were to encounter some difficulty on the trip, I would like someone who was already within a mile or so of me (and who was aware of my location) to be able to offer more immediate assistance.

CB-ers have their own language. I just 'listened in' for quite a while before venturing my first remark. I had purchased a pamphlet listing a lot of the lingo, but I could hardly consult that while driving. (A good way to have your trip cut very short!)

I learned the proper way to join in on a conversation by making a lot of mistakes. Over time, however, I discovered several possible good opening remarks, such as ...

... a "smokey" report ... a smokey, of course, referred to the location of a police car. "Hey there, west-bounders. You've got the 'Schoolteacher'/'Dodger' here (whatever your handle is at the time) traveling eastbound. There's a smokey at -----(you give the '20' [exact mile marker] of where you saw the smokey and indicate whether or not he was moving)."

... road conditions, such as extreme potholes, an accident, flooding, strong winds, a 'weaver' (possible drunk driver), a 'UFO' (unidentified flying object ... a vehicle coming up behind you at a very high rate of speed). Other drivers really appreciate this information. The first four are particularly useful for those behind you, and the last two for those ahead! You always identify which direction you're going and the mile marker you just passed as you're relaying this information. And, in the latter two instances, you give updates as soon as you know what the facts are.

A couple of stories here that directly relate to the above two paragraphs ... ...

... I was traveling to Austin, going through LaGrange (I think!). Had the CB on, but was getting no feedback at all. All of a sudden, right in the middle of town, I saw this police car. I said, "Breaker '19' ('19' being the main channel for conversations) for a 'smokey report'." Back on my radideo came the quick response, "You've got a smokey. What do you want to report?" Ha! Double ha!! Did he have a sense of humor, or what?? I dasn't pull over to remove the antenna from the top of my car. He let me skulk out of town the same way I'd arrived. (By the way, I hadn't been speeding. I was just looking for someone to 'travel with'.)

... The other story has to do with a 'weaver'. I was traveling -- not in a convoy, but pretty much by my lonesome -- back to Houston when I noticed in my rear view mirror a weaver. My Lord, he was all over the road, and traveling at a very high rate of speed! (I was on an Interstate at the time, two lanes each direction. Not much traffic. Wee hours of the morning.) I immediately got on the radio to alert westbound drivers of this. I watched, somewhat fearfully, as he came ever closer to me, weaving all the time. I moved to the shoulder, off of the highway as far as I could without going into a ditch, all the time chirping on the radio my insistence that drivers ahead of me should take heed. All of a sudden I heard, loud and clear, "What's the '20' of this weaver?" I gave him the 20. 'Weaver' went past me, barely missing my vehicle. Almost immediately behind him came this state police car (the one who had inquired about the 20), lights furiously flashing.

More later.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Starry skies

I just finished checking out all of my "Favorite" sites, and the last one I visited took my breath away and brought back memories from years ago -- 1984, to be exact.

I was on an art buying and fact-finding trip through West Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico. My primary focus that year was Indian art. (I don't mean to be politically incorrect here, but that's the term that was used at the time, OK?)

As usual, I was traveling with my CB (Citizen's Band) radio on. And, as per usual, I was traveling with an 18-wheeler who "had my front door" by perhaps a mile. (In other words, he was ahead of me.)

We were headed directly north on (I forget which highway) to Santa Fe -- when, all of a sudden, he said, "Pull over, Dodger!" (At that time, I was using the handle, 'Artful Dodger' -- cuz I was in the art business, of course!)

I said, "Why?! What's wrong?" He said, "Nothing's wrong. Just pull on over to the shoulder, cut your lights, and turn your engine off. Then, get out of the car and look up."

Well, it was probably 10:30 or better in the evening. We were on a two-lane road, one lane each direction, and had seen perhaps two other vehicles the last fifty miles or so, and I did what he asked.

What I saw when I did all that he asked and then looked up was magnificent!

The skies were filled with more stars than the eye -- and, I venture to say, even with the aid of a telescope -- could possibly count in a lifetime. (Adequate words of description just fail me here, I apologize.)

He and I never did "catch an eyeball" on each other. (In other words, we did not meet face to face.)

I don't even remember his handle.

I used to keep notebooks (small ones) that had records of my trips, who I'd "met" (talked to) over the 'radideo', where we'd met, what we'd talked about, etc. You know, a kind of shorthand jotting of things. Nothing in great detail. He's probably in one of those.

Just one other little thing that I'd like to share with you about that trip.

It was while ----- and I were traveling north to Santa Fe and chatting about this and that every so often that we were interrupted in our conversation by someone going the other direction who said, "Hey, Dodger! Did you used to go by the handle of 'Schoolteacher'?"

And, of course, I had, and I replied that I thought his voice sounded familiar.

He then tried to refresh my memory by saying that he -- an 18-wheel driver -- and I had 'met' while on the road sometime or another and exchanged a few words. He said that he and his family had been "10-10 and listening in" (in other words, not saying anything), and he thought he recognized my voice.

Turns out that he was on vacation with his family.

Actually, I have many wonderful memories of my years traveling with fellow CB-ers. I'll just have to do another post about some of those, perhaps even soon.

Meanwhile, I hope that some of you will want to include the Astronomy Picture of the Day in your frequent viewing. It's an 'upper', in my opinion.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

This is it!!

Everything's all set ... all facts & figures ready to be entered on various lines ... just waiting for a callback from DSL to get his opinion on something.

I feel good ... not quite relief, yet, because it's not completely finished, but good!

While I'm waiting, I'd just like to share with you a few of my thoughts.

1) It's my daughter's 47th birthday today. Happy birthday, DD! (Kind of hard to forget that one, huh?)

2) It's COLD outside!! The news has it that we will probably not be as warm today as it is in some parts of Minnesota. Dear me!

3) I'm enjoying my red rose. (By the way, I just spent several minutes looking back -- a cursory lookback, only, you understand -- at all of my earlier posts, trying to find the one where I initially said that I had purchased a bouquet. Couldn't find it. Never mind. Not really important to this post, anyway!) It's GORgeous!!

4) Are any of you paying any attention to politics these days? A couple of things come to mind: A. McCain's supposed coming proposal to Congress of a 'rollback' of the Federal gasoline tax ($1.84/gal?) from Memorial Day to Labor Day; B. The pope's visit to our country. (Where are all the protesters? There are a gazillion of our tax dollars being spent on his security! I 'can't wait' for the hordes [some paid?] proclaiming the separation of church and state and decrying this use of our tax dollars!)

Monday, April 14, 2008

A golden age ... (modified) ...

The original question was, "If you could be any age at all, what age would you be?"

I have received some feedback on yesterday's post (some via comments, others from friends and family, e-mails, etc.), and have decided to add this modification.

Originally, I arrived at possible answers to this question from the vantage point of 70+ years of existence on this earth. I had not fully realized that many (most, nearly all?) of you who might be reading this post are nowhere near my age, and thus have not the slightest idea what I'm talking about!

I was 'looking back'. Most of you are 'looking forward'. Interesting, isn't it? VERY different points of view!

I apologize for my inconsiderate question. Truly, I do!

PS. I have just finished bothering DSL (Dreaded Son-in-Law) for yet the umpteenth time in re yet another question on how to find something on-line in re the IRS, after having 'been there done that' a gazillion times already! FINally, in utter and absolute frustration, I went back to my filings from last year to try and figure out how I had discovered the answer. Lo and behold, there it was!! Ye Gods and little teensy weensy fish hooks!!! Will I EVER learn?!?

Folks, all I have to tell you is, 70 is probably not the "golden age"!

PPS. To his credit, however, DSL said, "DML (Dreaded Mother-in-Law), tax season has this effect on everyone!"

Sunday, April 13, 2008

A golden age ... ...

I suggested the idea of this post not very long ago, and I'm going to at least get started on it today. I have a couple of hours to think and write. We'll see what I can up with. (It might be subject to extensive editing later, you understand.)

The question was, "If you could be any age at all, what age would you be?"

And, now that my thinking cap is firmly on, this reminds me of a wonderful children's book that Madeline L'Engle wrote many years ago, called A Wrinkle in Time.

Intended for junior high school age, as I recall, her creative story won the Newberry Award for excellence in children's writing. In it, she invented the term, 'teseract' (sp?).

I'm not going to add any more comments about it here. I suggest that you look it up for yourselves, and delight in your own discoveries.

OK, back to the question, "... ... any age at all, what age ... ...?"

Well, for sure I would not want to be under 21! The very early explorative years of language formation, walking, touching, absorbing at an ever-accelerating rate anything and everything within one's immediate surroundings are truly awesome. Wondrous as that stage of one's life is, I would not want to have to again go through the years of puberty, peer pressure, awkwardness, and uncertainty about what my future might hold.

"All right, what about 30?", you ask. Good question. I remember -- when I was an undergraduate in college -- thinking that 21 was a little 'out there'. Then, of course, a year or two later, I thought, "Well, 30 must be REALLY old!" When my very best friend sent me a bouquet with a card proclaiming, "Happy 30th!", two months early (she had forgotten my actual birth date), it almost destroyed a beautiful, long-time relationship!

"40?" Now THAT's a good one! That's how old I was when I came back to Houston from New Orleans, thirty years ago. In my opinion, '40' is the prime of your life!!

Do I wish I was 40? Yes and no. My third husband had a saying he was extremely fond of. It went, "If ifs and buts were candy and nuts, we'd all have a merry Christmas!" I came to hate that saying!

"50?" Incredible as it might sound, I don't even reMEMber my 50th birthday!! Half a century old, and you don't remember it?!? Must not have been significant, huh? (Certainly, there were no birthday parties or significant celebrations.)

I'm simply going to have do a post on the history of "6" in my family. It really has a lot to do with my life, particularly in the last twenty or so years.

Let's go to "60". Would I? Probably yes, the main reason being that I would like not to have some of the physical aches and pains that I now have. (Before any of you start to feel sorry for me because I have a few aches and pains, let me remind you that aches and pains come with age, and I have earned them -- sometimes the hard way, OK? None are life-threatening -- that I know of, anyway. 'Stuff' happens!)

One thing I would DEFINITELY do differently is not take an early retirement at age 62!! I did that for three reasons: 1) I wanted to visit my stepmother in Minnesota. She was in a retirement home, and was suffering from the early stages of dementia Alzheimer's; 2) I wanted to attend my high school class's 45th reunion; and 3) I wanted to scatter my sister's ashes where I thought she would like them to be.

"Ifs and buts, candies and nuts" ... right? Right. If I had only one to "do-over", that's where it would be.

You know, we can all look back on our lives in retrospect, and see a thing or two that -- if we had our druthers -- we might change.

What's done is done. What's happened has happened. What is, is.

My question to you today is, "If you could be any age at all, what age would YOU be?"

Thursday, April 10, 2008

A good day ... ...

... is when you have reached out to others, and they have responded in kind.

... is when you wake up.

... is when you realize that you have a roof over your head, and it's not going away anytime soon.

... is when you discover that you still have money in the bank, albeit in a reverse mortgage.

... is when you look around and are thankful that you can see, hear, move, and react to what is actually occurring.

... is when you are still able, after seventy-some years on this earth, to recall -- sometimes, even succinctly! -- memories from 50-60 years ago.

This is a good day!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Income Tax time

Yeah, here it is again!

There are two good things I can say about this time of year ... 1) It's spring, and 2) It's my daughter's birthday. Other than those two (& they're important, of course!), this time of year sucks!!

For more years than I care to recount, I have filed an extension for my income taxes. This year, however, I have to file on time in order to be even eligible for the "Economic Stimulus Payment".

I received my official notice from the government filled with gobbledegook that is not the slightest bit understandable no matter how many gazillion languages you speak fluently.

Anyhoo, please forgive my paucity of posts recently. Since 'semi-retiring' last year, I've had to go back through ALL and try to figure out what the devil expense I can place where, what income I have to include, etc. It's an absolute MESS!!

I should say, in qualification, that it was an absolute mess!

Many hours have been spent in recapturing all of the details, and I am within a day (or so) of finalizing a return that will be accurate and 'audit-proof' -- maybe.

Talk to you soon, OK?

Monday, April 7, 2008

Presbytery Point

One of my blogger friends recently posted a picture on her site of a birch tree. It reminded me of a church camp that I attended for a week every summer many years ago.

Located on Lake Michigamme in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, Presbytery Point was kind of a magical place for me. So many good memories. I'd like to share just a few with you.

Our living accommodations consisted of several log cabins with wooden plank floors and steel bunk beds, perhaps eight altogether in each cabin. The camp was co-ed, girls usually outnumbering the boys, but nobody really cared. We were having too much fun!

Luster lace. Do you remember luster lace? (At least, I think that's what it was called!)

One part of each day was set aside for Arts & Crafts, and I always had to choose very carefully. The crafts I could probably handle, but the arts?? Forget it!

This one year I enrolled in a class where we made our own wallets with real leather and luster lace. Boy, was that neat! You know, for years I carried that wallet proudly around. It finally just disintegrated from a lot of use, but I loved that wallet. I made it! It was mine!!

There was a large building where we all met to eat. Long rectangular tables were set end to end -- two in each row, perhaps four columns. Or were there three in each row with three columns? Whatever. I've been trying to picture it in my mind. I remember how it was. I just don't remember how many rows & columns.

It was cafeteria-style. We all went through the line (and it moved really quick, as I recall), and then took our places at one of the tables.

After grace, we chowed down, sometimes with a lot of antics going on. Did you ever take a piece of food, hold it against the end of your knife, and then flick it in a specific person's direction?

Well, a little bit of that happened every once in a while, often initiated by one of the ministers! Things never got out of hand, however, and it was always in good fun.

After eating, there would be a song or two. Many 'rounds'. Do you remember rounds? What fun!

One of my favorites (not a round) was, "Two old maids". Do you know that one? The leader (usually one of the ministers) would stand up and sing, "Two old maids in a folding bed, one turned to the other and said, ... ... ... " He would then point to a specific table (all of us having been pre-alerted, of course, that this was coming and had our responses all ready), and that table would respond with the answer in unison (had to be either a song title, or a phrase within the song itself that might be appropriate). The response, of course, had to be sung, not just recited.

A couple of real goodies that I remember (as a response) were, "I'm always chasing rainbows" and "I can't stop talkin' about him, talkin' about him, talkin' about him, I can't stop talkin' about the man that I adore". (Betty Hutton on the latter. Does this 'date' me, or what? What can I say?? I'm a dinosaur!)

Let's see, what else?

Well, the communal showers are not particularly good memories. I don't care where I am, or what age I might be, I have never been in favor of shared shower facilities. (Didn't like them in high school, either!)

I must say, however, looking back on it this many years, that those in charge at Presbytery Point did their very best to ensure that we left our camp experience in the same healthy condition as when we arrived. That, in retrospect, is impressive!

One moonlit night I was sound asleep in my lower bunk when, all of a sudden, I woke up to see a man standing over me. Boy, was I scared!

I dove under my covers and just lay there, trying not to breathe, expecting at any second to be attacked. Nothing. "Hours" went by while I was holding my breath ... still nothing.

Finally, I peeked out from underneath my covers to see if he was still there, and he WAS!! In fact, he hadn't moved at all from the last time I had seen him! I went back under the covers, hoping he would go away and I could safely get back to sleep.

An interminable amount of time later, still wide awake, I somehow found the courage to peek out again. He was still there!!!

Still in the same position, unmoving.

My logical mind finally kicked in, saying, "Something about this just isn't right!"

I moved my arms to strike the man and found myself, instead, just batting at the covers of the person in the top bunk that had fallen over the side -- and, in the moonlight, looked like a figure bending over me.

Vespers were special. They were held at the very tip of the point, which faced the sunset.

All of us campers & counselors sat on long wooden benches facing the stone altar. There would be readings from the Bible, prayers, and a sermon. A hymn or two.

Truly wondrous occasions.

Every once in a while, there would be a campfire an hour or two after vespers. We would make 'smores' ... remember those? Sometimes we even told ghost stories.

Usually, tho, we left the point with candles lit, softly singing.

I last visited Presbytery Point in 2001. In fact, I scattered some of my sister's (Peggy's) ashes there.

It was early July, and I had fully expected that there would be a camp full of youngsters when I arrived, but there was not. In fact, the campground was totally empty! Then, I remembered that it was the 4th of July weekend.

Actually, I was kind of glad to have the camp all to myself. It allowed me the time I really needed to leisurely walk through the grounds and reminisce.

I would like to leave you with this round that my friend's post reminded me of. It goes like this ...

White stately birch beside a sparkling lake,
Here we campers gather and new friendships make.

Presbytery Point is so like Heav'n above,
Here we grow like Christ in joy, faith, hope, and love.

It is my most sincere hope that all of you are well today, and that you feel the warm embrace of God's love.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Relationships ... ...

... vary, depending on the situation.

At the professional level, whether in an office, classroom, or traveling on the road, we tend to keep ourselves 'at a distance', paying attention to the business at hand and trying not to let whatever is going on in our personal lives interfere with the job. We try to stay objective.

We are not always successful. I should be more specific and just admit that I am not always successful!

The fact that I am a woman probably has something to do with that statement. You know what they say about how women show their emotions more than men?

Well, that's probably true, but that doesn't mean that men don't have any!

I think they're taught -- from a very early age -- not to show them. Indeed, to suppress them. Consequently, in my opinion, many lose whatever innate ability they might have once had to deeply communicate with the opposite sex, to honestly and openly share their feelings.

By the way, this is not intended to be a psychological essay. (I am not qualified to write one, anyway!) Nevertheless, it will include -- as do almost ALL of my posts -- my personal thoughts and opinions.

When I first began blogging, earlier this year, it was with my daughter's encouragement and support. It was she who showed me how to set up my own site. It was she who suggested that I cruise the net. And, it was she who gave me my very first comment.

(It was also she who told me, when I first started driving a taxicab back in 1989, that one of the things I would find it almost impossible to predict was who would tip and who would not. She was correct, of course!)

If you have taken the time to "View my complete profile", you might have noticed that one of my interests is 'searching out/connecting with those I have known from the past'.

NO, I'm not trying to "start over". (There was a question on a game show recently. "If you could be any age at all, what age would you be?" Something like that, anyway.)

That's kind of an interesting question, actually. Hmmmm. I can almost see another post taking shape in my mind.

Let's say, however, that one of those from the past that you have been trying to 'search out/connect with' calls you and leaves -- not just one, but two voice messages! NOW what??

Well, that happened to me recently, and I found myself fascinated by the realization that my feelings had changed from anticipation before the two calls to reluctance afterwards to return them.

(I'm making a mental note here to do a post on feelings later on down the road.)

Blogging relationships, now, are interesting. This forum is somewhat new to me, and I am still learning the rules of engagement. (See my earlier posts labeled Blogging -- particularly the first one, 'Anonymity personified ... [part one] ...', published on January 30th, which tells the story of how "Goldenrod's thoughts" first came into existence.)

Sometimes there is no relationship other than that of a 'peeping Tom'. Some sites are meant to be seen and interacted with only by family members or known associates, and comments from outsiders are not welcome. (You don't usually know that unless you have added a comment or two. Then, all of a sudden, you discover that your latest comment did not publish. That's kind of a rude way to find out that you are not welcome on that site, in my opinion.)

A lot of sites have a singular focus. That focus could be politics, religion, family, the weather, education, current events, whatever! Many include photographs. Some even have music in the background.

My site does not have a singular focus. In fact, I'm all over the place! I have no photographs, nor do I have any accompanying music.

What I have, instead, are simply heartfelt thoughts ... some very well-written, others not so much (particularly my comments -- which cannot be edited later, as a lot of my posts are -- to some of yours!).

Every so often, after many exchanges of posts, comments, and e-mails, you find yourself in a very close relationship to a person you have never met (certainly no physical relationship!), but with whom you find yourself identifying more and more as you both seek the same end in a common endeavor.

A year (or more) passes. You have each gone a different direction. Then, you learn that this person has died. Your emotions overtake you, and you try and write a post that encompasses your feelings as tears roll down your cheeks.

You had not realized that blogging could produce such an outpouring from you. I guess my only comment here is, "You feel how you feel how you feel." -- or -- "Be prepared to feel how you feel." The important thing is the realization!

My deepest and most heartfelt thoughts go out to each and every one of you who has ever experienced the loss of a close blogger friend ... one whom you never knew personally, other than contact over the net in a common cause, but one you wish you could now meet face to face and give the warmest of hugs.

All I have to offer is this. If you feel that way, then the other person did, as well.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Montmorenci, Indiana

I'll probably do several posts on my years in this farming community, located just a few miles outside of West Lafayette, where my husband and I were both attending Purdue University and doing graduate work towards our Master's degrees -- he in civil engineering (soil mechanics), and I in elementary education.

One of the main centers of this community was the school. Another was the grange, and the third was the church. I am going to speak in this post of the school.

I was teaching 1st grade, my all-time favorite. (And, yes, I was teaching there when Kennedy was assassinated, but that's another story.)

I think it was only my first year teaching in that school -- the first of many truly wonderful years!

We had just moved out to the 'country', and I wasn't at all familiar with the people there. I knew no names, no family histories, nothing!

A vast majority of the students were bused in from the surrounding areas.

There was one classroom per grade level. It was (as I recall) a stone edifice, square, two stories, plus a basement with boiler room and a 'keeper' who knew everyone and everything about the community and wasn't loath to relate any and all he knew (a real gossip, in the truest -- and perhaps, meanest -- sense of the term).

My classroom was right next to the principal's office on the first floor. In the small anteroom that connected my classroom to that of the second grade was a long row of shelves and hooks.

The shelves were for lunch boxes. The hooks, of which there were two each spot, were for outer garments and tennis shoes.

Indiana was, at that time, a basketball state. (Perhaps still is??) EVERY student was required to have tennis shoes in order to participate in gym class ... the gym floor was pristine. No one (including teachers) was allowed on that floor improperly attired, foot-wise.

O.K. There's your background. On to my story for today.

John Sheese arrived in my classroom, accompanied by his mother. He was crying, and was obviously scared. He was very tall! (I found out later that he was eight years old.)

I welcomed both him and his mother as warmly as I could.

It didn't take me long to discover that he was very bright! I didn't initially understand how or why it might have taken the mother so long to enroll him in the first grade.

(Eventually, I heard from the boiler room keeper, as well as many others, that John's mother had previously made several attempts to get him to school, ALL of which had ultimately resulted in his mother's simply taking him home again.)

O.K. I had John in my class. I realized, almost immediately, that he was going to be at the very top of my class, academically. I was delighted!

Problems first began in the anteroom. (Who would have thunk it?)

I didn't even realize there was a problem until the gym teacher brought it to my attention that John wore 'slip on' tennis shoes, only ... no laces. At first I just thought to myself, but then said aloud to him, "What of it? What's the problem??"

"Well", said he, "the problem is that of liability."

All right.

I had called Mrs. Sheese previously on this matter, because John had been leaving his 'slip on' tennies on the shelf designated for lunch boxes, only. I knew that was a problem, and had to notify her of it. She had 'fixed' everything by sewing loops at the heels of the tennies so they could be properly placed on a hook.

So, what could possibly have been the problem?

Well, the gym teacher had unequivocably stated to me that ALL student's tennis shoes had to be "tied". Well, it's impossible to tie one's shoes that have no laces, right? Right.

I tried to explain the problem to Mrs. Sheese.

We had a kind of stare down/silence situation until it FInally occured to me that John just didn't know how to tie his shoes. That was it, pure and simple!!

(Eight years old, bright, but doesn't know how to tie his shoes?? Impossible!!!) Yet there it was, the truth does outeth.

Meanwhile, back at my Montmorenci first grade teaching ranch, I had only two "breaks" (maximum) during any one teaching day.

Consisting of 15-20 minutes each, they were 1) art, and 2)physical education.

The art teacher was of the "old school" ... color within the lines, using only certain colored crayons -- you know, the leaves had to be green, the trunks of the trees brown, etc. (Quite dissimilar to Gwen Giskin, an art teacher I had met while teaching at Battleground. Haven't written about her yet. May or may not later, depending on my mood. Not today!)

Well, this one day the art teacher came into my classroom with sheets of paper showing unlaced shoes/boots. The assignment was twofold: 1) to "color within the lines" and 2) to lace the shoes/boots (she had brought hole-punchers) with laces that were to be distributed amongst the students.

Just as I was about to 'escape' to the boiler room for a short break, she asked me if I could stay and help. (Ye Gods!!)

At that very moment, I kid you not, Mrs. Sheese walked in to observe.

I said, "No, I can't, but I know that Mrs. Sheese would be glad to assist you!"

I RAN, and -- I guess -- haven't stopped laughing to this day.

That is the one and only time in my life that I have been presented with such a wonderful opportunity to "getcha" and have the presence of mind to take advantage of it.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

April (no fool's day)

There's a site some of you who read my posts might like to view today. It's their idea of a joke, all right?

You should be able to find it at Don't think you need to enter ALL of that stuff ... probably just thru the "gov/".

ANYway, the site is called "Astronomy Picture of the Day". The commentary on today's post is, of course, a hoax ... "------, the magnificent" or some such. Take a looksee and enjoy, but don't think that this post is typical. (Well it IS, photography-wise!)

If any of you are interested in photography &/or outer space, you will probably want to consider adding this site to your "Favorites".

They post a different picture every day, and have Archives out the wazoo.

Just wanted to share that with you.

Let's see, what else is happening my direction?

Not much, actually, since the VERY successful 'surprise' 60th birthday party Saturday night. He was totally unaware of the surprise ... in fact, he was speechless for a while!

Wishing all of you an 'unfooled' day.